Harbison ad hoc Marathon.

   Harbison ad hoc Marathon Preview Run.

Harbison Marathon start

Harbison ad hoc Marathon start

 November 2011 turned out to be very productive for me with two Marathons: Greenville Spinx on 29 October 2011 (PR time 04:14:25) and this Harbison ad hoc Marathon (~ 6 hours); and two Ultra Marathons: Buncombe 55 km Ultra (turned into 40 miles = 64 km, time 09:32:00) and Mad Marsh 50 km (PR time 05:50:33). Since the end of October till the end of November I ran almost every weekend with one two weeks break between two Ultras! The reason for this activity is my simple desire to have twelve Marathons/Ultra Marathons for my first full year of running regularly! I wouldn’t normally run long distances that often, but I had two months of inactivity in Summer due to twisted ankle injury during Long Cane 50 km run… That put my plan of twelve Marathons/Ultras in this year in jeopardy, and the only way to complete it – is to run some extra events on top of already scheduled monthly. That’s why I did those four runs.
Now, I just need one more long run in December, that is already scheduled – One Epic Run 24 hour, by RD Joe Parker, to make my plan reality! 🙂

This Harbison ad hoc Marathon was concocted by me after I learned that Dan Hartley (RD of www.columbiascmarathon.com and http://harbison50k.carolinaultras.com) was offering Harbison Trail Preview Runs for people to get a feel for Harbison 50 km Trail Run. Althou those runs were only one loop – 25 km, half of the distance, I was thinking of doubling the distance to make it full Ultra or at least a Marathon. Talking to running friends about it I was advised to contact Dan, because he was going to run some distance in the morning before the preview run on Sunday, 27 November 2011. So, I called Dan on Saturday, and he confirmed that he was going to start at 06:30 to complete two 10 km loops and then run 25 km Preview Run at 09:00. That was exactly what I wanted! All I needed was to get ready, pack, wake up at 04:30 and drive to Harbison Forest 90 miles away next morning. Perfect!
Drive to Harbison Forest was very simple, me and my mama were first there, then Drew Walker and Dan Hartley. Three of us were going to run extra distance before Pre-Run after Dan dropped Aid Coolers in two locations on the course.

Dan and Drew.

Dan and Drew.

We started in the dusk, but I ran without a lamp seeing the trail quite good. About 10 minutes later the lamps were not needed anymore. We ran at comfortable speed, with Dan leading the way and showing the turns. It was a different loop, not the same for 50 km. I tried to remember the turns, being lost in the woods quite a few times before. I should study the map before the run… Dan showed me the way to go directly to the start of Harbison Run, which would be ~ 1.5 – 2 km less than the first loop, giving in summary ~ 18.5- 18 km before 25 km Pre-Run. Together it would be very close to a Marathon ~ 43 km!

First 10 km we completed in about one hour and Dan said that he can’t go on the second loop, because he must be at the start of the Preview Run, and it’d be to close time wise. Drew stayed with him. So, I went on the second loop solo with about an hour before Pre-Run. Good thing that I took a map from the stand, it really helped me to navigate the maze of trails. Running the second loop, I felt good, not tired at all, and managed to follow the course precisely, althou it looked different in the full day light, until I hit the trail intersection on the river side “Bluffs”, and a Note that “Now you are leaving State Forest”… I realized immediately that I am off course… Looked on the map and retraced back to missed turn. Fortunately it was the only detour I took! Looking very carefully at the map at each trail intersection and running good between them brought me to the start of Pre-Run at 08:54. Just on time! 🙂 Half of my plan was already completed, with 25 km Harbison loop left to run. I had enough time to drink mineral water, juice and to eat a sweet bar. 🙂
Pre-Run accumulated about 25 people, who were already on the parking lot getting ready to run.

Harbison Pre-Run.

Harbison Preview Run. Before start.

Pretty soon, in just a few minutes Dan started a briefing. Since the course is very twisted, using many different trails and UNmarked at this time, there will be a leading runner – Doug Robinson, running fast, who knows the course, and Dan will be a sweep, running slower at the back of the group. This way everybody will have a chance to run the course and not get lost!

Pre-Run briefing by RD Dan Hartley.

Pre-Run briefing by RD Dan Hartley.

On start. Preview Run for Harbison.

On start. Preview Run for Harbison.

At around 9:00 we went to the start position on the road and soon, in just a few minutes Dan gave command to start running.  We all started along the road in good spirits!

Preview run started! 25 km ahead of us.

Preview run started! 25 km ahead of us.

I started the second half of my run feeling well, legs were not tired, so I had to claim my 15 seconds of fame by speeding up and running ahead of everybody! 🙂 That was over quickly and I decided to follow Doug Robinson as long as I could, althou I knew that I would not be able to keep up the whole distance, because he was running 6 hour pace (for 50 km), and my PR is 05:50 on the flat course, that I made just a week ago. Four of us were running and talking for a while, then Joe Parker reached us and soon took off ahead, but at about “GG” post (~ 5 km) I slowed down, feeling loss of power… Ate the sweet bar, drank juice and continued to run as I could, until I hit an intersection… Where to go now?? Waited for other runners, and soon a woman ran in and showed me the way. Quickly after that Dan’s first Aid Drop cooler was in front of me! Refilled one of my bottles with Gatorade, ate some food, drank water, talked to other runners, who came here shortly after me, and started to run again.
Those runners reached me quickly and then passed. I tried to follow, but they soon disappeared ahead. Another woman, Michelle, reached me after them and I was able to keep up with her for some time, but she also ran away. It was getting warmer, my shorts were completely wet, but thankfully there was a slight breeze, that was cool and very pleasant. I ran alone for quite a distance, until I came to another trail intersection… I had a left turn in mind, looking on the map, but was not sure, and decided to wait for others. Used the break to eat my last gel, drank juice/water mix and waited some more… It took at least ten minutes for group of runners, including Jason Sullivan, with Bo Millwood in front of them, to get here, and Dan told me to run left! I went ahead, knowing that if I stay in group or slow down, I might fall further behind. We entered “Spider woman” section, and it has many turns and some intersections. I waited at each of them for Dan and runners to tell me where to go. This way we run the rest of the course. At one of the intersections I was surprised to see Joe Parker, waiting for the runners. He explained that he went fishing. Okay, where is the fish, Joe?! 🙂
There is a rock pyramid on the left side of the trail on these section – approximately at a Marathon distance, counted if running on the second loop. That meant we had another 10 km to finish. Surely I’ll finish it. This section also has some uphills, which I started to walk. Normally I’d run them till I complete a Marathon, and my previous Harbison 50 km I ran thru completely, both loops! But today I already felt tired… November was very busy for me – two Ultras (50 km PR – 5:50 and 64 km) and two Marathons (one PR – 4:15, second today:-). Surprisingly for me my legs were able to do it, and recovered on the third day after runs, and tiredness was caused by general fatigue.
We ran into the second Dan’s Aid Drop cooler, and I almost got off course there, thinking of running the same way as on the morning loop. Luckily Dan and company followed closely behind and returned me on correct path. After drinking some water, and eating cookies, we reloaded our bottles and went on the final section of the run. First on the riverside, than on service road, and that section became more and more familiar, as I remembered it from the last year! Here the whole group passed me on uphills and I ran my best trying to keep up, which became a bit easier on downhills, where I finally reached them at the moment Dan twisted his ankle… Sorry, Dan, I know exactly how it feels…
We all slowed down and then started to run again. I tried to stay ahead before they’d pass me. Sure enough, the Schmitz team – William & Kristin, reached me and passed EXACTLY on the same stretch, where they passed me last year during my very first Ultra Run – 2010 Harbison 50 km! I knew the finish was very close, so I started to run as fast as I can and was able to overpass them on the last meters of the run! Althou they were not in competing mode. 🙂
When I came to finish, most of the runners were already there, and a few came after me, because they ran in training mode not competing for speed. Time was about 12:56. Which makes my total Marathon time around 6 hours. Not the best time, but good enough considering my running load for November.
Harbison ad hoc Marathon is completed! My number 12 Marathon/Ultra Marathon total! First was Greenville Spinx Marathon in October 2010, and 11 completed this year. All I need is one more in December to make 12 in this year – one for each month!
I’m thankful to Dan Hartley (RD of www.columbiascmarathon.com and http://harbison50k.carolinaultras.com) for helping me to reach my goal by organizing this Pre-Run and assisting me to get additional 18 km in the early morning, before official run! Thank you very much Dan! I owe you now. Feel free to ask for help!

Harbison ad hoc Marathon finish!

Harbison ad hoc Marathon finish!

That means XII = 12 Marathons/Ultra Marathons completed!

That means XII = 12 Marathons/Ultra Marathons completed!

Dan invited everybody to Ale House for food and offered to pay for a first round of drinks after a run. About a dozen of us went and had some talk and laughs after the run! Thanks again, Dan!

Refreshments after the run!

Refreshments after the run!

Relaxing after a run!

Relaxing after a run!

Drive home was a most mundane task of the day…

Congratulations to all runners for persevering in this event and Thanks to Dan for helping me to make it!!!

All photos of this run you can view on my Picasa Web album.  No FaceBook account required. Althou, the same album is on FaceBook. It’s open to public, so you welcome to download, upload your photos, tag and comment! 


Harbison ad hoc Marathon

Damage report: 1. Very mild chafing around arm pits. No blisters on feet! Terri’s advice to lube toes with body glide (I modified for massage oil) – works perfect!

Recovery: Mild pain in quadriceps for about three days.

Resolutions: 1) BE VERY CAREFUL ON THE TRAIL – DO NOT GET LOST!!! 2) Do more cross and strength training, 3) Keep losing weight.

Good exercises for good health everyone!!! Do not overdo, do no harm to yourself!!! Exercise safely!!!

P.s. Please, tell me if you want your name to be partially omitted from post (e.g. last name removed).
 Also, please, let me know of any mistakes I made, English is not my native tongue. And feel free to talk in Russian with me any time! 😉

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