Monday, June 16, 2008
Highland Sky 40!
I have now run the Highland Sky 40 four times. The first year, in 2004, I won the women's race in 8:06. In 2005, six weeks after finishing MMT, I was second in 8:19. In 2007, I was second woman again in 8:30 (the weather was hot, sunny, and humid), and this year, in humid but overcast conditions, I ran a smart, evenly paced run and finished 7th woman in 8:26! The women's field was tremendous and featured a number of the up and coming young female runners on the east coast-- Justine Morrison, Rebecca Phelan, Alyssa Godesky, Jenny Anderson and Tracy Schrage. Annette Bednosky ran the race as a test run for WS, as she has been injured and is just getting her race fitness back, so she was running just a tad faster than my pace, which for her was fairly slow.
A few observations from the weekend:
David Horton was there to support Jenny and Jeremy Ramsey---it was wonderful to see him home again and healthy, and to hear him bellow my name at the 19-mile mark and at the finish line. Welcome home, David!
The men's field was not as deep as the women's...that seems to be a trend at this event. But the top two men both broke Clark Zealand's CR in sick fast times, with the winner going under six hour on that very tough course! Yow!
The over-50 crowd never ceases to amaze me. Frank Probst (a legend up there with David and Dennis Herr) won the grandmasters title only thirty minutes behind me. When I passed him at around mile 15, he was running smooth and relaxed, in road shoes (and this is NOT a road shoe course, at least not for the first 19 miles).Barb Isom and Vicki Kendall both won their respective age groups in strong fashion as they prepare to run the 90-mile Wonderland Trail in WA in late July.
Michele Harmon (taking the pic with me, above) is nursing an injury so she decided to ride her new mountain bike on the 7-mile dirt road section while cheering on Joe and the rest of the VHTRCers. When I came upon Michele, she was walking the bike up a small hill. Her comment: "Sophie, biking is hard!"
I earned several "Scotty's" while stubbing my toes on the boulder hops and tripping down the Lehmann Butt Slide (a "Scotty" is VHTRC-speak for foul language after a fall, trip or face plant). I dropped Rusty off at TWOT on Sunday to mountain bike with his friend Milton, and he returned home later that day, pronouncing his disdain for the climb up to Little Bald from the river crossing ("I have a lot more respect for what you do at TWOT now...that freaking climb took us 2 hours!") and announcing he earned many Scotty's while descending Little Bald. I told him he was part of VHTRC lore...Scotty's and TWOT go together nicely!
I was very pleased with my nutrition in the humid weather. I started with a bottle of SE and a bottle of Nuun and water, and kept each filled like that at each AS. I also sipped on Hammergel every 15 minutes from my 5 oz. flask, and ate melon and grapes at the AS. Heaven! Note to race directors: cold fruit is all we need at the latter aid stations, especially in the heat...no need for dry cookies and chips. Yech! Overall, no stomach issues and my energy level was strong throughout.
It's scary to be running in a flat field with lightning and thunder all around you. I had about 2 miles to go in the race and briefly entertained flagging down a random car.
Dan Lehmann and the WVMTR folks put on a great event in Highland Sky. This has got to be the most family- and crew- friendly ultra that I run. The resort at Canaan Valley, is a perfect place for the pre-race dinner and post-run party and dinner. The finish line is next to the climbing wall, bungee jump, and outdoor pool but there is also an indoor pool and hot tub. The Nature Center sponsored kid-friendly hikes during the day, and on Saturday night, we all went to the Purple Fiddle in nearby Thomas for coffee, ice cream, beer, and funky live music from the Weber Brothers. Rusty and I left the kids at home this time, but many other runners brought their entire families. Rusty was able to mountain bike during the day and he met me on the course with a few miles to go---it was great to get my post-run recovery drink and chair request in and know it would be waiting there at the finish line...aahhhh!
Overall, a fantastic weekend!! This is a perfect race for those folks not traveling out west and who still want the feel of a "getaway" race...and the Dolly Sods gives you the feel of alpine meadows. Many VHTRCers made the trip as did many MMT100 2008 finishers, which is impressive! Every year after I run Highland Sky, I can say that summer has finally arrived. Now, onto Grindstone 100 training! Wooo-hooo!!!