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Grindstone 100 Recap

Posted by on Oct 7, 2012 | 18 Comments

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:

The Good

  • 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.

The Bad

  • 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?


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  1. brian chiles
    October 16, 2012

    Awesome race Jason!

    At one point You and Sniper came zipping by me on one of the ridges in the middle of the night. You were looking pretty strong. It was my first 100 and I had to DNF after about 83 miles, I need to somehow find the strength to continue when it feels like someone is pounding my foot with a hammer each and every step…..I will be back! Congrats on your awesome finish Jason!!!!

  2. Doug
    October 9, 2012

    Good race.
    You organized your race report into 2 groups: the “Good” and the “Bad”
    …No “Ugly”?

  3. Michael
    October 9, 2012

    Jason –
    I am one of “the two guys from outside Boston” you referenced. It was awesome sharing the trails with you for some of the early miles and it was a big boost to see you coming back after the turn-around as we approached it. Great work on a strong race. My brother (the other, less handsome guy) and I finished in 33hrs for our first 100. Meeting you and other cool folks along the way made it a very rewarding experience. Maybe body glide could work as mustache wax.

  4. Bare Lee
    October 9, 2012

    Thanks for sharing that Jason. I have no intention of running an ultra any time soon, but it’s inspiring and amusing to read about your eclectic approach.

  5. Ben W
    October 8, 2012

    Thanks for the race report!

  6. John
    October 8, 2012

    Gels: Check. Pacing: Check. Merrells: Check. Mustache Wax: Aw crap, not again!!!! (Jason at mile 39)

  7. Dave
    October 8, 2012

    I’ve definitely moved into the camp of train minimal (trail gloves, thin huaraches) and race cushioned (MM2s). Running faster and/or longer than normal requires me to have some more protection against stone bruises and broken toes. I could race in sandals (and have) but I’m certainly not as fast.

    What the hell would you need moustache wax for??? On second thought, never mind; I don’t think I want to know.

  8. Terry Benzie
    October 8, 2012

    Had you practiced taking in a high number of gels over an extended period?

    • Jason
      October 8, 2012

      Just in races. I trained with gels years ago, but stopped when I started developing a taste aversion. If I vary the flavors and brands and am cognizant of the caffeine intake, I can eat them throughout a hundo without too many issues. I do have contingency food in case I can’t tolerate them… which was an issue I had at Grindstone last year.

  9. Chris
    October 7, 2012

    “Ditching moisture-wicking clothing has been the best ultra decision I’ve made since I started using handheld water bottles.”
    So what kind of clothing do you wear. Regular old cotton? I may have missed your post about this decision so I’m curious as to why. Always looking for an edge, even if I don’t run ultras…yet.

    • Jason
      October 8, 2012

      Here’s the post that explains the idea in the most detail:

      I do wear shorts made from tech fabric (Brooks Infinity III’s), but everything else is cotton or I go shirtless. I do wear moisture wicking material as a base layer in cold weather (the origina purpose of moisture wicking fabrics), but didn’t need it at Grindstone. I was moving fast enough at night to generate enough heat to eliminate the need for multiple layers.

      The idea of moisture wicking being bad isn’t a popular theory because it goes against the current marketing trend of several well-known clothing manufacturers. They claim (or imply) moisture wicking fabric keeps you cool. I’d recommend self-experimentation.

      • Nick J
        October 8, 2012

        This is so damn true.

  10. BF in AZ
    October 7, 2012

    You didn’t mention shoe choice. Did the Mix Masters work as well for the course as you were hoping?

    • Jason
      October 8, 2012

      Yeah, Mix Master 2’s the whole way. I was going to use Trail Gloves for about 10 miles in the middle of the course, which consisted of gravel and asphalt roads. I didn’t have fresh socks, so I opted to do all of it in the MM2’s.

      The added protection of the MM2’s was a HUGE improvement over the Trail Gloves I used last year. I prefer the more minimal shoes, but a significant portion of this course is brutally rocky.

      Toward the end of the race, something more substantial than the MM2’s could have come in handy (hint, hint shoe manufacturers… someone needs to make a Hoka clone with an anatomical last and sockless liner).

      • Alex
        October 8, 2012

        Hoka itself is releasing a “racing flat” type thing – though there is an inherent paradox there.

        • Rob Y
          October 9, 2012

          I like it! Nothing like a Hoka on hand when your facing ultra distance; especially on rough terrain. Love them! However, most of my training miles are in much, much more minimalist foot wear. Shoes are tools; chose the best tool for the job!

        • StephenB
          October 11, 2012

          I wish Hoka would release a zero drop model.

      • Adam
        October 10, 2012

        The MM2s are awesome. I wore them on my first ultra, a relatively mild 50km, and my feet were the one part of my body that didn’t hurt. I’m going to use them for my first 50 miler this Saturday. If they just made a version with a little more outsole protection for long distances, but with the Trail Glove last, that would be my dream shoe. The wide “clown shoe” toe box of the TG, coupled with the lock-down effect of the narrow mid-foot was the most brilliant innovation I’ve ever seen in a shoe. The MM2s still pinch my toes together a bit, yet my foot as a whole moves back and forth a little more than I’d like on the downhills.