YABRR: Achilles Hill LPS 2020 Edition
AKA: "The Old Wolf Hunts With The Teeth He Has Left"
Standard disclaimer, anything below the line is fluff, here is the important stuff.
There is no way I can thank everyone for this race, since I tend to be wordy anyway, I don't want to have to go with Part 1 and Part 2 for a race report. If you were there, thank you; if you weren't there, thank you as well. I will thank Shellene, for letting me go play without adult supervision. I've got to thank Ben, Christopher and the rest of DARC for putting this on, it was good to be out again.
Sunrise at Sunset found a group of 11 hearty souls lined up to start the Achilles Hill Last DumDum Standing race. My overall strategy was simple, keep running with my friends. If there was anyone starting a lap, I would be there. I knew some runners had lofty goals of 100, 150 and maybe more miles, so I was set for 36 hours gear-wise at least. I knew most of the runners on the line, and figured that it was going to be a long day at the office. In my mind, I wanted at least 125 miles; that would get me across Tennessee and a Blazing 7s finish, but I knew I'd need help doing so - there was no way I was going to run laps just to clock miles unless I was close to those goals.
The first two laps were all about learning the course, so I could set my marks and then start hitting my time goals (I wanted 52-53 minute laps, figuring that would give me time to take care of what was needed, without getting bored/cold. Once I had that down, I started running with the different runners, talking and generally being me. This also gave me a good idea of who would probably be in the final group, I figured it would probably be Alex, Brent, Elisa and me in the final group, and I should get my 125.
The loop itself was a mix of open field, gravel road, asphalt and a short trail section, with all the climbing on the asphalt section. I knew once the sun started heating up, that section was going to suck the life out of runners. The trail section was fun since it had rained hard the night before. I had originally planned on wearing road shoes, but had two pair of trail shoes packed - just in case. After slipping in the mud on lap 1, I decided to stick to the trail shoes.
Started lap 5 or 6 eating a fresh cheeseburger out of the gate. That got me a few odd looks, but I knew I could digest it for 20 minutes before I had to do any real work, and it was good. On one of my later laps I decided that I was going to need longer than 8 minutes between laps (the call of nature) so I picked up the pace for a full lap (no walking the hills). After that, it was back to hitting my splits.
Early on the weather was nice, cloudy and slightly cool, but we all knew that it would burn off and start taking its toll sooner or later. We all started lap 8 together. I had asked Ben if he knew what that record for longest number of laps without a drop was, I know what the shortest is - Big's Backyard had one runner failed to complete lap 1 in time. Maybe I shouldn't have asked that. At one point I saw Rolando moving very painfully, he was injured. When I finished the lap I told his crew what he would need if he was going to attempt to continue, sadly he missed the time cut.
Lap 8 was also when Stephanie and Chad pulled the plug. That gave them all 50ks. Stephanie was planning on waiting a bit, then continue clocking miles for a virtual race.
At one point I asked if there was pizza delivery and Darren volunteered to go into town. We came back to a pizza buffet with meat, veggie and vegan pizza options. Started the next lap eating pizza.
Ray missed the time cut for the start of lap 10, he's gearing up a for a mountain 100, and was playing it smart.
Jason decided that he was done after lap 10, having been fighting an injury for a while he did more than he expected
Tod Tieszen set a distance PR before stopping at the end of lap 11.
Lap 13, Brent was suffering, I hung back with him for the first 1/2 of the lap, which took 30 minutes. Knowing it would be close he told me to go on, he would try to continue. I told him I'd let his crew know to be ready for a quick turn, and asked what was the minimun he'd need. He finished with maybe 2 minutes on the clock, and was able to start lap 14, but he was toast. He decided that it was time, and shortcutted back to the start, planning to recover and then clock more miles afterwards.
Lap 14, last lap of the full sun. I figured folks who made it this far would start to recover, and we'd keep pushing. It was Alex, Elisa, Garren and myself, so I was 3/4 right on who I thought would be there. Brent rejoined us for the first full dark lap (15), and off we went. We ran it as a true pack, using Alex's split markers to switch between run and walk the entire way. As mentioned, our wolf pack got serenaded by coyotes as we were running. It was during this lap that we discovered that Elisa has no fear of spiders, and was willing to lead through the woods (I suffer from arachnophobia). We got to the finish and both Alex and Garren decided that they were happy with their training runs and were done.
Lap 16, the old wolf and the alpha female took off, with a young pup in tow. We had a nice peaceful lap, talking running and enjoying life. Sadly, I knew I'd be running lap 17 alone, and without a pack the old wolf is toast - even the cows were staring at me thinking that they could take me.
"For the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack"
~ Rudyard Kipling