I’ll be starting the Grindstone 100 miler tomorrow evening at 6pm in Swoope, Virginia. It’ll be my second attempt at the race after DNFing last year. My preparation has improved dramatically. Last year, my training went something like this:
- I ran Western States toward the end of June. My lone run over 12 miles was a road marathon the week before Grindstone (Freedom’s Run in West Virginia). My average weekly mileage rarely surpassed 20 miles.
- I didn’t run any technical trails after Western States and had very limited experience on actual “mountain” trails.
- I only did a few hill repeats on sand dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan during a brief stay in Michigan.
- I was completely unfamiliar with the Grindstone course. I casually looked at the map the day before the race, and was vaguely familiar with the elevation profile (I knew it was hilly).
- I didn’t do any night running or sleep deprivation training… and Grindstone was a PM start.
- I didn’t have a backup fueling strategy. I relied entirely on Gu Roctane, which was great except for the high caffeine content. That resulted in puking and a temporary taste aversion that caused me to stop eating for miles and miles, which caused a really bad crash.
This year, I applied the lessons learned from the previous year.
- Shelly and I have been running mountains on a regular basis since about October. This has included a wide variety of trails from Arizona, Southern California, Northern California, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, and… Virginia.
- I bought a map of the course, ran some of the sections, and closely studied the rest. Between running the course last year, training on the course this year, and studying maps, I’ve never been more prepared for a specific course.
- I dialed in my diet. I used the Across the Years 72 hour race as a tool to test a variety of foods. I also ran several 50ks, the Bighorn 100, about 60 miles of the Grand Mesa 100, and 120+ miles over six days at TransRockies. Each of these races allowed me to test foods over long distances. I now have 5-10 “backup” foods to supplement the variety of gels I’ll be using.
- I honed my trail running technique. Specifically, I increased efficiency on the uphills and increased speed on the downhills.
- I did A LOT of sleep deprivation training. The combination of the longer races and driving all night on multiple occasions dramatically improved my ability to run when really, really tired.
Grindstone will still be a tough challenge. Grindstone and Bighorn are about the same in regards to difficulty, and Bighorn was pretty damn hard. We’re still working on logistics, but I’ll have limited crew support. Ill see Shelly once at mile 33 or so before picking her up as a pacer at mile 66.The weather should be pretty good. The mountains of Virginia are definitely more mild than the hot/cold extremes of Bighorn and Grand Mesa.
We’ll see. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Ill be holding a Merrell Bareform clinic at Inside Out Sports in Cary, North Carolina (202 Grisdale Lane) on Tuesday, October 9th at 6pm. Here’s the Facebook event page.
This will be the only clinic we’ll be doing in the Carolinas this year. If you know of anyone in the area that may be interested, please spread the word!