Stick to a task ’til it sticks to you. . . for beginners are many, but finishers few.
-Thomas S. Monson
Tough day on Lookout Mountain 50 for many. I finished in 11:45, one hour, two minutes slower than last year. Here are a couple of comparison stats from last year to this year.
This year, I ran without a safety runner and without a crew. All the miles mentioned are approximate.
Lookout 50 2015
- 174 finishers (145 men and 29 women)
- Finish Line 1, 21/22 miles, my split was 4:24
- Finish Line 2, 50 miles, my split was 6:19
- Finish time 10:43
Lookout 50 2016
- 137 finishers (99 men & 38 women)
- Finish Line 1, 21/22 miles, my split was 4:21
- Finish Line 2, 50 miles, my split was 7:29
- Finish time 11:45
- DNF: 13 men & 7 women
- DNS: 29 men & 20 women (approximately)
The start & weather Lookout starts at Covenant College in GA at 7:30 am EST. It is a wide open, short road section through a portion of campus until you come to the trail head. At the trail head, there’s a brief slow down as everyone files onto the trail and patiently head single file onto the single track. 🙂
The weather forecast changed 5 times, leading up to race morning. As of race morning, showers would start around noon. The temperature started at 38 degrees and would climb to a high of 70 at 3:00 pm, with intermittent showers. As I mentally prepared for the race in the days leading up to the start, I planned to expect rain.
Miles 0-8 ran by feel. This first section to AS 1 (aid station 1) is mostly downhill and very runnable. This year, it seemed like runners were being a bit more cautious with the wet leaves and wet rocks. I hung with most of the crowd for about 4 miles, and then decided to move around runners and find my sweet spot. At about mile 5 1/2, you hit a steep climb, then, a switch back decent to a jeep road. LOVE, LOVE this section. I def pushed my pace here. I ran hard to AS2, felt good. I stopped to refill my bottles. I wanted to stay well hydrated, especially as temps would be rising as the day went on. (Last year, I did not stop here at all.)
Miles 8-15 another quick, runnable section. I definitely had my sweet spot. I did not feel like chatting or running with anyone. This is where I put one ear bud in and just ran. 🙂 It felt good. This section overall is slightly downhill with some rollers here and there. This group of miles to enjoy running on. The next section has a long climb back up to the start/finish. I stopped to fill my bottle here too and grab a few fig newtons. (Last year, I did not stop here.)
Miles 15-21/22 Easily one of my favorite sections. I LOVE to hike uphill. There’s a short, steep climb out of AS2, then, rolling hills to the 3 mile climb back up to the start/finish. It is a great feeling to pass people HIKING. The climbing felt easier than last year. Still going by feel and not looking at my watch. I arrived around noon, and I was hungry. I stopped to refill my bottles with water and Gnarly electrolyte drink. I really like the Gnarly drink, WAY better than HEED and better than GU Roctaine. I needed to eat. I grabbed a bagel with almond butter and honey out of my drop bag. I ate it all while walking out of this AS3.
Miles 21/22-30 This section of the course is also the last 8 miles of the race. I thought this section was marked better than last year. The section is mostly downhill with a few short climbs and rollers. This section has a creek crossing. You do not have to get your feet wet, if you cross on the rocks. At about mile 30, you arrive at AS4. This is one of my favorite AS’s. It is right by the waterfall. The group of volunteers here is a lively bunch! LOVE it!
Miles 30-34 The most memorable part of this section is the rope climb!! Here, I saw Jobie Williams (one of the course photographers & a friend of mine). It was really good to see him. He humored me and let me go back down the rope so that we could stage a shot climbing back up. 🙂 This section also provides a great view and nice, runnable bluff portion. Toward the end of this section, you are able to see and cheer on the leaders, as they are running to the finish. It is cool to see how hard they are working.
I still felt good and was running by feel. Last year, I started watching my pace here, anticipating the time with my safety runner, Kevin. I walked more of this part last year. This year, I did not have a safety runner. I was not sure how the next section would go. It entered my mind that I would be doing it alone. This might be the place when I asked myself, “what is your why today?” I needed to be reminded, because I was getting ready to run the rest on my own.
The last 1/2 mile of this section is on the road to the Long Branch AS4 & AS5. This is where you can stretch out your legs and RUN!
Miles 34-38 This is the spot last year when my stomach went downhill FAST. Last year, I suffered from this point to the finish. This year, it was different. My stomach did not bother me at all. This AS is called Long Branch, you visit it at miles 34 and 38. You can have a drop bag here. I stopped here, dropped my pack, grabbed a water bottle, some food and took off. This is a 4 mile loop. It was a nice break to drop my pack and run/hike with just a water bottle.
I do not remember much of this section from last year. I think I was kind of out of it and suffering with my stomach. I was lucky to have a safety runner, last year. This section was pretty. A lot of runners will tell you that this is their least favorite section because it is difficult to get a rhythm on the single track. I disagree. I would tell you to look forward to this. 🙂
Done with the loop and back to mile 38. (sigh) I did it. 🙂 KEVIN-you’d be proud of me here. I ran more than I walked. I put my jacket back on, put my pack back on, filled my bottles, put my headlamp in my pack, grabbed several pieces of frosted Christmas cookies, and smiled as I headed out. FINISH TIME!!
This is when the fog started to roll in thick, and there was a 5 minute downpour.
Miles 38-43 These are the same miles that I ran to get to Long Branch. I started hiking with a friend, here. I cannot remember his name. This is also where we got a bit lost, by about 1/4 mile. The fog was pretty thick, and it was raining. We missed the flag we needed to follow to get off the road and back on single track. GLAD that we noticed that sooner rather than later. (phew)
Back down the rope to one of my fav Lookout AS’s!! At this point, there were 3 of us together, me and two guys. We dropped down the rope to the last AS before the finish!! By this time, the atmosphere was a bit more lively. Last year, they had whiskey shots here. This year? Nope. I asked them if it was against the rules, this year. They quickly told me no that they make the rules out here! They just did not have whiskey. 🙂
All 3 of us were ready to finish!
Miles 43-50 “Are we there, yet?!” We power hiked almost the entirety of this section. It was getting dark here, and we put on our headlamps. The fog made it difficult to see with our headlamps on our heads. It was like driving in the fog, with the fine mist falling. To see better, we had to carry our headlamps. This section has lots of rocks and roots. It is okay to navigate in the light at mile 23, but it beats you up in the dark at mile 46!!
It was a grind. LOTS of hiking. Some running.
With a mile to go, I told the guys that we had to run across the finish line (Kevin). They weren’t convinced. With about 1/2 mile to go, I said, “I think we can run now.” We ran a bit. We slipped on a hill, going down in the mud. We started walking. I saw the finish. I started RUNNING. I crossed first in 11:45!
Happy 45th birthday to me!!!
83 out of 137 overall
16 out of 38 women
4 out of 7 in my age group
Hungry. Satisfied. Thankful. Finished.