Race Recap : Long Cane 50k

Once again I have waited a ridiculous amount of time to write a race recap so the details are fuzzy now. This time its been two weeks three weeks. I have an excuse for the first week. I was on vacation. The second week? I was mourning the end of vacation and the gain of 5lbs. The third week I, well I don’t remember what I was doing last week. Probably nothing at all. One of these days I’ll get my head out of my ass. Or we can at least pretend that might happen. For now I’ll just do a quick brain dump of what I do remember.

Remember when I somewhat spontaneously did the Columbia marathon three weeks after Myrtle Beach and it knocked me flat?

Remember how I talked about the Landsford 24 Hour being a little bit “seat of my pants” as far as planning? And it went pretty darn well but I said I was going to make sure and focus better on the next event?

Well before I officially made that decision, I signed up for the Long Cane 50k. Long Cane fell three weeks after Landsford. Oh, and I convinced my brother, Ryan, to sign up as well. He was going to be in town from Colorado for the annual family beach vacation anyway and Long Cane was sort of on the way from Charlotte to Charleston. Except maybe a few hours in the opposite direction but who is counting.

Making this whole adventure even more interesting was the fact that it was Ryan’s first running race ever. He had been running a bit for some cross training while readying for the Grand Traverse with our Dad. When I mentioned the 50k idea, a couple weeks prior to the Traverse he said he’d just “run a shit load” between the Traverse and Long Cane. ; And, voila, he had himself a training plan.

He noticed that the race required runners to carry water in a fuel belt, hydration pack or handheld bottle. I sent him some links to option and he came back with a text that said, “Handheld water bottle –check”


Mountain people. So quirky. That there is the only picture I have for this entire shenanigan. Sad.

Ryan arrived to 90+ degree heat in Charlotte (from, I’m guessing, 40 degree cool in Breckenridge, CO?) on Thursday evening and promptly made note of the heat and humidity. It was not a very enthusiastic note. It may have contained a bit of profanity. He also confessed that he hadn’t had a chance to run anything over 15 miles. Eek.

While I worried that we should cancel rather than gamble on distance and heat that Ryan was not acclimated to, he took advantage of being in the big city and went out shopping. He grabbed himself new shorts and new socks, brands and styles he hadn’t worn before, to go with the new pair of shoes he’d only worn once. Isn’t it considred good luck to try all new things for a race? We are known for making great decisions. And having great hair. We also have a bit of a family saying,”How hard can it be?!” We typically say this to foreshadow that we are about to get our asses handed to us in some purely Griswold fashion. ;

Saturday evening, after a neighborhood Cinco de Mayo block party, we made the drive to Abbeville, SC, arriving around 10pm at the Abbevilla Motel. The clerk informed us we were the last of the Long Cane group to arrive. We apologized, tiptoed into our room, did a quick bed bug check (totally not kidding) and pretty much passed out. If you need a place to stay for this event, I’d recommend the Abbevilla. It is old but cheap, clean and very convenient to the race location. And, last I checked, no bed bugs.

Sunday morning we got up around 5:30, coated ourselves in sunscreen and bodyglide, threw down some pb&j on english muffins and headed out by 6. We arrived at Parsons Mountain Recreation Area by about 6:15 to get checked in and await the 7am start.

After a quick talk from race director, Terri Hayes, we were off. I think the best way I can group my thoughts is to break the run down by aid station. I can remember the aid stations pretty well.

Start to Aid Station #1 ( 0-5 miles) – We were moving along really well. The trail was smooth, the air was cool and the crowd was energized. At some point in the middle of this leg I tripped over a root. I slammed the crap out of my toes but popped up fast and Ryan tried not to laugh at me. At the aid station I knocked back some Heed thinking it was water. I also noted that they were cooking sausage on a small grill. I was baffled by the sausage.

AS1-AS2 (5-10 miles) – Still moving well, trail awesome, weather so much cooler than we expected. I didn’t fall down at all! At the aid station I spotted what looked like endurolytes and snagged them along with an oatmeal cookie and fluids. I pointed out the pills to Ryan and said they were either endurolytes or ecstasy and suggested he have one. He did.

AS2-AS3 (10-15 miles) – We are awesome, master ultra runners. We even pass some people and feel superfab. Our pace is consistent and comfortable. This aid station had this supervolunteer in charge. She was grabbing our bottles, filling them up, serving up food, slinging drop bags. I could have watched her hustle that place all day. I ate some cookies and pretzels. I ditched my hat and ryan ditched his shirt, shoving both into the drop bag.

AS3-AS4 (15-20 miles) – Pace is still awesome. We were steadily maintaining a 12:15 pace this whole time, even with the aid station stops. This stretch of trail was the prettiest. We were having a great time. This aid station had chick-fil-a brownies. I love CFA brownies but the thought of eating one right at that moment was upsetting. We sat an extra few minutes at this aid station because we knew the next stretch was a bit longer to the next stop. Drank a bit more water, refilled bottles and ate more cookies.

AS4-AS5 (20-27 miles) – We were still rocking right along until about 23rd mile. Ryan mentioned that he was starting to get a little tired.  Nothing major, we took some walk breaks and kept at it. We were both amazed at how well it was going for both of us though. At some point in there we took a wrong turn. We’d gone about a mile when some folks came running up the trail towards us. They’d gone 45 minutes in the wrong direction. My mood was hit enough by going 10 minutes in the wrong direction. I cannot imagine how these people were feeling. It took me a couple miles to shake off the funk of that lost mile. Seems so stupid because it was just a mile (well two I guess, one in the wrong direction and then one back to the right direction) but we’d already been in a tired moment and this didn’t help. Add all that in to the fact that we longer than normal to get to the next aid station and we had some slow, quiet miles there for a bit. I tripped and fell twice in this section, slamming the crap out of my toes again on one of the falls. Ryan later told me he was certain I was done at that point. I had to hobble it out for more than a few minutes before I could run again. Ouch.

We reached the aid station and hung out for a while. Had to get our heads around the final stretch. There had been Pepsi at all the aid stations. I really don’t like Pepsi but I had this nagging need for a little soda hit. I asked Ryan if he’d have some of it if I opened a can. I didn’t want to be wasteful. He wasn’t interested but I opened it anyway. We each took a couple sips and it was glorious. We damn near arm wrestled over that can of Pepsi. It tasted so perfect right at that moment.

AS5 – Finish Line – Shortly after leaving the aid station we ended up on a nice stretch of slight downhill. That combined with the Pepsi buzz really pumped me up. I was prattling on and on,”Ryan, don’t you suddenly just feel so good?? I feel like the brain fog is totally gone now. I feel so much better!” and he sort of grunted back but our pace did improve a bit for the first half of this stretch. The last few miles were rolling hills that felt really tough so we ended up walking a ton. Our moods stayed great though.

We crossed the finish line in 7:38. Up until around the 24/25 mile point we had been on track for a 6:30 finish so, considering the amount of walking we did in the last few miles and the loooooong stop at that last aid station, we felt pretty good about our time. The trail was really pretty, smooth and runnable. The weather never got anywhere near as hot as we expected. All in all, it was a great day.

We hung out at the finish for a while, sat in the lake and then took showers before hitting the road for the 3.5 hour drive to the beach.

Thanks to Terri Hayes for putting on such a nice race and to her fantastic volunteers out at the aid stations! I will definitely be back for this one again.

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