Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Fod Bloog: Cinnamon Roll Protien Almond Bark

This was actually an accidental recipe.

It's mid December here in Myrtle Beach. That means it might be 70 degrees outside or it might be 30 degrees. It changes day to day. You roll with it, no big.

I had a run scheduled for Sunday. The stupid trail was closed and I knew those shit head hunters would be at Lewis Ocean Bay (I hate hunters with a passion, hope Cheney or some other asshole shoots them all in the face and they die in agony from face rot). 
Thus I had to run pavement. Yuck.

Well, Heather needed to go into work for a while, so I hitched a ride with her up to Murrels to go for a run along 17 and into the State Park.
I get really hungry after running, so I left a pack of Protein Almonds in the car for when she picked me up. And I'll be damned if they didn't melt.

I don't have a picture of them melted.

I really try my best not to waste food, but now I just had a big bag of sugary goo with almonds at the bottom. What to do?

Of course, throw them in the freezer.

My skill with a camera is only exceeded by skill with the written word.

I let the bag Protein Almonds sit in the freezer for a couple of days and just this morning decided to try them for breakfast.
And much to my joy, I had created Almond Bark!

See the marble effect there? That's quality Bark.

I know many people like to make Bark, especially around these holidays. But I just found a way to save you a bunch of time. Not money though. I'm sure these almonds aren't cheap. However, I can give you a nutrient content on my Bark: 

230 Calories per serving of 15 almonds.
10g of Protein and 16g of Fat. (This is a lot of fat, its a mix of saturated/poly/mono)
10g of Sugar,110g Sodium.

I can also tell you my Bark doesn't taste good. It actually doesn't really even look good. Im looking at it and thinking it kind of looks like oysters at low tide. Ever seen that? All bunched up on top of each other? Gross. Now I don't want to eat it.

Announcing my Third ever giveaway!
If you'd like to win Cinnamon Roll Protein Almond Bark, simply come over and get it!

We can sit and have coffee together if you'd like.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Fod Bloog: Christmas Sushi

Blatant Click Bait right here. Isn't he cute? That's Agent B.

I love sushi.
The first time I had sushi was with the Marilyn Manson Girl at Shin La in Brattleboro VT back in maybe...2001? 2002? Oh shit, it might've been in 1999.
Since then I've been rolling my own sushi more than going out for it.
Even though I only eat Vegetarian Sushi, it still gets pricey paying $4 a roll when I easily eat 5 or 6 rolls.
Rolling my own is not only cheaper, it's also kind of fun and allows me to experiment a bit.
Sometimes my sushi is really damn good. It's pretty hard to fuck up a Football Roll (Cream Cheese and smashed Doritos). And sometimes its just rather "meh."

Every day's a gamble in my kitchen. Every god damn day.

Here's a link to Andy "God Damn" Williams' Christmas Songs to help get you in the Christmas-y mood.

There's a few basic ingredients I need to make sushi, however your needs may vary.
1) Nori. Gotta have it.
2) Rice. White, Jasmine, Brown, doesn't matter. Need rice.
3) Stuffing. Veggies of some kind. 
4) Vinegar. I have  Apple Cider Vinegar at my house.
5) Sugar. I have White Granulated here.
Don't worry, there'll be pictures of most of this stuff. Sort of.

Putting all this together is actually pretty basic.

Get your rice going. Make sure you're cooking it right though. Each type of rice requires different care.
I used Jasmine Rice. One to Two ratio, boil then simmer for 15min.

While your rice is simmering, dig your Nori out from behind the pancake mix.

It even says "perfect for sushi" right on the label.

Prep your stuffing. All I had was one lone avocado for today. The rabbits get more veggies than I do.

 (No picture, you know what an Avocado looks like)

Mix your sugar and vinegar in a microwave safe bowl, then microwave until dissolved. 
This is where you can make or break your sushi...
How sweet do you want your rice? Add more or less sugar.
How tart do you want your rice? Add more or less vinegar
How red to you want your rice?  Skip the sugar and use last years red sugar sprinkles!!!

One picture, two ingredients. Efficiency. 

Got your rice cooked to perfection? Good! Now comes the Christmas in Christmas Sushi.
Add your vinegar and red sugar sprinkle concoction.

I think this picture speaks for itself.

You are now ready to roll some damn sushi!

Don't fall for the hype that you need a sushi mat and special tools and shit to roll sushi. You only need that stuff if you want to do a good job.
All you need is a spatula.

Slap some rice onto your nori and revel in how festive it looks. That red (pink?) rice against that green nori just screams Christmas.

Keeping a furry ornament nearby guarantees you'll get your RDA of fur. Just incase you didn't get enough cat or rabbit hair in your breakfast grits.

But it gets better! Now lay down some of your sliced avocado, adding more green to your holiday.

Recognize that sexy dinner plate on the right? Hell ya you do!

Now you need to roll it, slice it and eventually, I suppose, eat it.

It actually tasted just fine. Put enough wasabi and soy sauce on anything...

With last years Red Sugar Sprinkles you can turn anything into a Holiday Dish. You should make this for family Thanksgiving.

Stay tuned for Christmas Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Asparagus.
Green Asparagus, by the way.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Race Report: The Revenge of Stede Bonnet

It has been a good while since I've written about a race. Honestly, I haven't really been wanting to run, let alone race and write about it.
But last night's event was unique to local racing and pretty damn cool. 
I bring to you: Eagle Endurance's "The Revenge of Stede Bonnet".

I stole this image from Eagle Endurance.

Always give at least a little backstory, ya? 

"The ‪#‎30dollarclub made me do it."  
You'll hear this phrase more and more, not only from Heather and me, but many of our local running bud's too. 
We race (or at least attend) enough Eagles Endurance events that the $30 per month more than pays for itself over the course of the year. We pay $30 a month and race any and all Eagle races. HUGE savings, and it also has the nice side effect of creating a pretty tight community of like minded idiots.
You should join. We have fun.

Camping and Running. Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter.

This race was held Octobeer 13th, 2018 at  Biggin Creek in Monks Corner, SC. I spelled Octobeer like that on  purpose.
Three different options were offered to racers. A 5M, which was one loop, a 15m of 3 loops and a 10hr of as many complete loops as you could finish in the allotted time.
Pretty cut and dry sounding ya?
Start time for all races was at 19:00. Which is 7pm in normal people speak. So it was dark. Not wicked dahk, but quickly getting there.
I had run this venue last Feb for The Almost 9 Miler. (I could have sworn I wrote a review on that, but I can't find any sign. Quick re-cap of that race-I got owned by some 14yr old, and basically everyone else on course.) But back to this race, I knew the course was pretty damn similar terrain to my Hulk with the same kind of twists, turns and short climbs, so I wasn't expecting a stellar performance, but did hope for at least 50k over my 10hrs.

Well, sometimes you gotta take one for the team. The details on why aren't mine to give, but I instead ended up setting out on the first lap with Heather's 10yr old kid, Kain, (Did I spell that right?) while Heather did her own race.
The new general plan was for me to run with the little spaz then kick it at camp with both the boys and crew for her as best I could.

We'll start with the first part of the plan: Running a race, at night, with a 10yr old.
Ever done it? 
You should. Or at least you should with this kid. He didn't give a flying f*ck that it was dark as a pocket. I'm not even sure why he bothered with a lamp. He never seemed to use it. Any root or branch was just another fun feature to jump or duck. Every other person on course was a friend and a competitor. A constant monologue about nothing in particular with the occasional "For Grampa" streamed from him for five miles.

Kain and I spent the first ten to fifteen minutes picking people off. He'd come flying up on them, give them a friendly "On your left" than blow right by while offering some cheerful encouragement or talking about Minecraft or some random shiny thing.
Then, of course, the inevitable happened, he slowed down. Not to a crawl, but enough that everyone we had passed now passed us. We made a team decision to do a Run/Walk for the rest of the way based on how he was feeling.
He must have been feeling pretty good. Biggin Creek is windy and rooty. There are a few short little climbs that get your quads wondering what you're doing, and some of it is pretty technical. 
He always seemed to walk the easy stuff though. 
We finished the five miler in about 1:14:00. Not too shabby for a 10yr olds first Night Trail Five Miler. He actually ended up placing second in the Men's cat!
(We fully encourage the kids to skip the work-a-day races and go right for the good stuff.)

After celebrating a bit with the kid, it was time to concentrate on wifey.
She seemed to averaging about 1:05/1:10 a loop. Her second loop through (my first as Crew as I'd just run with Kain) all she needed was a Tailwind re-up, then she was gone. Next loop all she needed was a Stroopwaffle and a Tailwind re-up then she was gone.
It's now about maybe 11:30 and it feels like thirty damn degrees. I start freezing in my running gear so, like a sensible human being, I finally change into my sweats and my super awesome Camp Slippers! I'm finally a little warm, its actually only about 60 out, and I sit around at the Out of Bounds compound we seem to have at every race we go to chatting with our friends.
But duty calls so I head back up to the transition area (Start/Lap/Finish/Aid Station) to wait for my girly, this time with a bottle of Tailwind at the ready.
When she comes in from her fourth lap (20miles), I know she's going to need a little more than the Tailwind I'd brought. To my surprise, she asked me to pace her! 
I used to love running with Heather, but she's gotten too strong of late and I cant hang.
I tell her this! "Hun, I'll run with you, but I'll slow you down". After confirming with me she was ok with this I had to go get out of my wonderfully warm sweats and back into my funky running shorts.
A few minutes into the course I see why she wants company. There's an obvious homeless camp set up just off trail. A Walmart mountain bike, tent, beat up chair and back-pack all set up nicey-nice. 
I never got the feeling of being watched, but I certainly didn't want Heather running alone near this. 
At this point we're doing a 3/2 Run/Walk. Thank god...my legs are shot from a bike ride early that morning and I'm not in running shape.

This kind sums up how I feel about running right now.

We have a reasonably uneventful lap this go-around. We might have seen an aardvark, or maybe it was an opossum. Basically we enjoyed being out running a 1am.

Lap 2 has bit of a backstory in itself.
After finishing my lap with the kid, most of us spent some time kicking around between the Start Line and our camp. On one of my walks back to the aforementioned camp I was triple Sea-Dog dared to run a lap naked. (To protect the not so innocent I won't say who dared me, lets just call him Mr. H)

I've been friends with Mr. H for a few years now, but I've been friends with some of you for a whole lot longer. Most of you know I'm happiest naked. 

Reflective body paint. I need to lose weight.

I really enjoy running naked. I've done my share of UGHs and even a couple of Naked 5Ks. Wifey's been there for most of them, so I don't think she was least bit surprised when I warned the volunteers at the Start/Finish line, dropped trow and headed into the woods.

We ultimately only ended up passing one other runner this loop and Heather went first to give the poor fella plenty of warning. Coming into the Start/Finish Line I think my lamps blinded anyone that may have been (for some ungodly reason) offended by me being naked.

You may recognize this picture from one of my other awesome blogs.

Heathers' 7th, my 4th total lap: it's feeling a little chillier and we're going to be moving much slower now, which means clothes are now a smart option. Shorts on, shirt on, get some Tailwind in my bottle, food down my throat and off we go. It's about 2/2:30AM.

As nothing of real significance happened on this lap, I'm going to just express how awesome it was to be outside in the early morning running in the woods. Sorry Roadies, keep your marathons. I want to see the stars when I run. I want to hold my wife's hand while we're on a Walk. I want to take in the air and smell rotting trees, growing flowers and even the fetid mud. 
Night Trail Running is awesome and this event captured all of that, as well as providing us with ultra food, great company, fun camping and a chance to hang with the #30dollarclub and many of our Out of Bounds friends.
We finished up our last lap around 4am, Heather ultimately winning overall!

All and all a great event. Step outside your normal running and give this kind of race a try. Better yet, come to South Carolina and race with us next year.

Thanks to Eagle Endurance and all of our usual suspects for an unforgettable weekend.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Fod Bloog: Soy Burger Nori Wrap with Ketchup

Writing is hard.

I really eat the stuff I bloog about. Don't think for a second I just toss this shit into the garbage. 
It's also possible I was drunk for most of this bloog process.

I'm a militant vegetarian and money's fucking tight, so sometimes you just throw a couple of things together and hope for the best.
You prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.
Guess which this creation was?

Today's cuisine is a fusion of traditional Japanese Sushi mixed with some American ghetto frozen patty goodness. When you add the word "Fusion" to your menu you can charge extra. Did you know that? It's true. 
Fusion and Tapas, what a bunch of shit. Just feed me.

Presentation is everything with this dish, mostly because it tastes like ass with some ketchup on it, so before even prepping this make sure to have your Pioneer Dinner Plates on hand.

Neanderthal man here can't wait to eat.

You probably already read my review and have those plates at the ready, so lets get to the recipe!

First, thaw out your Soy Burgers by nuking them for a minute or so. 
I prefer Aldi brand burgers. Any Soy Burger honestly tastes like shit, but Aldi is cheap.

I'm so excited for these, I took off my pants.

While you're a-thawing, heat up your skillet pan. And once that pans warm, add your cooking oil of choice.
Olive Oil tastes better, which won't really help, is probably better for you, but also has a lower flash point. Vegetable Oil is cheap and most everyone has some in the cupboard. So use whatever you want. I would be weary of using Karma Sutra Love Oil though, there's no flash point listed, and I think Strawberry might over power the otherwise shitty taste of a soy burger.

I bet this tastes like High School romances of days gone by.

Burgers' thawed? Toss it into your pan and cook that fucker for a while. Flip it when feels like you should flip it.
Don't splash any oil on you.

Remember when I rescued this pan from an abandoned apartment?

While your tasty burger is cooking up, bust out your Nori of choice!
I buy whatever I can find.

Still excited. Still no pants.

Check your burger! Don't burn it. Bust out your ketchup or catsup or whatever and slap a sheet of nori on your classy dinner plate.

All good fusion is served on camping plates.

We're getting close to the end of the recipe! Are you excited? Nobody will blame you if you take off your pants. Unless you're baby sitting or something. 

Take that burger out of the pan, slap it on the nori, squirt on some ketchup and there you go!

This is going to taste much like you'd expect to. Make sure to have a decent side dish to go with it. Lima Beans might be good. And all good chefs will offer a drink pairing for their cuisines, and my pairing to go with this dish is Listerine.

Stay tuned for more Fod Bloogs. I have ideas for Bunny Turd Salad and a Breakfast with Jesus menu.
In the meantime, maybe check out one of my original Fod Bloogs, On The House Bloody Mary Mix.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Product Review: Merrel All Out Crush Tough Mudder 2 Boa

I think it was last fall or maybe last winter?
Tough Mudder and Merrell put together an Instagram Photo Contest with prizes including a trip to CO for two to race in a Mudder, entries into a Mudder 5k and a pair of shoes, these shoes here:

You should do Tough Mudders.

The contest was a combo of votes for your pic and having Mudder choose your pic from the final ten.
A post shared by Geoffrey Hart (@bigcatbox) on
Long story short, we didn't win the Grand Prize, (still don't know who did, there was some dodgy shit going on with the voting) but ultimately we did end up winning two tix for a Mudder 5k, and these kicks.

Here's my thoughts on these things.

Merrells rarely fit me correctly. I ordered an 11, got an 11, but they felt like a 12. HUGE.

But I ran a trail half at Tuckfest in them anyway.
And since that half I've put a bunch of runs into them. I've washed them several times and it seems more like they've shrunk than my feet have grown a full size in 4 months.
Anyway, they fit now...

Starting from the bottom of the shoe:

They won't stay white long.

It has a nice aggressive sole, it gripped everything I run on and sheds mud pretty readily. The tread kinda looks like Chinese Stars. Remember those?

6mm of drop in this kick. The heel maxing out at just over 22mm and the toes coming in around 16mm. This felt really great for me. There's a good amount of ground feel, but I never felt susceptible to any ground protrusions. Not that Myrtle Beach has lots of rocks.

Did I use this picture in my Orange Mud blog?

There's a pretty lightweight mesh and thermo plastic upper, which feels pretty damn stable around my foot. If you happen to slosh into a puddle, which this shoe is obviously meant for, most of the water will quickly drain. Merrell claims 8oz per shoe.  I don't have a scale, so I'm going to trust them.

I look awful. Usually I'm really damn good looking.

The ankle cuff is a nice neoprene fabric, quite comfy. But there's a weird flare around the ankle that actually lets debris into the shoe. Typically a Runner Lace Lock would have alleviated this.

Now, the vegan meat and potatoes on this shoe, which is actually Vegan! Huge win for me, thanks Merrell!!

The Boa Lacing System!

 I wish I had this on my road bike shoes. What a great concept.
But on OCR shoes?  This system sucks, and I'll tell you why.
First, I could never get it tight enough. I had to pull slack lace at the front of the shoe and tie a knot to make the string shorter. I don't have a picture of this, but look at the pic below and use your imagination.
Second, the knob you use to tighten the laces does not work well with wet and muddy hands. The grip on the knob is insufficient to offer any purchase when you're covered in mud. And when you're thrashing around in waist high deep mud puddles, you really don't want that shoe feeling like it's gonna fall off, you want it tight. 
Laces may come loose, but you can easily re-tighten them, even with muddy hands. If you're drenched in mud and these shoes come loose, you're boned.

Twisty turny to tighten this shoe, Pull the knob to loosen. Cool concept gone wrong here.

Loosening and removing the shoe however, is a snap. You simply pull the knob up, the laces loosen, you pull the tongue forward and the shoe comes right off.

So I'm in no way knocking the Boa lacing system, it's a great concept that works wonders with some shoes/boots. But for OCR, that knob needs to be updated. A cross shape or even a square would work much better than a round slightly gnarly knob.

I'm mostly content with this shoe. It is my current go-to trail shoe. The drop is nice and the ground feel is good. But I do run into problems, every damn run, trying to tighten them.

I understand that Merrell does offer a standard lace version of this shoe. 
I want that one. I may try to save the hundred bones it currently retails for. Everything other than the lacing system kicks ass. With standard lacing, that funky flare at my ankle would (probably) go away too.

I have not OCR'd in these yet. I have done some nice muddy terrain though. One day I may cash in those Mudder 5k tickets, or probably just do a Full Mudder instead. I'll post a re-cap when I do
. Until then, it's coastal Carolina running.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Product Review: Orange Mud Double Barrel

I've been eyeballing this pack for a couple of years. But even after reading reviews and talking to a couple of guys/gals wearing it, I could still never pull the trigger on spending the $110 or so bucks for it.

But as fate would have it, a couple of weeks ago I was named Employee of the Year at Hart Strength and Endurance Coaching
To show her appreciation, my boss and our favorite local race director joined forces and got me the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel hydration pack.

Ya know, I just recently did a review on my Nathan VaporKrar Pack. And I really like that pack too. I'm pretty easy, I like most things. I don't really care for kids or even humanity as a whole, but other than that I'm pretty easy. I really like this pack.

I live in Myrtle Beach. I run in Myrtle Beach. It's summer in Myrtle Beach. 
Myrtle Beach is hot and humid. You've probably already heard me speak of this, but it's true, and until you've experienced it...

No chest strap! 

The biggest feature of this pack that I like is the lack of actual pack. It's not a traditional vest in any sense. There is less than half the material against my body as there is in my Nathan. This makes for excellent breathability and prevents that awful sweat waterfall I typically get. 
Ya know, sweaty body, builds up around the pack, which then oozes into my running shorts then pours down legs into my shoes filling them with sweat within 5 miles.  
That happens to you doesn't it?

When I first put this thing on, my first thought was that the straps were going to dig into my armpits and chafe like a sonofabitch. (I run with no shirt on 75% of the time.)

Armpits. We all have them.

To wear the pack properly, you are going to have to tighten up those straps into your pits. But when you're actually running, you barely notice them. I put some body glide on the straps and my pits, just to prevent chafe-age, and so far, so good. 
I will tell you though, bringing your arms overhead while wearing this pack is a challenge. (Most runners won't really need to do this, but if you do OCR, I would not recommend this pack for racing in.)

I was also slightly concerned that I wouldn't be able to reach the bottles as my range of motion in my shoulders isn't what it should be. 
But I have no problems retrieving or replacing the bottles in the pack. With a little practice it has become second nature. Speaking of bottles, this pack comes with two 24oz bottles.

Notice how little the pack really is? Very little skin coverage.

There is minimal bouncing from this thing, in fact, the pack itself does not bounce, only the bottles in the pack. So if you happen to dick up you hydration and run out of water, this pack wont sway at all.

Its recommended to wash this by hand. So I do. I get really gross when I run and really should wash it after every, not every other, run. With the air conditioning on it will dry within 24hrs.

I guess I could just wear it in the shower.

There is a bit of storage in this. Nothing like a Camelback or whatever, but a bit. There's two Velcro accessible shoulder pockets that will hold some food or a smaller phone. There's a large zip pocket in the back.

Still sudsy.

Word of warning on this pocket though, it will change the fit of the pack, this changing where the bottles sit. The pocket is between the body and the bottles, so if you try to jam a windbreaker in there, the bottles are going to sit weird. But if you roll that windbreaker up nice and tidy, you can easily store it with the shock cord that sits between the bottles.

When I was reading other reviews on this pack there were some concerns about hearing the water in the bottles slosh around.
I am a little deaf, but this has not been any kind of issue for me at all.

Never actually wear your hat like this, you'll look like a schmuck. But you get another good view of how small the pack is.

There were concerns about the bottles popping out. I haven't had that happen, nor do I see it happening unless I face plant, which is always a possibility I guess.

Broken wheelbarrow not included.

Why this is going to be my Go-To pack now:
1) As its warm enough here 9-10 months a year I don't have to  carry layers. 
2) Ninety percent of the races I do are Looped Courses. So I don't need 70oz of water and a ton of food on me.
3) It's really damn easy to wash out a water bottle.
4) I can carry two different kinds of hydration if I want. Water and Beer!
5) It's minimal and light (10oz sans bottles)
6) It looks like a Jet Pack.

I didn't want to use the naked picture of me doing this, Google and Orange Mud might get mad.   But if you PM me, I can send it to ya.

If you hate carrying Handys, Running Belts don't work for you, or you don't need to carry everything you own, definitely check out Orange Muds line of stuff. 
And as usual, look into trying it on before purchase or contact them for more info.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Product Review: SIxteen Dollar Shade Tent from Aldi

I'm writing this review in June/July of 2018.
Things are currently looking up for Heather and me. And although we're far from loaded we decided to spend some money on Skin Cancer prevention in the form of:

Pretty Orange and Blue Tent Thingy!!!


We decided this summer to purchase a State Park pass. For South Carolina, I gotta add, not Vermont or Nevada. It cost us $75 and essentially get's us into any SC State Park. 

Well, we've got TWO State Parks in Myrtle Beach. Huntington Beach State Park and Myrtle Beach State Park. Huntington is a ten minute drive up the road from our gym and MB is a ten minute drive from our house. 
So we now spend a good amount of time at the beach! 
Sorry clients, I unplug while I'm there. I'm working on my boogie board skills.

I don't like to use Sunblock. Ya, the sun will give you cancer, but shit, so will covering your epidermis with chemicals. 
And Aspertame will give you cancer too.
So we decided on taking a chance on this $16 funky pop-up sun shelter.

It is realllllyyyy easy to set up. You just take it out of the sleeve and toss it in the air, Boing!

Flip it right side up, and good to go.

It comes with four guy lines and nine, yes mine had nine, stakes to secure it into the beach sand....?  I do stake it down, not sure how much it really helps. Leave a cooler in it too, it'll help weigh it down.

It gets windy on the beach, Stake the frame and guy lines.

It's a pretty handy place to stash all your gear to prevent the wind from blowing it away too. Towels, Boogie Boards, shoes, all that kind of beachy shit, just toss it into the shelter.

Even at the beach it looks like we're having a damn yard sale..

It'd be myopic of me not to mentions a couple of drawbacks though.

It is not the most durable material. If you let your dog play in it, it will get destroyed.

If you cook in it, you'll get a big melty mess of a tent husk.

It is not an Umbrella. Don't expect to get your Tommy Bahama beach chair under this thing.

It may take you 45 minutes to figure out how to take it down, or if you watch our video, it may only take 45 seconds.

If you already shop at Aldi and are looking for a quick sun shelter, I really do recommend this one. Unless, like I said, you have dogs.

I can fit in it.

I will try to post an update if we bring this to a race. Not sure what we may use it for, but I like to take as much shit as I can carry to any race I go to.

Notice the shoes match the tent case? I planned that. Aiming for a GQ cover.

Follow up, July 4th 2018: This thing is brutally susceptible to wind!!!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Race Review: Knock On Wood Running Festival

My goal for this race was 50k.
The overall plan, which I made public, was to start with 100 Milers at 8pm, knock out my 50k, take a nap, then pace some clients who were doing their 50k or 100m.

What I really wanted to do though, was my 50k then sit around drinking, eating and cheering on clients from the comfort of my camp chair.

Neither of those scenarios really panned out...

Not really as bad as it looks.

Heather and I have done this race twice before. It was our first 100k back in 2016, then our first 100m in 2017. 

Our first year was just the two of us, somehow in 2017 we dragged up 20 something people to camp and race with us. This year we dragged up maybe 15 but also had a handful of clients there!

The quick takeaway here is that this is not only a great race, but a great social event. I'll be elaborating on that more over then next three million words...or you could just cut out now knowing this race is great. Your choice.

We were introduced to Upstate Ultras at Paris Mountain back in 2015. We've always had a great time at Upstates events, living four to five hours away makes it hard to get to all the Upstate events, but it's always worth it.

Here's my race story/review...whatever you want to call it:

Our buddy Paul picked us up in his kick-ass van (it's really great to have an adventurous bud with a van) and we were on the road by 8am. I spent a good amount of time on the ride studying for my upcoming Pharm Tech exam. In fact, I should be studying right now, not dicking around writing a blog nobody reads.

It only took us 4hrs to get to Conestee Nature Park, the venue for this event. To our surprise there was already a good amount of people there setting up. There's a HUGE amount of space to set up your camp, but there was a particular spot we wanted. We would ultimately end up with three pop-up canopies, four or five tents and a couple of cars. 

After finally getting all our shit set up we walked over to Rego to shoot the breeze with the RD. Not only is Matthew fast as hell, he's friendly as f*ck too.  I hope I have a picture of the kickass new hat we got from him.

I do, it's at the bottom of the blog.

The weather had been iffy, that's a word, most of the morning. Around 2pm though...it got beautiful out. Hot and sunny! People were trickling into the venue and our camp grew throughout the afternoon, our clients came in, some local friends arrived and we made new friends. 

I'm not sure how/why we attract so many new friends at these events, but I'm really glad we do. John, if you happen to read this, here's a huge thanks for helping out the way you did man!
I would guess at this point, maybe four o'clock, there's about a dozen of us kicking around drinking cognac (thanks Paul!) and shooting the breeze. Our race doesn't start until 8pm, so what the hell else are we going to do? I would have busted out the hacky sack, but there were now enough folks around to make that dangerous (to them, not me). The RD hangs out with us a good bit and our buddy Eric drifts in and out of camp.
I'm telling you, Ultra camping is where it's at.

There were only brief periods of rain.

Let's get to the race details.
This race draws a super diverse crowd. I can't get into too many details, mostly as I don't know them, but RWB and Enduring Warrior have some affinity with this race.
It's not uncommon to see an athlete running in a gas mask and there will always be at least one American Flag on course. This year you would see athletes running with a mannequin leg which had an official bib and timing chip on it.
You would see a blind athlete complete a hundred miles.
You would also see a man, truly given a second chance, finish his 50k.
I can't give those stories the justice they deserve. But I recommend looking into them.

7:40 or so the RD gets all the 100 milers together for the race briefing. You know the normal stuff? Well, this wasn't the normal stuff. I've never been brought to tears during a race brief before. There's some real heavy shit here, heavy, but also amazing.

For some reason at the eight o'clock start time, Heather and I found ourselves towards the front of the starting pack. Maybe I look like I know what I'm doing?
I don't. I'm still learning. Every race I learn.

Lemme hashtag this   #myboausa

We start on the sidewalk just in front of the pavilion. A few hundred yards up we dip into the woods. This section is a bit technical. There's roots, rocks and re-bar. You need to watch your step as the trail winds up, down and left to right.

Trail spits us onto some pavement, right at a pretty major trail crossing, where we bang a right over a bridge. It's a pretty bridge. Hope I can find a picture.

It's only a short run down the road before slipping back into some singletrack. Ya know, I've run section thirty odd times and still can't think of anything remarkable about this quick section.

Back on to some pavement, again just for a short while before singletrack takes you up what I called the Green Hill. This was a really pretty area to run in. The trail was that neat upstate red clay type of terrain cutting through a field. There's trees at the summit with picnic tables circling them. The kind of place you just want to sling a hammock and have a beer.

After descending Green Hill a right hand turn brings you onto pavement to Aid Station II. This was an unmanned station of H20, Tailwind and some Fuel 100 Electro-bites, or as another runner called them "Shitty Teddy Grahams" (I like 'em, just needed lots of water to go with them).

A sharp left brings us into a slightly swampy area. There's a wooden bridge or two, some frogs and some ducks. It's nice.

Back on to pavement, up a little hill then back into the woods. This section was a little more swampy than the slightly swampy area. There's a good size observation post and several benches to sit on.

Sometime around 11pm on Saturday Heather and I took a break up there.

It's all still foggy. My memory is foggy. I never noticed fog on course.

Some boardwalk, which although feels a bit slick, makes for some really great running. The rebound and energy return is great. This boardwalk run is brief before taking a left into a swampier area that was even more swampy than the slightly more swampy area. But this isn't Low Country Swamp, so it's pretty run-able.

Damn this was a pretty course.

Back to pavement and across the bridge to the dreaded Lollipop section.
We called it a lollipop because this section was an out and back with a loop at the end.
We call it dreaded because the top of the loop can be balls hot, there's a climb, and as it's and out and back, there's a lot of traffic. Oh, it's also a climb out of the lollipop back to the paved walking path which brings you past a bunch of tents and into the finishing/timing chute.

Damn, that's a lot to read. Try typing that with a cat half on your keyboard.

Just a bit before the climb to "Balls Hot Field"

Now that I've gotten the course description out of the way, here's some other points.
The timing guy was spot on and very attentive. Hell, we even saw him chase down an 8k guy that did 2 extra loops for fun.
The Aid Station at the line was great. If it wasn't the RD himself, there was another friendly volunteer or two there to help you with anything you might need off the huge food table.
There's some really damn fast kids in Greenville.
I also need to mention again that this race attracts more than just the normal Ultra community. When was the last time you saw a blind dude knock out a hundred mile trail run?

There's a free One Mile Kids Run, an 8k, a 50k, a 24hr Relay and the 100 Miler. So take your pick. Rego for 2019 opens May 23rd.
Look for the big orange tent, the hot chick with blonde braids and the ugly skinhead with tattoos and a limp, because you know we're going to be there.

The pink one's mine.