Last Saturday I ran the Stone Steps 50k in Cincinnati. The event was held in Mt Airy Forest which is a large park just north of downtown Cincy. The weather could not have been better. Well maybe a few degrees cooler would have been nice since I failed to pack a short sleeve shirt. This race is the 4th and last race in the ORRRC 50k series. Once again the ORRRC put on a spectacular event at a bargain price. I do have one suggestion for improvement. The race is run over two loops. The first loop is just over five miles and the second loop is just over 3 miles. You run the five mile loop first and then the 3 mile loop. You repeat this 3 times then run one more 5 mile loop. Both loops start and finish at the same spot so there is only one aid station. The aid station was stocked with all sorts of goodies. The one thing missing was my primary and favorite race fuel… pretzels. Preferably pretzel rods. I’ve already emailed the race director and volunteer to supply the pretzel rods for next year’s race. That is if I return next year. I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t; this was a fun and challenging course.
The 5 mile loop is fairly easy for the first mile but then the trail gets pretty rocky and rooty. Then just past 2 miles you reach the infamous Stone Steps. I’ve read somewhere that there are 90 steps, but that can’t be right because I’m pretty sure the elevation gain is at least 200 feet from top to bottom. One time up isn’t too bad but by the forth trip these are killer steps. If you do make it to the top the trail back to the start/finish area is again fairly easy. At least that’s the way I remember it but then I’m not sure how much brain function I had after reaching the top of the steps. The 3 mile loop is a walk in the park compared to the 5 mile loop. Part of this loop run over a Disc Golf course so the most challenging part of this loop was dodging the flying discs.
Through the first 2 circuits I was on pace to finish in around 6 hours. At the time I didn’t feel I was pushing too hard. Starting the 3rd circuit I still felt pretty good and was running pretty well all the way to the stone steps. The 3rd time up seemed to suck some of the life out of me. I absolutely was determined to finish this race though so I throttled back a little to make sure I would have enough gas to finish. I used the relative ease of the 3 mile loop to recover physically and mentally. At the start of the final repeat of the 5 mile loop I felt pretty good mentally at least. I felt certain I would finish this race. I wasn’t pushing hard, wasn’t worried about time, just moving forward toward the goal. I would like to say I was enjoying the scenery, but I was too focused on the trail. I definitely did not want to fall on this rough terrain. Earlier on my third pass I saw another runner take a bad spill. He had hit his head and I think he may have received a concussion. I thought there was no way he would make it back to the aid station, but somehow he did. Anyway as I started up the stone steps for the forth and final time the muscles in my left leg suddenly cramped up and I stopped dead in my tracks. Call in the medivac, start spreading the jelly because I’m toast. Fortunately I still had a few Enduralytes left. I took one and within seconds the cramps eased up and I was able to continue. As I reached the top of the steps I felt lucky to have made it. I regained my senses and kept moving toward the goal. Another runner caught up to me and we walked, talked and even jogged a little together to the finish. 6 hours 42 minutes. Not bad at all. I think I can do better, but considering my lack of distance training I’m happy with it.
Next Saturday is the OPSF 50k. My plan there is to take it easy and just use the race as a final long training run for Tecumseh. If the weather and trail conditions are good on December 5th my goal will be to beat 4:30 at Tecumseh.
This is my son and I finishing the Indianapolis Half Marathon. It was his first half. He said it was the hardest thing he’d ever done, but he looks pretty happy in this picture. Next week he’s doing the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon so I guess he’s hooked. Now I just need to lure him over to the trails.