Jordan Lake 12 hour

After spending the 4 days post 50k trying to figure out if I should run the 12 hour or not (see prior post), I decided literally at the last minute to not run solo but to run a relay with Kelly and Leslie Ann.   Registration closed at midnight Thursday and we were signing up around 10 p.m.

Running on a team would give me the ability to push the individual loops if I felt like it, but also back off my loops if needed.  And really, as we weren’t going to be competitive, to stop running all together if necessary.

I’d never run a relay before, and wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it.  I really like being out there solo all day!  However, I must say I did enjoy the day.  And who wouldn’t with a base camp like this:

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And a support crew like this:

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and a team like this:

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In the end one of the most fun things was watching the top two teams compete.  One team was a group of young ladies (two 12 year olds and a 13 year old), and the other was a team of seasoned veterans.  (Aka old guys and gal.  :-)  )

The girls were fantastic — all of them ran 9 loops of the 2.93 mile course, to complete their first “marathon.”  They literally pushed the veterans all day and in fact had the lead in the last two hours or so of the race.  In the end the veterans had just a bit too much… They came in ahead by just a few minutes on the 27th loop, and the girls opted to quite at 9 each, while the winning team went out for one more loop.  79.11 vs. 82.03 was the final tally, but again the girls could have gotten in one more loop, they just would not have made up the time difference.

Here’s a shot of all 3 teams:

IMG_3613

My team ended up with 67.39 miles and here’s my strava data — I opted to treat each loop as it’s own run:

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I did run a double as my last outing so we could eek in one more loop before time expired.  I’m trying to track down my individual splits and will update this post if I can find them…

 

 

Mountains to Sea 50k

MST 50K was a bit of a strange race for me… The 1st half, I was pretty down on myself, but in the end I turned it around and had a great result.  I tried to capture my thoughts in an email to Lucho so I’ll just include those here:

First half negative thoughts:

      • this effort is to hard for the pace I see on my GPS
      • this course is too runnable — I need hills where I can power hike!
      • I’m much more suited to Uhwarrie
      • the turn around was actually a lollipop so i couldn’t see where the front runners were nor how I was doing

Second half turn around

      • I put on music which may have helped distract me from negative thoughts
      • someone finally yelled out I was 15th, and I realized I wasn’t doing as poorly as I felt
      • I started passing a couple of runners and started gaining confidence
      • my avg pace on my GPS was not going down

I ended up passing 8 runners on the way in and finished in 7th overall…  With almost an even split.  Strava race analysis:

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Results:

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More people ran negative/near even splits than I expected — at least compared to Uhwarrie 40!  I’m quite happy with just the 4 minute difference…

Food:  4 vfuels, 4 date rolls, 1 small cup (2 oz?) of Mountain Dew, for a grand total of < 500 calories in just under 5 hours

Gear — nearly the same set up as Uhwarrie…

In that same email to Lucho I also outlined my dilemma on running the Jordan Lake 12 hour 6 days later:

Jordan Lake 12 hour

PROs

  1. it’s on what I consider “my trail” – my favorite that is close by
  2. Last year I was leading up to maybe hour 8, even though I was fighting a painful stomach (I had been in Mexico right up until Monday of the Saturday race!
  3. Last year’s data:  https://www.strava.com/activities/288073632
  4. Great training for the 100 — though this race only does the front half of the trail which is not nearly has hill as the back half
  5. It’s a loop course so it’s easy to stop running any time…
  6. I’ll be in Europe next week (PRO and CON) but the PRO is that this trip is likely to have little to no time to run as I’m in London a day and a half then fly to Munich a day and a half then back to London one night at the airport before flying back home!

CONs

  1. Is my body ready?  Is it too risky?  (injury/fatigue)
  2. Risk of mental burn out — 3 big runs in 3 weeks, though the 1st two have been good so far, even with the negative 1st half of the 50k I turned it around…
  3. The race would be over at 7 p.m. and I have to be on a flight to London all night, 23 hours later
  4. Time away from family the day before I fly to Europe for the week  :-/
    1. (Though my wife may run on a relay team and the kids would be out for part of the race most likely and maybe my son would even do a lap with me later in the race now that he has his cast off.)

Lucho and I discussed on the phone and we decided to see how the week played out.  I ran three miles each on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Thursday run I was starting to feel good, but stated I didn’t feel ready to run 2 or 3 hours at MAF come Saturday.   Lucho responded, but you’ll have to read the next post to see how that panned out.  :-)

Umstead 100 – pacing

 

DGG_4502My friend Jason Tischer asked me to pace the last two loops of the Umstead 100 for him (a race with eight 12.5 mile loops).  I was worried because Jason is FAST, and I didn’t want him to have to drop me because I was slowing him down!  But I agreed to it and I’m glad I did.

It was a bit complicated because Kelly, the kids and I were up in the mountains the day the 100 started, and we had to pack up, clean up, and get home.  Umstead started at 6 a.m. and I had signed up to receive text alerts for Jason’s splits at the start/finish and halfway points of each of the eight 12.5 mile loops.   They started rolling in while we were still in the mountains, and I began to worry that he was going so fast that I’d have trouble getting there in time!

On the drive home the kids wanted to eat Chipotle, and while I was worried about the time, we made a quick pit stop, then went on to home.  I had just enough time to unpack the car, grab my lights (which needed to be charged!) and other gear, and drive the 45-60 minutes over to the park.  Alerts kept coming in keeping me up to date, and I figured I had just enough time to grab and iced americano outside the park to “fuel up” and get to the start.  I ended up with about 40-45 minutes to spare, which was good.

While waiting, I discovered that Jason was in 1st!  Now the pressure was really on.   We headed out on the 1st loop but his lead had been cut in half by the 2nd place runner — the 1st place female.  We’d be watching the splits the rest of the way.

Jason was hurting after 75 miles but still strong enough to run everything, and there are roughly 1000′ of elevation gain per loop!  I’m the kind of ultra runner that power hikes all the hills, but I ran them all with Jason.  The pace was such that I was able to run ahead and refill his bottles, etc.

Jason slowed on the 2nd half of the 1st loop, but when we got back to the start/finish to start the final loop and heard his lead was down to single digits, he got some umph back and we picked up the pace.  In the end Jason would win the race in 15 hrs 31 minutes by 11 or 12 minutes!  It was great to be a part of that and I’m glad I was able to help Jason out.

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Uhwarrie 2016

I signed up for the Tough as Trails race series this year, to ensure a spot in the Uhwarrie 40.  This would be my 6th running in the past 7 years.  Add that up as well as my training and hiking out there, and I’m probably well over 500 miles running/hiking this trail.  It sure is one of my favorites.

Rather than write much, here’s a quick bulleted summary:

  • Friday Kelly and I drove the kids down to my mom’s, grabbed a bite at Cracker Barrel (trout, sweet potato, broccoli, hash brown casserole), and drove home.  We were in bed by 9:15.
  • Awoke at 3:31, about 15 minutes before the alarm went off.  Got up, got dressed, got final stuff together, and were out the door at 4:15, to David’s house by 4:30, and on the road by 4:35.  We could probably leave 15 minutes later since we were one of the 1st ones there, but then we may have had lines at check in, port-o-pot, etc., so I’m not apposed to leaving PBO by 4:30 in the future.
  • David and I took the 2nd shuttle to the start, hung out around one of the little fires since the big fire was full, hit the port-o-pot, etc.  In all, we tried to stay in warm clothes as long as possible (it was a few degrees below 30F), which we did until the last minute when I pulled off my fleece and pants and walked to the start.
  • My goal was to not push too hard on the 1st big climb, which is a little over 1 mile.  I thought if I was in the top 20-25, that would be good, and then I would not try to pass too soon, but instead relax and know I had 38 miles to pass as needed.  Here’s the profile which shows what a tough climb that is to start:

course_elevation

  • However, somewhere around half way up the 1st hill, there was separation, and I was by myself.  One runner 25-50 meters in front, and a couple of other runners about 50-75 back.  It stayed that way all the way until mile 9 or so, when I found the runner in front of me off trail and pulled him back on.  We ran within 5-10 meters for a little while but he eventually pulled ahead.
  • I maintained a strong pace, power hiking the hills, and running the flats and downs, as best I could.  I had a goal of getting to the top of Dennis in under 11:00/mile pace, and the turn about the same.  Any time I thought I was pushing too hard, I’d force myself to walk for 15-20 seconds.
  • I hit the turn in 3:33 – at least 10 or 12 minutes faster than ever before.  I was hoping that wasn’t too much!   But I had felt pretty good and you can’t PR if you don’t take some risks.  I had counted runners coming back out of the turn and figured I was in the top 10-12.  Hmm, that seemed a bit too high up!
  • At the turn I had a bit of an issue with my head phones.  It was getting warm which meant I needed to drop my vest (as well as gloves and arm warmers), which meant I had to take off my pack.  And then my head phones got tangled.  There were 4 volunteers helping, and we got it sorted, and I was back out running in maybe 2:30.  I had hoped for more like 60s!
  • Heading back out was crowded for a while with both 20 and 40 milers coming in, but most of the time everyone is gracious and we make space for each other.  There’s not always much space on the “goat trail” section, though!  After a few miles it thinned out.  I saw Kelly (running the 20) farther along for me than last year, less far along for her.  I think she was surprised as she was running better than last year — but so was I!
  • Once I passed the last 20 miler, I was pretty much on my own.  I saw one 40 miler going the wrong way and I got him back on track, and that was it.   I had passed two 40 milers and didn’t get passed at all on the way in.
  • I do wish I had been a bit stronger the last 5-8 miles.  I still ran as much of it as I could, and probably more than I ever have in the past.  But I also walked a bit more than I wanted to.   I ended up being about 1 minute per mile slower on the way in vs. the way out (21-22 minutes taking out the turn around time), but overall, I had a great run.  Here are the top finishers, with me breaking the top 10!  Woohoo!  :-)

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That’s a 26 minute PR and a top 10 finish, something I didn’t ever really consider.  I had privately thought, and actually hinted to David, that I thought a 7:30 might be possible.  But my public goal was always to break 8, and I always said I’d consider that would be a very good day.   But this was a great day.

(I’d note that of those top 13, all of them lost at least 15-20+ minutes except two, so my 21-22 minute difference was probably about average…)

So, what gives?  What can I attribute such a good performance too?  I’d say a few things…. I’ve been averaging more like 35-40 miles per week, not 20-25.  I’ve been doing some strength work, though not nearly enough.  I’ve been mountain biking (and spinning) more, which I think really helps.  And I had solid runs at Pinhoti 100 (16k’ of climbing, 25 hours in tough conditions) and Hinson (83 miles in 15 hrs 45 minutes).  So just a good solid base.

History of Uhwarrie results:

Year Time Place
2010  7:57 (short course)  30/71
2011  8:50:22  30/88
2012  7:57:17  27/148
2013  8:49:06  33/90
 2015 8:05:07  17/88
 2016 7:31:30  7/101 — 7th!!  :-)

Here’s some Strava data — note the GPS locked and I had to reboot it.  The time was still ticking, but mileage stopped increasing.  I saw my pace go from sub 12 to 12:0x, to 12:2x and finally at 12:4x, I figured i out.  I knew I was slowing, but not by that much!

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Gear:

  • Nike shorts, Nike combat pro compression
  • Injinji toe socks
  • Altra Superior 2.0 — noticed a huge rip around mile 15, but they held up; only 200 miles on this shoe, so disappointed it ripped.  This is the 4th pair of Superior’s I’ve had that have ripped, my 1st 1.0 pair made it 500+ miles, and then the 1st 2.0 made it 400+.   The latest 2.0 supposedly has fixed this with a tougher upper material, so we shall see.
  • Ice breaker 200 short sleeve; NF arm warmers; ice breaker gloves, icebreaker vest
  • Ultimate direction AK pack
  • Florida c2c buff
  • Garmin Fenix 3 — locked up sometime around mile 35 and I had to reboot it.  :-/

UPDATE:  Altra took care of the shoes, allowing me to buy a couple more pair at a discount to make up for the lost miles…  Customer service was very quick to respond this time around.

Nutrition:

  • breakfast – gluten free oatmeal with almond butter and cocoa nibs about an hour before the start; about half – three quarters of a UCANN pack mixed in water
  • 5 VFuels, 3-4 bite sized date rolls, two half cookies, 2-3 oz mtn dew, 1-2 oz coke, 1 bite of an EPIC bar (decided that wasn’t going to work at this effort level), 2-3 small white potatoes from the aid station with salt, one small handful of potato chips
  • About 20 MAPs in the 1st half of the race, my 2nd bag of MAPs didn’t make it into my pack

(In the pack I carried half my food, and had a baggie at the turn around with the rest of my stuff.  As I was dropping my gloves, arm warmers, and vest, and getting tangled up in my head phones, the aid station volunteers put the food from my baggie in my pack.  I said put everything in except the EPIC bar, but somehow the MAPs were missed.  But since these are most important the 1st half, it wasn’t that big of a deal.)

I add that up to maybe 800 calories in 7.5 hours…

 

2015 Strava stats

Here are my 2015 Strava stats:

strava-2015

compared to last year:

strava-2014.png

Though last year’s post says I started using Strava exclusively sometime in July (2014), and while I tried to transfer things over, perhaps somethings were lost.

Looking at 2015 I see some of the same problems I had in 2014 — I need to work heavily on strength, especially leg strength and core strength, to improve my running.

For 2015 in review, I did have solid runs at Uhwarrie 40, Jordan Lake 12 hour (53 miles), 75 miles on the AT, at Hinson (83 miles), and Pinhoti 100.   Jordan was a bit of a struggle with stomach pain and the AT was just hard all around, but overall those were 5 very solid ultra runs for me.

In 2016, beyond strength, I will continue to work on my mountain biking.  I also somehow need to work on mobility — some kind of movement practice like MoveNat or the Mobility WOD or even getting back to some yoga.  Something to reverse some of the “damage” just running and riding cause!

For races, it’s still coming together, but I’m definitely in Uhwarrie 40 in February, Mountains to Sea 50k in April, and Hinson Lake 24 hour in September.  I need to find a long mountain bike race or two, and need to get a WS100 qualifier in so I can keep increasing my tickets in the lottery, I’m just not sure which races I’ll choose yet.  It should all be finalized in the next week or two.

 

Pinhoti gear and fuel

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

Gear

  • 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.

Food

  • 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!

 

 

crossing

Pinhoti 100

 

Pre-race

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:

IMG_0094

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:

IMG_0097

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:

IMG_0099

And Ben and Marianna:IMG_0102

Here’s what we were in for:

pinhoti-profile

(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:

crossing

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.

IMG_0109

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:

IMG_0110 IMG_0111 IMG_0112

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.

Results

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.

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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.