Hellgate 100k on marginal training

Hellgate 100k
66.6 miles – 13,500ft elevation gain
12:01am, December 11th 2011
Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

You may have noticed a lack of recent race reports.  This is due to the 5 months it took for a bad case of IT Band syndrome to heal up after my debut 100-miler back in June.  Not knowing how long it would take the ITB to heal, but knowing that Hellgate fills quickly, I sent in my application and thankfully secured my slot.  Then came the day when I was back to 100% and ready to start training… with Hellgate only 2 months away.

Hellgate elevation profile

Hellgate elevation profile - courtesy of Keith Knipling

Normally giving myself 6+ months for an event like this, the next 2 months became an n=1 experiment on how much fitness could be gained in an extremely short period of time.  I made some bold jumps in mileage but paid careful attention to the body so as not to overdo it.  All seemed well and I was able to peak out at 60 miles/week for 3 weeks, along with some fairly regular Crossfit for strength and flexibility.  Not perfect, but not too shabby given the circumstances.

Race day came and at 12:01am on a cold December night we headed out into the darkness of the snowy Virginia mountains for 66 miles of “fun”.  The field was stacked with names like Karl Meltzer, Jeremy Ramsey, David Goggins, Keith Knipling, Chris Reed, Aaron Schwartzbard and many others who have put me to shame on more than one occasion.  I knew from the get-go that a top 10 finish was out of the picture, which is quite unfortunate given the sweet Patagonia swag at Horton races, particularly this one, but nonetheless I had a daunting task ahead of me.

Hellgate 100k start

The start - that's me in blue behind Goggins

Rather than recounting details of the course, I’ll defer to Aaron and Keith‘s wonderfully detailed course descriptions.  All you really need to know, though, is that 100k =62.2miles.  Hellgate 100k = 66.6miles with 13,500ft elevation gain.  We start at midnight, purposefully cross through streams when bridges are accessible, and there have been multiple accounts of runners suffering from corneal edema (i.e. temporarily losing their vision due to a freezing of the fluid buildup in their eyes).  In other words, this race is awesome and right up my alley (totally serious).

Corneal Edema

An example of corneal edema - cool, huh?

The first 25 miles or so were rather uneventful.  It was cold, the stream crossings were low so my feet remained dry early on (though the couple inches of snow quickly changed that), and I started off at a fairly fast pace since I was feeling good.  I was in 6th place for a little while, but I knew that since I was racing with little training that this would soon fade.  It was still nice while it lasted, knowing that I was racing one of the toughest 100k’s out there and ahead of Karl Meltzer and David Goggins.

Around mile 25 I started getting a sharp pain in the distal medial section of my quad, down near the knee and possibly my MCL.  I considered dropping before things got worse, but after DNF’ing at Masochist one month prior (nothing physical, just tough to race when dealing with the loss of a friend/mentor) and having not started Hellgate last year due to not being healthy, I knew that I had to give it everything I had and get that DNF monster off my back.  Onward…

My pace slowed significantly due to this pain and I started getting passed, first by runners I knew couldn’t be far behind (Jason Lantz, Jordan Chang, Harland Peele), but then by guys I had never seen before.  I was now in a new group of runners that I don’t generally see in races.  There is no faking it at Hellgate; you get put you in your place.  As the pain worsened, so did the temptation to drop.  It seemed like the smart thing to do, after all.  Arriving at aid station #6 (mile 37ish) just after dawn, I whole-heartedly attempted to drop.  Another 8 hours of running did not seem tangible given my current fitness and new potential injury.  Unfortunately, my buddy Jaime was running the show and he would have none of it.  “You can drop, but not at my aid station. Besides, we don’t even have any chairs. Keep going.”  Crap.  Onward…

After a long 8 mile stretch to the next aid station, the pain wasn’t getting any worse but I realized I had completed 2/3 of the race and I had invested a significant amount of time and miles to get where I was.  A finish was now tangible, and although it would hurt and I’d possibly be worsening my new quad/knee pain, the pros outweighed the cons.  Onward!

Not looking too chipper - mile 46 (photo by Sophie)

After a relentless 8 mile climb to the next aid station, I caught up with Jack Kurisky, a good VHTRC friend who always happens to be there when I need that extra encouragement to push myself, and we ran together for the remainder of the race.  It was rough, and at many points I encouraged him to go on since he was clearly holding back to run with me, but like the dedicated friend he is, he stayed with me and kept me moving.  During the “forever section” (it honestly feels like it lasts forever), Mario Raymond came flying by like a bat out of hell.  I honestly have no idea how he consistently does this, but it’s not the first time he’s come blazing past me late in a race.  I tried to keep up with him for all of 30 seconds then quickly realized that was a stupid move.

At the last aid station, Jack and I passed Goggins who was heading back to his car.  Shawn, my borrowed crew from Mario, informed me that Goggins had twisted his ankle just prior to making his way in and he needed to do some adjusting before moving on.  Bummer, but I now had a legitimate chance at being able to say I beat Goggins, someone who is known for being one of the toughest ultrarunners out there.  Yes, he was injured and not performing at his best, but neither was I so it’s a legitimate claim.

With 3 miles of climbing and 3 miles of descent to the finish, Jack and I kicked it into high gear, constantly looking over our shoulders so as not get passed.  As we crested the mountain, we realized a sub-14 hour finish would be possible if we were able to maintain 7:30’s to the finish.  Possible?  Yes.  Probable?  No.  Still, we tried…

Jack and I - mile 64

Jack and I at mile 64 (photo by Sophie)

We pushed hard and maintained closed to 7:30’s, but with one mile to go I realized I had miscalculated the mileage and sub-14 was out of the picture.  We entered Camp Bethel and veered our way to the back.  The finish line came in sight, and as we got closer a few folks made their way out into the cold to cheer us on.  We crossed the finish line together, finishing in 14:03:41 and tied for 20th place.

Finishing my first Hellgate (photo by Keith)

Many thanks to Jack, for sticking by my side and pushing me to run when I wanted to stop; Horton, for putting on such a phenomenal race that I will surely be back for next year (adequately trained, too); Mario, for letting me borrow his crew-man Shawn; Shawn, for driving our butts to and from the race and crewing for multiple runners at once; Keith, for providing all the helpful advice needed to prepare for my first Hellgate and for taking this awesome picture of Best Blood; and Jaime, for not letting me quit at his aid station despite my best efforts.  I finally got that DNF monster off my back, and after a few weeks of recovery I’ll be back for a solid 2011.

My first Hellgate… mission accomplished.

Old Dominion 100 Mile Endurance Run

Old Dominion 100 Mile Endurance Run
14,000 ft. elevation gain
Fort Valley, VA
Saturday, June 5, 2010

Old Dominion 100 Mile Endurance Run logo

“I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid. Then I ran some more.” – Fight Club

——————

Nine months after suffering my first DNF at my first 100-miler attempt, I was finally toeing the line at what would hopefully be my redemption race.  I had stayed healthy since that fateful day, upped my cross-training and stretching routines, raced hard in a bunch of Spring 50k’s and even had a good R2R2R quad-trashing session all in preps for another shot at the coveted 100-mile belt buckle.

Old Dominion (OD) is a fairly old school race.  It is the second oldest 100-miler in the country next to Western States and at its peak had upwards of 150 entrants and was part of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning.  The race went on sabbatical in 2002 and, after starting back up in 2003, it has very slowly been picking back up its momentum.

The 60 or so runners gathered at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds, and at 4:00am the gun went off.  We did a half-mile loop around the perimeter of the horse track then made our way through the town of Woodstock.

The Start

Leaving the Fairgrounds at the start

The glowing chem lights would have easily lit the way through these first miles, but we had the added bonus(?) of a police cruiser strobing his blue and reds to lead the way.  Note to any epileptic runners considering this race: don’t. I was running with Brad Hinton, my good friend who got second place last year in his 100-miler debut.  I had seen last year’s winner, Jason Lantz, at the pre-race briefing but didn’t see him in the lead pack.  Brad informed me that Jason was having achilles issues and decided not to start.  I was bummed to hear the news, but I immediately knew that it was going to be a fun day up at the front now that it was anyone’s game.

At 3 miles in we came to a cooler sitting on the back of a pickup truck that made up the Water Street aid station.  I don’t think anyone stopped.  Over the next 4 miles we climbed a switchbacked gravel road up to Woodstock Gap aid station that sat atop of the western ridge of the Massanuttens.  I was now 1 hour in.  Having pulled ahead on the climb, I was extremely surprised to find myself sitting in first place for the first time in my ultra career.  With downhills being my specialty (I’m a fast fatboy), the descent into Shenandoah Valley provided an additional lead on the others.

Knowing that temps were going to soar once the sun came out, I took full advantage of the cooler weather and ran a comfortable 6:45 minute mile pace on the rolling country roads as I came to the Boyer aid station, mile 10.2 in 1:20.  From Boyer we headed onto our first steps of trail, and surprisingly the first time throughout the race that I had to use my headlamp.  The sun was almost up but it was just dark enough that I needed the headlamp for about 10 minutes.  Not bad for a 4:00am start.  As I came back into Boyer 4.5 miles later, I saw Mike Bailey making his way into the loop.  This was a pleasant sight as it was one of the only times throughout the day I saw another runner.  Mike ended up running a solid 21:52.

Another 5 miles miles of fast cruising on country roads brought us to the first crew point of the day at 770/758 aid station, mile 19.6.  My crewmembers were my housemates, Brendan and Collin.  Both are great endurance athletes; Brendan a triathlete and Collin a Cat 1 cyclist.  For a crew that has never been to an ultra before, I was very impressed at their efficiency, getting me in and out in a matter of seconds.

Crews at 770/758 Aid Station (mile 19.6)

Crew cars at 770/758 (mile 19.6)

The next 13 miles were rather uneventful with more fast cruising on country roads.  I held the lead, but as the heat of the day appeared I started to feel its effects.  I came into Four Points aid station, mile 32.5, at 4:48 and feeling a little rough.  I knew it was time to start toning it down… though I probably should have toned it down a few miles earlier.

Running into Four Points #1

Running into Four Points #1 (mile 32.5)

I now entered what was the lowest point of my day.  In addition to the fast pace and the heat, my feet were killing me.  I was wearing my current favorite shoes, the New Balance MT100’s, but I had never run anything more than a 50k on them, and definitely not anything with this much road running.  The lack of padding under the foot pad was becoming painful, but I wouldn’t see my crew again to remedy the problem until I returned to Four Points for the second time, 15 miles later.

Shortly after leaving Four Points (which interestingly enough is located just outside the Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp, i.e. the new MMT headquarters) there is a steep climb up a jeep/ATV trail that has recently been widened.  This may sound nice in theory, but ultimately it gave extremely loose and rocky footing.  Thankfully this section ended quickly and gave way to another fast downhill section.  As I barreled down I noticed that the sound of my footsteps seemed off.  The offbeat rhythm became more distinct, and before I knew it David Ruttum blasted right past me, looking as fast and efficient as ever.  I tried to keep him close through conversation but only managed a brief exchange.  He commented that he changed out of his MT100’s since they were too little shoe for such heavy pounding, and up until that moment changing shoes hadn’t crossed my mind.  (What’s that, Bobby?  Your feet hurt?  Change shoes.  Duh.) I believe I yelled ahead that he was a genius, but before I knew it he disappeared around the next turn, so I doubt he heard me.

The downhill road was short lived and within a mile it was back to climbing another loose jeep/ATV road, the Duncan Hollow section of the MMT Trail.  With a storm having passed through the night before, there were plenty of mud pits (and Jeeps and ATV’s out enjoying said mud pits) to maneuver around.  Eventually, at mile 38.7, the Peach Orchard aid station appears out of nowhere in the middle of the climb.  Because it’s in the middle of nowhere, the entire aid station is carried up trail by a guy on a dirtbike.  It’s a tough job, but VERY appreciated at this point in the race.  Thankfully we had some cloud cover to protect us from this exposed section of trail, but it was hot and humid and I was never happier to see a guy on a dirtbike.  I downed two bottles of water, sat for a few minutes, then continued the climb.  David was now 15 or so minutes ahead.

A few more miles of slow climbing then a short descent down the Scothorn Gap Trail popped us out onto Crisman Hollow Rd, the next aid station.  I jumped on the scale for mandatory weigh-in #1 of 2 and noted that I was down 4 lbs (understandable considering the initial weight was from the day before, I was in different clothes and now using a different scale on uneven terrain – how’s that for reliable data?).  I was feeling like absolute crap but I knew that it was a 4.5 mile straight shot up the road to a fresh pair of shoes.  Onwards!

I came into Four Points #2, mile 47.7, after 7:40 on my feet.  I sat down at a crew point for the first time and changed my shoes and socks.  As much as I love the MT100’s, it was time for something beefier, so on went the trusty Brooks Cascadias.  I didn’t need a fresh pair of socks since Drymax keep my feet pristine in the worst of conditions, but I changed into a fresh pair just in case.  After sitting and freshening up the feet I started to feel significantly better.  (It also may have helped that my crew handed me 3D glasses and, I kid you not, a Playboy with a 3D centerfold.  If made for a good laugh that erected lifted my spirits.)  I put on the iPod for the first time of the day, cranked some metal, and chugged ahead with new vitality.

I was now running in the hottest part of the day, but having started to tone it down a few miles back I was able to maintain a comfortable pace up the gradual road climb to Mountain Top aid station (mile 50.9) and then up and down the road section of Short Mountain (haha MMT runners, how do you like that one?) to Edinburg Gap (mile 56.6).

I was carrying Keith Knipling’s splits from 2008, an extremely hot and challenging year where he ran a 19:48, hoping that I could come close to matching that time if all pieces fell into place perfectly.  Knowing that I had fallen apart a bit around miles 35-45ish, I didn’t think this was possible, but looking at the pace chart I was surprised to see that I was spot on.  Hmm, I guess blowing up is all part of the game.

Although I had cautioned my crew to not let me sit at the aid stations very long, sitting became the prize in my head for running through an entire section.  I had been taking minimal walking breaks during the day, only walking the significant ascents and running all the gradual ones, so giving myself a minute to lower the heart rate and compose myself seemed to work wonders.

Little Fort (mile 64.25)

Little Fort (mile 64.25)

On passing the 100k mark as I made my way into Little Fort aid station (mile 64.25), I realized I had run a new 100k PR of 10:38.  That boosted my spirits, as did the knowledge that I had run the remaining section of the course just a few weeks prior, so from here on out everything would be familiar and doable.  Little Fort is also the only point during the day that I ate solid food.  I had some mango slices from my crew and half a cup of thick soup.  Otherwise, throughout the day I got all my nutrition from Hammer Perpetuem (cafe latte flavor), ginger ale and S-Caps.  These appear to be the winning combination in my stomach to keep me going for a long haul; no need to tinker with other sources of calories unless absolutely necessary.

As I left Little Fort, the anterior tibilias tendon (I think) in my left foot started to irk me.  Oh dear god, please tell me this isn’t another 100-miler defeating injury! It was quite painful at first, but after running on it for a few minutes the pain seemed to subside.  When I hit Mudhole Gap (mile 69.5) I sat down, took off my shoe and tried to massage it out.  I was able to fashion some additional arch support by taping a few gauze pads under my insole, but this provided only marginal relief.  In addition to the rain that had just started sprinkling, Sabrina Moran, the top female runner, came through and looked like she wanted to get out of there in a hurry.  I quickly laced back up and followed suit right behind her.

We were both moving at a pretty slow pace along a flat but technical section with many stream crossings.  I was dealing with my anterior tib problem and she (I later learned) may have broken her foot, so not much was said during our shared miles.  As we emerged onto a fire road ascent I started to pull away a bit, mostly due to the fact that my anterior tib hurt the least when I ran on my toes, aka running fast and not the typical jog that might be expected 70 miles into a run.  It seemed contradictory, but that’s what worked so I went with it.  We then emerged onto an open fire road that had both significant climbs and descents as it led us into Elizabeth Furnace, mile 75 and the second weigh station of the day (my weight was fine).

I had gained a couple minutes on Sabrina coming into Elizabeth, arriving in 13:20, but with my foot issue I needed to address that for a few minutes.  I applied some Arctic Ice muscle relief spray to try to numb it away, massaged it out a bit, and then my brilliant self wiped my eyes with hands that were now covered in muscle relief liquid.  That felt interesting for a minute.  Oh well.  Knowing that I was getting low on fluids throughout the day (urine was getting dark) and I had a long section coming up, I swapped my waistpack for my Nathan Pack and took my Perpetuem mix in a handheld.  It was nice to free up the hips and switch to a higher center of gravity fluid source for the upcoming climbs.

I managed to leave Elizabeth before Sabrina (I know, a guy shouldn’t worry about getting “chicked”, but sadly we all do), but after heading off-trail to “scrape some leaves” as Gary Knipling says, she and her pacer were able to get a few minutes head start on the big climb up Sherman Gap.  I opted to not use a pacer since they were only allowed for this next 12 mile section and I would be doing it in the daylight, but I’m sure I would have been singing a much different tune had I been experiencing this section slower and in the dark.  The climb up Sherman is given a bad rap in my mind.  Yes, it’s gnarly, steep and could use some switchbacks, but after 75 miles of running on mostly gravel country roads, the slow climb is a welcomed change of pace and muscle groups.  I actually enjoyed it.

With every good climb comes a good descent.  Usually my specialty, the anterior tib wasn’t having this descent so I was only marginally able to bomb down with reckless abandon.  I did, however, end up stubbing a toe fairly badly after jumping over a blow down and landing incorrectly.  It felt like I had sheared off the skin from the front of the toe, but upon inspection at the next aid station (613T, mile 80.9) it turns out it was just a blood blister under the toenail.  Sabrina and her pacer were leaving the aid station just as I was coming in, and although I stopped for a few minutes to inspect the toe and refill the pack, I had once again caught back up right as she was leaving the next aid station (Veach East, mile 82.8).  Seeing this trend, I knew that my moving pace was faster than hers, she was just being more time efficient in the aid stations.  Despite my newly-found love for my crew’s camping chair, I knew I had to stop lollygagging in the aid stations if I was going to make any moves in these last 20 miles.

The climb up Veach was long and slow, but with the sun beginning to set it offered a nice view looking south onto the Shenandoah River.  I ran into my buddy Chad Kibler up near the top of the climb (he had been marking trail) and he walked with me for a minute, definitely a welcomed surprise.  We split when I reached the top and then it was a 2 mile technical descent into Veach West.  I passed Sabrina on the descent (btw, her pacer was wearing Vibram FiveFingers… very hardcore for the technicality of this section) and as I came into the aid station (mile 86.6 at 16:33), I knew I had to get out of there quick.

Crew working hard at Veach West (mile 86.6)

Crew working hard at Veach West (mile 86.6)

My mom showed up at this aid station, so even though I had intentions on moving through quickly, I sat down to see her for a moment then quickly got up and went back to business.  Temperatures were now fairly cooler with a light drizzle, and the sun had set just as I entered the aid station.  I would be seeing my crew at the next aid station so I minimalized and went to a single handheld.  I donned the headlamp and, knowing that running on my toes and for uninterrupted periods of time meant less pain, I started hammering out the miles again (or at least what seems like hammering out miles at mile 87).

My pace sheet called for the 4.4 mile section between Veach West and 770/758 to take an hour, but it only ended up taking 48 minutes  (which includes 2 minutes of standing at one intersection wondering which way to go).  I was feeling motivated as ever to get this day wrapped up, so after a brief stop at the 770/758 aid station (mile 91) to sit for a second and swap GPS that was low on battery, I once again put my head down, bottled up the pain and charged forward.  I noticed that stopping and starting back up again was making the anterior tib take a few minutes to warm back up, so I decided I was going to run as much as humanly possible of these last 9 miles… and I did.

I ran the entire way, albeit slowly, up to Woodstock Gap (mile 93.2, 17:58), and after stopping only long enough to fill a bottle I continued down the mountain, retracing my steps from the morning.  The anterior tib was not a fan of this descent, but with less than 7 miles to go I didn’t care how bad things hurt.  One foot in front of the other, as fast as I can manage (which really ended up being about 10 minute miles).

I had thought that once the descent off Woodstock was complete it would be smooth sailing to the finish.  Wrong.  New hills that I hadn’t seen on the way out were now riddled throughout the streets of Woodstock, taunting me with every little undulation.  After what seemed like forever, I finally saw the turn onto Water St out in the distance (mile 97.4 aid station, 18:41) and I could hear my crew cheering me on.  The excitement and realization of finishing my first 100-miler were finally starting to set in.  I didn’t even stop at the aid station, but rather had my crew swap bottles with me as I ran.

I handed off my iPod so that I could use these last 2.6 miles to think and reflect upon the events of the past day.  Honestly, I figured I was going to tear up and bawl, but the emotions didn’t seem to have that affect on me this time.  I felt more pumped than anything else.  The 2 miles back to the Fairgrounds seemed to take an eternity, but after meandering through the quiet streets of Woodstock and getting the occasional odd look from a resident, the Fairgrounds finally appeared as you crest over one last “climb” that I again don’t remember from the morning.

Entering the Fairgrounds (mile 99.5)

Entering the Fairgrounds (mile 99.5)

I entered the grounds, threw my bottle, and proceeded to run the longest half mile of my entire life.  I was giving every ounce of effort I had, and after rounding the final turn my body released one last burst of energy it had been saving especially for this moment.  I sprinted to the line, finishing my debut 100-miler in a time of 19:11, good for 2nd place overall.

I collapsed to the ground.  Immense pain and joy filled every ounce of my body.  Finally…  I ran 100 miles.

"Holy hell what just happened?"

"Holy hell what just happened?"

HouseSTRONG success

Couldn't have done it without these guys

Post-race thoughts

I had my setbacks during the journey to my debut 100-miler (injury, bad luck in lotteries, and more injury) but in the end, I couldn’t have asked for a better race.  The old school style of Old Dominion really shows the history behind it, and for someone new(er) to the sport like myself, it gives a glimpse of what 100-mile runs were like back in the day when it was just a bunch of crazed runners looking for something new to test their abilities – a no frills, no fancy technology, no big name sponsor (and still no big name sponsor) low-key event that awards you with the greatest thing you could ever ask for.  No, I’m not talking about being awarded the silver belt buckle (though it is pretty sweet), but being awarded with the sense of accomplishment that you pushed your body to it’s absolute limits… and then kept going, and going, and going.  With a course that requires so much actual running, whether you are fighting at the front of the pack or just barely making the cutoffs, you know that you are giving it your absolute all, not just for a few minutes, but for hours and hours on end.

David Ruttum ended up running the 5th fastest time in the 32 years Old Dominion has been run, a blazing fast 16:52.  I spent a good deal talking to him before and after the race and, aside from the obvious fact that he is an ultrarunning machine not to be reckoned with, he is also a genuinely nice guy who most definitely deserves the smashing race that he had this weekend.  Sabrina Moran ended up first female, third overall, finishing a few minutes under 20 hours.  The finishing rate was near 50%, as could be expected for a day with high humidity and temps near 90, and a good number of these finishers made it sub-24 and buckled.  If I can get my hands on additional race data I’ll make sure I post it since I know OD information is hard to come by online.

Thank you to everyone who has joined me on this journey to the 100-miler, especially my crew, Brendan and Collin, who did a superb job of taking care of me, keeping me (3D) motivated, and made sure I got across that finish in one piece.  I couldn’t have done it without you guys.

Bling Bling

Bling

——————-

LINKS:
My OD pics, someone else’s OD pics, a third person’s OD pics
2010 Old Dominion 100 Mile Endurance Run results and splits

100 Miler Redemption?

If you couldn’t already tell, I didn’t get in to MMT this year.  C’est la vie.  Instead, I’m off to the mountains right now, heading out to run the Old Dominion 100 Mile Endurance Run tomorrow.  Let’s hope this 100 goes better than the last!  Stay tuned for a race report next week.

Old Dominion 100 trail marking

OD 100 trail markings

Terrapin Mountain 50k – 2010 race report

Terrapin Mountain 50k logo

Terrapin Mountain 50k is a great race put on by my friend and Liberty University professor, Clark Zealand.  It is race #2 in the Beast Series and offers a beautiful yet challenging course in the George Washington National Forest, sharing some of the Promise Land 50k and Hellgate 100k courses.

If you recall, around the New Year I was having some slight issues with my peroneal tendon after I rolled my ankle pretty bad.  The problem was exacerbated by a certain pair of shoes (New Balance MT100’s, I still love them) but it resolved itself after some rest.  Well, having thought the problem was gone after some successful runs at Holiday Lake and R2R2R, I went for a run in these shoes about a week before race day.  Lo-and-behold, the peroneal became reirritated so I was forced to lay off running up until Terrapin.  I didn’t know how it would hold up, but wanting to stay in the Beast I decided to cautiously proceed with my racing plans (and with a goal to just finish, not race).

Having just experienced some beautiful 70 degree weather, the mid 20’s on race morning were an unpleasant surprise.  No worries, the weather would eventually become absolutely gorgeous later in the day.

Image courtest of eco-x sports

A down jacket while stretching and still freezing

At 7:00am Clark banged the gong (really Clark?) and we headed out.  The first 3/4 mile is on flat road, and with 50k and half-marathoners running together this made for some speedy pavement pounding, eerily similar to a marathon.  As soon as the road ended we started the climb up to Camping Gap, an aid station that we would hit 3 times throughout the day.  I wasn’t necessarily planning on running this 3-mile climb, but the peroneal felt absolutely fine so I allowed myself to get dragged along by the front pack.

After the climb came a brutal 5-mile descent.  Now normally some good fast downhill cruising feels great to start out a race, but this extended descent on gravel road meant faster-than-usual paces, and consequently trashed-earlier-than-usual quads.  Honestly, it was friggin fast.  I apparently ran 6:02’s, and a few days later I am now paying the price and can’t walk down steps.

Me and Jack Kurisky

Much of the first half of the race was run on gravel road, and the elevation was fairly binary.  Either you were climbing or you were pummeling downhill.  I kept company with Jack Kurisky, Keith Knipling and Darryl Smith for a lot of this running, but as we came into Camping Gap for the second time (mile 16.4), I realized that I was giving a harder-than-planned effort and staying with these guys would mean keeping up the pace.  The Beast Series is my focus of the year, and yes I’d love to do well in it, but I did not plan or train for Terrapin to be at race effort, and as I’ve learned before, an unplanned hard effort can bring negative consequences.  Acknowledging this fact, I let them pull away and I started stopping to take pictures whenever the opportunity arose.  It seemed to work and the second half of the run was at a much more relaxed pace.

After the second stint at Camping Gap came a nice climb up and around the White Oak Ridge.  At the top we would find our first orienteering punch (to prove we did the loop).  As I was approaching the punch, Justine Morrison appeared out of nowhere looking speedy as always.  In a normal race I’d fight to the death if given an opportunity to prevent being chicked, but given my earlier decision to tone it down, I took a picture and let Justine pass, continuing on to chick more and more of the suckers ahead.  She ended up finishing ninth overall and beating out the second place woman by more than 20 minutes.  A true rockstar, to say the least.

Justine Morrison at Terrapin Mtn 50k - 2010

Justine at orienteering punch #1

Coming down the White Oak Ridge, I started passing runners coming in the opposite direction.  This is always a good time, yelling encouragements  to strangers (“Looking good, keep it up!”) and taking pictures and heckling friends (“Oh dear god what is that bright yellow thing coming towards me?”).  If you don’t get that second reference, see the picture I snapped of Alisa below.  She was so fast (or so bright) that she was blurry.

Alisa Springman running the White Oak Ridge

Neon Alisa

After the downhill meet-and-greet section we hit Camping Gap for the third and final time (mile 22.1).  Leaving, we were immediately greeted by some fairly technical trail (a first for the day) and a good climb up Terrapin Mountain.  Orienteering punch #2 was located on a rock ledge with a spectacular view at the top of the mountain, then we started our descent which quickly lead to punch #3.  This one was located immediately after Fat Man’s Misery, an angled, narrow and slippery passageway between two giant boulders.  Seriously, this thing is a sonofabitch.  Don’t let the picture of Mario below fool you, he’s a small dude (no offense my man) and it is downright dangerous passing through here.  Oh the things we do for running.

Mario Raymond in Fat Man's Misery

Mario Raymond in Fat Man's Misery

After the fat man we had a good gnarly technical downhill, just to be sure that if there was any strength left in your quads, there wouldn’t be at the finish.  The rocks in this section were big, loose and scattered – a perfect storm for rolling ankles and eliminating Beast Series racers.  Needless to say, I stayed super focused and applied the brakes liberally on this descent.

At the very bottom of the descent was Terrapin Mtn Lane aid station (mile 25.6), a brief half-mile ascent, and then a long rolling cruise on singletrack as we headed towards the finish.  There were plenty of stream crossings in this section, but surprisingly they weren’t overflowing as one might expect after a record snowfall has just melted.  I’m not complaining.

At this point, I came across a group of soldiers wearing full uniforms including combat boots and rucksacks.  The lead soldier carried an American flag.  They marched/hiked the half-marathon course and were coming into the last two miles of their long slow hike.  One soldier offered me his ruck but I politely declined, mustering something about not wanting to take away from his sense of accomplishment.  Either way, that was pretty cool seeing them out there carrying the flag.

Soldier carrying American Flag at Terrapin Mtn 50k

Americaaaa

With a little more than a mile to go, the course turned back on to the road we had started with.  This was a very welcome sign (as was the “one mile to go” sign), and within no time I was coming across the field at the Sedalia Center, finishing in 5:03:51, good for 12th place overall and 11th male.

The post-race lounging was a great time.  There was good BBQ, hanging with VHTRC and Lynchburg friends, and watching runners come in while looking out onto a mountainous backdrop on a beautiful day.  You really can’t ask for anything more…

VHTRC at Terrapin Mtn 50k

VHTRC peeps

LINKS:
Full results
My pictures on Flickr

Grand Canyon Rim-to-(almost)Rim-to-Rim

March 5, 2010

The Game Plan: Starting at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, run down the South Kaibab Trail (7.2 miles), connect with the North Kaibab Trail and take it as far as possible up to the North Rim (13.7 miles), turn around, retrace steps along the North Kaibab (13.7 miles) and take the Bright Angel Trail back out to the South Rim (9.6 miles).  Total mileage: 44.2 (or 46, depending on your source of information).

R2R2R map from my GPS

The Twist: Although Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R) has become a popular run among ultrarunners, most attempts are done in Spring or Fall months when temperatures are pleasant at the Rims, hot in the Canyon, and most of the water sources are open for business.  A conference for work landed me in Arizona in late-winter, and not being one to pass up an opportunity, I went full steam ahead on R2R2R planning.  Then, a week or so before the run I learned that the Grand Canyon was hit with near-record-breaking amounts of snow with reports of three feet of untouched powder roughly two miles down the North Kaibab Trail.  Awesome.  So, I packed my snowshoes for the trip and accepted the fact that a full R2R2R might not be possible.

Day before the run, getting hit with lots of snow

The Story: When the alarm went off at 5:00am Friday morning, I was hoping to hear that Vince’s recent illness had miraculously disappeared.  Vince, an ultra buddy of mine that graciously flew out to Arizona so I wouldn’t have to run a solo double-crossing of the Grand Canyon, had been battling a cold all week and was hoping that things would settle by game-time Friday morning.  Sadly, they did not, but since he was already out there he wanted to run as far he comfortably could.  We planned on running down to Phantom Ranch together and from there, depending on how Vince was feeling, we would either continue together or part ways and I continue up towards the North Rim while he made his way back up to the South Rim.  Phantom Ranch was a perfect location for this as the South Kaibab, Bright Angel and North Kaibab trails all meet just north of the Colorado River was.  Being solo, I opted to not bring along my snowshoes as they would likely tempt me into crossing dangerous trail sections.  Instead, I acknowledged that my turnaround might come earlier than planned, but so long as I went as far as safely possible I would be contempt.

We drove to a small unmarked parking area maybe a half-mile from the South Kaibab trail head, parked, and hit the ground running.  Temperatures hovered in the high teens and the sun was starting to poke its head out.  We hit the South Kaibab trail right around 6:30am and instantly we were greeted with snowy and icy switchbacks.  We put on our Yaktrax to be safe and within 10 minutes we were stopping to take them back off.  Temperatures and trail conditions changed rapidly in those first three or four miles, and within 40 minutes, as we were stopping to stare in awe as the sun lit up the canyon, I had stripped off my windbreaker, longsleeve shirt, gloves, headband, and now was down to just a t-shirt and arm warmers.

Slow running w/ switchbacks & water erosion bars

Water erosion bars quickly became our least favorite things in the world, followed closely second by the smell of mule poop.  The joys of the Grand Canyon, right?  High-stepping and poop-smelling aside, there is just no real way to describe the grandiosity of this canyon, especially knowing that over the course of half a day you will run across it twice.

Coming down the South Kaibab

With the constant stopping for photo ops and canyon gazing, it was a slow trip down to Phantom Ranch.  The seven miles took just under two hours.  I remember this because Phantom Ranch did not open until 8:30am and we still had a few minutes to spare.  This was our first opportunity to refuel, and as I was topping off my bladder and handheld bottle Vince informed me that he wasn’t feeling too hot and he would be turning around soon.  He wanted to run a few miles on the North Kaibab trail, but not knowing how well his body would temperature regulate or take in fuel, he didn’t want to push on too hard.  Since I might possibly be fighting daylight later on, we decided it was best for me to go ahead at my own pace and Vince would take his time going back up Bright Angel.

I know what you’re thinking at this point.  “Never separate, this is how fatalities occur.”  True, but I like to think we had a solid plan in place, we were both more than physically capable on taking on the Canyon, and I was carrying more than enough fluid and calories.  Needless to say, I am here writing this report, but I do respect the dangers of Mother Nature and her beautiful and deadly big ditch.

The North Kaibab Trail offered a much different change of scenery.  The trail meandered north along the Bright Angel Creek for a few miles with tall rock walls surrounding on both sides.  This narrow area caused my GPS to lose signal a few times, but it usually caught back up with no significant measured distance lost.

Beginning of the North Kaibab Trail

The trail then opened up to what was probably my favorite section.  The steep walls disappeared and I was now running on an undulating desert trail with open “fields” and plenty of cacti.  I use quotes because that is what it would appear to be for someone with tunnel vision.  It’s hard not to notice the monumentous and snow-covered North Rim ahead, or the equally enormous and snow-covered South Rim behind.  The grade in this section was slightly uphill but my legs were feeling fresh and I was loving life so I kept on at it with a comfortable but fairly decent effort.  So long as I was keeping my heart-rate in the 150’s (or lower), there shouldn’t be need to worry about significant fatigue later in the day.

My favorite section on North Kaibab

Temperatures in the Canyon were now in the 60’s from what I would guess and the sun was shining bright.  It was a seven mile stretch from Phantom Ranch to Cottonwood Campground, but at this time of year the Cottonwood faucets are turned off, causing me to stretch my fluids out for a few more miles.  Cottonwood was a pleasant little oasis with a few trees, fallen leaves, and for the most part empty campsites.

Caretaker’s Cabin or Roaring Springs would be the next opportunity to refuel.  The ranger I spoke to the day before had told me that the faucets at Roaring Springs had just been turned on and that the Caretaker’s Cabin was a crap-shoot.  Either way, I could fill at Roaring Springs and purify if need be.  There was no need for purification since the faucet in front of the Caretaker’s Cabin was spewing water as I approached (they leave faucets dripping to prevent pipe freezing).  This was an interesting little spot since, from what I can tell, a ranger lives here and leaves offerings to hikers on a picnic table out front.  Hell, he even has a basketball hoop for hikers smart enough (?) to pack in a basketball!

Ballin' in the G.C.

The grade of the trail became significantly steeper around this point, causing me to start speed-hiking most of the way.  Roaring Springs requires a slight off-trail detour to get water, but since I had just topped off at the b-ball court I passed right by without checking to verify that the water was indeed on.  Originally, I had thought that Roaring Springs would be where I would turn around.  Some ranger reports indicated that snowy trail sections started around here, but all was clear, I was feeling good, and I had plenty of time to explore further; so I did.

The trail started switchbacking and I was now on the big climb up to North Rim.  Switchbacking up also brought steep drop-offs, so extra caution was taken with each step.  It was nice being on a section of trail that not many people had traveled in the past few months.  The North Rim and all roads leading into it are closed at this time of year, so anyone wanting to reach this section of the North Kaibab has to do so from the South Rim, a task that most are not up for.  This, consequently, meant that as I got up into the snowy trail sections, they weren’t as nicely packed as they were coming down South Kaibab.  Trail was broken but these were individual footprints that post-holed down approximately one foot into what would become almost three feet of snow.

Snow on the upper North Kaibab

It was fairly awkward trying to move fast through these tracks, but it was passable and I wasn’t getting myself into anything I couldn’t get out of.  At one point I came upon a small stream of melting snow that created some crunchiness and a bit of ice.  I found some dry spots for foot placement and carefully passed on through.  Then, not even a quarter-mile later, I came across another bout of melting snow.  This one created a small waterfall from above and a patch of ice that covered roughly eight feet of the trail.  The snow leading up to the ice patch was also covered in ice and was extremely slick.  I approached cautiously but realized passing would bring about significant risk.

Ice = end of the road

And just like that, my trek towards the North Rim came to an end.  Even if I put on my Yaktrax to pass over the ice, likely there would be something similar around the next corner, and the next, and the next.  I had traveled 20 miles, was maybe a mile or two from the North Rim, but oh well; I went as far as I safely could.

Turn around.  Do it again.

Once I passed through the snowy switchbacks, I was able to open up the pace and get some good downhill quad-trashing going on.  Here is where I was able to first feel the effects of the climbing, descending, and overall time on feet.  It wasn’t much, but enough that my body was saying “yeah dude, a couple more hours of this and good luck walking next week.”  Shut up body, I’m the one making the decisions here.

Coming down North Kaibab

Again I blew right by Roaring Springs and stopped at Caretaker’s Cabin.  I filled up my bladder (2/3 of the way for those wondering, and I was also drinking a strong Perpetuem drink mix in my handheld all day) explored down to the creek for a few minutes, and stretched a bit.  I was hoping to get a peek of the elusive Caretaker, but alas, nothing.  Onward!

I was now back at my favorite section of the North Kaibab, only now instead of having a slight incline it was slightly declined, allowing me to really open up and throw down some 7:30 miles at one point.  It felt great.

As Phantom Ranch got closer and I ran along Bright Angel Creek, the steep rock walls reappeared, and at one point, so did a man with two mules.  I didn’t immediately see him since he came around a blind turn and my head was down, but once I saw him it appeared as though he was backing into a crevice to let me by.  Boy was I wrong.  I hadn’t even moved forward five feet before this crotchety old man with a white beard and half his teeth proceeded to yell and chastise me for not immediately stopping.  “Don’t you see that these are mules?  Do you not know the rules?  You don’t know the rules?  Get the hell out of my way and stand over there!  Don’t look at the mules!  Don’t move a muscle until I’m at least 50 feet past.”  Easy there old-timer, this is my first time in the Big Ditch and if you couldn’t tell, I was running and didn’t notice you.  Oh well, lesson learned: stop for mules or feel the wrath of crotchety old guys.

Onwards I proceeded to Phantom Ranch.  Strangely this section seemed to take forever even though I was running at a decent clip.  I finished off my handheld, was almost done with the water in my bladder, and the sun was making things pretty hot at this point.  Phantom Ranch finally appeared and I was extremely grateful.  Sensing that I had just put in a hard effort and that I may be a little behind on calories and fluid, I chugged a bottle of water while I stretched, then went inside and got a snickers bar and an ice cold glass of lemonade.  I had heard somewhere that this was THE meal to get when R2R2R’ing it.  Let me tell you, that one-two punch of sugar and fluid hit the spot!

Yum.

I was now more than 30+ miles  into the run and had roughly 10 miles left… all in the upwards direction to head out of the Canyon.  After spending a good 20 minutes at Phantom Ranch to recharge and loosen up, I headed out.  Rather than using the Black Bridge to cross the mighty Colorado River like we did on the inbound trip, since I was taking the Bright Angel Trail outbound, the Silver Bridge took me across the Colorado.  Standing on the bridge really allows you to understand how much water is rushing by at any given second, and in that sense it allows you to understand how this single river was able to carve out the immensely vast Canyon you are standing in.

Crossing the Colorado

The first mile or two of the Bright Angel trail were decently runnable despite their incline.  As the trail was running parallel to the river, I thought for a minute that I had taken the wrong trail and was running on the River Trail.  However, I knew the River Trail would run back in to Bright Angel with roughly the same mileage, so I didn’t bother stopping to check the map.

The five miles from Phantom Ranch to Indian Gardens took an hour and a half, not bad for a combination of running and hiking.  As expected, the pace slowed down significantly when the climb got steeper a little bit before Indian Gardens.  Indian Gardens itself was a pleasant little oasis with lots of trees, camp sites, and Japanese tourists lying around in the shade looking like they were about to die of fatigue.  I probably looked comparable and would have fit right in with them on the ground, but knowing that only 4.6 miles stood between me and the South Rim, I opted to top off fluids and keep moving instead.

Sign at Indian Gardens. Respect the vegetation!

I was now 7:30 into the run.  In my head I calculated that if I hiked 20 minutes/mile I could make it in right at ten hours.  This seemed reasonable, but then the trail got way steeper, way switchback-ier, and way more of the water erosion bars.  Oh joy!  No cause for concern though, this arbitrary goal was still attainable so long as I kept my head down and speed-hiked like there was no tomorrow, which is what I did.

Ok, ok, I still stopped for pics.

Snow reappeared, but strangely the associated cold temperatures did not seem to necessitate the re-clothing that I had originally imagined.  In my logistical planning I had thought this section would be a slow death march in the cold as the sun was setting.  Miraculously, there was still plenty of daylight and warmth since I had been moving at a decent pace most of the day.

The pace and effort I was putting in to get up to the South Rim also generated a fair amount of body heat, noticeable to at least two people who, as we crossed paths, commented that I needed to keep moving lest I risk freezing to death.  My inner monologue quickly chimed in, “Yes, I am aware that I am the only idiot out here in shorts and a t-shirt, and the size of my pack is vastly inferior to yours, but you are mistaken and I am not the underprepared, in-over-my-shoulders, know-it-all, twenty-something male that you are accustomed to hearing about in Grand Canyon tales of peril.  If only you knew what I’ve been through today.”

Snowy switchbacks

Nonetheless, this was just more motivation to keep moving ahead strong towards the arbitrary 10 hour goal.  I reached the 3-mile rest house at nine hours on the dot.  Perfect.  Then the 1.5-mile rest house at 9:30.  Perfect.  “Let’s not mess this last mile-and-a-half up” I thought to myself.  The head went down and the arms started pumping to dictate the pace.  Round and round I went through the switchbacks until the Bright Angel trail head finally appeared.

I tagged the South Rim at 10:03 with the Garmin reading 43.1 miles.  Good enough for government work!

Done.

I hunched over the fence of the mule corral to rest.  I was elated to have survived a mostly-solo, faster-than-anticipated, and nearly-completed in less-than-ideal conditions R2R2R.  I really wish Vince could have been able to join me in more of the journey, but you have to play the hand you are dealt, and there is always next time.  He ended up running for about an hour on the North Kaibab, getting in a total of 25 miles or so with a nice little Rim-to-River-to-Rim.  Not too shabby of a run for a dude battling some serious sickness!

As I was hunched there, a few people at the trail head asked if I had just been down to the river.  Trying not to sound too egotistical (a common battle for me as an ultrarunner, proud of what I have accomplished but also wanting others to be proud of what they can accomplish, no matter the distance), I explained I had indeed been down to the river, twice.  Flabbergasted, they offered congratulations.  While the congratulations were wonderful, I was really hoping someone would offer me a ride back to my lodge.  Nada.

“Thanks everyone.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pathetically stumble back to my lodge.”

—————

Link: My R2R2R pictures on Flickr

snOMG Holiday Lake 50k++

If I had to sum up the 2010 Holiday Lake 50k++ in 4 words, I’d have to go with: “Snow. More snow. Ouch.”

A snowy start

Seriously, the presence of 6″ of crunchy snow turned what is usually a flat, fast, first-timer friendly 50k into one heck of a challenge that I was NOT expecting at this point in my race calendar.  Last year at Holiday Lake I ran my 50k PR in 4:10, good for 11th place but resulting in some nasty ITBS that left me unable to compete in my planned spring races.  Knowing this, I went into this year’s race telling myself that I was out there to run my own race and not compete for top-10, no matter how much instigating I got from Horty.

Let’s backtrack a second and start from the beginning: my supposed 3.5 hour commute down to the race start which ended up taking 6 hours due to glorious snow traffic on the lone day that government employees had to report to work this week.  Arghhh!  This caused me to miss the pre-race briefing and pre-race meal; thankfully I came prepared with my own dinner and rather than enduring hours of hunger, I only had to endure a cold piece of salmon, a cold sweet potato, and the awkward preparation of said food as I drove in stop-and-go traffic.  Yum?  Hey, whatever gets the job done.

Weather forecast was calling for temps in the teens, reaching mid-20’s with the occasional chance of flurries.  We woke Saturday morning to find a fresh inch or two of powder and temps closer to 30.  This just meant less clothing needed at the start and a few extra inches of white stuff to suck away the energy of every footstep.

At 6:30am we headed off into the “darkness”, but the presence of moon-lit snow made the use of headlamps absolutely unnecessary (Sidebar: Hey Clark, you have my headlamp, I’ll get it at Terrapin).  Matt Woods, the #1 seed and fellow Tuesday-night WUS runner, quickly took the lead as we headed a half-mile up the pavement to our turn onto the trail.  My screw shoes were audibly noticeable I’m sure, but later on I would become extremely grateful for going screwed rather than regular-shoed or Yaktrax’ed (yeah, I just made up some words… tough).

Matt Woods throwing it down

Once we hit the trail it became painfully obvious that today’s race was a horse of a different color.  Half a foot of crunchy snow forced us front-runners to high-step like a footballer through car tires, and with each step came the process of “step, crunch, drop down, stumble, lift, repeat”.  We all appeared to be searching for footsteps from those in front of us that matched our desired stride length and placement.  With all my barefooting as of late, I was unable to find someone with a matching short stride and was left running with the rhythm of a 4-year-old playing drums on Rock Band for the first time.  It had to have been equally comical.

Icy Pond Crossings

With not much elevation change and all the crunchy white stuff looking the same for miles and miles on end, there’s not much to report on for the first half of the run.  No rhythm, high-stepping and knowing that I was going to be out there much longer than originally planned led me to be downright miserable.  I even gave serious consideration to dropping from the race at the turnaround.  After all, I had the inaugural Cupid’s Undie Run waiting for me back in DC, an event that my roommate and I had organized without first considering my need to redeem myself in the Beast Series this year.  I voiced these sentiments to my buddy Jack Kurisky whom I was running with at the turnaround and he quickly slapped me back into reality.  I had unfinished business with the Beast, and no matter how much misery I was in or how many half-naked runner gals waited for me at a bar back home, I had to finish this stupid race.

Me starting my 2nd loop

…so on I went.  Counting the passing runners at the turnaround I found myself in 8th place and 2:39 in to the “fun”.  Hmm, I was about 40 minutes slower than last year but in a much better placement, guess the conditions were equally challenging for everyone else!  As I made my way onto the second loop (this time in the clockwise direction) I started passing a large number of runners in the final portion of their first loop who were only minutes behind.  The trail conditions, while wet, were becoming much more tolerable and runnable.  I was finally able to get into a groove and zone out.  Yes!  Thank you, Jack, for not letting me drop!

My hip flexors were sore from the 16 miles of high-stepping, but with my new-found ability to actually run, I became a much happier camper.  The miles ticked away and so did the number of runners who remained between me and the finish.  I wasn’t purposefully passing folks, but I had a mantra going in my head and it was motivating me to get to that finish line.  “Gotta get to the Undie Run, gotta get to the Undie Run, gotta get to the Undie Run.”  Hey, whatever does the trick, right?

More (fun?) snowy trail

I also knew that the faster I cruised along and the closer I got to the finish, the greater my chances of doing something stupid like blowing up or getting injured.  Neither of those are on my to-do list so I tried my best to maintain a steady but reasonable pace.  I hadn’t set out to race, and I didn’t think I was putting in race effort for a good portion of it, but now that I found myself in 4th place I realized I in fact was pushing a bit harder than originally planned, and since I had put in all that effort to get there, might as well not blow it at the end.

At one point I slowed to a walk near a hill and felt my hammies tighten up.  This was a sure sign that I was getting pretty fatigued, so I told myself no walking until the finish line is crossed.  It may have also been a sign that I was low on electrolytes, so I popped another S-cap.  The plan seemed to work and the hammies cooperated through the finish.

I honestly expected to get passed in the last mile by some marathon runner doing his first ultra like I did last year, but thankfully this year I was able to maintain a solid distance from others.  The final half-mile downhill on pavement is much more enjoyable when you’re able to run it at your own pace and you’re not tapping in to imaginary energy reserves trying to run down some speed demon who took your top-10 slot.

I crossed the finish in 5:10 and in 4th place, an hour slower than last year but in a much better placement.  Was this year’s field less competitive?  Did I get better?  Am I better suited for racing in difficult conditions whereas others who normally do well at Holiday Lake are not?  Who knows, but it was one hell of a race.

Oh yeah, I stuck around the finish line for all of 5 minutes before going to grab a shower and hitting the road.  Much fun was had at Cupid’s Undie Run, but I’ll save that for it’s own separate post ;-)

All pictures courtesy of Doug Sullivan.

Full race results here.

Magnus Gluteus Maximus 50k

Oops. Looks like I once again forgot to blog about an ultra. A few weeks ago was the VHTRC’s Magnus Gluteus Maximus FatAss 50k. Great times were had by all. I ran 24 miles to be “conservative” while recovering from my Grindstone/Masochist tendinitis (which I am happy to say is long gone). Anyways, here are a few shots since I’m not going to get around to writing more about it. We ran. We drank. We were festive. THE END.

The rest of my pictures from the event can be found here.

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