Well, I managed to finish Grindstone this weekend. The race was tough as Hell, but it was as close to perfect as I’ve gotten since Western States last year. I finished in 29:06 or so (42nd out of 108 finishers). I was a little shocked to finish as high as I did, especially considering Karl Meltzer won the race with a blistering 17:13. I was able to apply many of the lessons I’ve been experimenting with since last year’s DNF. Here are some thoughts:
- Food strategy worked great! I ate a gel every 30 minutes and ate about 100-200 calories at each aid station. Yes, I ate upwards of 50 gels over the 29 hours. This worked out to be about 350-400 calories per hour. I didn’t experience a single low point for the entire race.
- Hydration worked well. I drank to thirst which did result in mild dehydration by the end of the race. I lost 6% of my pre-race body weight by the end.
- I didn’t use any electrolyte supplements other than that which was present in the gels. My sweat was mildly salty for the first few miles, probably due to the bacon I had 10 hours before the start.
- Pacing was excellent. I was conservative for the first 60 miles (heart rate under 135), then ran hard when the terrain allowed. I was able to run a sub-eight minute pace for a few miles immediately before the 80 mile aid station, I ran sub-nines for the flatter sections of the last six miles.
- The mountain running I did paid off. Grindstone has 23k of climbing and another 23k of descending. While I was thoroughly sick of the technical climbs, I didn’t experience any muscles soreness.
- Thermal regulation and clothing choice was perfect. I layered up at night when temps dropped, and would remove layers when exertion increased. My goal was to remain slightly cool. I never experienced the overheating problem I experienced at Bighorn earlier this year. Ditching moisture-wicking clothing has been the best ultra decision I’ve made since I started using handheld water bottles.
- Chafing and blistering were minimal.
- Considering I was awake for about 42 hours, sleep deprivation wasn’t a huge issue. The training I did while driving overnight from campground to campground paid off. Aside from minor hallucinations, I was fine.
- I got to meet a lot of cool people, including James, a guy from Georgia running his second 100. We chatted for 20-30 miles. I overcame some difficult circumstances to reach the finish line. I also met two guys from outside Boston running their first hundo, and Chris and Katy (also first-timers) a father-daughter duo I met a few weeks ago at my clinic at Two Rivers Treads.
- I hadn’t done much technical trail running at night, and it showed. I had a hard time discriminating between rocks and leaves when running on trails with thick underbrush on both sides of the trail. It forced me slow down to a fast walk on the second night of the race (it started at 6pm, I finished at 11:06pm the following night). I should have worked on this in the weeks leading up to the race.
- I tied my Merrell Mix Masters too tight. It caused pain under the knot… but not until about mile 66. Retying solved the problem, but the pain was mildly distracting.
- I had a hard time estimating times between aid stations due to the technicality of the trails. Some sections were very runnable, but most required at least some degree of trailcraft. I routinely underestimated the effects of the terrain on my pace.
- By the end of the race, climbing was difficult. I need to do more hard mountain running as opposed to the easy runs we usually do.
- I forgot my mustache wax. The shit got out of control late in the race.
All in all, it was a great race. Grindstone was definitely the most After eight hundos, I think I’m finally beginning to dial in exactly what I need to do to succeed. I have one more on the schedule for this year (Chimera in So. Cal.). After that race, I’ll probably focus on actually getting faster to finish a little higher than the middle of the pack.
Any questions about the Grindstone experience?