Louisville Lovin the Hills 50K Race Report (LLTH 50K)
You have to be careful when describing the more difficult races. Sometimes it can be a little too easy to simply state that a race was the most difficult ever. Often it can depend on numerous factors such as weather, injury, terrain, distance, and duration.
Take LLTH 50K for example. It was a beautiful February day. The snow and ice from a storm the week prior had melted, and temperatures would reach a little over 40 degrees with sun for most of the race. The race directors and volunteers did an excellent job clearing the downed trees and debris from the trails. So, what could make this race one of the most difficult races of my short career? The hills. Other than that, the race was easy. Who wouldn't enjoy a February run in the 40 degree sun?
Those hills were relentless. One after the other, each breaking whatever rhythm I was trying to get myself in. Apparently that's just a part of the experience called Lovin' the Hills.
I woke up at 4AM to make the 3 hour drive just south of Louisville, KY. I arrived around 7:15, registered, finished my pre-race preparations and stretches, and joined the other runners for the directors' speeches.
There were two distances at this event; a 15 miler and a 50K. All runners followed the same course through the first 13 miles where the 50K runners broke off for an out and back trail.
The first loop of 5 miles went by without a hitch. It felt great to be racing again after being off since October. I decided to jog the hills and see how much real damage I could do. The first 5 miles included nearly 2000 feet of elevation change. I began to get a little fatigued after the 7+ mile second loop, which included 3500 feet of elevation change. I guess I should have walked the uphills. The remaining 18 miles were an out and back trail that included around 6900 feet of elevation change.
On the out and back, I slowed my uphills to a power hike, which started to fade about a mile from the turnaround. Although my legs weren't too beat up, my ankles were screaming at me; I had a few unfortunate twists attacking the downhills. I kept a reasonable pace for the return trip, picking up my pace to finish the last 2 miles in under 18 minutes. Overall, I finished in 16th place with a time of 6:13:18. Not what I would like, but good for this course. First place finished in 5:01.
If I get the chance, I will do this race again. It is run by some very committed people, the volunteers are great, the participants are fantastic, and they have Heed! It's a challenging 50K with 8 aid stations and wonderful views from the hill tops.
Click here for the elevation chart and GPS tracks.