Monday, June 16, 2014

Chatt-Stage Races 2014- Brownie Scratchin

DAY 1:

Photo by WeRunHuntsville

While Raccoon Mtn is a great place to run, it is the least favorite day of the 3-day stage race. This year for an even greater reason. Within the first 100' everyone is sloppy wet, so much so that people had air bubble trapped in the back of their shorts...even those chic's in the skin tight shorty shorts. The first few miles are uneventful except for the fact that everyone's breathing sounded like a dirty movie being heard on XM radio. It was equivalent to running at elevation without the bathing in a cesspool feel. I tried to run as steady as possible knowing that Day 2 and 3 would be the toughest. I was ok until....
Well if you have ever read any of my race reports you know what happened around mile 7.

So I peel off the trail and lay some twizzlers and lose 5 minutes of precious race time. I hit the trail and begin to press hard knowing I have a lot of time to make up on a shorter course. As we move further around the mountain some sections greet us with a light breeze, however, for the most part we were breathing water saturated oxygen. 

The one thing I like about this course is knowing that my watch will show around 2 miles shorter than the advertised distance. Right at the end, before the paved road I see people walking (who obviously don't know the finish is around 1/4 mile. I pass 4 people and one of tri-short chics in a sports bra. Still I was 13 minutes over my previous years time.

Coolest part of the race was Randy Whorton racing me to the finish. Well this is the point where I would move on to day 2 and 3...I need to tell you about 3 people. 
Randy Whorton- WeRunHuntsville

-FANCY PANTS: You ever seen "that guy" that comes to a race in a colorful tri outfit with a posse and does  the Runner's World photo shoot stretches? Well you shoulda met fancy. Actually, he turned out to be pretty cool so i'm gonna go easy on him.

-BUTT-BRA DUDE: Remember how I said everyone was soaking wet. This one dude's shorts were so wet and tight that his meat curtains looked like they were filled with jelly-fish in a sports butt-bra.

-THE MOONER: So I'm at the finish and there is this dude in something like jogging pants... You know how when you stick your hands down the back of your pants to scratch? Well he had both butt-cheeks showing. Then all of a sudden, two fingers on each hand breached the canyon walls and began to scratch his brownie dispenser. I PROMISE THIS HAPPENED! I only waited around long enough to see if he would sniff his fingers or not...

DAY 2:

Janice and I
After day 1 I almost decided to drop out of the race. My calf is still injured from Thunder Rock 100, my joints were aching and I just wanted to sleep. So glad I didn't. My plan was to just run easy to make it to day 3...However, that plan went out the window as soon as we heard "Go!" The goal at Lula Lake is to start quick enough to get to the single track and rope climb without being caught in the stanky train. I see Randy at the top of the rope climb and I yell..."Randy, I love you!", he replies..."In a physical way?", some guy down the path yells back..."This is Lookout Mtn, not Brokeback Mtn!" Priceless sir.

Once on top of the ridge, Tony Scott and myself alternated walking and running the steady climb to conserve as much as possible. As soon as we turned to drop off we dropped the hammer and took advantaged of the controlled fall. All of a sudden I started feeling great and decided to go for it. Through the single track and back across the bridge to my adoring fans (the lil kid picking his nose and handing out cups) and across the road to lay a big kiss on Roy Tamez's hot wife! Pretty sure she slipped me the tongue. 

Daniel Lucas- WeRunHuntsville
The trails on this section are simply wonderful. Taking a E-Gel every 45 minutes I felt the energy and stayed steady, yet pushing on the down sections. I make the big climb to the 2nd aid station and Michael Scott yells at me and tells me that Christy Scott (not his wife) is just in front of me. He also stated that she said something to the effect that my vag was hurting and I needed to man up. Does that sound like Christy? Anyway, Fancy Pants catches me and I'm like "BULL CRAP" so I press even harder. I am passing dingleberry's left and right and make it to the lush single track and Fancy Pants passes me. I repay him by singing "Here's you're one chance Fancy don't let me down", made famous by Reba McEntire.

Just before we come out of the woods and down to the start/finish area I clip my toe on a root and realize I jacked it up. Across the road and another smooch from Roy's wife, I see my Angel off to the side, I feel great, and I cross the bridge to complete the last 4 miles. 10 steps run, 10 steps walk up the big hill. To the top and a hard run down the mountain, through the finish line with a 6 minute PR from the previous year.

Ok you ready for another Character?

-THE HANDLER: So we are standing at the start awaiting go, when I see one of the shirtless wonders in some Eric Charette style shorts fondling his acorn...I don't mean a lil scratch or a drive-by repositioning. I mean direct contact marble rolling for like 30 seconds. 

DAY 3:

I get to Signal Mtn fearing what is to come. The most rugged trails of the race. Unfortunately for me, people recognized me from the previous days...not for my blog or my good looks, rather, I was a little gassy and I had gotten to the point where I didn't care anymore. Man or Woman, Little people or Asian, I was letting them fly. I did apologize before each one though. I begin to descend Mushroom Rock, across the bridge and back up. Everyone seems tired, yet in a pretty good mood. I am feeling unusually good at this stage and just go with it. Down to Suck Creek and turn and head back up. I love this section because on the way down you see your fast friends and on the way up you see your friends you are spanking. After breaching Mushroom Rock we veer right along the ridge. 

Sinith Suong- WeRunHuntsville
Unlike the previous days I catch Christy early and we run together for a while. We hit the aid station at the lookout point and quickly head back out. This is the longest 2.4 miles in the history of 2.4 miles. Beautiful single, rocky, rhythm busting single track all the way to the stair case from HELL! While in this section Fred Doss and I make up a parody song called "Broken Arms" (Open Arms) We climb to the top and friggin awesome Sarah Woerner greets me. Christy and I fight over the orange popsicle and we head up the road. I steal some little girls lemonade and let her brother hose me off before I pass the nursing home to which I give a shout out to the residents. I think one of them shot me a bird...not real sure. Can they do that?

Like the day before, I feel great at this point and begin to press hard on the trails. Then I hit my toe again and am pretty confident the toenail is somewhere in my sock. Yet I press on cause Fred is hot on my hairy-cakes. Through the stale river section I finally make it to the last aid station. 3 hours and 30 minutes have elapsed and I have 3.6 miles to the finish. I gave it everything I had to break 4 hrs. At one point on the down sloping sections my watch showed a 5:45 pace. I ran as hard as I could but came in at 4:03 which was still an 11 minute PR from the previous year.

I posted on my Facebook that after events like this, I get a little sad when I reach home. I absolutely love the community and the new friends that I make.

So after some hand showers with the hose pipe, we head to Shuford's BBQ on Signal Mtn Road. Friggine great BBQ. These 3 people walk in and one of the guys looks at me and says..."I know you, are you Cary? You were the guy fartin all over the trails."

Thank you Wild Trails and Rock/Creek for putting on amazing races and allowing me to be on your team.

Eric Lofland
Joel Meridith- WeRunHuntsville
Nathan Holland- WeRunHuntsville

Monday, May 19, 2014

Thunder Rock 100 Miler-Hail Yeah and the White Tail

PROLOGUE (Not really sure what that is)

How come none of you hundred mile rednecks ever told me about the salty crack. You could have saved me some major anal irritation. And whats the deal with not being able to taste food the next day? Anyway, I started the trip off wrong by forgetting my toothbrush. See the results later.


The race begins at the Ocoee Whitewater Center directly on the foot bridge crossing the river. Immediately after crossing the bridge we begin ascending. Walking the inclines and gingerly running the flats and downhills. Within a couple of miles I cannot see Benj or Shar anymore and find myself running with a couple of guys I did not know. This dude talked more than Rebecca Reynolds and Suzanne Erickson. So I hear him say..."When this is over, I'm gonna take my wife to get her nails done, get some food, and find an Asian chic to rub my butt". Whats funny is we are Facebook friends now. I wonder if he has heard my Hong Kong Massage story?
Benj Lance


We begin our descent to the Thunder Rock campground which crosses the Ocoee and the road taking you to the trail. As soon as I hit the pavement a huge hailstorm hits. It was Hailmuhgeddon. Crew and aid station people were running in all directions for cover. Randy just stood in the road, smiled and shook his head. 


After passing Thunder Rock we climb and enter a beautiful trail system, and are hit with yet another hail storm. As we reached the top there was so much hail that it looked liked snow on the ground. Finally the sun comes out, the plants are green and wet, and we are just relishing the day. The Rock Creek Sweetheart herself, Kimber Keplinger, caught me and we ran together for a couple of miles. Eventually Kimber sees a beaver and goes off trail to pet it. I press on and come up on a white tail deer.....oh no wait...I mean a white girl pulling her pants up. This gal was a cutie till she started talking. 

Kimber Keplinger
I catch my bro the "White Wiper" (see Upchuck Race Report), Mr. Jeff Deaton, who ALWAYS BEATS ME. Believe it or not (really don't care if you do), but the course runs 50' in front of the cabin we had rented for the weekend. Awesome feeling knowing I had a place to poop in a judge free environment if needed to peel off.

Bridge to Cabin-Course on Right

As Jeff and I round the Hiawassee Outfitters towards the Reliance aid station, it looked like we were entering a hippie camp. Yet, it was still a beautiful scene with the river on the right and occupy wall street people on the left. I was concerned about my friend Benj, and told his crew that no matter how far back he was to tell him that I was just ahead. 

After crossing the bridge over the Hiawassee is when the trail running got hard. While it was amazing running next to the river, the trail was difficult with rhythm busting sections. I decide to lay in the river for a while to refresh my legs. As I began to run I was very refreshed. At one point before we reached the flat pavement section I was running the nice dirt track when something that looked like a black condom caught my eye. I looked a little too long and caught the only root on that section of trail. Face plant. 


Darkness began to fall as I reached Coker Falls. I made it to the top where my crew was stationed. My crew was so amazing (Martin Schneekloth, Jerry Abbott, and Scott Bell). They quickly fed me, changed my socks and shoes, and Martin made me put on my arm sleeves. As I leave the darkness hits, and I am in my hoka's for the long road section. Normally I am really afraid of the dark, however, I was ok, even though I was in banjo country by myself with a salty butt.


I completely missed the turn to the Manning Cabin aid station. As I crested the hill I saw headlights and said told them they were off course....It was Blaine Beining, and the joke was on me. I was distraught and contemplated what I should do. To avoid a DQ I went back and made it to the aid station and all my anxiety went away when I saw Fred Doss and that cheese pizza.


I finally make it to mile 50 where my first safety runner, Jerry, joins me for 15 miles. I downed a Red Bull and cheese kaysudilla heading out for my last 50. Beautiful clear sky and bright moon. 


Somewhere after Bullet Creek I began to crash. My speech slowed and volume lowered. I began to have that tingly feeling. All of a sudden I heard what sounded like something stepping on a stick. Immediately, I began to think a bobcat was tracking me. I would turn around real quick to shine my light on him. After about 3 times I told Jerry to walk next to me cause I was afraid the bobcat was gonna get me. In reality, I was hoping the bobcat would choose him.

A guy and a girl are closing in on us and eventually they catch us and I hear their voice say my name in a concerned tone. It was Benj and his safety runner Megan. They were shocked to see me in the state I was in. As a fellow runner, Benj knows me better than most runners. He knew I was not right. What he did next brings tears to my eyes even now. And if any of you say its gay I'll punch you in the throat. He said, "let's hold hands..." So I stuck my hand out. It was good cause there was someone else the bobcat could get.


Me and Jeff Deaton
I barely make it to Star Mountain...It seemed like I was coming off anesthesia. Martin give me a caffeine pill and a Red Bull to wash it down. Well evidently I wasn't chewing like a German and he yells at me to start chewing. Scott Bell picks me up and we head out for the ridgeline. Within a few minutes I was a new person and began to run with purpose. We catch my friends James Suh and Jeff Deaton. Jeff's IT band flared up causing him to pull out.  


My goal all along was to reach the second Iron Gap by sunrise. We made it there at 6:11 (eastern). Chewed another caffeine pill and headed for the Hiawassee 8.5 miles away. Earlier on around mile 25, the top of my calf where it goes in the knee pit was hurting pretty bad. By this point it hurt to walk, but was ok running. While running down to the Hiawasee all I could think about was getting in the water to refresh my legs. As we hit the boat ramp I got in the water thinking I was doing good. What I did was actually lock up my whole body. I felt like the wooden pinochio running to actual crossing. 


I finally make it across the river in waist deep freezing water and begin to cross the road to the aid station. Scott tell me to watch out for the car. This car kept getting closer and all of a sudden the lady yells out my name. It was Randy and Kris Whorton. She sticks her had out the window and tells me to take a bite of her bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. I took a bite and she said I looked great, and then stated "We love you"....I broke me. Reached the stank potty to change and it took me about 15 minutes to change out of my wet clothes into something warm.


In the midst of all the pain, Martin takes over as safety runner and force feeds me eggs, and potatoes. We climb fairly
well up the 2200' climb which began around mile 83. Reaching the top is the point where runners are able to make up so much time due to the long road downhills. Unfortunately, I could not. 


We reach the lake to be greeted by a Rabbit and Mouse...All I'm saying is if they would have jumped out at me in the dark....


Pouring, freezing rain. Then the nice friendly double track is diverted back to single track with climbing around every turn. Martin did his best to get me to run, however, my knee was hurting more than ever. It was so bad that I farted and Martin said that it dried his mouth out, and I didn't even laugh. All I could think about was getting to the finish and huggin my wife. If fact for about 30 miles I was singing Vince Gill's "I get weak in the knees". 


I crossed the line at 26:16. Hugged my wife and son. I hadn't brushed my teeth in 3 days and took a pic of them.

Janice shuttles me to Raft 1 where I am greeted by the most amazing people. I absolutely love trail runners. I am so grateful for Rock/Creek and Wild Trails for the kindness they show me and everyone else.

Congrats to all my friends who had an amazing day.

Thank you Kris for taking care of me the way you did. We love you guys!

Finally to my crew. You made the difference. I owe you all.
Daniel Lucas

Monday, May 5, 2014

McKay Hollow Madness 2014-Pain in my Butt

I am going to describe someone to you and I want you to tell me the first thing that comes to
your mind. Imagine an attractive young lady, $110 street shoes, $80 running pants, $65 base-layer, $65 running jacket, iPhone and key fob while running a grueling trail race....You got it! Street Runner with no clue what she is about to experience. Benj, Erin and I start the race and we are a little concerned cause Dink Taylor is about 20' in front of us. We look to our left and the young lady described above is "texting" while running and then drops her key fob. I look at Benj and say, "4hrs"!

Albino Polynesian Chic (Jay Crosby)
For the first time in 4yrs McKay Hollow Madness was relatively dry. Temperature was just about right and Ia am seeded 6th? I thought it was a joke, however I found out that out of the returning runners, I was actually the 6th fastest on record from last year. I know what you are thinking and you can kiss my butt.

So after running a 50 miler and a marathon, my plan was to treat this as a training run, however, that did not happen. When Blake said "Go", and I had a successful healthy poo, the racer kicked in. The race begins on the road to thin out the pack and shortly enters the single track before the descent. Down Sinks, then quickly up to Panther Knob. Often times newbies make the mistake of running the Panther Knob and Sinks climb only to suck the rest of the way. Climbing around Stone Cuts is always a highlight in this race however, I am always petrified of seeing a rattlesnake or a naked homeless guy in there. Around mile 5 we caught the skinny white guy wearing Jorts (bluejean shorts), who has the body of a 13 year old albino Polynesian girl. Thats what you get for calling out the HotWingRunner! We speed hike Warpath, fill my hat with water and push to the McKay Hollow descent.

Erin Looney
Photo by Gelmis
There are two ways to run down McKay or slow. If you run fast you better have a good dental plan. We are balls to the wall all the way down. We finally reach the Natural Well climb and continue the power walk on the climbs. Now at this point Erin is the lead Chic...we look down and here comes #2 pressing hard. She passes and Erin resists pushing her off the waterfall. Benj and I know Erin's potential and we urged her to push but she didn't. Once we crested the Natural Well (192' sinkhole) I told Erin to at least catch her and let her push the pace. So she left us. 
Me and Benj

As Benj and I weave around Arrowhead to the aid station and back to the trail leading to the well we see in the distance that Erin had overtaken the lady and was gaining a sizable lead. We take Arrowhead #2 and run as hard as we can to ensure that no one would catch us all the while pontificating about Thunder Rock 100. Benj eventually leaves me on the rugged and rooty lower Natural Well descent. So as in many races I find myself all alone and wondering who I would eat if left in a survival situation. Would a Hispanic guy taste like Mexican? 

I finally reach the famous Death Trail for a 1/2 mile climb to the finish. Just before the sharp cutback where you see the waterfall I see the #2 female. It's obvious she doesn't know the course and doesn't realize the finish is around 1/4 of a mile, so I surge. Just as soon as I passed her it happened! I popped a hemorrhoid out my brown eye. Wanna see the pic?
Scott and Chelsea

James and Pocahontas

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Oak Barrel 2014- Rachel and Misty

Photo by Gelmis
Oak Barrel 2014 played out much different than 2013. Last year, everyone knows I had to use my
McKay Hollow shirt to clean brownie puddin off my bum. In case you were wondering, I went back after this years race to see if I could find the luck. The goal for this year was that I had no goal. I wanted to do good, however, in prepping for the 100 miler, it was not important to crush this race.

I decided to start between a 7:45 and 8:00 minute pace to the hill and just hope for the best going up. On our way to Whiskey Hill our nostrils are treated with the refreshing scent of fresh poo from a family of inbred cows. I reach Whiskey Hill, which according to my Suunto Ambiet (the best GPS watch on the market) is around 2 miles long. As usual I mouthed off to a couple people trying to provoke them to race me up. One chic tried but I put the smack down on her. Actually I was chasing Rachel Eidson. For the first time ever I ran the entire hill. 

I peak the top around mile 5 and understand that for the next 3.4 miles I will be on rolling hills. I despise rolling hills. Not only rolling hill, the wind was very strong. In the distance I could see Rachel and a lady that looked like Christy. I knew it wasn't Christy cause this lady was tone, tan and fast. So I used them as bait to just push the downhill sections and try to maintain on the uphill. So up until this point my mile splits were as seen on the chart. I slowly began to gain ground on Rachel and Misty (the girl that looked like Christy). Around mile 8.4 the long down hill begins. So I lean forward staying perpendicular to the ground and begin to push. The distance between Rachel and Misty began to shorten. I was so determined, however, worried because I knew what happened at mile 11 last year. I was having a great race and was praying that my stomach would hold out. All of a sudden around mile 9 things began to change. I was gaining on Rachel and Misty and had been passing all the people who started out way to fast, just they way I had done so many times before. Around mile 10 I was shocked. Misty was Christy. Listen, unlike times past, I am not bragging here. You see Christy had been sick all week and she was running strong. If she had been healthy I never would have caught her, however, she was not the target...It was that Pure Barr Speedster Rachel who smoked me last year. I could feel the adrenaline pumping and I calculated that I could PR even while on this course. I finally catch Rachel and we run together just as two years ago. We come to mile 11 and reminisce while I point to the location I pulled off last year to change my oil. We start reeling people in as our pace quickens. Around the corner we are on the main road to the finish.  I honestly have never felt so amazing at the end of a half marathon as I did that day. So I went all out. 

When I got home I was shocked at what I saw for miles 9-13.1. I had dropped the last full mile to a 6:36. I crossed the finish line and heard the announcer say..."This is Cary Long from Huntsville. He wants to change his name to Who Farted". WHAT THE CRAP? Who told him to say that? I know during registration you can tell them something about yourself, however, I don't remember putting anything.

Anyway, Rachel came in a couple of seconds after me and Christy was a few more after that. If you don't have anyone to challenge you...find someone. You win some and you lose some, however, iron sharpens iron. My friends are iron! 

Photo by Gelmis
I had another surprise as we went to look at the results posted. I had placed first in my age group out of 87 runners. Not only that, I was 37th out of 1177 finishers. To date, that is my highest finish of the ratio of place to runners. Very happy day. Our Huntsville community celebrated many 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishes resulting in a whole bunch of wood. Rachel finished 1st in her age group and Christy finished 3rd in the old ladies group (masters), which was weird they did that cause she would have been 1st in her age group. 

The picnic was awesome. I love our running community. Was so glad my wife and son came out. Lastly, I got to meet the White Whipers wife, Mrs, Christy Deaton.

Photo by Gelmis

Photos by Gelmis

Photos by Gelmis

Photo by Gelmis

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Savage Gulf 2014-Running with Rick

Bill Knapp-Photo by Holland
Savage Gulf 2014 proved to continue to be the hardest trail marathon that I have ever ran or heard least in the southeast. A large group of Chattahooligans, Nashsuckians and Huntshonkers gathered together the night before for a campout and campfire feast consisting of salmon, bacon wrapped deer nuts, hamburgers, pasta salad, California rolls, avocado's, hummus, corn, veggies and dutch oven cobbler. 

For the first time in ultrarunning history, two authentic Germans showed up. I introduced Martin Schneekloth to Olaf Talksthesmack (Wasternack), they immediately greeted each other in their native language consisting of a lot of spitting and angry faces. I think they were complementing each others European man-bags or something. Anyway, a wonderful meal followed by a full night of rest to which I equate my sleep as that of a baby coming down the birth canal. First of all Martin was freakin out afraid I was gonna fart in our tent. So I held it all night long just for him. First thing that morning, he rips one. I then commenced the "Shock and Awe" campaign. 

The Waterfall Section-Photo by David Holliday
Me and Trey Campbell-Photo by Dreama
We hit the starting line where Yogi Bear (coolest park ranger ever) gives us the rules in the manner of a Prison warden telling us what to expect during a brown eye cavity search for shanks. Davy Crocket fires the gun and we are off. The goal was to control my running and treat this nothing more than a training run for Thunder Rock. After a few miles we descend down Stone Door on a rock garden trek to the bottom of the gulf. Across some swinging bridges, dry river beds and single track we set out to prove our toughness. I'm running with the White Whiper (Jeff Deaton), Rick Callaway, Tony Scott, David Holliday and Melinda Honkus until the waterfall. This section of the course is in my opinion what makes this race. You come around a corner and it's like you are in a tropical environment, with a nice waterfall that then takes you under a huge rock shelf.
The Rock Shelf-Photo by David Holliday

Shortly after I find its just Rick Callaway and myself at the second aid station on the opposite ridge trek. This trek reminds me of the ridge running at Stump Jump. Being more runnable allows for more casual conversations. This is the point where this race report changes directions, hence the title, "Running with Rick". Running with Rick was not what I expected it to be. A wide range of subjects ensued, however, there was one that stuck with me the most. I'm not sure if he realized it or not, but I got the impression he could see through my "crap", all the way to the kid who lives in an adult body who fears rejection and needs affirmation. Some things during that run he said to me that have echoed in my heart and mind ever since. Again, I'm not sure he even realizes it. I do know that running with Rick has changed my perception of myself. Ultrarunning brings out the sensitive side of me.
Rick-Photo by Sarah Coleman

Upon leaving the ridge there is a long rocky descent back to the bottom of the gulf. The beauty of this section can only be appreciated first hand. Back across more swinging bridges, we make it to the mile 20 water stop for a last refill before the huge climb. Imagine a single track, rolling, boulder section for 3 miles with a rhoid popping climb at the end. Because I had conserved early I has able to tackle this section like never before. As I left the water station I saw Rick turn back for more water, and he never caught back up with me. I decided to do my best to catch Jeff and Martin. During the big climb I caught Dave Thurman and I could see the life suck out of him and transfer into me as I passed him. I like you Dave, but thats what you did to me at Mountain Mist. The last 3 miles are pretty much flat. However, what seems like am 8 minute pace was actually around a 10:40. Nevertheless I PR'd around 10 minutes and felt great at the end.

As with every race I gained some new FB friends. I got a friend request from the 1st place overall male and the 3rd place female along with the Vietnamese Queen with a Polish last name. (Who I wrote about in the Yeti Snakebite report). 

I'm glad Olaf didn't break the 4 hour barrier this year. We had a bet that if he did, I would shave my nipples. He even brought a razor.
Photo by James Suh

Photo by Sarah Coleman

Photo by Sarah Coleman

Sunday, February 23, 2014

2014 Mt Cheaha- Crossfit Cletus and the Best 50K Experience Ever

Ever wondered what it would be like to finish a 50k feeling great? Before this race I have completed 18 50k's not to mention marathons, stage races, 35 miler and 50 miler. All 18 ended the same way. Me sucking that last 6-10 miles. Why? Several reasons. I go out too strong the first 15; My nutrition during the race sux; My hydration sux; or I had Mexican the night before. Not "a" Mexican, but you know their deeeelishush food. The plan was to treat Cheaha as a training run for Thunder Rock 100 miler. Yeah easier said than done. Have you ever toe'd the starting line and not felt like racing? This race was different. I had to determine whether starting conservatively actually made a difference, or is 31 miles the same no matter what.

So a few of us are sitting in Tony's bus warming up before the start. All of a sudden this dude in front of us pulls out a kettle bell and begins Crossfittin right there. It's like he did the whole "Workout on Da Wall (WOD)" or whatever it stands for, right there in front of us. Is this dude seriously crossfittin right here before a 50k? Yep! His lady pulled out a 24" ipad and filmed him as he played with his bell. Well, we will get back to Crossfit Cletus later.

Sweet Home Alabama signals the race start and immediately we hit the trail head. Within 100 feet we are walking. Benj reminds me that this is just a training run. There were what seemed to be a couple of first time 50k'ers causing a train on the single track. My heart rate was down and breathing good. Fortunately this year there was no fog and you could actually see the wonderful views that I had heard about. The plan from Hot Daniel was for me to take a gel every 35 minutes. I stuck to that as best as possible.

So Benj and I are cruising nicely when we come up on this chic who when I talk, she thinks I'm talking to her...She was you know one of those easy on the eyes chic; long dark hair and a tan that would make an Indian jealous, not the Native kind you know the Subway owning kind...And whats the friggin deal with them only giving you one napkin with your footlong meatball? We begin a wonderful fast down hill and Pochahotchic is hammering down. We got to the bottom and she's grabbing her tights, then begins to tell us how they were falling down. A funny "quarter in a coin-slot" joke came to mind, but I thought it best to be quiet for once.

We come to a dirt road and there is the Crossfitin truck and a tire on the ground. I was gonna throw my E-Gel wrapper in the tire when I saw the sledge hammer next to it. Evidently, Crossifit Cletus was doing the Work Out on Da Wall (WOD) at various points. What? So we leave Pochahotchic and stay steady. Around mile 14 my knees began to hurt. By the time I made it to the 18 mile aid station I was able to get some Ibuprofen. Although beautiful, much of the first 18 miles is on single-track that is on a slant. 

18 miles and I was truly treating this as a training run. No pressure, not worrying about the time...Just enjoying being in the woods with a great friend. We ate together, we drank together, heck we even pee'd together. We finally make it to the water crossings...WHOOOOOOHOOOO! The temperature had risen and we needed to cool off. Normally I would never just take a break and sit in water like this. However, there was no pressure today. The water was freezing cold. In fact I sat in it so long my butt-crack went numb. I seriously could not feel it. As we leave Tony and Gregg at the water I realize just how much that cold water did for me. I felt invigorated, refreshed and numb in my wipe alley. 

I knew when we got to the gravel road that our finish was close. This time last year I was suffering and walking. Not today, we were smiling, running and passing a bunch of people. Ok, you know that feeling when people start passing you in the last six miles? Dink Taylor said that when that happens, energy transfers from you to them....It is true. Well today Benj and I were being SLAMMED with transfers. It felt great. We reach Blue Hell and start the suckfest....You know what? It went by quickly. What made last year so bad was that even when you reached the top of Blue Hell, you still weren't through climbing. Not today! The game plan worked.

Benj would not let me tell him the time during the race. All he let me tell him was that we would make our 7 hr goal. We hit the road up top and I told him where we were time wise. We were gonna blow out our goal. We crossed the finish line around 6:34. I had beaten my previous years races by 20 minutes. How is that possible? I wasn't racing and PR'd. I guess there is something to staying conservative.

For the first time in my 50k career I came across the finish line jumping in the air. I felt great. Even better was sharing the experience with such a great guy.

As we are leaving Martin is trying to get my attention...I look over and Cletus Crossfit is lifting 985lbs on a barbell while Jill and the 24" iPad records him. So, the point was? Maybe my Crossfit friends can help me understand what this guy was doing. I hope he doesn't read this. Pretty sure he could kick my butt, or stick that kettle bell up my brown eye.

It was great seeing my Huntsville, Birmingham, Georgia and Chattanooga friends. There is nothing like getting to know all these freaks who do this crazy stuff. My name is Cary Long...and I am an UltraRunner.