Running the OT50 – What a difference a trail makes!

Written by Philip Walter on Apr 20 at 9:47 pm in cardiovascular training, hiking/trail running, itBODYnature, weMINDculture

My dad and I summit Pinnacle Mountain during the Ouachita Trail 50k race on April 19, 2008

Photo courtesy of
black dog photo productions

First off, a quick apology for letting nearly two weeks go by without a post. I have been earnestly training for this race, as well as getting together material for a string of features over the next couple of weeks. There’s a new episode of BrickhouseBodymindTV going live tomorrow, followed closely by a long article on using the yogic bandhas to enhance core strength and ensure proper alignment in all you do, then I’ll be releasing the BrickhouseBodymind Blueprints for effective warmups and cooldowns that go along with the intelligent stretching articles. So again, sorry for the lengthy absence.

That said, the OT50 is actually two races, one that is 50 km (approximately 31 miles) and another that is 50 miles, both of which started at Maumelle Park just outside Little Rock at 6:00 a.m. on April 19, 2008. The bulk of the distance in both races ran along the Ouachita Trail from its trailhead at Pinnacle Mountain State Park and followed it around the north side of Lake Maumelle. The outbound leg included a jaunt up the east side of Pinnacle Mountain, which is a steep climb from about 400 feet above sea level to the summit at 1011 feet. Here’s a map of the course with landmarks and mile markers, or you can download this kmz file to scope out the Ouachita Trail 50k course for 2008 in Google Earth.

We couldn’t have asked for a better day, to be sure. It was about 50 degrees at the start and warmed up to the mid-70’s by the time we finished. I must say, my dad and I had been looking forward to this race since the beginning of the year, but after the hobbling we received in the Little Rock Marathon last month, doubt began creeping in. We amped up our training and by the registration deadline decided to made it happen. We couldn’t have been happier with the results.

Our unspoken goal was 9 hours. We came in at just over 8:25. What’s more, the pain we lived with during the last 8 miles or so of the marathon was nowhere to be found, so we were stoked. What made the difference, you might ask? Well, three things I think.

  1. We were definitely more prepared for the OT50 than the marathon, having had more time for training.
  2. I personally wore different socks, which I am somewhat convinced helped my cause.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, some 70-80 percent of this course is on a hiking trail, which means only about 25 percent is on pavement. What led to my awful demise on the marathon was blisters (really, really bad blisters), and I wholeheartedly believe that was due to the punishing pavement. I really didn’t notice any problems on the OT50 except for some very mild hot spots on the balls of my feet before we left the Ouachita Trail for the last time and hit the final 2.75 miles to the finish. That last stretch was on pavement, and I quickly developed two mild blisters in that short distance.

Knowing that, I’m finished with the city-fied marathons. It’s good old-fashioned trail runs for me from now on.

I want to thank the organizers and volunteers who ran the aid stations and made the 2008 OT50 such a great success. I’ve rarely seen such a breathtaking view as the one from Pinnacle Mountain’s summit as the sun rose behind us Saturday morning. Of course, that could have been due in part to being physically out of breath after the steep climb I’d just cruised up, but mostly it was because of the beauty of the Arkansas River Valley, with its green cauliflower forests and glistening waterways that cut blue veins through the fields.

Thanks also to my dad, who at 59 sets an inspiring example of how to properly prepare for the last quarter of a human life. I hope we can make many more of these memories.

Thanks to you all for reading, and remember to look out for the bevy of new content coming soon. Be sure and subscribe to my feed via rss or e-mail so you don’t miss any of it!

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