My 3rd 50k of the year was a revisit down to Chattanooga and Rock/Creek’s annual StumpJump. This year offered not only a few extra stumps but also some other pleasant surprises.
In previous years I remember shivering a little at the starting line. No shivering this year. It was going to get hot and everyone knew it. It was only a matter of time before the heat would start zapping all of us. I hit my little wall at the 19 mile aid station. I was doing my usual 5 miles an hour up to that point. After that point, well not as fast. Most of the trail has tree cover, but following a ridge on the sunny side of the mountain was always less fun than on the shady side. I’ve been running a lot outside in the heat this summer, so I was surprised the heat got to me as it did. I probably drank twice the amount of water as in previous races. In the end over 20% of the field DNFd. I think it was mainly due to the heat.
There were at least 3 hornets nests on the trail. We could see small clouds or swarms up ahead and we had to try to sprint through and hope for the best. I got away with 3 stings, all on my left ankle. Some people got over a dozen stings in the end. The bugs didn’t really bother me much, there was some stinging pain, but it was small and localized. If anything it just shifted my focus away from the running pain. Also there was a boost in adrenaline from the excitement.
race start! the tiny insect looking thing in the sky is a camera drone
how i did
I managed to get under 7 hours, a 35 minute improvement over previous years. I was hoping for something closer to a 6 hour finish, but the conditions got to me in the end, like they got most people. So I’ve crept up the chart a little. From 250th place up to 138th. A nice chunk. If I continue my training and remain injury free hopefully someday I can break 5 hours or be in the top 25-50. I may take a year off from this race, not sure yet. There are other races out there and I don’t have to do StumpJump every year.
I’ve learned to be patient and went out pretty conservatively, holding back the first few miles. Learning how to be patient has probably been the most valuable lesson from the races I’ve been doing this year. I’ll try to bump up my race schedule just a little next year to get in some more. It is pretty fun after all.
There were a lot of Hoka shoes out on the race. More so than I’ve seen before. I’ve yet to try these shoes. I asked a few people during the race about them and only heard positives. They still look a little unsafe to me after running in minimal shoes for the last 5+ years. But I’m sure they are comfortable. I may give them a try some day.
This coming weekend I’ll be running in yet another long race, the Cumberland Trail 50k. Having two runs like this back to back could prove to be foolish, but I think my body can handle it. I’ve recovered nicely after just a few days. Still injury free, just a tiny niggle in my Plantar Fascia. Nothing a little foam rolling won’t fix. I’m sure I’ll feel the extra mileage in my legs in the second half of this race, but it’s all good training.After this I’ll be focusing on some speed before my November road marathon. I’m hoping to improve on my 3:33 from this spring. By how much I have no idea, but something under 3:20 would be welcome.