This entry is going up wicked late- almost a month after the event! My sincerest apologies – I’ve been busy with family, work, and most of all getting ready for the TRT – which was last weekend, that post is coming soon!
Date of HHNH: 25 June 2016
My race calendar after The Canyons – essentially summer til the end of the year – has been structured entirely around the Tahoe Rim Trail 100. It was to be my first 100 mile event, and had all of my focus. When people asked my plans for fall, I just told them “we’ll see after Tahoe!”
Running Through the Shadows of the Past
The summer, however, means that it is also time for the kids to come out again. This year my father and I planned out a week long grandfather, father, and son adventure across Virginia and Pennsylvania, ending at my father’s house just outside of Pittsburgh.
On the way to VA, I stopped for a day in CT to attend my stepbrother’s wedding. It was lovely, and I got to run trails in Devil’s Hopyard State Park I used to hike as a child with my family. The terrain is so different than the west coast – the look, the feel. The eastern woodlands are a beautiful place. The main trail leads to a scenic vista, offering a view of the valley below. The last time I hiked that trail was 2004, just before I left for the military. It had been 12 years since the last time I been up there, long before I was who I am now, and certainly before I was a runner. The mixed memories of my youth left me with a view that was grander than what lay before me. It was a sublime moment of reflection. Our memories of the past are often minimal when seen through the eyes our future selves.
Still, it was beautiful to see a place so dear to me once again.
Once in VA, we made our way across the country side. We went camping and hiking in the Shenandoah National Park, rafting at Ohiopyle, PA, and spent some fantastic time together. I even got 20 miles in on the Appalachian Trail. The last time I hiked on that was another key time in my life – lost in myself, between marriages, and at a cross roads that planted the seeds of my life as I know it now – I was ready for bigger things.
Hell Hath No Hurry
Since I needed a long run while I was in town, I found the Hell Hath No Hurry race series just outside of Pittsburgh on the final day of the trip. It was to be used as a training run for the TRT100, with the motto of “A Glimpse of Heaven…A Taste of Hell”. In a little twist of irony, although this race was in no hurry for hell, I certainly was!
There are 50 Mile, 50K, 30K, 10K events staggered so that everyone ends in the afternoon to enjoy the cookout and festivities together. The 50M starts at 6 am, the 10K at 9, the 50K at 10 and the 30K at 12. The big thing is that each race starts so the trails are not congested, and a common practice is many runners sign up for both the 10K and 30K – giving adequate time to rest between the events.
The event takes place at Cayuga Groove in Settlers Cabin Park, with ample parking and a fantastic playground for
me the kids.
The course is made of ~6.3 mile loops, bringing the 50K to about 33 miles when all is said and done. Rolling single track, Pennsylvania hills, roots, rocks, a stream and beautiful scenery keep the feet guessing and the eyes full. There are well stocked aid stations at the ~3 mile and ~5 mile marks, with cold water, snacks and electrolytes. The start/finish area had the biggest station with watermelon and pickles. There was a LOT of other stuff, but lets face it… watermelon and pickles are really what matter most. Since aid was so plentiful and close, I left the vest, and carried a single bottle. I left a drop bag at the start/finish with my Salt Stick, Honey Stinger, and other supplies.
By the end of the second loop, about 12 noon, the east coast humidity was taking its toll on me. The shirt came off, and for every cup of water I would drink at an aid station, I would dump another on my head.
I took fourth place out of the gate, and settled into third by the second lap. I ran the majority of the race with Devin Matthews, last year’s winner, holding second and third together until the 4th lap, when I pulled into second. I ran hard and kept wondering where the first place runner was. When I crossed the line, I found out that I had been as close as 2 minutes behind him at the start of the 4th lap, but he ultimately dropped, and I took first for the finish.
Overall it was a great race for me. There was no intestinal issues, no deep depression, no major mental obstacles, or physical breakdowns. I had tired legs from the week of training, but as it was a voluminous week of training for a 100 – it was to be expected. The RD, Peter Kozlowski, cares a lot for his event and it shows. Amazing finishers hardware, wonderful food, beer, and support. Great aid, free photography from multiple photographers and locations, and an overall wonderful atmosphere.
If you find yourself in the hills of Pennsylvania and want to spend the day with wonderful people on some great trails – Hurry over to this race!
Thank you to the staff, volunteers, and sponsors of the HHNH. I hope to see you all again next year!
– The Winged Ling