Friday, October 14, 2016

Grindstone Runners and the Blustery Race

The rain rain rain came down down down in rushing, rising riv'lets ...

(Runners at the 2016 Grindstone 100 -- Disney)

In the days leading up to Grindstone, I went back and forth on handhelds or a vest. I prefer handhelds, but was afraid I wouldn't have enough storage for my nutrition, spare headlamp battery, and Houdini jacket. So I settled on my vest. Despite the added weight, I'd have the advantage of having my hands free to power climb with hands-on-quads. Why does any of this matter? Well, because I wanted to set the stage for my ridiculous attempt at seeing if my rain jacket would fit over my vest:

(My Michelle Jenneke moment?)

Now that we've got that ridiculousness out of the way, let's get into the race report.


I came into Grindstone equally confident and terrified.

I completed it last year for my first Hundo. I reconned over 60 miles of the course 3 weeks prior. I'd raced well all Spring and early Summer. Anything less than a Top 10 would be a major letdown.

On the other hand...

7 weeks prior I DNF'd Eastern States 100 because of hip pain. I'd spent the last 6 weeks solely devoted to physical therapy -- 1 to 3 hours of stretching and strength work every single day. 3 weeks before the race, I tested out my hip with back-to-back 6 hour runs on the course and everything felt good. But a few days later the hip pain returned. I shut down running completely, betting entirely on physical therapy. The pain only fully subsided in the week leading up to Grindstone. I was just hoping my endurance hadn't deteriorate too much.

So ... that's how the race started ... feeling like a good day would translate into a stellar performance and yet still fearful that hip problems would lead me to hobble for hours on end towards a depressing finish.

As for the race day conditions, it looked like Hurricane Matthew, which was rolling up Florida and the Carolinas, would be forcing a separate storm cell to get stuck in position right over the race course. The Forecast: 60 degrees and Rain, Rain, Rain beginning just as the race started ... and it wasn't expected to taper off for nearly 24 hours.

Oh, and when I checked in before the race I was surprised to find out I was seeded 4th. Somebody was clearly having fun at my expense!

Nutrition Plan

My Nutrition Plan has stabilized over the past year. I dialed into something that really worked at Western States. I kept the plan the same as for Western States -- 250 calories per hour, 100 from an hourly Huma gel and the rest from EFS Liquid Shot and Tailwind. I would dial back my hydration to around 3.5oz per mile instead of the 4+ from Western States.

I planned to start with a whopping 1,700 calories so my wife wouldn't need to meet me until North River Gap (TWOT lot) at Mile 37. Then, I planned on restocking with an appropriate amount of nutrition again at the Turn Around (Briery Branch) Mile 51, North River Gap at Mile 65, Dowell's Draft at Mile 80, and Dry Branch Gap at Mile 87. I'd come in, swap out my 2 bottles, restock on Huma gels, and head back out. Simple and easy!

The Race

I'm an extreme overplanner when it comes to races. I have spreadsheets and formulas to determine appropriate race pace, nutrition, hydration, etc. Since my hip was a bit of a question mark, I vastly simplified my planning. I came up with a crude plan for a 20:40 finishing time, complete with intermediary crew meetup times. I knew that the weather could slow my pace a bit, and my hip was a major wildcard, but I thought that was a legit time goal for ideal conditions. I just left it at that and figured I'd roll with the punches on race day.



Awkward foam rolling in the back of the SUV and even more awkward pigeon stretch.

Am I the only ultra runner out here stretching? I feel like such a noob.


Routine hip mobility exercises ... doctors orders!

Again, I feel like a roadie who walked up to the wrong starting line.


Chat up some running buddies at the starting line. Set myself up right at the front.

Start to Dowell's Draft


The gun goes off. No adrenaline rush like last year. I've done this before, no big deal!

Get in the front. You need to avoid the dam bottleneck 1/4 mile into the race.

0:05 (Mile 0.5)

I quickly pair up with John Andersen and Aaron Saft. John and I ran a few races together this Spring and seem to be nearly identical in terms of fitness; he's joked that I've become his new "Nemesis". At the end of the day, one of us would have bragging rights, but for now it made sense to stick together. As for Aaron, he's an otherworldly runner who was a solid 40+ minutes ahead in the Beast Series standings. Despite it being his first 100, only a miracle (or an insidious trip) would have me finishing ahead of him today.  We three, and some others, run in a pack over the early miles.

0:50 (Mile 5) -- Falls Hollow Aid Station

Easy 5 mile warmup! Falls Hollow is a useless aid station ... should I stop? No, keep going.

1:30 (Mile 8)

Deep into the 4+ mile, 2,000' climb up Elliot's Knob.     It's getting steep: 20% grade.     Hiking feels good, not too laborious.

Rain is picking up, better throw on my jacket.

2:10 (Mile 12)

Stupid Altra insoles! I love these new Lone Peaks, but I really should've glued the insoles down before the race. They're waterlogging and sliding around, folding over in the front and putting strain on my toes.

I'm gonna have some fugly toenails when this day is done.

I vocalize my frustration. John chides me for my pre-race oversight.

SPOILER ALERT: This is what my piggies looked like after the race ... I don't think toenails are supposed to be that color!

(Ultra runner toes / Altra insole toes ... yuck!)

2:20 (Mile 13)

That jerk Aaron Saft nefariously distracts me with talk of life and family. I lose focus.


I bite it on the slick, unstable rocks that pepper the trail. Blood runs down my arm, but nothing is broken. More importantly, I didn't fall onto the bad hip.

2:37 (Mile 14) -- Dry Branch Gap Aid Station

Our group is hovering around the Top 10. There's about 7 of us that roll through together. Aaron is clearly taking it easy, and I'm sure there's a couple overeager runners up ahead.

What was my split supposed to be? I think I'm making good time. Nevermind. Doesn't matter.

What?! I have to wait in line to fill up my bottles with water?! THIS. IS. THE. WORST!

2:50 (Mile 16)

We proceed up the Crawford climb with a mostly manageable pace. John tries counting off the 5 false summits along the way, but I can't make heads or tails of any of them.

3:13 (Mile 17)

We crest Crawford and start our second major descent. These damn insoles better not get in my way!

3:30 (Mile 19)

Stomach is feeling a bit off. I pull off to scratch in the woods.

Last year I spent way too much time going to the bathroom. I sure hope my stomach settles today.
That Imodium better kick in soon...

3:45 (Mile 20)

After a mad dash at an unsustainable clip, I catch back up with John and Aaron. That was too fast ... might have been a bad idea! It's probably better to catch back up than be stranded on my own.

3:50 (Mile 21)

We cross HWY 250 and come across Caleb Denton -- Golden Ticket winner at Georgia Death Race this year.

... Both he and Aaron will be running it next year. After my respectable showing at States, I made the rash decision to sign up as well. Running with both of them here at Grindstone could be a glimpse into the suffering I might expect if I'm to compete for a Golden Ticket next year. SPOILER ALERT: Don't put your money on me!

Caleb is battling a bum hip from getting checked by a car earlier in the week. Despite all that, he looks like a friggin gazelle bounding up the climbs.

We all put in an honest effort in the mile-plus stretch from HWY 250 to Dowell's Draft.

This section isn't nearly as flat as the blip on the elevation profile suggests. The first hint of fatigue is setting in...

4:02 (Mile 22) -- Dowell's Draft Aid Station

As our remaining group of 4 rolls in, everyone but me peels off to their crew just before the Aid Station tent. I've got a new bag of Tailwind ready and I throw it in my bottle, top everything off, and head on out.

Clark, the RD, is there and shouts, "Hey, looks like you've moved up a lot!" I respond with a joking, "I wish! Everyone else is right over there."

I'm feeling good. I'm a few minutes up on my planned pace. The race is about ready to start sorting itself out!

Dowell's Draft to North River Gap

4:20 (Mile 23)

John, Aaron, Caleb, and I regather our little posse and begin the climb up Hankey Mountain. After a couple of miles I start to feel the strain of keeping up with the top dogs. I happily let Aaron and Caleb effortlessly bound up the mountain. It's just me and John now.

4:22 (Mile 23)

John and I have a bit of a pity party after the posse breaks up. We were running slightly out of our comfort zone to stick with the others and now, over 4 hours into the race, we're close to paying the price for it. Why'd we try to keep up with those guys for so long?! What a rookie move!

We meander up the mountain, taking it easy and regaining our composure.

I suddenly notice how soaking wet I am.

5:00 (Mile 27)

Ugh! My mouth is SOOOO SALTY! I'd kill for some water right now! Why do I have to run with 2 mixed bottles?! WHYYYY!

5:34 (Mile 30) -- Lookout Mountain Aid Station

Despite the rain, we make good time on the climb up Hankey and the descent into the Lookout Mountain AS, managed by Charlottesville folks.

I bump into Bob Clouston and shine my headlamp right into his eyes like a total jerk.

Water! Oh my god, it's water! I squat down under the water jug spigot and take in a few big gulps. Salty mouth is vanquished!

6:10 (Mile 33)

The miles are ticking by effortlessly.

6:35 (Mile 35)

I almost detour on a spur trail, but John knows what's up. We just passed a lookout spot near the TWOT Lot ... The beginning phase of the race is coming to an end.

"Hey John, I remember this from my training run! It's only a mile to North River Gap ... Or maybe a mile and a half ... Something like that ... I remember because on my training run I got out here and had to turn around cuz I forgot to lock my car and I ran a mile and a half before turning around ... Wait, did I turn around right here or somewhere else? ... You know what, No, I don't remember ... I'll shut up now. Good story though, right?!"

6:47 (Mile 37) -- North River Gap Aid Station

We cross the bridge and cruise along the flat section of trail before hopping onto the FR95 blacktop and strolling into the TWOT Lot.

I'm damn close to my projected arrival time!

My wife swaps out my bottles and helps me restock my gels. My focus is sidetracked when I decide I want some water. My wife's bottle is nearly empty. Despite there being literal jugs of water in the back of the SUV I head to the Aid Station tables, hoping to use my wife's bottle as a cup. Why must both of my bottles be mixed?! She trails along but without the bottle -- cuz, you know, I never told her to bring the damn bottle. Grindstone is supposed to be cupless, so a moment of panic ensues. I really, really want a swig of something without sodium! Luckily, there's a couple cups of ginger ale out, so I down two and head out.

Crap! I forgot to say goodbye to my wife ... oh well, I'm sure she'll understand!

... And whaddya know, despite swapping out shoes, John has magically managed to hit the trail before me. What the heck?!

Okay ... One third of the race down! Now it's time to climb!

North River Gap to Briery Branch

7:40 (Mile 40)

John and I are well into our assault on the 7mile and nearly 3,000' climb up Chestnut Ridge to Little Bald Knob. We hike anything remotely steep.

I'm itching to jog a bit more on the steep parts, but my body is welcoming the modest pace.

8:00 (Mile 41)

John: "This one time ... at Bighorn ..."
Chris: "This one time ... at States ..."

8:20 (Mile 42)

A headlamp comes careening down the mountain towards us.

NO WAY! There is NO WAY that's First Place! No. No. No No No!

The runner stops. It's Andrew Simpson. He seems a bit confused. We decide he got turned around at a clearing a couple hundred yards up ahead and unknowingly made a U-turn.

We stick with him up to the clearing to confirm, and then he bounds off into the distance.

8:50 (Mile 44)

The Summit! Finally!

I check my watch. The climb took about 2 hours even. 5 min slower than I'd hoped for, but the miles just felt so easy, especially when sharing them with a partner ... and it's hard to beat feeling refreshed after a 7 mile climb less than halfway into a race!

We're in the High Country now! 3 miles of smooth descent, 3 miles of climbing, and 2 miles of descent to the Turn Around ...

8:55 (Mile 44)

The rain becomes very noticeable. The single track of the TWOT Loop provided a good deal of coverage, but now there was a lot of exposure to the rain and occasional wind gusts.

John: "Where's the Aid Station?! It should be right here!"
Chris: "Nope! It's about a 20 minute jog past the summit. The course description says less than 8 from North River Gap, but it's really almost 9 miles! Isn't this fun?!"
John: "That's so stupid!"
Chris: "My training run clocked North River to North River right at 30 miles, but Clark says it's only 28! Hooray!"

9:13 (Mile 45)

We finally made it to the fabled Little Bald Knob Aid Station. We spot Andrew at the aid station.

I top off a bottle and get ready to head back out into the rain.

The bonfire looks warm and inviting! ... But I have work to do ...

9:18 (Mile 45)

After catching up with Andrew, he rapidly bounds ahead.

Chris: "What is he doing?!"
John: "I don't know. He keeps gapping us and then wasting time at aid stations!"
Chris: "There's no way he can maintain that. He'll wear out, it's only a matter of time."

10:10 (Mile 49)

After some smooth miles along the jeep trail and a couple miles of climbing, we're at Reddish Knob. We've been making okay time, but we're very much keeping our pace in check.

At the top we find a confused Andrew. He's been there a good number of minutes, exposed to the wind and rain in a t-shirt, searching for the bib punch. We all look quickly and then bolt back down the road.

Someone must've snagged the punch. Oh well, nothing you can do about it!

10:15 (Mile 50)

A headlamp! ... And another! The first few runners come trickling by as we make our way down the 2 mile blacktop descent to the Turn Around at Briery Branch Gap. The leaders are probably 45 minutes and 4 miles up on us.

It soon becomes apparent that we've missed 2 or 3 runners while we were up at Reddish Knob -- Aaron and Caleb were nowhere to be seen.

The rain is really picking up now. I'm wet. I'm cold. Am I really delusional enough to think this is fun?!

10:30 (Mile 51.5) -- Turn Around at Briery Branch Gap Aid Station

Taking it easy down the pavement, I finally roll into the Turn Around. I'm 15 minutes behind schedule now, but who cares! The last 30 miles felt like a breeze!

I trade in my shirt and rain jacket for a long sleeve and a new Houdini. I need some dry clothes for the return journey.

I complain about a cold, stiff knee so my wife hands me some Ibuprofin. I don't usually take pain killers but it's cold and I don't want to worry about my knee and my hip. I fumble the handoff and one plops into the mud. I reach down and pick it up anyway. Mmmm, muddy pain killers!

As I make my way out of the Aid Station, I pass a guy who bites it, slipping on the wet pavement. But he's alright. Again, somehow John makes it out of the Aid Station before me. I pride myself on efficient Aid Station visits, but this jerk is putting me to shame!


Briery Branch to North River Gap

11:03 (Mile 53)

We make it back up the 2 mile climb to Reddish Knob. We had passed Andrew again at the Aid Station, but he's long since bounded past us up the incline. Come on, Andrew, BONK! Don't let me down!

Last year, this section was a disaster for me. I got passed by so many people I lost count. It was embarrassing. It takes a couple minutes longer than I'da liked, but we hike up the whole thing comfortably.

John falls behind. His stomach has been off-and-on for most of the run together. I jokingly yell back that I'm not waiting for him, fully expecting him to connect back up in a few minutes. In reality, that was the last I saw of him all day.

11:20 (Mile 55)

I'm back on the jeep trail now. It's completely flooded. The tire ruts are streams and the berm in the middle is barely runnable at times ... and then there's the occasional 20' puddle. So this is what happens when it rains for 12 hours straight!

More runners start to flow past on their outbound journey. Some of them look miserable. And they all keep muddying up my jeep trail!

11:45 (Mile 57) -- Little Bald Knob Aid Station

I've meandered along the jeep track at a consistent pace. I find Andrew at the Aid Station and, again, leave ahead of him. Come on, Andrew, just BONK already! You're gonna implode, I just know it!

12:15 (Mile 59)

I reach the top of Little Bald. It's still dark out ... and raining. Andrew has passed me for good. It turns out I'll never see him again. He ends up gapping me by a whopping 40 minutes. I definitely called that one wrong! Congrats to him!

Last year I careened down (in the daylight) into North River Gap at an unsustainable pace. I thought I felt good the entire time, but I bonked immediately afterward. That wasn't going to happen this year. I easily descended in 70 minutes on my training run, I wanted to dial that back to 80 or 85 minutes right now.

Okay, 7 miles of descent! Take it easy! Don't be an idiot!

12:30 (Mile 60)

Damn it! I've really got to pee!

12:45 (Mile 61)

Damn it! I've really got to pee ... again!

13:00 (Mile 62)

I'm staying well within myself, just floating down. I keep running into back of the packers on their way up. Those poor souls! These guys are over 12 hours into the race and still have around 60 miles to go. A lot look like zombies. I have nothing but respect for the ones who were able to gut it out through that wet night ... and the next ... battling many more hours of rain and nighttime than I had to deal with. I honestly can't imagine how difficult that would be.

13:15 (Mile 63)

Damn it! Why do I have to pee every friggin mile now ?! This is wasting so much time!

13:37 (Mile 65)

Seriously?! The aid station is RIGHT THERE! Why am I stopping to pee again?! This is THE WORST!

(This goes on roughly every 15 minutes for the rest of the race ... apparently in the cold, wet conditions I wasn't sweating out nearly as much water as I had expected. And despite dialing back my liquid intake, I had drifted into a frustrating realm of always-full bladder. I literally stopped 30 times in the final 40 miles.)

13:39 (Mile 65) -- North River Gap Aid Station

I roll into the North River Gap Aid Station. I nailed my descent time, but I'm more than 30 minutes off my planned pace. Who cares! I'm having fun and feeling great!

I've had enough of the Lone Peak insoles, so I swap them out for Pearl Izumi N1s. I even swap out my Injinji socks. I don't want to cuz they'd just get wet again, but I overhear Horton saying some dry socks would feel good, so I change my mind. I'm afraid they'll be a time suck but I miraculously get them off and on in no-time. And boy oh boy do they feel wonderful.

I am told 2 guys are no more than 10 minutes ahead of me and that I'm in 7th place ... maybe. I head out hoping I can catch them, but not dead-set on pushing the pace.

As I leave, I hear John's wife, Michelle, yelling. John's rolling in, only a couple minutes behind me. And he's picking up a pacer (cheater!). Is this going to turn into a drag race?!

North River Gap to Dowell's Draft

14:00 (Mile 67)

Knowing John is hot on my tail sparks the competitive juices. I'm not usually all that competitive, but at the moment my thoughts aren't awesome, we'll all run together and have fun, hooray! They're more like, if that S.O.B. passes me, I'ma be pissed!

I try pushing the pace. I'm working hard for the first time in over 40 miles.

... And then ...

I start to feel my hip. Not hurting, not stabbing, not causing problems. I'm just ... aware of it. Whenever I try running uphill I notice the slightest hint of irritation.

Enough racing for me!

At this point I say screw it, and vow to not push the pace. I'll run within myself the rest of the way. No drag racing, no hard efforts, just calm and collected running.

Afterwards, I ran no more than a couple dozen strides on the inclines for the rest of the race.

Never-the-less, I still hear John and his pacer right behind me. So I happily push the power hiking ... and whaddya know ... absolutely no hip irritation!

15:04 (Mile 71) -- Lookout Mountain Aid Station

I've pushed the pace power hiking and just as I'm getting to the Lookout Mountain Aid Station, I pass a runner. Awesome!

At the Aid Station I refill my bottles. Then proceed to head out.

But before I do, Bob Clouston stops me in my tracks and reminds me its nearly 9 miles to the next aid station ... with another couple miles of climbing.

I nod. In my head I'm thinking: So what?! It's mostly downhill and it's only gonna take me 90 minutes. I'm good to go!

He presses the matter again.  Geez, Bob, get out of my face! I don't say that, but I feel like saying it.

Here's the thing, when it gets to the tougher sections of a long race, I tend to get a bit pale. I also just want to hurry through aid stations ... I'm only there to fill up with water, I carry all the nutrition I need. Right now, the endless hours of rain aren't helping matters. When Aid Station workers -- especially veteran ones -- see someone like me -- looking pale, nonresponsive, hurrying through -- red flags pop up. Bob was just making sure I was okay, and I did a terrible job of communicating that I was fully prepared to tackle the next section of the course. I need to do a better job of looking happy at Aid Stations ... and communicating. You know what, that probably applies to life in general, but I digress ...

15:50 (Mile 74)

This climb is taking FOREVER!

Last year this climb back up Hankey was utterly miserable. I'm feeling good now, just starting to get tired ... feeling a bit like I've been racing for nearly 75 miles ...

I want to run some of the climb, but I've made a promise to myself. Operation Protect The Hip is in full swing.

16:39 (Mile 80) -- Dowell's Draft Aid Station

After I got to the top of Hankey Mountain, I began a steady, smooth descent into Dowell's Draft. I don't push the pace because I'm more concerned with assessing how my hip handles these descents. Luckily, my quads are feeling great.

I roll into the aid station and pass another runner who is hobbling noticeably. I tell him to stay strong but I'm silently ecstatic.

I spot Michelle, who's still waiting for John. I tell her I have no idea how far back he is.

At the Aid Station, I'm informed I'm in 5th place. Fifth Place! Holy Cow! Don't screw this up, Chris, you're in Fifth Freakin Place!

My wife helps me restock supplies. Horton is there again and tells me I need to eat something. I protest. He doesn't care. He thinks I'm looking pale. My wife agrees.

I relent and begrudgingly grab a couple hot potato wedges. As I head out, I throw them in my mouth ... and ... they're delicious. That was just what I needed! ... But I'm not gonna tell them that!

On my way out I hear a Whoop! Whoop! Either an overeager volunteer was cheering me on, or John was just now rolling in. I panic and speed off down the trail.

Dowell's Draft to The Finish

17:10 (Mile 82)

I somehow survived the tricky section between Dowell's Draft and HWY 250, but now I feel like I'm running through a tar pit along the creek bottom just before the Crawford Mountain ascent. It's a mile or 2 of slightly uphill running. After so many hours of running, the incline is just enough to make me want to walk. ... But John's right behind me! (maybe) So I stumble on, doing everything I can to keep from walking.

17:30 (Mile 83)

I'm at the steep stuff now. Man, this is exhausting! I turn around every couple of minutes, expecting John to be right there, effortlessly bounding, ready to take my Top 5 away from me. I desperately want to run a little, but it's also steep, and I'm tired, and Operation Protect The Hip, and I'm tired, and it's steep ... It's soo steep, why is it so steep?! WHY?!

17:50 (Mile 84)

The Top! Finally!

18:21 (Mile 87) -- Dry Gap Aid Station

I cruise down the descent, again, not pushing it too hard. Don't race, just cruise! Stay within yourself. Don't screw up your hip again!

My wife greets me. Says I'm looking better. Horton says I've "bounced back!" Man, he really must've wanted to count me out back at Dowell's!

Off I go! Only one more climb!

Fifth! Fifth! Fifth!

19:00 (Mile 89)

This climb is taking FOREVER!

Why are all of these rocks so unstable?! Someone should really do something about this! This is dangerous!

I'm so tired!

I don't care if John catches me. Good for him. He'll get 5th, I'll get 6th. No big deal. That jerk Clark Zealand probably only gives awards out to the Top 3 anyway, so it's not like 5th place even matters!

I'm not competitive, I'm not here to race, I just want to finish and keep my hip safe. I'm gonna get caught. I'm gonna get caught ... Seriously, why haven't I been caught yet?! Just pass me already!

19:30 (Mile 91)

This section is THE. WORST.

After climbing up Elliot's, you get to a relatively flat, but slightly uphill, section. It wraps around the edge of the mountain for at least a mile. And it's strewn with rocks. It sucks. It goes on forever. FOREVER! And whaddya know, it's even worse this year because the whole damn thing has been transformed into a flowing stream.

Why do I run? What's the point of all of this?!

19:41 (Mile 92)


I get to the dirt road on Elliot's. Four miles of sweet, sweet downhills await!

I take off. Quads are feeling good!

19:53 (Mile 94)

I turn off of the steep road and onto single track. Man that was steep! But it felt waay better than last year!

I check my watch. It took me 12 minutes to cover those steep 1.75 downhill miles. What pace is that? ... Nevermind, too tired to do math ... Just keep falling down the mountain!

20:19 (Mile 96) -- Falls Hollow Aid Station

No time to stop now! Almost there! I bet John's right behind me.

This Aid Station is useless ...

21:00 (Mile 99)

If the section that skirts the top of Elliot's Knob at Mile 90 is the worst, this section near the Boy Scout Camp is runner-up.

Why are there so many hills?! I don't remember any of this!!!

Seriously, where the hell is the lake? Where is the Mile To Go marker? Where am I?

Please, please, please, don't let anyone pass me.

I'm running much easier than last year -- when I desperately tried (and failed) to get in under 24 hours. Now though, this doesn't feel so bad. ... If only I weren't so tired ...

21:15 (Mile 101)

I get to the lake. I turn around about a dozen times, expecting someone to be right behind me. No one there.

Okay. I'm done. Fifth Place!

21:19:56 (Mile 101.85)

I cross the finish line. Feeling strong. But also tired. ... And cold ... And wet. Seriously, I'm really cold and wet right now!

Fifth Place! That feels incredible!

(Too tired to hug the Totem Pole. Off camera: Horton entirely too entertained by my exhaustion.)


So yeah, that pretty much covers it!

I went out there, had a blast in the rain, kept my hip in check, and miracled my way to a Top 5 finish. Andrew ended up 40 minutes ahead of me, and John ended up roughly 45 minutes behind me, so it's good to know that even if I'd pushed the pace or if I'd bonked, I would've likely ended up in 5th no matter what. I played it safe and Operation Protect The Hip was a success.

My second Grindstone was incredible! My strong showing is all the more meaningful given the lousy months I had after Western States trying to sort out my bum hip. But now, it looks like everything is healed and ready for the rest of the Beast Series. I still plan on taking it easy throughout the rest of the year, focusing mostly on recovery, stretching, and hiking. I just cannot afford to aggravate my hip again.

Did I mention I got 5th?! Seriously, how the hell did that happen? Also, turns out Clark isn't a total tightwad and does give out awards to the Top 5 ... more swag!

(Courtesy of Clark Zealand)


I've got to give a shout out to my amazing wife for crewing me in downright miserable conditions. She was a trooper! I'm so lucky to have her supporting me through this ridiculous hobby of mine, through the training, and the racing, and the injury, and the complaining.

Thanks to my mother for flying in and watching the kiddo while her daddy abandoned her to go traipsing through the wilderness in the rain for an entire day.

Thanks to Clark Zealand for putting on yet another fantastic Grindstone. And a huge thanks to all of the volunteers who suffered through the rain alongside all of us runners.

Thanks to David Horton for randomly appearing at all of the Aid Stations and offering up support and sage advice ... even if it's generally laced with wit, sass, and sarcasm!

And finally, Thanks to all of you back-of-the-packers. I'm not gonna sugar coat it, you guys looked miserable out there! Watching the final handful of finishers Sunday morning, after 2 nights of traversing that difficult course, was so inspiring. I bow down to your dedication!


1 Hour After Race

This shower is soooo amazing. I'm never leaving, ever!

Oh my god! My toenails are hideous! Ten bucks says I loose seven of them.

4 Hours After Race

I'm in my hotel room. It's 7pm, and ... yup ... there goes my ability to regulate my body heat! Hooray!

Thankfully my wife made us get a hotel room. A great call considering I'd forgotten how miserable I was last year -- shivering and shaking for hours on end, my wife piling blankets on me in the tent to no effect.

Do I have the flu? I'm getting sick ... do I even have an immune system right now?

Why do I do this to myself? Is this worth it?

7 Hours After Race

I've been struggling to sleep because my big toenails are throbbing. I curse you, Altra insoles! ... Also, the rocks, I curse the rocks!

I have to pee. But I'm not sure I can get out of bed. Is this what it feels like to be 90?

2 Days After Race

I head to the National Arboretum with the family on a beautiful day. I "chase" my 2 year old around for a couple of minutes. I contemplating documenting that herculean effort on Strava.

Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! I need more sleep!

3 Days After Race

I just walked down a flight of stairs without having to hold onto a railing ... it's the little things in life!

4 Days After Race

I just jogged down 2 flights of stairs. I am superman!

I can't wait to run another 100 Miler!

5 Days After Race

Legs don't really hurt doing basic daily activities.

Physical Therapist is glad the hip held up. She gives me an easy hour of stretching and such. I try to balance on a Bosu ball. I get laughed at. We stick to the kind of workout an 80 year old invalid would do. When I get home, my body feels exhausted.

Gear List, Etc.

  • Altra Lone Peak 3.0s -- would've been amazing if I had remembered to glue the damn insoles in
  • Pearl Izumi Trail N1 V2s -- felt great but tight on pinky toes at end of race ... those nails are gonners!
  • Patagonia shirt
  • 2 Patagonia Houdini jackets
  • Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts
  • Injinji trail socks
  • Salomon pack and Ultimate Direction bottles
  • Petzl headlamp
  • 2015 Grindstone Boco Trucker Hat (seriously, the best hat ever)
  • 20 Huma gels (2000 calories)
  • 20 oz of EFS Liquid Shot (1700 calories)
  • 1600 calories of Tailwind
  • 12 oz ginger ale
  • 2 delicious potato wedges