Pinhoti gear and fuel

I realize I left out food and gear from my race report, so here’s that info:


  • Altra Superior 2.0 and injinji toe socks for 69 miles, Hoka Stinson Evo and Balega socks for 31 miles.  I lost one of the Hoka’s at the race finish, but those have been around for 2.5 years so it was time anyway.
  • Tobacco Road Marathon calf sleeves, started with them more for warmth than the supposed compression benefits, kept them for protection from the trail which was overgrown in some places.  Also started with arm warmers due to the start temps, quickly took them off.
  • Nike combat pro compression with a Prana Mojo short the entire race.  I use these shorts for everything — running, hiking, biking, swimming — the later was quite appropriate for the weather!
  • Ice breaker sleeveless top until mile 69, then icebreaker 200 weight half zip top the rest of the way.  Ultimate direction rain shell for most of the race — amazing light weight and kept the water off.
  • Florida coast to coast buff — something that’s been with me for every major race for 12-13 years.  Under Armor fleece hat,  plain black wool buff.  A couple kinds of gloves.
  • UD AK vest for the 1st 55 miles, UD PB for the last 45.  Just used two handhelds the entire way.
  • Petzl tikka rxp and a fenix PD32 UE (that I never used).
  • Carried duct tape, vasoline, and the like.


  • Vfuels were again a constant, I can always get those down.
  • I had one pack of UCANN to start, and had more in my drop bags, but never felt like that is quite what I wanted/needed.  The non plain versions come across as VERY sweet.
  • I also carried these amazing “chewy balls” which are peanut butter, oats, dark chocolate, honey, etc.  But for some reason, after the 1st 5 or 6, I did not care for any more the rest of the way.
  • Epic bars — both Bison and Bacon — these are always good.  :-)
  • MAPS (BCAAs) — tried to shoot for 5 every hour.
  • Endurolytes – with the humidity during the day I thought a few of these would be worthwhile.
  • Vitamin I — really trying to get away from this completely but I’m not quite there yet.  I think 400mg every 5 – 6 hours.
  • I had a Bonk Breaker or two for the 1st time, and they were pretty good.
  • From the aid stations:  bacon, egg, cheese, quesadillas; tomato soup; broth with rice; ramen with noodles.  The warm broths were very welcome all night in the cold weather!




Pinhoti 100



I signed up for Pinhoti on August 26, about ten weeks before race day (not much time to “train” for a 100!), when my good friend/former adventure racing teammate Ben from CO finally decided to pull the trigger.  I had told him earlier in the summer that if he did it, I would too.  (Probably.)  And I did.   I had Hinson Lake scheduled for September 26th, so I did alter my race plan there to not push too long/hard, which I followed through on — 82.7 miles in 15 hours 45 minutes, when I called it a day.  I felt great at Hinson and recovered quickly, though I did no more long training runs in the following weeks prior to Pinhoti.

I drove down from NC Thursday evening and met Ben in Atlanta at his friend Brian’s house, who was gracious enough to let us crash at his place Thursday and Sunday evenings – even though his wife was 38 weeks pregnant.  They were tremendously hospitable both nights, which was of course much appreciated.

Friday late morning we hit REI for last minute supplies (socks!) and drove down to Sylacauga, Alabama, the race check-in area, finish, etc.  We were greeted by this sign:


We checked in, organized gear one last time, and put in our drop bags.  Both of us would be doing this race unsupported (no crew, no pacers).  I opted to use all five drop bag locations, even though for the 1st and last I just had a small ziplock of 3 or 4 food/fuel items (inside a larger bag).  For the middle drops, I had a head lamp (mile 41), dry/warm clothes (mile 55),  a change of shoes and a 2nd warm top (mile 69).

After that we had some time to kill.  Google and Yelp searches showed there was no coffee shop in town!  What!!!   I had my jetboil and had brought some coffee, so we went off to the local Piggly Wiggly to get some heavy cream, when I ran across this:  IMG_0096

Wow, that’s a lot of block margarine!  At check out, I asked about coffee shops, and eventually found that there was brand new one in town, called Heavenly Grounds, so we went off to hunt for it.  We searched up and down the main drag, and could not find it.   They need to work on their advertising and signage!  Eventually we found someone that knew where it was, went back out, and ended up here:


The barista had no idea what an iced americano was, so I walked her through how to make it, and it was quite good.  She said it would be on the menu next week.  On the drive back to the pre-race meeting, look what came on the radio:   IMG_0098

I’m actually more a fan of the Johnny Cash version, but it was still apropros.

We decided to skip out on the pre-race meeting — the RD said if we didn’t have crew, it probably didn’t matter, so we headed out with Jason Tischer to the Marble City Grill and had a good dinner.  I opted for my (almost) normal meal of fish and sweet potato, with a big salad to boot.  Ben and I headed back to the rec center, where we’d be sleeping for $10/night, while Jason went to his hotel.

(One thing mentioned at the pre-race meeting that I didn’t find out about until on the course was that aid stations 4, 6, and 13 were converted to water only.  This didn’t really affect my run strategy, but it would have been nice to know!)

Back at the rec center, the meeting was just wrapping up, and once everyone left, we helped remove the tables and chairs from the room, and pulled in the cots.  I had a buff to cover my eyes and ear plugs to block the noise, but it was still not the best sleeping environment.   I got a few hours of sleep here and there, but it was a bit fitful.  I’m not so sure it would have been any better in a hotel, to be honest.

Race Morning

We got up at the un-Godly hour of 3:45, to make coffee, pack up, etc. and get on the bus to the start.    The race course was modified due to all the rain and the fear that the busses would struggle to make it the last 30 minutes of dirt road to the start, but the departure time was not modifed  This meant we were at the start area for quite some time before the actual start.  Here’s Ben:


And Ben and Marianna:IMG_0102

Here’s what we were in for:


(I would note the scale — the big climbs are not as bad as they look — the horizontal is scrunched up and the vertical is not that bad.  So that climb up to 40.9 is really about 2200 feet over five miles.)

We’re off

I carried my phone (more on that later) for pictures, but didn’t take it out as much as I wanted to.  The weather was quite bad — lots of rain — so it stayed in a splash caddy zip lock inside my fit belt for the most part.

With the modified course, it was a mass start on a dirt road, which then turned up another dirt road, before jumping on to the single track.  I didn’t want to get too far back and stuck behind a long chain of runners, but I probably still ran harder than I should have at the start of a 100.  And then once in a conga line, I never really wanted to step aside, so again, I ran faster than I should have.  :-/

pinhoti start

With the modified course and the out and back to start, I could see how far ahead of me Ben was, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  Maybe just 2 or 3 minutes when we crossed paths at mile 6/7.  But I didn’t think I’d be seeing him again…

From miles 5 – 12, I didn’t feel great.  I decided to back off and chill a bit just before the AS at mile 13, which is where this shot was taken:


I ended up catching Ben just after the AS, and we were able to run together for a while, though we did leap frog each other here and there.

I recall the early hills like this where I felt like my legs were 60 or 70 mile legs, not 20 mile legs.  That didn’t bode too well so early in the race!

IMG_0106 IMG_0108

Sometime around mile 23 or 24, I got a bit of a 2nd wind, and I jumped behind a female runner who was keeping a good pace.  We saw this waterfall just before the AS (and 1st bag drop) at 27.7.  I never saw her again as I was in and out quickly, just grabbing two fuel items from my bag, and taking off.  This AS was on a slight out and back so I did see Ben coming into it as I was leaving.


Then it was a bit of a long slog to mile 40.9, the highest point of the race (and Alabama).  Just before the climb we had to cross a pretty wide stream, which with all the rain had  quite a bit of rushing water.  Maybe I picked a bad spot to cross, but this was thigh high water moving rapidly, over slippery rocks.  I did in fact slip right at the end, but I was able to catch myself on shoreline rock before going under!  Then it was on to the 2200′ climb over 5 miles, in which the last pitch was a bit steep, but I eventually made it up, pulled out the phone, and took a couple of shots:

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That last photo is supposed to be a great view.  :-/  It’s also right before I slipped on those very slick rocks and shattered my phone.  Doh!

Somehow as I was looking at my shattered screen and half following the guy in front of me, we ended up missing the flags that brought all of the runners to the board walk, but the photographer yelled to us that we could get on it half way down, which meant we missed the photo opp.

I got to the AS at 40.9, and asked for my drop bag (just more fuel and a head lamp).  It was a mess — the bags were not ordered in any fashion, just piled up.  When we found mine, I suggested they put them in bib order, but the look I got suggested that wasn’t in their plans.  When I finished with my bag, I suggested they put it to the side so the bag pile would diminish, but that also wasn’t in their plans and it was thrown right back into the mix.   :-/  I love the volunteers, especially being out there in the cold and rain, but I was only trying to make their job easier!

After Bald Rock, we had a bit of road running before we reached “Blue Hell,” which is something like a descent of 800-1000′ in half a mile.  On slick rocks.  Pictures never do this kind of steepness justice, but here are a couple I took anyway:

IMG_0113 IMG_0114

It was slick but I made it down without any problems.  It had been chilly up top, but once we descended I was comfortable again, and I slogged along to the drop bag / AS at mile 55, where I picked up warm clothes, threw them in my pack, and put on my head light, as it was quickly getting dark.  They also had some pretty amazing egg, cheese, and bacon quesadillas!

Now the memories start to blur… It was a 13 mile jaunt to the next AS/bag drop, and I think this is where we jumped off the Pinhoti trail onto Sky Line, which was quite over grown, and every time I thought I might be off trail, I’d come across a little orange flag and felt much better.  I also had a train of 15-20 runners spread out behind me over maybe half a mile that I could see as we switchbacked up the climb, so I was hopeful I was not lost and leading everyone astray!

I should also mention that after mile 27, I had really felt better, and was moving along nicely, passing a fair number of runners.

At the mile 68.8 aid station, I had a drop bag with Hoka’s and dry socks, so I changed into those.  I grabbed a bit more fuel, but opted to leave behind my heaviest/warmest top.  I had a bag of dry clothes and a warm top from mile 55, and was still feeling comfortable (warm), so felt I wouldn’t need the extra heavy top.  Dry feet, socks, and shoes were a little slice of paradise for about 35 minutes, until we hit the next stream crossing.  At this point the race was really spread out and I didn’t see more than a runner or two on this 6 mile section.

As I started the big climb up to the Pinnacle at mile 75, one runner did pass me.  But he was running a very steep section and soon petered out, and I passed him back, and didn’t see him again.  There were a lot of switchbacks here, and the music coming from the top was LOUD.  VERY LOUD.  I must have been able to hear 4 or 5 songs on that climb, very clearly.  One of them was “Lights” and I was going to say “I bet you play that for all the runners,” but then 3 more songs came on and it was no longer funny.  (Probably never was, but for a runner 74 miles into a run, it seemed like it to me!)

Here’s a video I had to take coming into this AS — “welcome to the pinnacle!”

The Pinnacle had pretty amazing tomato soup and the best egg, cheese, and bacon thingy around.  I had a couple of them.


From mile 75 to 85 things got interesting.  Somewhere in there I passed a runner and her pacer, and heard him call her Wisp! Someone back from where I live!  We don’t know each other well but I always run her Little River 10 miler (she’s an RD) in January, so it was funny to run into her here.   She’d end up finishing just a few minutes behind me.  A little later I had stopped to change the battery on my head lamp, and her pacer helped me out by giving me a bit of light (rather than me digging through my pack for my small hand held), but my hands were chilled shaking, so it was tough.

Also, the rain and wind really picked up, and it started to get chilly on the ridge line.   At the mile 79.5 aid station, I thought all the stuff there was about to blow off the side of the mountain.   The volunteer said “two miles down this road and then 4 miles of single track to the next AS.”

That was a long road — more like 4 miles.  Luckily another runner came up, and we stuck together here, questioning whether we were on the course or not.  Every time we came across a little orange flag, we felt better, but it seemed l like they were pretty spaced out here.   We didn’t do much talking, as we were both chilled.  I at least had a shell on, but he was just in a thin sleeveless shirt, and he was really cold.  It was a bit of a death march down the trail…  I had warm clothes with me in my pack, but I really didn’t want to stop in the cold rain and wind, take off my shell, my wet shirt, and then try to put on dry clothes.  I thought if I could only make it to the AS, I’d change there… But it was a long slog.

We finally got there and I was greeted by an amazing thing — a wooden covered/enclosed trailer with a propane heater!  Wow!  I went in, took of the wet clothes, put on my dry clothes, and found to my surprise dry gloves, a fleece hat, and my buff, all in the drop bag I had for this AS!  That was a life saver.  I put on my dry top, my shell (and here I wish I had grabbed my even warmer top at AS 69, but oh well) my fleece hat, and wrapped my buff around my neck and over the hat.

I was STILL cold and shivering for the 1st mile or two leaving 85… At this point, it was a lot of dirt road, and I was moving along ok.  Walking a bit, but still running a fair amount – trying to keep moving fast enough to keep warm.  Admittedly it was a slow run at best.

I eventually hit the AS at mile 89, I think about dawn — the sun was just about to come up but it was a little light out now, and then it was more dirt road and forrest road to the AS at 95.   Both these AS’s told me how far it was to the finish, and I was calculating the time needed to break 25 hours based on that info.  Turns out they were about a mile off — the modified course had about an extra mile of pavement.

And that paved road seemed to go on and on and on.  I kept seeing signs saying I was still on course, but it was taking forever.  At this point I was not moving as well, so I’d do things like run to a mail box, then walk to the next, or the power lines, or the next side road.  I was only trying to keep my pace under 14:00/mile, to break 25 hours.  But it soon became obvious that wasn’t going to happen due to the additional distance, and I crossed the line in 25:06.  I’m not sure if I could have shaved 6 minutes off that if I had known the proper distance, but it really doesn’t matter.  I only wanted to finish Pinhoti to get a WS100 ticket.


As you can see from these results, I had a pretty solid second half in terms of standings.  I moved from 72 place at mile 41 to 33rd over all out of 133 finishers and 250 starters, so not bad.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 9.56.19 AM

Post Race

It turns out Ben didn’t have a great day, and when I finally found him on the GPS tracker he was wearing, I could see it was going to be a few hours.  So I went the pool (after eating two huge plates of eggs, bacon, biscuits, and cream cheese), showered off, went back to the finish, tried to sleep for a bit in the car, before getting out to greet him at the finish line.  Only to miss him because the tracker indicated he had 10 minutes to go, but that is when he walked up to me.

Side note on the tracker:  I had worn one in my pack, but I changed packs at mile 55.  I dumped all the contents of the 1st pack and repacked the 2nd, but somehow missed the charger.  So it was driven back to the finish, and my wife though I had crushed the 20 hour barrier.  :-/

After Ben cleaned up at Jason’s hotel room (the pool shower water was a bit chilly), we started the drive back to Atlanta.  I did get pretty sleepy when Ben passed out, but after we hit up Cracker Barrell and I had some coffee, we made it back to Brian’s.  Brian had cooked up pulled pork, rice, and veggies, and I had two huge plates.

I didn’t make it much past 7:30 p.m. when I crashed and slept a solid 12 hours.   I do recall getting up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, and the air mattress I was on had lost some air, and I had a lot of difficulty getting up/out!  I had to roll on to my hands and knees and then try to stand, but I made it.  I drove home from ATL to NC, and that’s never fun.  You really stiffen up sitting still for so long!

Here it is almost two weeks later, and I’m finally writing this.  I had perhaps the best recovery ever from any run I’ve done longer than 50 miles, and while I should be chilling for a bit, I’m already thinking about Uhwarrie 40 in February.

Hinson Lake 2015

I went in to Hinson 2015 with a “play it by ear” strategy, meaning I wasn’t really sure what my goal would be until started running and gauged how I felt.  I’ve been so inconsistent with training – not in terms of miles, though that’s some of it too — but in terms of how I feel on each run.  I’d go from an ok run, to a great run, to a blah run, and back and forth.  And one day I’d feel super and energetic, and the next I’d feel fatigued.  I’ve just recently had testing done and am now working through some things which will hopefully change all that, but I was literally one day in to it, so there’s no way that could have started to take effect!

Kelly, Heather, and I drove down Friday afternoon and set up camp.  I opted for our 20 year old pop-up tent, due to how much more space it has than our backpacking tents, but it finally failed.  The 1st night it started raining right as we went to bed, and soon the tent had water covering most of the floor!  We did our best to make it through, but it was a long night!

This was Kelly’s 1st ultra, and she rocked it with 57 miles!  I ran the first two loops with her which was good for me to keep me from going out too fast, but maybe a bit much for her as she was going a bit faster than normal.

Since she was running this year, I don’t have as many photos as normal, just a few posted to facebook:

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I’ll keep it short and just say I had a great race.  I was consistent and felt solid almost the whole time — just at 4 and 8 hours in, or so, I felt a bit constricted in the chest and had to take a little albuterol.  I did have 2x200mg of Vit I at the same time, and each time I did that, I had another several solid hours… Of course there were some down times, but overall very good.

Because Pinhoti 100 is six weeks out, it was always my intention to not push too hard.  But I was running so well, that I really thought about pushing for a sub 20 hour 100 miles — something I didn’t really think I’d ever be capable of.  I was also in 2nd place, a couple of laps up on 3rd and 4th.  But I made the call to stop at 15 hours 45 minutes, 82.7 miles in.   Looking at my splits the last few hours, I do think I could have dug deep and done the 100 in 20 hours.  I only needed to average 17 minute miles and my last few lap splits were 13-14 minutes each.  But it may have been a bit too deep with Pinhoti around the corner.   Here it is a couple of days later and I’m feeling pretty good, so I think it was the right call.

Hinson had electronic timing this year, so I have exact splits, and I threw those into a spreadsheet to get a bit more insight…

Lap Lap splits Total time distance lap pace overall pace (min/mile) comments
1 0:16:15 0:16:15 1.503 0:10:49 0:10:49
2 0:17:19 0:33:34 3.006 0:11:31 0:11:10
3 0:14:20 0:47:54 4.509 0:09:32 0:10:37
4 0:14:34 1:02:28 6.012 0:09:42 0:10:23
5 0:14:36 1:17:04 7.515 0:09:43 0:10:15
6 0:15:17 1:32:21 9.018 0:10:10 0:10:14
7 0:13:48 1:46:09 10.521 0:09:11 0:10:05
8 0:15:24 2:01:33 12.024 0:10:15 0:10:07
9 0:14:17 2:15:50 13.527 0:09:30 0:10:02
10 0:14:37 2:30:27 15.03 0:09:44 0:10:01
11 0:13:43 2:44:10 16.533 0:09:08 0:09:56
12 0:15:29 2:59:39 18.036 0:10:18 0:09:58
13 0:14:59 3:14:38 19.539 0:09:58 0:09:58
14 0:15:00 3:29:38 21.042 0:09:59 0:09:58
15 0:14:24 3:44:02 22.545 0:09:35 0:09:56
16 0:14:31 3:58:33 24.048 0:09:40 0:09:55
17 0:19:13 4:17:46 25.551 0:12:47 0:10:05
18 0:16:20 4:34:06 27.054 0:10:52 0:10:08
19 0:14:43 4:48:49 28.557 0:09:47 0:10:07
20 0:14:27 5:03:16 30.06 0:09:37 0:10:05
21 0:14:03 5:17:19 31.563 0:09:21 0:10:03
22 0:15:40 5:32:59 33.066 0:10:25 0:10:04
23 0:15:27 5:48:26 34.569 0:10:17 0:10:05
24 0:16:46 6:05:12 36.072 0:11:09 0:10:07
25 0:15:00 6:20:12 37.575 0:09:59 0:10:07
26 0:14:58 6:35:10 39.078 0:09:57 0:10:07
27 0:16:13 6:51:23 40.581 0:10:47 0:10:08
28 0:15:45 7:07:08 42.084 0:10:29 0:10:09
29 0:14:53 7:22:01 43.587 0:09:54 0:10:08
30 0:18:16 7:40:17 45.09 0:12:09 0:10:12
31 0:15:23 7:55:40 46.593 0:10:14 0:10:13
32 0:16:02 8:11:42 48.096 0:10:40 0:10:13
33 0:18:49 8:30:31 49.599 0:12:31 0:10:18
34 0:17:15 8:47:46 51.102 0:11:29 0:10:20
35 0:19:06 9:06:52 52.605 0:12:42 0:10:24 change socks and shoes
36 0:15:35 9:22:27 54.108 0:10:22 0:10:24
37 0:18:03 9:40:30 55.611 0:12:01 0:10:26
38 0:16:01 9:56:31 57.114 0:10:39 0:10:27
39 0:16:18 10:12:49 58.617 0:10:51 0:10:27
40 0:16:53 10:29:42 60.12 0:11:14 0:10:28
41 0:17:05 10:46:47 61.623 0:11:22 0:10:30
42 0:18:12 11:04:59 63.126 0:12:07 0:10:32
43 0:18:28 11:23:27 64.629 0:12:17 0:10:34
44 0:18:27 11:41:54 66.132 0:12:17 0:10:37
45 0:19:46 12:01:40 67.635 0:13:09 0:10:40
46 0:19:27 12:21:07 69.138 0:12:56 0:10:43
47 0:21:37 12:42:44 70.641 0:14:23 0:10:48
48 0:28:55 13:11:39 72.144 0:19:14 0:10:58 changed shorts/compression ?
49 0:26:49 13:38:28 73.647 0:17:51 0:11:07
50 0:21:49 14:00:17 75.15 0:14:31 0:11:11
51 0:23:03 14:23:20 76.653 0:15:20 0:11:16
52 0:18:31 14:41:51 78.156 0:12:19 0:11:17
53 0:22:05 15:03:56 79.659 0:14:42 0:11:21
54 0:20:05 15:24:01 81.162 0:13:22 0:11:23
55 0:21:25 15:45:26 82.665 0:14:15 0:11:26


  • Altra Superior 2 for the 1st 52 miles, switched to Hoka Stinsons for that last 35-ish
  • inj inji toe socks for the 1st 52, then just threw on a pair of old running socks I can’t even think of the name of right now!
  • Nike combat gear pro compression
  • Prana shorts – these are not a running short but I use them for running, hiking, swimming, etc.
  • Started with an icebreaker sleeveless  but dropped it for most of the day, then put on an icebreaker body fit short sleeve for the later hours
  • Petzl Tikka RXP; ipod shuffle, ifit belt to hold my race number


  • breakfast was coffee with heavy cream, 1 hard boiled egg, and maybe a slice of bacon
  • i had ucaan in a bottle that I drank right before the start and part of the 1st lap, then finished sometime in the next one or two laps
  • beyond that it was a hodgepodge of my own food:
    • vfuel gels, peanut butter balls (oats, honey, dark chocolate, raisons), hard boiled eggs, bacon, one more ucann pack; grape juice with water and sea salt; a couple of Epic bison bars
  • and food from the aid station:
    • potatoes with salt, 1 very small coke, 3 or 4 small mountain dews (like 2-3 oz each), 1 slice of pizza, ramen noodles and broth, veg broth and white rice
  • I had a ton of food in my bin but barely ate it — I probably avg’d 125 calories per hour max

After I finished I crawled into the tent, which was even more wet than the night before, and tried to figure out how to stay dry (impossible!) and get some sleep.  Fit bit says I slept 4 hours, but I heard a lot of runners going by, talking, making noise, etc.; spent a lot of time trying to get out of the water, etc.  I got up around 6:30 and  just like last year, rather than going out for a banana lap, made nice strong coffee and watched all the runners go by.

Congrats to my friends Sho Gray (118) and Kelley Wells (109) on their wins – both great runners with great performances!  Huge thanks to Jerry for putting on the race — it’s truly one of the best organized runs around.  And it was great catching up with lots of people, even if only for a lap or two — Shannon, Joe, Kelley, Sho, Scott, Anthony, Mark, etc.

So all in all very happy with the run, though of course I’ll always wonder — could I have hit 100 in 20 hours?  could I have held on to 2nd?   But I am sticking with my call — it was the right thing to do.  Six weeks is not a long time to recover!

Hinson Lake 2015 – pre-post

c.f. last year:

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To this year:

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That’s a lot more weekly miles leading into the race — though it would have been nice to get in a 25-30 miler, or at least a back to back 10 then 20 or some such.  But it is what it is.

I’m not saying this means I’ll surpass last year’s 81 miles (when I wimped out at 3 a.m., 19 hours into the race, and crawled into my tent to sleep).  There are two things working against that:

  1. Slight stomach bug hit Wednesday, as well as general inconsistency with how I feel day to day, week to week, the last several months.  Some underlying health items I’m just now starting to work through, which is too late for tomorrow!
  2. I went and signed up for Pinhoti 100 six weeks from now, and that is now my A race.  So if I’m feeling great tomorrow, I’ll go big, but if I’m feeling so-so, I’ll back off and save it for Pinhoti.

So, no real goals means no predictions.  Twenty-twenty-twenty-four hours to go…


Pikes Peak via Crags and Devil’s Playground

When in Colorado in July or August, I always try to squeeze in a 14er…  I hadn’t done Pike’s yet, and hadn’t seen Gordo for two years since he paced me through Leadville…  We got a bit of a late start, as Ben was on call until 6 a.m. and had a call come in that kept him up until 2, but eventually we were on the road a little after 7, picked up Gordo a little after 8, and made it to the trail head around 9 a.m.

This was going to be stout — 4300′ in 7 miles up, then back down.  This just 2 days after the 20 miles Ben and I put in at an average of 11,000 ‘ over in Breck.  But there were donuts waiting at the top!  Pikes is one of those mountain summits that has a road to the top (as well as a train!), along with a gift shop, deli, etc.  But we heard the donuts were good and were determined to earn them the hard way!  :-)

(I did need to excuse myself from the mass crowd inside the building at the top — there’s something about big crowds in places like this that I get a bit agrophobic…  Big crowds in big cities or stadiums, etc., never bother me, and “phobic” isn’t really the right word…  But I guess there’s something I don’t care for about such close proximity to 500 or 1000 other people in settings like this.  :-/)

I’d have to say this was my strongest 14er to date…  I was feeling it on the 1st steep pitch up to 13,000’ or so, but there there’s a mile and a half flat/gradual ascent section before the final pitch, and that gave me a chance to recover.  The final pitch of all my prior 14ers have been a slog, but I felt pretty good on this one.  We arrived at the top roughly 30-45 minutes faster than I had expected!

Lots of photos below:


And some shots from Gordo:

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Spring Creek Trail to Lone Star, Yellowstone

This was an almost disaster from the start, but it all worked out.  One of our guide books suggested taking Spring Creek Trail  to the Lone Star trail, rather than the Lone Star trail from Kepler Cascades, to shave off over a mile on the 5+ mile round trip.  R2 and I decided to run there to make it in time for a possible eruption of the geyser.  It was beautiful, but overgrown in many places — seems like this trail is not used much.  That was confirmed when R2 and I ran into a ranger who said he hadn’t expected to see anyone on that particular trail!

R2 and I continued on, but eventually I started thinking something was amiss…  We should have been to the trail intersection some time ago if the guide book was correct.  After an extra half to three quarters of a mile, I decided to turn back and find Kelly and R1.  When we met up a few minutes later, I decided to run forward and see if I could find the intersection.  It was roughly a half mile ahead, so we decided that Kelly and the kids would press on, I’d run back up the trail, get the car, and drive down to the main trail head.  I took off and made it a little over a mile before I realized I did not have the car keys — I had given my pack to R1 to reduce weight while running back.  So I turned around, ran back, and eventually met up with the family on the main trail, and walked in to the Geyser.  Somehow with all the extra time on the longer trail we made it!  We were treated to a good show, though perhaps not a full eruption, but still cool to see our 1st geyser.   

We decided I’d run the main trail back and hitch a ride to our car, so I took off.  Less than 5 minutes later, I realized I again did not have the keys!  Ugh!  So I ran back, then walked with the family a bit, before running a couple of miles to the trail head.  I had met a father-son hiking duo about .75 miles from the trail head, who said they’d give me a ride, but opted to run on to see if I could get a ride a bit quicker.  I got to the parking lot and was about to stick out my thumb, when the “Amazon Couple” we had met at the geyser and who rode  their bikes to their RV were pulling out, and let me hop in for the 3 – 4 mile ride back to the car.  (I call them the “Amazon Couple” because they are basically park hobo’s living out of an RV, but had worked at Amazon in over the winter to help fund their life style.)  

I got back in the rental car, drove to the main trail head, walked down the trail, until I met up with everyone.  We hiked out, and then drove down to Old Faithful, before heading up to the north of Yellowstone to our hotel for the 2nd half of our trip.

I ended up with roughly 9 miles of hiking and running, mostly running, all in my Luna’s, with terrain varying from a bit of paved path, single track, rocks, swamp/marsh, etc.



Mount Washburn, Yellowstone

This was a family hike of roughly 3.25 miles up with1500′ of gain to 10,200′, and then 3.25 miles back down the same trail.  I was able to sneak in a few hill sprints ranging from 30-120 seconds.  With a backpack full with all of our food and water, 2 minutes at 10,000 feet was tough!