On Sunday, May 29th at 3:00AM I started at Fontana Dam and made my way north to Davenport Gap. This was my first speed record attempt and my second longest run ever (miles and time), but the most elevation gain I have done at time. Helping me all day long was my husband Logan Lemcke. Logan began crewing for me in 2020 when I started getting into ultra running, so by now we have a strong system and this effort would not have happened without him.
I felt comfortable and excited about the day ahead as I made my way up the mountain for the first 4 miles with my husband trailing behind me. I was anxious about running in the dark alone so he was my security blanket the first 45 minutes. We yelled our goodbyes and he went back down the AT. I felt good about conquering that fear but it didn't come easily! I made a rookie mistake and did not pack an extra battery for my headlamp even though it 'should have' lasted. This resulted in me using my phone flashlight for the last 75 minutes of darkness. I rolled with it and kept myself calm, especially because there was no one to complain to at 5:00 AM. It slowed me down a little but I convinced myself it was my secret weapon that was going to help me later in the day. I was very excited to see daylight come! Most of the miles were uneventful and I passed very few people. It was 60 degrees and 95% humidity when we started and I was feeling it from the beginning, so I knew staying on top of fueling was the only way I was going to get this done. I was excited about finally seeing wild hogs on the trail but they were harmless. I stopped at Derrick Knob Shelter (mile 22.3) and Double Spring Gap (29.5) to refill my bottles. I knew from my training run two weeks prior that the first 32 miles is tough, but it is really the last 16 in that section that break you down. I felt strong coming up towards Clingman's Dome and finished the 32.14 miles in 7:49:59 which was exactly where I wanted to be. Logan helped me do a quick gear change and refuel. We were fast but didn't rush since there are only two main points to stock back up. For me, the more relaxed I am in these situations the better the next section goes.
Clingman's Dome to Newfound Gap was a breeze and pretty enjoyable! My main goal was to slow it down here and get extra calories in. I ran relaxed and did a lot of intentional hiking. This 7.48 mile section took me 2:01:24. I saw Logan again and this time we took a little more time, maybe 5 minutes. I stocked up on fuel for another solo 8 hours and changed my clothes. Logan started with me to give me some company and we took the first 1.5 miles out of Newfound gap very relaxed. It is a pretty difficult section of trail in my opinion so we did a good amount of hiking. Although Logan doesn't love this type of trail he helped keep me moving and happy! After 2 miles together we said goodbye and I kept heading north. Although I was enjoying the solo journey, it was nice to have him keep my mind of what was to come.
When he left me I was still feeling great and starting to get excited about a sub-17 minute effort. During this section I filled up bottles at Tri Corner Knob (55.9). I was making good time on the previous FKT time hanging about an hour ahead consistently but started to slip the last 15 miles. Mentally I was in a great place and I didn't experience any huge 'lows'. I think at the end of the day I am still learning and getting stronger in this space, so my body started to call it quits; my quads had enough of the descent. Fortunately with almost 6 miles to go I ran into Logan who hiked up from Davenport Gap. It wasn't fast but we kept moving until the end! It took me 7:42:04 to run the last 31.05 miles.
Even with some difficulty it was a perfect day and I can't wait to do more of this!
For all of the real nerds:
-I wore the SCOTT Kinabalu 2 the entire run; they handled the rocks, roots, and thick mud perfectly! I don't have a single blister.
-I wore rabbit clothing all day long which helped keep me comfortable and cool in 80+ degree weather/95% humidity. This included the steady state tank, ez tank, leggy spandex with pockets, and the smashems with a built in belt. Perfect for when you have to carry fuel for 8 hours at a time.
-I ate a Spring Energy apple cinnamon gel every 40 mins for the entire 17+ hours of running, getting down 26x 180 calorie gels.
-In addition to the gels I also ate Untapped waffles, pickles and pickle juice, 1x V8 100 mg caffeine drink, 1 salt tablet every hour for the first 10 hours (then I forgot to take more with me oops!), a McDonalds hash brown and egg McMuffin, and some sips of coke.
-I drank 10x 17 oz bottle of Long Haul (1 bottle=200 calories, 50 carbs), plus additional bottles of water and liquid IV. I was never dehydrated even at the finish.
-I was 24 hours out from my period which I knew was dangerous territory. I tend to have terrible cramps, mood swings, and body aches during this time. The week leading up to this effort I took Semaine period and pms support pills twice a day (which I do regularly before the start of my cycle). It wasn't perfect but it kept my symptoms under control and I would recommend this product to all female runners.
-Zero meltdowns and a lot of smiles because I get to do this! :-)