I had to make a very tough decision this week. My running “mentor” is heading out to the Black Hills of South Dakota to run the Lean Horse 100 at the end of August and offered to pace me the entire 100-miles to a sub-24hr finish. While I really wanted to take him up on the offer, as I started adding up the expenses (flight, hotel, race fee, etc.) it became obvious that this would be too expensive for my current stage in life. But now that it is 5 weeks from the Mohican 100 and I am starting to get my legs back under me, it is time to put the next challenge on my calendar.
Since the Mohican 100-miler in June, I have been obsessed with a race through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia: the Grindstone 100 – October 1-3.
If you go to the Grindstone 100 website and browse the list of current entrants you will now find my name among the 100 or so registered runners. You will also find the following description: “Grit, endurance, and temporary loss of sanity. You might need all of these if you want to attempt Grindstone. If you want to finish, well, just keep in mind this is, without a doubt, the hardest 100 miler east of the 100th meridian.”
I approached this week as a transition from recovery to training. After 43 miles last week, capped off by a 16-mile night run at Mohican, I decided to aim for 55 quality miles this week that would lay a foundation for the next 6 weeks of training. Even as I sit here typing there is still something scary about only 6 weeks of training (followed by a 3-week taper) to prepare me for this next adventure. I am hoping the base mileage established during the spring in preparation for Mohican will still be there, and allow me to train with specificity, yet not as much distance.
I spent the better part of an afternoon this week (while waiting to collect cells for my 6-hr time-point) reading race reports from previous Grindstone finishers. Each one mentioned the brutally steep and technical climbs followed by extreme downhill terrain. I have always been a fairly good climber, but descents are another story. So my training plan over the next 6 weeks is fairly straightforward: run up and down stairs, parking garages, and the steepest hills I can find. During this training cycle, I have decided to run 4-5 days a week to allow for proper recovery. I am afraid all the 35-50 mile training runs leading up to Mohican prevented proper recovery and I spent a lot of miles slogging along without significant gains in fitness. My training will be centered around 2 events: 1. The Grindstone training weekend, where a group of runners will run the entire course in one direction over two days; and 2. The Cheat Mountain Moonlight Madness 50-miler, a race in WV that begins at 9pm and features steep climbs mixed in with runable ridgeline. (By the way, if anyone is available the weekends of Aug 14 or 27 and would like to join me on these adventures I would love the company!).
Mon: 52 flights of stairs in each direction and a hilly 6-miler.
Tues: 61 flights of stairs and a solid 11-miler at High Banks.
Thurs: 2-mile treadmill (max incline), 8-miler on the bike path, 30’ of PT exercises
Sat/Sun: 37-miles pacing at the Burning River 100
Total Miles = 64
I’m going to conclude this first week’s post with some comments on the BR100. I wasn’t sure how I would feel crewing/pacing for many of the ultra-friends I train with. My emotions were mixed between a desire to be racing with them and jealousy over the ideal weather conditions. But as I sat at mile 40 waiting to see them come through, I found contentment in lending help in whatever way possible – for often times it is better to give than to receive.
I intended to begin pacing Steve Z. at mile 70 through the finish, but by mile 64 I couldn’t sit on the sidelines any longer. Michael Patton (21:32!!) came in slightly ahead of Steve and informed us Steve’s stomach had revolted. As fate would have it, I was ready to run with him for this next part of his journey. Currently I am lacking both the inspiration and motivation for an extended “pacer report” (sorry to disappoint). What I can say is that Steve fought like a champ through 15+ bouts of extreme puking and constant nausea. Running made things worse, so we walked liked there was no tomorrow. Our goal moved from just finishing under the 30-hour cut-off, to finishing in 27:00, then 26:30, then an eventual finish time of 26:00:39. When I said “Steve, we need to do this 3.3 mile section in 1 hour,” he responded with a 51-minute section. When I said “Steve, you have 5 minutes at this aid station,” he was out in 3 minutes. Steve’s wife Leigh also played a big role in keeping us moving along from aid station to aid station.
I also must thank Star and Darris for the many pacing lessons I learned from them over my last two 100’s on the Mohican course.
My tired mind is struggling for words, so for now I will close. But a big congrats to Michael Patton, Kevin Martin, Steve Zeidner, Star Blackford, Jay Smithberger, Ron Ross, David Peterman, and the many other runners who finished this years BR100. Now I must sleep and get ready for another week of training…