A) I don't have a ton of pictures
B) I'm at a loss for words
So you can see my dilemma in writing this, yes?
Well, shit. I'll just type whatever my chubby little fingers feel and we'll see what happens here...
Heather and I signed up for the One Epic Run wayyy back, sometime this past summer. It was scheduled to be our 2nd Ultra attempt together. We snuck Paris Mountain in though, so Epic instead was our 3rd Ultra together.
We had attended Infinitus, a 48hr race put on by the Endurance Society, back in late May '15.
We like doing dumb shit like this together, which is nice.
Ya, this is going to be all over the place. Maybe listen to Steely Dan while reading this.
Spartanburg, South Carolina. It's just outside Greenville SC, where we were 2 weekends ago. (For people with no goddamn money, we get around.) It really felt like Brookfield MA where I went to elementary school. There were cow fields, lumberjacks, farmers, and all of that stuff you don't get in Myrtle. It was pretty great.
The race is at Croft State Park. So we got to camp again! I love camping!!! This weekend it was really kind of cold though, in fact there was frost on my Camelbak in the morning. I hate cold. But whatever, it's all part of the experience. (Remember that.)
We, and I'm referring to the entire Race here, had a whole wing of the park to ourselves. This was a fantastic difference from camping at Paris, where we were surrounded by civilians that didn't have to race the next day.
Everyone within yelling distance, throwing distance or whatever, was running the next morning. So everyone was quite by 8pm. Nice.
We shared our particular tent site with 3 other tents. A cool dude from Upstate New York, Nick was solo in his tent, then some couple that I only saw when they were leaving was in a tent, and our running buddy Michael and crew Toni where in the last tent.
Camping was included in the rego.
I'm cold, but I still like camping
A 9am race start was soooo nice for this. I mentioned it was cold ya? But when you can sleep in a cozy sleeping bag with a cozy girlfriend until 7am...so much better than getting up in the dark just to freeze your balls off for a 7am start. So I ended up kicking around in pajamas until the last minute.
God I love this shit.
We took care of rego around 7:30 and got this killer hoody, again included in the rego.
Skulls seem common in the Ultra world.
The race director gave us the briefest of race briefs. Someone held a flag and somebody else played another awful version of our National Anthem over their IPhone.
Ya know, I'm just going to say it, I hate our Anthem. NOBODY seems to want to do it properly anymore, so let's nick it and start over with an Instrumental. Or just use American Sign Language.
After fuming quietly in my head about that I went back to the tents to finalize putting on my running gear and made it back to the start just as the horn was going off. Horn, whistle...whatever it was. Some sound. It doesn't really matter does it?
There were a good chunk of people doing this race! I don't know exactly how many, but enough to cause the inevitable bottle necks at the start. But again, who cares? Unless you're the front running bastards, you're not going to win, so you just deal with the bottle necks as best you can.
Another great course for us to run. A reasonably gentle decent brings you to the bridge, which then brings you to the first small climb. This isn't any kind of sustained climb such as Paris, but it's enough to make you hope those squats are going to pay off.
The singletrack flattens out a bit then climbs a bit more and runs you behind a very active firing range. I think they were firing a Pak 38.
Pak 38. Keeping us motivated through the day
If you survived the anti-tank gun, as most of us did, the trail shoots downhill right after the range. The first few laps this was a bit dodgy as it was covered with leaves, but after 12hrs it was fine.
At the bottom of this decent-Hey! A water crossing. Thank god there's some kind of bridge across it. I really didn't want to get trench foot with it being so cold out.
Another climb follows this water crossing, this climb is a bit more challenging, nothing we'd want trekking poles for, but it does top us off for another wonderful decent. Such a great decent, until 8pm when I couldn't feel my feet anymore.
The bottom basically spits out at the river we bridged in the beginning and the trail roughly follows said river, nice and flat through here.
We run few little ravines here and there and two more minor water crossings before we cross the bridge again and start our climb out.
The course is a 5k lollipop. At the far end of the lollipop is the Start/Finish, Check In and Aid Station.
Heather and I had determined well ahead of time that we were going designate landmarks to walk at, and well hot diggity, the trail was already set up for us. The terrain was ideal for how we'd wanted to approach this event. Just enough climbing to make you walk and enough descents to make up some time.
Heather had made up some fancy chart weeks prior that had all of our lap times on it. Basically we had to do the loop in just under 45min. Piece of cake...for the first 7 laps or so. After 21+miles we were bound to slow down, and we did. We had banked over 60min in the first 4 laps, but that was quickly cashed and spent by mid-afternoon. Lesson here: We're not Elites so maybe we should look into banking Energy instead of Time? I'm going to talk with her about that.
We had originally gone into this hoping for 100m. Ya...that's lofty. Out on trail we decided maybe we'd try 100k...Nope.
We fell apart at about mile 55 or so. So much to learn, so much.
But regardless of that, this race was as awesome as Paris, but more epic. (Haha, get it? It's called One Epic Run.)
The RD was super friendly and helpful, as were all the volunteers.
The Food. Holy crap, the food. I ate better at that race then I'll eat the rest of the week. They had any/everything you could want. Pizza, Soup, Veggie Burgers, Candy, Taters, it goes on and on.
And I loved the 5k loop. I ran with a damn hand held and just filled it up whenever I checked in.
The rego was 65 bucks. That's it. It included a campsite for 2 nights, a hoody, the race, the food and a buckle (if you got 100m). How can you beat that? You can't.
After race coffee, I love coffee.
Ok then, there's the review on the race. It was awesome and we need to move to Greenville asap.
Below is some mindless rambling about my experience.
One of the reasons I love trail running/racing is the people.
Way back when at some Killington Beast we'd met a dude from NC, Todd. And surer than shit, he was there this weekend, hell he even hung out with us for a lap. That crazy sumbitch had just earned a 100m buckle a few weeks prior.
Months before we'd even moved to Myrtle Beach we'd become Facebook friends with a coach in the Umstead area, Gene. You know that guy was here with a crew. We got to talk with him a chunk pre-race, great energy from Gene.
Two weeks ago we'd met another race director, Matt. And here he was volunteering at somebody else's race. When Heather and I were dogging it at TA, he offered tons of friendly encouragement.
The dude in our camp site was from upstate New York. I think we convinced him to do Infinitus 2016.
What I learned the hard way:
1) I need to race smarter, not harder. And that will come with practice and patience. I can still try to train harder, but when your shooting for 24hr, you MUST know what you're capable of. Practice and Patience.
2) Communicate effectively with your race partner, especially if she's as cute as mine. Mis-communication had me changing out my shoes before Heather was ready to change into running tights. Confusion at a Transition Area will kill your time.
3) Keep stops/stopping time to a minimum, see above. Any stop is time not moving. If you need to use the throne at the TA, try to have your partner take care of some business at the same time. They can change shoes, clothes or whatever. You can also pass them your water bottle to fill while you're squeezing your gut. Share as many responsibilities as possible to get out of TA fast.
4) Have a partner! Holy shit I cannot imagine doing this without Heather. Ya, maybe that's just me being squishy, but have someone to be accountable to.
5) Grab and Go. If you're eating from the aid station, grab a handful of whatever you want and start moving. Get out of TA.
I'm sure I could elaborate on those points. But I'm not going to bother. I'm no Ultra Pro, those are just newbie observations but maybe they'll help someone, somewhere, sometime.
I kind of pulled this blog out of my magic arse on Wed 12/9/15. I am able to walk effectively now, in fact I did legs at the gym today. But Sunday and Monday were pretty rough. My GI track is all good now. And I'm really looking forward to our next thing.