Hinson Lake 2016

Where to start on one of my favorite races, now that I’ve run it three years in a row?  Round and round we go, until we stop or the clock strikes 24.

After Bryce I had planned to take a break from “structured training,” but then I had my 1st ever DNF, and I was ready to come back stronger than ever.  And while I didn’t quite train like Rocky in Rocky II (I wanted to!), I put in some solid mileage (at least for me).   (That 11 mile week was just crazy busy but I did get in a lot of walking and a little riding — that’s the XT bit.)


So, what would Hinson 2016 bring?  I so wanted to find the form I had in 2015, when I ran 83 miles in 15 hour 45 minutes.  The only reason I stopped then was because I had Pinhoti 100 six weeks later, and thought any more mileage at Hinson would start to jeopardize my ability to run well in Alabama.  I’ve struggled with that decision since then — I think it was the right call — but it was so difficult to stop when I was running so well — sub 20 hour hundred in site, possible 115 at Hinson, 2nd place…  So I’ve thought about Hinson a lot since then.  Going in this year, I just wanted to keep moving for 24 hours.  And of course I had mileage goals (105+), but my biggest goal was to finish — meaning make it to the banana lap still moving, without haven taken a long nap.

This year Kelly and I decided to keep the kids with us.  They weren’t excited by the prospect at first, but in the end, I think they enjoyed it.  We drove down after Reece’s XC practice Friday evening, so we got there a bit late, which meant we had the tent farthest out from the start.  The good thing about that is that it was much more quiet Friday evening.  The bad thing was how far we had to walk in the gear, and the walk to the bathrooms and start in the morning.  :-/  Post race we had a dolly to help move things, so that wasn’t too bad, though unpacking after running all day is never fun.


After we set up camp, we headed out to the same place we ate last year downtown – Pattan’s downtown grill.   I saw this picture of Hinson snowed over on the wall at the restaurant,  and took a photo as we all needed cold thoughts with the predicted heat for race day (90F with heat index of 100+):


We got to bed at a decent time and it was nice to be a bit further away from the noise of the busier camp area — I didn’t even need ear plugs!  I still didn’t sleep great, waking several times, but that’s about what is expected if you are not at home in your own bed.

At 6:30 a.m. or so, we got out of bed, I made coffee, and we made the trek to the bathrooms and back.  Then it was time to get dressed and walk back over to the start.

Last year, I ran the 1st two loops with Kelly, and that helped me from going out too fast.  So this year, I planned to run one with her, and then just use PE to keep it easy (no HRM).   After the 1st loop, easy seemed to be about 10:00/mile including stops at the aid station or our tent for water, etc., so I settled in there for a couple hours.  As the heat increased, I dialed that back to 10:30, and eventually even to 11:00’s, as I was worried how much the toll of running in that heat would take.  It still felt easy, but I was worried it wouldn’t for long and that a drop in performance could be sudden.

My strategy to deal with the heat was to put ice in a buff and put that under my hat.  That worked well for a while, but I also started to douse myself with water from the aid station cups, and eventually I started carrying a small hand held of water that I could squirt on my head or on my face.   I also started putting ice in a towel, wrapping that up, and putting that around my neck.  Those strategies were working well until somewhere around mile 42 or 43, when I felt this heavy cloud of heat around my head that would just not go away.  I backed off to a walk for several minutes each on the next couple of loops, and used more ice, and eventually felt the cloud of heat dissipate.

It was somewhere around here that I recognized Leigh Ann from Umstead, who had really pushed Jason there for the overall win in the 100 miler.  She jumped in for a loop with me and that helped a lot — I got back to a decent pace and it was nice to have someone to talk to.  She’d run another loop with me later, and about half of a 3rd after midnight when she found Ron on the side of the bridge and stopped to help him.


I had a resurgence for a few miles, but then the pace began to slow again.  I walked a bit, and after a while finally felt that I was getting back into a groove and picking things up, when the wheels fell off the bus — all of a sudden my feet were shot.  I had a huge blister and could put almost no pressure on the left foot, and overall the feet felt hot, swollen, and painful.  But it was mostly the blister that was unbearable.  I had to call it at 83 miles around 2 a.m.   Definitely not the same form as last year when I had the exact same mileage more than 2 hours earlier!  But the conditions were so different.

Here’s what the feet looked like in the morning.  Besides the big blister on the ball of foot, my feet had several other smaller blisters but also a terrible rash.  I’ve gotten the rash before after long events, but this time the feet were very very swollen:

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Here’s Strava’s race analysis:


Pretty steady until mile 30 or so, a pick up after the “heat wave episode” around mile 45, then a decrease from 60 on as I began to fatigue, and finally a huge drop when the feet were gone.

In hindsight, the strategy to keep cool in the heat using ice and water over my head worked great for the heat, but the water in the shoes was too much for the feet.  Last year in the constant rain at Hinson, I had no blistering.  And the grit didn’t bother me.  This year the grit seemed worse, and it was drier!  Also, I’ve been using a Saucony Kinvara 7 and Nike Terra Kiger, both with 4mm drops, to alleviate some achilles soreness, but neither has the large toe box I like.  I started in the Kinvara but switched fairly early (10 or 12 miles) to an Altra One^2, as I could feel the narrow toe box rubbing my toes.   I used the Altra’s for a while, then switched to the Nike’s, and those felt tight.  I used those for a while before switching to Hoka’s.  Nothing felt good!

In the past I’ve never gone through so many shoes, and I could feel the different shoe structures bothering me a bit… My arches definitely noticed the changes, and the feet in general noticed the constrictions of the smaller toe boxes.  If I could do it again I probably would just run in the 0 drop Altra Superior 2.0 from the start, which I didn’t even bring to the race, and only switch to the Hoka’s after 50 miles or so.

I should call out that Kelly got in her 50k, all on sore heels, and then she and Riley headed out to a 60th birthday party about 40 minutes away, before returning.   Reece-man was an awesome handler — he ran 5 or 6 loops with me throughout the day and one at night, but also always had ice ready to put in my bandana, water or tea to drink, and even made me an iced coffee a couple of times!  Now he wants to come back as a registered runner next year, so I’ll be flying solo in terms of crew!  :-)

Here are the splits and other data made possible from the electric timing:

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

I probably shouldn’t compare 2015 to 2016, since the conditions were drastically different, but spreadsheets make it so easy!  This does show how much more consistent for a longer period of time I was in 2015…  The negative difference shows I went faster in 2016, but a solid 3 minutes of that was from running just one loop with Kelly to start instead of two.  I still increased the difference for a short amount of time, but not for long — once the heat started kicking in…

2015 2016
Lap Distance Total time Total Time difference
1 1.503 0:16:15 0:15:46 -0:00:29
2 3.006 0:33:34 0:30:07 -0:03:27
3 4.509 0:47:54 0:44:17 -0:03:37
4 6.012 1:02:28 0:58:22 -0:04:06
5 7.515 1:17:04 1:14:00 -0:03:04
6 9.018 1:32:21 1:28:05 -0:04:16
7 10.521 1:46:09 1:42:35 -0:03:34
8 12.024 2:01:33 1:56:57 -0:04:36
9 13.527 2:15:50 2:11:56 -0:03:54
10 15.03 2:30:27 2:27:31 -0:02:56
11 16.533 2:44:10 2:42:57 -0:01:13
12 18.036 2:59:39 2:57:46 -0:01:53
13 19.539 3:14:38 3:12:39 -0:01:59
14 21.042 3:29:38 3:29:19 -0:00:19
15 22.545 3:44:02 3:45:01 0:00:59
16 24.048 3:58:33 4:02:05 0:03:32
17 25.551 4:17:46 4:17:59 0:00:13
18 27.054 4:34:06 4:33:24 -0:00:42
19 28.557 4:48:49 4:49:49 0:01:00
20 30.06 5:03:16 5:06:15 0:02:59
21 31.563 5:17:19 5:22:47 0:05:28
22 33.066 5:32:59 5:39:08 0:06:09
23 34.569 5:48:26 5:57:03 0:08:37
24 36.072 6:05:12 6:13:31 0:08:19
25 37.575 6:20:12 6:29:36 0:09:24
26 39.078 6:35:10 6:45:48 0:10:38
27 40.581 6:51:23 7:06:04 0:14:41
28 42.084 7:07:08 7:23:18 0:16:10
29 43.587 7:22:01 7:41:33 0:19:32
30 45.09 7:40:17 8:04:01 0:23:44
31 46.593 7:55:40 8:25:16 0:29:36
32 48.096 8:11:42 8:44:27 0:32:45
33 49.599 8:30:31 9:07:11 0:36:40
34 51.102 8:47:46 9:24:53 0:37:07
35 52.605 9:06:52 9:41:40 0:34:48
36 54.108 9:22:27 9:59:31 0:37:04
37 55.611 9:40:30 10:18:18 0:37:48
38 57.114 9:56:31 10:35:15 0:38:44
39 58.617 10:12:49 10:52:00 0:39:11
40 60.12 10:29:42 11:10:32 0:40:50
41 61.623 10:46:47 11:35:30 0:48:43
42 63.126 11:04:59 11:58:29 0:53:30
43 64.629 11:23:27 12:19:59 0:56:32
44 66.132 11:41:54 12:43:13 1:01:19
45 67.635 12:01:40 13:12:36 1:10:56
46 69.138 12:21:07 13:34:26 1:13:19
47 70.641 12:42:44 13:57:01 1:14:17
48 72.144 13:11:39 14:17:57 1:06:18
49 73.647 13:38:28 14:45:29 1:07:01
50 75.15 14:00:17 15:16:42 1:16:25
51 76.653 14:23:20 15:41:18 1:17:58
52 78.156 14:41:51 16:09:24 1:27:33
53 79.659 15:03:56 16:45:03 1:41:07
54 81.162 15:24:01 17:27:39 2:03:38
55 82.665 15:45:26 17:56:40 2:11:14

I don’t think I’ve ever, in any race from 2-3 day adventure races, to 100 miles ultras, to Rogaine’s, or even the MR340 when we paddled for 38 hours — I’ve never said “I’m never doing that again.”  But about midnight Sunday when I started falling a part, I really started questioning the whole ultra thing.  I seem to have found a sweet spot this year in the 50k – 50 mile range, or even up to 12 hour events.  But beyond that I’ve struggled.  Yet by Sunday evening the thought of going back to Hinson or signing up for another 100 didn’t seem like such a terrible thing.

I am going to take a break from “structured training,” though, I think that is necessary.  I look forward to getting out on the mtn bike, hiking, strength work, etc.  And even a little running.  But not with the aim of building up to a race.  At least not until Uhwarrie 2017 comes around the corner…  :-)

Strava data

I was poking around Strava and found this interesting data…  I’ve run almost twice as much this year so far as last year at this time…  100 more miles this year and I’ll pass last year.
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Similar story for elevation!
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Bike wise I’m a little behind.. (I’m actually not sure where the target comes from, but it’s skewing the graph a bit.)
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(I think I probably don’t have all of 2013 data in strava — I was using Daily Mile back then…  I tried to copy everything over, but I’m thinking some stuff is probably missing…)

Beech Mountain Xterra 5k

On the day I started my 46 revolution around the sun, I was talked in to running the Beech Mountain Xterra 5k.  There was also a 15k, which is much more my kind of thing, but timing wise I just couldn’t make it work — we had to get off the mountain and get R1 off to camp.  Plus Lucho suggested a hard 5k would be better for me with where I am in my training right now.

I got quite the birthday present — the young gun that must have gotten 90-120s ahead of me missed a turn, and so while I thought I was running for 2nd place, I came in to the finish and was told I won the race overall!  Hardest 5k I’ve ever run (not that I run many, it’s been over two years since the last); slowest 5k (28:11) I’ve run at least in the last 25 years if not ever…  But I’ll take the win!  (It’s the 1st time I’ve ever won a race outright!)




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The data shows I was in the 5:15 range on the downhill….

The Pursuit of Happiness

This article on came across my reader today:

And a couple of quotes really stood out to me, especially in light of my DNF at Bryce:

At some point, and I forget exactly how his comment came about, he said something along the lines of “isn’t this what it’s all about? The pursuit of happiness…not the race as such, that’s just an excuse to get together…it seems to me that what’s important is the shared experience…for better or for worse this is an incredible moment.”


Ultimately, it is not about the race, how fast or slow we run, it is about the people and the shared experiences, and that togetherness is for me what makes running in the mountains so meaningful.

This holds true for me for Bryce…  I had a great time at Bryce, both the family and friend time before and after, but also the race.  Would I liked to have finished?  Of course, but that wasn’t what was most important about the experience.


Processing Bryce – my 1st DNF

Here it is, 3 weeks after Bryce, and I’m still trying to process my 1st ever DNF in an ultra endurance event (running, adventure racing, rogaining, paddling, biking).   Did I make the right call to pull the plug?  Could I have finished?  What’s next?

I didn’t write much of a race report, just posted pictures and  copied what I wrote to Facebook.   There’s not much more to say — the GI went south, and I was very uncomfortable.   Vomit or diarrhea probably would have been easier to deal with.  But instead, my GI shut down.  It felt like I had to make a BM, but that wouldn’t happen, even though I tried a few times.  What may have been worse is that it felt like I constantly had to pee – urgently.  But then I’d try to go and not much would come out.  After that, I’d be fine for a few minutes, and then the feeling would come back.  Stopping every 5 minutes was getting old…

But let’s back up for a minute…  Here’s the Strava race analysis:

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 10.33.09 AM.png

Those really long mile splits are when I sat at the mile 51 and 62 aid stations contemplating dropping.

Does this show I went out too fast?   I did not wear an HRM, but went by feel.  And it felt easy and light in the beginning.  I’ve been running a long time and think I have a pretty good Perceived Exertion, but could I have been off?   Altitude and the excitement of starting the race can throw PE…

I felt really good the 1st 4+ hours, but then going into mile 28 I ran out of water — as did about 10 people around me!  We had been told it was 9 miles from the previous AS, but the GPS showed more like 11.  Due to the distance, whether it was 9 or 11, I drank heavily (water and coconut water) before heading out of the AS at mile 19, but it wasn’t enough, and I ran out with at least 2 more miles to go.  Could that early dehydration have contributed to the later GI issues?

Kelly was amazed at the number of used gel packs I pulled out of my pockets at mile 51…  vFuels are always something I can get down, no matter how I feel.  Due to the heat and amount of water I was drinking, other foods I had brought with me (Epic Bars, Peanut Butter balls, bonk breakers), and had trained with, were difficult to get down.  All of those seemed to require more water in those conditions than I had with me.  That meant I went to the gels, which I can always get down.  (But those also require water so the stomach will properly empty.)   Perhaps I should have spent more time in the aid stations using their water to get more real food down…

Mentally… Was I just not in to it?  This one is complicated…  The weeks prior to Bryce, I was really looking forward to some unstructured training.  Or not training at all.  Just mountain biking for fun, hiking, lifting, and some running.  Even with Hinson in September, I had planned to chill for a bit.  At Leadville I had written in bold marker on my arm “FINISH,” and I had never even thought about that for Bryce.  Of course I would finish, unless I was injured.  (Or had another form of medical?)

That leads to — Was I over confident?  I’ve had a good year with two top 10 finishes in ultra’s and even took the Tough as Trails Ultra category series win…  But I know these are local races, not big ultra’s, and they were also 50k and 40 milers — not 100’s!  So there should have been no over confidence.  Similar to that, Were my expectations too high?  After solid finishes earlier this year, I thought maybe I could pull off a 24 hour Bryce.  I looked at last year’s times and saw that 24 hours would have been top 10, and looked at ultra signup’s predictions for me (26 and change), but still thought 24-25 hours would be realistic.  And once the wheels came off, and I realized I’d be looking at 27 – 28 hours or more, was that too much to handle? Especially with the discomfort I was in…

I used to scoff a bit at elites who would stop running on a bad day.  I understood their reasons — they have more races to do (it’s a business to them…), so why beat yourself up so much that you can’t race well a month or two later?    But then I saw these two stories from Western States:

Jim Walmsley after running off course at WS100 while being on course record pace:

When Walmsley was finally discovered, two miles off course, he was not in good shape. The race’s medical staff offered him a ride back in the truck. “It was so hard not getting into the truck. But I knew my crew was waiting for me, and I knew I could finish,” he says. At that point, Walmsley shifted his perspective. “I went from trying to break a record and win the race to just trying to finish. I mean I’m out there for the same experience as everyone else—to suffer and embrace the challenge.”

Sage Canaday on finishing WS100:

In short, the race was my worst ultra race performance in my career. I laid down on the trail in a dead stop half a dozen times, puked just as many times, and dry heaved about 100 times.  At the mile 78 aid station I sat down in a chair for about 25-minutes. My stomach really got the best of me in the second half of the race and unfortunately it lead to a rather disastrous positive split.

Those guys toughed it out!  Kudos to them!   Granted, they were both much further along than I was — Jim at mile 93 and Sage at 78…

My friend Ben gutted out Pinhoti last year when we ran there together crewless — but in that case if you stopped at an aid station, you may sit there for hours and hours before getting a ride in.  So why not keep moving?  In this case, I had an easy ride with my family and friends back to the cabin, where I could shower and get a good night’s rest.  Additionally, Kelly was running the half marathon and Ben the 50k in the morning, so by stopping, I’d be able to enjoy the day with them rather than being a zombie and/or in bed all day.  At least, those are the games my mind was playing!

In the end, I have no regrets about stopping, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.  The next day waiting for Kelly and Ben to come in, watching some 100 milers come in to the finish and see their joy — I knew that could have been me — but at what cost?  I had an amazing rest of the vacation — I recovered so quickly from my 100k, and it likely would not have been as pretty if I had pushed through.

But now I do need to think about whats next.   Should I shoot for another WS100 qualifier this fall?  (Probably!)  Will I be back to Bryce?  (Definitely, it’s only a question of when — the sooner the better in my mind!)  Beyond the GI issues, I know my weaknesses, and will work on them…  I still need/want more leg strength for the big power hike climbs, I want/need a stronger core, I don’t have much of a top end (the HR range between max aerobic and falling apart is too small), I should be able to run 5-6% grade hills for 4, 5, or 6 miles while staying aerobic…

I plan on coming back stronger than ever — now where can I watch Rocky II?

UPDATE:  I realized I should have written something about recovery.   After I showered and went to bed, I got about 6 – 7 hours of sleep, woke up, and the GI was fine.  I had very minor soreness and residual fatigue the next couple days – probably a little less than after the Mountains to Sea 50k in April and Uhwarrie in February.   I had run 62 miles and climbed 10,000′, and felt just minor soreness!  Granted, I did walk a fair amount of that 62 miles, but probably still ran at least 40-45 of it!  So that shows I had the fitness…  I was able to do Angles Landing, a 6 mile 1500’s climb/descent 3 days later and not feel a thing.

AT & UT day 16: Walnut Canyon and Flagstaff

Today  we made the short trek from Flagstaff to Walnut Canyon National Monument, to see the Indian ruins, and then just hung around Flagstaff for dining and shopping…

This sign at the Walnut Canyon visitor center shows just how much more there is to explore in this area!  But tomorrow we fly home, so it will have to be another trip…