I’m not sure why, but even before the snowstorm hit Indianapolis on Friday I was thinking the 2010 Louisville’s Lovin’ The Hills would be an epic adventure. The storm turned the usual two-hour drive to Louisville into a 3 hour 20 minute struggle for survival and by survival I mean keeping the car on the road and avoiding being hit by the knuckleheads who didn’t think slowing down was a good idea.
Since we arrived in Louisville later than planned, we went straight to the Cracker Barrel for some maple pancakes. Tom prefers their french toast which is also very good. The hotel is right next to the Cracker Barrel. Of course when we arrived at the hotel they had lost my reservation, but fortunately they had plenty of rooms available since the big farm implement show isn’t until next weekend. The rate they charged wound up being almost $30 less than they quoted when I called in the reservation so I can’t complain.
They were predicting more snow overnight and they were right. In the morning we found the car covered with an inch or two.
Should have known then this race would turn into an epic adventure. Fortunately the snow stopped falling before the race started, but by then the damage had been done. The start area is only 5 miles from the hotel, but Holsclaw Hill Road was practically a sheet of ice. I didn’t feel like sliding my car down into a ravine, at least not before the race, so it was very slow going. We made it to the Horine Center with about 20 minutes to
spare. As far as I’m concerned that is perfect, pickup packet, pin on number, start running.
The first couple miles of the first loop are not extremely hilly. I overheard one unsuspecting fool say, “for being called Lovin’ the Hills, I haven’t seen one yet”. Patience, son, patience. Believe me, the hills are coming. I went into this race thinking I just wanted to finish with a respectable time, no PR, just take it easy early and maybe have a strong finish. The course consists a 5.5 mile loop, a 7.5 mile loop then an out (with a 3 mile loop at the end) and back I finished the first 5.5 mile loop about 6 minutes slower than my PR pace. The second loop was some tough going with lots of mud. My time after finishing the second loop was about 18 minutes off my PR pace. These first two loops were pretty much the same as in previous years. This year the final out and back section had the Scott’s Gap 3 mile loop which was new. The change made it difficult to know how I was doing compared to previous years, but I knew when I reached the aid station Scott’s Gap I was pretty far off my PR time, but I was getting a second wind and feeling pretty good. Then came the Scott’s Gap loop. Any good feelings I had were squeezed out of me on the Scott’s Gap loop. At about 30 minutes into the 3 mile loop I started thinking I would be coming out of the loop soon. When at 40 minutes I was still in the loop I thought surely I’m not going slower than 15
minutes per mile and I will reach the aid station in 45 minutes. Finally after 55 minutes I returned to the Scott’s Gap aid station. Three miles in 55 minutes, ouch. At this point I’m at least an hour behind PR time and down mentally. I still have about 7.5 miles to go. I was physically exhausted, but I figured
the return to the finish would be a little easier. Once I made the climb up to the ridge there would be some relatively easy running. Up on that ridge I was shocked to pass runners still on their way out to Scott’s Gap. Knowing the challenge they had ahead of them at Scott’s Gap, I had great empathy for them.
Oddly enough the return did seem a little easier despite the fact I was physically exhausted. I kept pushing, jogging all the flat areas, running fast on the down hills, pushing hard on the up hills. The thought of having to tell all the runners in my mini training group that I quit kept me going. No way was I going to quit. I knew my time would be pretty bad, but I was going to keep pushing. When I
reached the next to last aid station I only had 3 maybe 4 miles to go. Now there was another thought pushing me to the finish.
I had a shot at beating the 8 hour mark. I reached the last aid station at 7:42. Only about a mile to go, but up hill much of the way. This was going to hurt, but I was determined to do it. The volunteer at the aid station was telling me what direction to go. Another runner had come to the aid station. She was being paced by a guy who said, “don’t worry, we’ll pass you soon and you can follow us”. First off, I knew where I was going and second, since you said that there is no way on earth you were going to pass me. The only way you would be passing me is if I were lying there dead on the trail. Certainly as I was coming into that aid station they were gaining on me, but now I was motivated. I ran all but the steepest sections to the finish and put a pretty good gap between us.
It always feels so good to stop. I grabbed my wooden finisher’s medal and headed into the Horine Center for a hot meal. In addition to the finisher’s they also gave me a Colorado Blue Spruce seedling. My goal now is to keep this one alive longer than the one they gave me last year.
Official results are now posted. I was 26th of 48 finishers.