Heading out Saturday morning from my new residence in Mocksville to the start of the challenge, I would have never thought I would even come close to beating my previous PR of 1:55:30. In fact, I was expecting to run no better than 2 hours on this run. I relayed the same message to everyone at the start and seeing everyone take off ahead of me was a bit demoralizing, but expected. So I just put my head down (no views today anyway), and ran at a pace that I felt I could maintain. I power-hiked all of the extremely steep stuff on the OVT, which I usually try to run a bit of and didn't really care what my watch said. In my mind there was no way I was going to climb any faster than my previous best, but when I got to Yellow Mtn Gap and took my first split, it was 2+ minutes faster than my best. I really didn't think much of it and just kept doing what I was doing the rest of the way up the AT to Little Hump.
When I took my split at the turnaround I realized I just took off two minutes from my fastest climb. Maybe it was the lack of views, as I could only see 15 ft in front of me due to some heavy fog, but it revived me and I knew I could make it back down just as fast as before. Then, I turned on the jets and shaved another 2 minutes off my time on the descent. I set a 4 minute PR and came in at 1:51:10!!! Here are the splits from my previous best 1:55:30 (48:28,20:12) - 1:08:40 (13:13, 33:37) - 46:50 and my new best 1:51:10 (45:55, 20:33) - 1:06:29 (13:05, 31:36) - 44:44.
All of this was very surprising considering I thought I wasn't in as good of mountain running shape as I was when I set my old PR. I guess all the vertical I got at Hanging Rock State Park this summer is still with me or maybe the speed sessions I've been doing is getting my legs used to quicker turnover. Whatever it is, I just got a huge confidence boost in my running. Now to go out and get some more miles on the legs on some new trail at Lake Norman State Park!
Also congratulations to Tim Weed (1:34:21), Adam Hill (1:35:20), Lindsay Weed (2:03:31), and Rick Merriman for doing an equally hard summit run, just to the wrong summit. He actually summited Big Yellow Mtn, which would have been even more of a beautiful sight if not for the fog. The bench mark has been set by Tim and Adam with their stellar times! Those are going to be hard to beat!