Highlands Sky 2014 Report – Susan Hall

I slept great the night before Highlands Sky. I woke up thinking there is nowhere else I would rather be. It was a wonderful run day with cool temperatures in the morning (low 50’s high 66). Gary Smith and I ran almost the entire race together. We ran strong and steady all day. At the start most of my Copperhead Ridge Runner friends take off in the lead pack. Gary and I hold a 8:30 minute mile pace which I was concerned might be too fast but our breathing was good. Natalie McBrayer comes flying past us like she is in a 5K race LOL. I had my Garmin set for average pace. My plan was to stay between 13.5 to 14 average pace. I really had no idea how to pace this course. I talked with Mike Dolin, Dennis Stottlemyer, Gina Thomas, and Rick Workman to get my plan together. Even though I had run HS in 2007 it felt like my first time. When we turned onto the first trail “Flat Rock” I felt like I was on a mission. I had set small goals and larger goals for the race. I must say I met every goal I set for myself. I had a plan and a strong determination to get to the finish line. At mile 5 we caught up and passed Natalie…she was not doing well. Gary and I encouraged her and told her she would catch up to us on the Road Across the Sky. (we thought about her several time during the day hoping she recovered from her bonk). AID Station 2 at mile 10.5 DISASTER for me. I pride myself on not wasting time at AID stations. I encountered some issues getting my hydration pack filled up. I was so DISTRESSED!!!! I asked Gary to get me some pretzels and walked away trying to get my pack back together. I missed my Heed because I had to get out of there. I had AID Station splits for 9 hours, my friend Rick’s last year finish at 9:38, and 10 hour. We ended up following Rick’s splits. Let it be known, Gary and I love rocks, mud, and black water. We love jagged rocks, roots and deep creek crossing. We love the Road Across the Sky! We love climbing across the moon boulders and going down Butt Slide. We told ourselves this all day long. At AID Station 4 we changed socks. I took a hard fall on the road section of course this is the least technical section of the race so leave it to me to fall there. I loved seeing Dan Todd at the end of the road. Dolly Sods was beautiful with miles of winding rocky single track. Then more mud another creek crossing, more rocks. Up the ski slope down Butt Slide to AID station 8 YAY. I ran strong the last 4.1 miles. I ran as fast as I could. I passed several people. I felt great the entire run. I never had a low moment or bonk. I was not that tired at the end of the race. Dan Todd was right when he said “Susan was smiles all day”

Mission Accomplished!

Author: Susan Hall – GEMINI RUNNER