Kanawha Trace 50k 2013!

(Delayed: apparently I forgot to publish this in July!)
On July 27th, 2013 I ran my 2nd KT 50k! This run was awesome for a number of reasons. Firstly, my brother (Mike) ran this race as his first ultra marathon (just like I did last year)! Second, I had a friend come up from South Carolina, Justin, just for this race! And of course, Cory Richardson puts on an incredible race!

All that said, my recap….

For the last 8 weeks or so I have been somewhat laid up with a suspected IT Band injury. The infamous pain on the outside of the knee after a short run or pulling hills etc. I typically run ~300 miles a month but  in the last two months I have gotten in less than 25 each. A couple days before the race I tried a 1 mile run and it was still bothering me. I figured I would give it a go and just see on race day how it did.

I showed up at the race with my knee taped up, Merrell Mix Master 2s on my feet, Nathan Trail Mix 4 on my waist, and a positive attitude. Hooked up with Chris Leslie, Mike, and Justin to swap some “good mornings”. We all loaded up on a couple buses and rolled out. This was the last we would see of the finish line for a number of hours. Its kind of torture to get on the bus at the finish line only to be driven 31 miles away 🙂

As soon as we arrived at the starting line, I started with my hydration plan and eating. I know the routine for this race. About 30 minutes from the time you get off the bus to the time you take off ,so start drinking and slam a gel. A quick leak in the woods and I am golden.

Once the race started and I got moving, I felt surprisingly great. Started off with a nice 8:30min/mile pace for the first mile or so and then slowly turned up the throttle until we hit the single track trail. At the trail I sort of floored it, cruising up the first few hills as hard as I could push. My thinking was push hard now since my knee might have me walking later. I passed up a lot of people on the first few steep hills.

Passed by the first aid station with a nod, cruised under the highway through the tunnel, and back on the single track trails. I was able to keep a very nice pace, needless to say I was tickled. I managed to catch up with local running legend Rachel Gibson (only because she has been sick and decided to enter last minute). We ran together for a while and then I picked up the pace and pushed ahead while I was still able.

At this point I was perfectly positioned for a sub 6 hour finish, which is very respectable on this course. I felt like I could keep this pace up for ever, no pain, no cramps, and my cardio was rock solid. Somewhere near the 15 mile mark my knee started feeling stiff. I decided to slow down some and let it rest. A quick glance over my shoulder revealed Mrs. Gibson cruising up on me.

I knew she would get in her groove and catch up again 🙂 We cruised into the aid station side by side. At this point I was seriously contemplating my first DNF. My knee was hurting pretty bad and I figured this was only going to get worse. I swapped out shoes for a dry pair, tossed Rachel a spare pair of socks (my size 12s looked hilarious on her feet), and I took off again. I decided I would save my first DNF for another day. This would not be the day my brother would beat me to the finish line!

A few minutes later Rachel caught up to me and she stayed with me for all but the last two miles of the race. Having some company really helped keep my mind off the pain. The last two miles of the race my right knee refused to bend at all. So I did what any ultra runner would do, I ran on one leg. I managed to finish the race in 7 hours and some change, nearly two hours faster than last year! In 2014 I’m going to win this freaking race!

Nearly two hours later my brother and Chris came across the finish line, Mike looked pretty rough. He told me later that he had not been able to process food or drink for the whole race! There must be something in our blood, something that just will not let us quit. Thanks Dad! I know we got that from you!

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About Stephan Looney

For those who don’t know me, I am a bit obsessive and a little competitive. I absolutely love to run long distance. Right now for me anything over 27 miles, I consider long distance. I am sure in the future that will change. I have my heart set on running the Cheat Mountain 50 miler, Western States 100, Hard Rock 100, and for a road race I have the Boston Marathon on my running bucket list.