I definitely ended up with some dirty calves at the SweetH20 50k on Saturday. The race was through the trails at Sweetwater Creek State Park and the day was nice. We had some fairly big thunderstorms in the area on Friday night which led to the race director replacing the Sweetwater Creek crossing with another portion of the course. So instead of risking life and limb by wading in a chest high raging river to get to a 3 mile trail and more climbing, we basically did the same 16-mile loop twice. Race day changes and diversions are just some of the joys of trail running. I had high hopes for this race even though I haven't done any substantial long runs since Mt Cheaha 50k, but in the end I think that was a little much to ask of my body.
To sum up the race, the course was wet, muddy, and was difficult climbing in spots (especially at a place called Top of The World). The creek was certainly up and we had a couple of thigh high stream crossings. It was really nice to know a course and trails so well since it is so close to my house. My support crew (Allison, Tully and Olive) was out there to cheer me on, which is always special. I ran the first 16 miles in 2:17 and felt good. I was right on with my electrolyte and fluids intake. I felt good through the next five miles or so and gradually reeled in runners. However, the lack of long runs started to catch up and I gradually fell of my pace. There ended up being some very strong runners in that lead pack that stayed out front throughout. I ended up fifth on the day by finishing in 4:46:45. The course ran a little long according to my Garmin and was 32 miles. So the second half was about 13 minutes over the first half which is pretty atypical for me.
I was a little discouraged since I wanted to do better on this course, but I can't complain. I consider myself lucky to even be able to get out there and spend the morning running through the woods. Also I had family and friends around me who were all in good health. Speaking of, I want to say that I ran this race for my friend John Judd who is in a battle with colon cancer. John is a great guy and used to spend some time hiking around Sweetwater Creek State Park. So I thought about him throughout the race and drew on his courage as I was suffering through those final miles.