Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Louisville Lovin' the Hills 50k

This zipper of an elevation chart says a lot about the Louisville Lovin' the Hills 50k course but not everything.  There are other elements - the weather, the strong competition, the way strong ultra runners gaze at their watches perplexed at how they just worked so hard for their slowest 50k ever.  The views all the way across Louisville are nice too.  Race promoter, Cynthia Heady, and her amazing post-race soups make it worth the freezing, the climbing, and the fact that last year it was actually 32.5 miles long.  I'm not sure that any other race I compete in completely shreds my legs like LLTH does.  It was my first ultra experience, and each attempt since then has taught me invaluable lessons.  Lessons in self-control, lessons in perseverance, and lessons in humility.

Staged in Louisville's Jefferson Memorial Forest, LLTH was actually started by ultra guru Eric Grossman some nine years ago.  He still returns some years to stamp his footprint of authority on this event.  Lovin' the Hills welcomes all comers with versions of 15 and 6 miles.  The 50k also offers a one hour early start because this is one course that could very well take you all day to get through.

All three distances start together which makes for an interesting dynamic in the first couple of loops that are shared by the 50k and 15 milers.  It takes a some serious self-control to let guys go early on, especially not knowing for sure that they're in the shorter race.  But, when I look around and see Eric, Troy Shellhamer, Scott Breeden, or Russ Goodman, I know that I'm in good company that will finish at the front and I'm going fast enough (probably too fast for me).

That's one of the coolest things about running.  You can toe the line with the fastest guys, no matter who you are.  In this case, my mission is simple - go with Troy, Eric, Russ, Scott, or Mike, whoever is at the front, and hang on for dear life.  My hope is that this year I can hang around for a little while longer.  Join me in the hardest 50k around, February 9, or learn more about it from the safety of your computer at the links provided below.  And, look for my first race report of 2013.  Putting this kind of hurt into words ain't easy.

Grossman, Breeden, my arm and foot, Troy right behind us.  Ended up Grossman, Troy, Breeden, then me.
Where to find us.

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