Rock/Creek

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Upchuck 2013-Immodium and the White Wiper



Do you see the map to the left? It does ZERO justice to what we actually went through on Saturday, November 9, 2013. I had feared signing up for the Upchuck 50K for three years. This year I felt I had the training and preparation to attempt this race. On the Rock Creek website it explicitly states that this SHOULD NOT be your first 50K attempt, and that it will probably be your slowest 50K. Well what the freak do they know. I am from Alabama. I once took 1st in my age group at a Turkey Day race with at least 3 in my age group. 
Photo by Reuben Watkins

Myself and four of my hairy brothers (Rob Youngren, Benj Lance, Jeff Deaton, and James Suh) commuted to Hixson, TN and speculated what the race would be like over Lupi's Pizza. We get to the finish line awaiting the ride to the start. It was so cold my nipples started to crystalize. 

Photo by Reuben Watkins
We finally boarded the prison bus and was greeted by the OU's (Original Upchucker's), which one was sporting a prison jumpsuit, afro and bubba teeth. By the look of the jumpsuit sucking in his crack, makes you wonder if he dropped the soap one to many times before breaking out. Anyway, I was getting real nervous because I had no brownie bites going down the dookie-chute. So some dude gave me what I can only hope was an Imodium. He said I was taking half a dose and should be able to resume normal squat posturing the next day. Well, you should never listen to the medical advice of an ultra-runner you don't know...just saying. I didn't poop for three days, and when I did...WHOA, I literally mangled the industrial toilet at work, and there was someone waiting to go in when I left.  

So we get the the starting area and I am greeted by my bro Hot Daniel, (aka Daniel Lucas) and he had a friend standing with him who we will call Hot Kat. So we all line up for a group picture before the start.

On your mark, get set, GO! We are off. Within the first 100 feet the lead runners were off course, and were coming back as we approached. The views were amazing, well, what you could actually see, because you feared for your teeth if you dared to look away. I am feeling great and have settled into a great rhythm. Pretty much the first 6 miles are uphill. However, it does not seem that hard. At some point, (I don't remember where) the trail becomes this beautiful pine straw laden Heaven.

Around mile 7 we hit the first aid station and I drink a little coke and continue pursuing the win.

Shortly after leaving the aid station something off to the side of the woods catches my eye. It's the White Wiper and he was assuming the airline crash position. Come to find out this covert crapper was Mr. Jeff Deaton himself (sorry to call you out like this dude...). We begin the remaining journey together. Beautiful trails, bridges and gorges. Jeff remembered that around mile 13 there was a climb on the chart akin to a space needle. We hiked steadfastly feeling great. Eventually, we come to the mile 18 aid station and are greeted by the Tennessee Sasquatch himself, Mr. Michael Scott. I cannot say enough great things about this guy. He laughs at me when I cry and gives great gifts. I love you man! I choke down some amazing choco-chip pumpkin squares, while the entire aid-station ladies incessantly flirted with me. Me, Jeff, and some blonde short-haired chic leave the aid station and run the interstate before entering a trail that runs along the road. This is where things started going downhill for me. I was feeling great until then. In fact, I was a little cocky thinking how well I was doing. Eventually the run to the gorge and back up to the top started again. The hills were like a cold sore on a hooker, they just kept coming back. We bottom out to a gorge where there is a "Future" bridge and another that looked like Atz Lee from "Alaska the Last Frontier" built with his "not as pretty as Eiven's wife" wife, which consisted of a couple of trees spanning the divide held together with some rubber bands. When you cross to the other side, trying to find the trail is like a fat man trying to find that one TP square that broke off in his crack...you gotta get your hands dirty climbing around. Finally found the trail. Jeff and the blonde chick left me at the road earlier and I was by myself for 99% of the remaining time.

The hills were not the issue for me. It seemed like the last 8 or so miles consisted of a single track covered in leaves. Well that doesn't sound too bad right? Add in a continuous rock garden with shifting flat rocks. Then add in the type of trail that you cannot get any rhythm on. Meaning you run 2 steps, walk up and repeat over and over. There were so many leaves that often times I would slip and barely catch myself. At one point I slipped and landed on the side of my face. I was happy to lay there for a moment and wonder "why do I do this?"

Photo by Reuben Watkins
Eventually Dreamy Dreama catches me and gives me the good news that we have one more climb and that I could look off to the right and see the lake where we would end up. Dreama, I freakin did not want to see that stupid lake. Why? Because, the trail taking us there was going in the opposite direction. I was done! Jeff, was ahead of me, I had fallen, my feet were killing me...then there was the road...I ran around an 8:30 pace downhill, and that was as fast as I could go.

Touched the garbage can and I was done. This was the cool part, my bro Daniel and Joe St. Lawrence hung around long enough to see me come through to the finish. Michael Scott seemed to be enjoying the pain I was in. I was told to write my name and time down by myself. How cruel is that? I sat there for a second and tried to remember how to spell my name.

My impression of Upchuck. EPIC! Every 50ker should do this race. I equate much of the trail system to what I experienced at Savage Gulf.

BTW! Anyone reading this remember the Great "Shoe Debate of 2013" post?
Photo by Reuben Watkins

Photo by Reuben Watkins

Photo by I think Michael Scott


Monday, September 2, 2013

2013 Yeti Snakebite 50/50-Raw Meat Curtains

Imagine this....you pull into Sweetwater Creek State Park in the dark. People scurrying around with headlamps and others standing inside their car door with the interior light reflecting off their bodies when all of a sudden.....THERE IS A TOPLESS CHIC WITH THE INTERIOR LIGHT REFLECTING OFF HER BODY! I did a double take then realized it was just a dude with abnormally full and perky fun bags. We get to the pavilion and I go straight to the bathroom in hopes of feeding the white throne. I was partially successful. Chit chat with Pete and his hot wife Lisa, Benj, Jerry,Jeff, Shar, David, James, a couple of Asian ladies, some old guy and then Michael Scott. Day is breaking as we line up to start the race. 70 degrees at 7 am. We're off. We begin a 3.77 mile loop around the park and back to the start area. Next, what I thought was actually 2 different bridge crossings was one bridge and a big loop back to it, followed by trek through and out of the park alongside Sweetwater Creek. Of course somewhere in the first 7 miles the coffee I decided to drink earlier that morning decided to work causing me to pull off trail and pray no vipers were in the area of my squatfest. 
From my Suunto Ambiet
The trek alongside Sweetwater creek was a beautiful single track trail with amazing scenery all around. I could tell the heat was rising, however the trees provided a welcomed covering. I was feeling great. I kept my pace under control. So there was this Vietnamese chic that I met at the Music City Ultra. This lady is tough! She beat me there and we ended up running together for a period of time at Snakebite. We chewed the cud about this and that then she said..."You remind me of my brother and look just like him." To which I replied, "Your brothers white?"...."no, just same face." I was feeling great, especially when I caught my friend Jeff Deaton before the 1st neighborhood entry. When running in a lot of canopy cover you expect your GPS watch to be short. So we are in the neighborhood thinking that the turnaround had to be close. Nope. By this time the heat was sucking the life out of us not to mention being out in the open. Around mile 16 we enter the woods again confused as to why we had not reached the turnaround point. 2 miles later we come out of the woods into the open for a 1/4 slugfest to the turnaround point. I felt like what I let around mile 7. Up to this point I had avoided any solid food only relying on gels for easy calories. At the aid station I at a couple of orange slices, potato and downed some coke. WOOOHOOOO! I began to feel much better. At the turnaround point my watch recorded 91 degrees. It looked like the walking dead of people coming to the aid station. Now for the 15 mile suckfest back to the finish...Yep, 18 miles out and 15 miles back adds up to 31 in Mississippi, but in Alabama its 33. I was ok though. Whats 2 more miles right? Entering the woods be head back on the homemade trail with 6 inch high spikes where the DR Trimmer didn't get close enough to the ground. The cutout is about a foot wide, grass is 5' high, and you are meeting oncoming runners. You can see the dismay in each face as they realize they are way past where they thought the turnaround was. Each person that past I told them they were almost there. I find the coke begins to wear off pretty quick. I make it back to the neighborhood and am resolve to a walk. At this point it is 93 degrees and I am out in the open. 
Altitude and Temperature from my Suunto Ambiet 
I get deep into the woods and every creek I am sitting in and pouring water on my head. I continue to see runners who haven't made it to the 1st neighborhood section and don't have the heart to tell them how far away they are. At one of the unmanned aid stations 2 ladies asked me how much farther to the turnaround. At this point I was 10 miles ahead of them and just knew that in the heat there was no way they would be able to finish the race. If your walking at mile 12 and I'm at mile 23 suffering??? Usually at this point in every race I am questioning why I do this and thinking that there is no way I can do Thunder Rock 100 miler. I finally make it to the last full aid station to cheers and cowbells...such a beautiful sound. I ask them how much farther...and she says the worst thing she could say to me..."6 more miles." I was floored! I drank 2 popsicles, violated some coke and took off. Made it to the bridge and saw a girl running the other way and heard them say "...about a mile or so to the finish"....WOOOOOHOOOOOO! Then they told me to turn on the bridge. 
Photo from Conteches.com
I was confused. I still had a 3 mile loop before my 1.5 mile to the finish. Initially we ran this section the opposite way. Now we had the steep climb in front of us. A big storm rolls in with thunder and lightning all round. I get a little scared and pray that all the runners, crew, and volunteers are kept safe. The climb sucked so bad. My quads and calves both started cramping. Each time I raised my leg they would try and put me to the ground. There was rain all around but I couldn't feel it because of the canopy. I reach the top of the loop and my run on the downhill dirt road is diminished to a literal Sasquatch Trot. Then it happened. Mr. Jeff Frigging Deaton comes frolicking by. I wanted to push him down so bad. I cross the bridge for the final 1.5 mile to the finish. I pushed every flat section and just prayed that the cramps would go away, and they did. Out of the woods and up a street climb to hear a lady heckling me on a megaphone, "...hurry up, I don't wanna be out here all day!", so I mooned her and kept running...She told me, to take the steps and I'm just a few second to the finish. Up the steps, there was the finish about a 100 feet away. Nobody behind me...I walked in to cheers and hot old ladies. I finished. I am a 5:49 Mtn Mist finisher...a 6:42 Stump Jump finisher. Both have more climb and are much more technical. I had been running 50 miles a week for a few weeks and entered this race thinking I was gonna pull a 5:30 or better. Nope, 6:54. All said, I finished around 15th overall which I was happy about. This course was GREAT! The aid stations were GREAT! The cheers, service, all of it. The heat can change everything. Ok...before this race I body-glided JimTom, wipe-ally, and my thigh twins. The only thing I didn't glide was the meat-curtains (butt cheeks). Everything! I mean EVERTHING was raw and inflamed. Every movement down there became painful. I popped two more Aleve praying for quick absorption. Tired and whipped, Jeff Deaton, Shar Hendrick and myself set out for home telling our war stories for the day. Wow, what a day.
Lisa Martin-Photo by Gelinas

Monday, June 17, 2013

Chattanooga Stage Races-Pool Balls and Bratwurst

Disclaimer: I will make reference to some things in this report they could very well be deemed inappropriate to bratwurst and pool balls. Also, if you don't like poo poo references then stop reading now.

Here we are, 2013 Chattanooga Mtn Stage Races. Hands down my favorite race. Christy Scott, Kathy Youngren and myself drove to Lookout Mtn GA on thursday evening and enjoyed 5 star dining from Rafael's Italian restaurant. I enjoyed a healthy portion of pepperoni pizza, cheese sticks, french fries, and queso dip with chips. Believe it or not I was real good on the way up. I did not soil Christy's new suburban once. 

Lets quickly talk about Kathy. Kathy is a vegetarian and has such a huge heart for animals. On the previous day we talked about chicken trucks and how bad of a life those chickens have. I thought, "Man, I haven't seen a chicken truck in a long time. Well, on the way to Day 1 which is Raccoon Mtn, I see Kathy turn her head as in to avoid looking at something. I looked up and it was one of those chicken concentration camps on wheels. I hollered out, "Oh NO! One of their heads is caught in the cage!" Kathy was not happy with me.


Day 1-Raccoon Mtn
Now to lay out a couple of characters. To protect me from a savage beating, I will not disclose the true identity of one of them. First we have Becky Boobie Bottles. So Becky borrows a running vest that has two bottles that sit on front of the chest. Now for the average flat male this would not cause a spectacle or excessive mammry movement. Unfortunately for Becky Boobie Bottles, they sit right on the end of the Thompson Twins. Needless to say, Becky had a following that day. The other character is Bumble Bee. I am not disclosing anything about her identity for fear of internal bleeding.
Becky Boobie Bottles

The race begins...I am in a group with Kris Worton, Kathy and Christy. Kathy leaves us and eventually it's just me a Christy. For some reason this course did not seem as bad this year. We were running very consistent and what I considered somewhat fast. However, I was feeling good. Shortly after the 2nd aid station Christy begins to back off so I push on. At this point Bumble Bee and myself are switching positions. She takes me on the climbs and I pass her on the downhills. All of a sudden Rafael's began to cause a gastric disturbance within my loins. So I get maybe 20-30 feet in front of Bumble Bee and crop dust a little. Man what a relief. We pass the last aid station and I press as hard as I can. In the last 2-3 miles I began to pass many people who had passed me earlier. We enter the road to the finish and I gun it, through the finish line....2:47, 13 minutes faster than the previous year. I quickly migrate to the ice bath and my buddy David Riddle (who broke the course record) comes by to chat. As David leaves Bumble Bee comes up to me and says, "Did ya'll smell that out there? It smelled like somebody was farting on the trails"....I about lost it. I proudly confessed that it was me. 
Day 2...The previous night I had 2 veggie burgers, and oreo double stuff cookies. On the way to Lookout I begin to have severe stomach pains...so bad that I fear a breaching of the cheeks. We get to Lula Lake and the porta-pottie line is long. I scurry to the nearest bush and as my booty breaches the air I gave natural birth to a healthy Pygmie.

The race starts...I run faster than the previous year in order to get the the rope climb so as not to be standing around at the bottleneck. Up to the summit with amazing views. As we descend the Mtn we cross the river back to the start around 4.5 miles, and traverse towards Covenant College. I actually had forgotten how beautiful this section is. There are some wonderful single track with a lot of greenery along little streams. I make it to the powerline section for the loop which takes us to backtrack to Lula lake. The previous year I completed day 2 in 3:36. I figured I would finish this day around 3:25. 3:20 rolls around and there is no sign of dropping back down to Lula Lake. I begin to worry because I knew I was running strong. I finally reach the start finish area to take the bridge and backtrack the initial 4.5 miles. I began to be discouraged because I fully expected to PR day 2. Down the rope, divert to the single track and to the finish....3:38... 2 minutes over. 
Day 2-Lookout Mtn

Day 3 begins on Signal Mtn. Still discouraged from the previous day, and knowing the hard course ahead, I figure I will just get through it. However, once they said go, I quickly had a change of heart. I wanted to crush day 3 like I did day 1. You know that sound? That sound when a runner's toe catches a root? about a mile or two in I hear it and turn around to see a dude face plant and should roll. Mushroom rock, down to Suck Creek and back we push. After some ridge running we drop down to the technical trails. These trails are extremely rhythm busting...in essence run a few steps, climb a few step, etc...However, I am feeling great. I finally make it to the dreaded steps from "Helens House" to the overlook. I am completely gassed out as I walk up the paved road to the old folks home where I holler, "Can I get a whoop-whoop". A few of them gave me a holla, I think one cheesed himself and the other mooned me. I was delirious...that may or may not have actually happened. Down the chirt path to what I called the stale area. There is this winding trail that follows a slow stream and just layers on top of itself. I was relegated to walking much of this until a group of 3 guys caught me. As the passed I was determined to stay with them. We make the climb out to the final aid station, to which we are told that the finish is 3.6 miles away. 
As I turn, I see Kris come up to the station all smiling and happy. So I ran harder that I did on any part of the course. I ran at least a 7:15 pace on the jeep roads until the climbs. I began to pass the group that I was with. A couple of miles out I see Becky Boobie Bottles husband...he turns to pace me in. I drop the hammer. All of a sudden with about a mile to go a freaking snake runs right at me. I climb the air ladder as it goes right under my feet. I continue pushing and see a guy in the distance...As I get close he hears me and just turns to the side and lets me pass. I knew I was going to crush my time. I break out of the woods through the finish and turn around to see 4:14...1 minute slower than the previous year. WHAT THE CRAP! I can only imagine I pushed too hard on day 1.

Christy beat me bad on day 3, David sets the course record each day and Kathy takes 3rd overall female, while I whine and Becky pukes.

So I'm walking to the car when I see Bumble Bee and her husband. She has a towel wrapped around her waist while she is changing shorts. Her husband is on the back of the SUV or truck with one of those towels that have velcro and wrap around your waist. I actually thought it was a kilt at first. So we are talking and all of a sudden I saw his bratwurst and hairy new potatoes peeking at me under his towel kilt. I tried not to act like I saw anything. So Barney bratwurst comes out a couple more times for air when I say goodbye and walk away. For some reason I turn back wondering if I was having a heat stroke and just imagined that... As I turned BB's husband lifted his left leg and it looked like a red pool ball fell out. Believe it or not, the night before, David Riddle told me a story about running back in Huntsville and a man came running toward him with his mountain oyster hanging out the panty liner. I know David's not gonna believe this....

Gotta give a shout out to Michael Scott and Daniel Lucas. These Tennessee guys befriended an average ultra-runner and make him feel like a superstar. I wanted a Salomon Hydration waist belt and Michael delivered. To Rob Youngren and David Riddle...there is nothing like seeing you guys at the finish line asking me if I need anything. To Christy, Kathy and Rebecca...I cannot tell you how much fun I had with you guys. Thank you Stephen and Tony for slapping me on the butt. Luke and Brandi...can I borrow 20 bucks?

Lastly, too my wife and son....Your letter was the best Father's Day present ever! Thank you Jesus for amazing family and friends.

David Riddle-1st Overall


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Music City Ultramarathon-Suck Flies, Suck Ivey, Suck Ticks, and Suck Snakes

Let me get straight to the point....Music City Ultramarathon was a huge brutal suckfest from start to finish. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that it was a bad race. I mean IT HURT! Ok, before I get too far lets start from the beginning. When I got up I made a decision that I regretted tremendously. I got out of the shower, took 2 Aleve and began to Body Glide my JimTom, the Thigh twins and my wipe alley all the way up. I thought, this will be good enough, no need to put on my spandex shorts. Rob, Chris and myself get to the race start. Rob decides to go run some of the course to check it out. What hillbilly runs miles to warm up on a 50k? Meanwhile we meet up with our other Huntsville friends and meet some new ones (Richard Thrice and James Duncan). 

Me, Ryan, Doug, Beth, and Chris
I'm looking for Joe St. Lawrence ...Rob comes running by and goes to his car. I go over and he is pulling ticks off his legs. I believe he said he counted 30+. He tells me about the 1st mile and a half...We are in trouble. We line up for the race start and some dude comes out on a horse with his face painted blue. He begins to re-enact a scene from a Mel Gibson movie. It seems the horse got tired of his bad acting and decided to take off running which made the horse riders eyes go wide open. He finally gets the horse back around and finishes the skit...I thought it was a cool thing to do. The race starts, and we hold back hoping the runners up front would get most of the ticks. Through a pasture into the woods for our first climb. 
Photo from Robbie Robbins

Eventually we come out of the woods to what looks like a grassy powerline section with out the power lines. Ok, look at the pic above. Look at the top of the far side. That is where we came out of the woods at. My first thought was, "BULL CRAP!" It was too steep to run down. People busted butt on the first descent. Now, lets take a look at the course profile.

This was not your typical Trail Ultramarathon. The course consisted of Jeep trails, dirt roads, weed eater trails, streams and fire breaks. Not only that, everywhere you looked there was poison ivy. The climbs were too steep to run and the descents were to steep to run. Its one of those races that your putting the brakes on the whole time running down the hills and your toes are crushing against the end of your shoes. Shortly after leaving the big fire break we enter more Jeep trails. We were told in the beginning that the 10k'ers follow yellow, 25 blue and 50 black. A group of us get to an open field and see 10k'ers run across our path. The trail goes right, left and straight ahead. We look around wondering what to do. The sign on the right trail says "straight ahead", in blue. We decide to follow it. Eventually we come to another sign with a blue arrow saying straight ahead. To the right was red flags. We stopped again wondering what to do. I stated that someone is going to get lost there. Not far after that I find myself alone for the bulk of the race. It started getting hot, and muggy. Every stream crossing I would scoop water in my hat let it pour down my milky white supple body. It felt so good. The only issue is that you cross a stream about 20 times, which feels great, but your shoes stay wet and your shorts too. At the time I did not realize this would be a problem. All of a sudden the biting flies begin to attack. They fly around your head and ears and then them demons land and bite. They weren't to bad early in the race, oh but later. I make it to the 11 mile aid station and they tell me the next section is a 5 mile loop. I think, ehh...5 miles, I'll be back in about an hour. I begin the section and hit a nice dirt road and across the road is a 14' Black Mamba...or maybe a 5' Black Racer...not sure exactly. I am getting tired and feel myself slowing. All of a sudden the biting flies start back. They keep buzzing my ears and hitting me in the head. I start swinging my hat to no avail and all of a sudden I lost it! I uttered words no man could pronounce or understand. 
Well this 5 mile loop never ends. Later on we find out it was more like a 7-8 mile loop. I get back to the aid station at the end of the loop and they tell me that I rounded out the top 10. ME! In the top 10 at a 50k ultrafrigginmarathon! I leave out the aid station with some giddy-up in my step. I begin the climb up a jeep trail and hear someone behind me singing, "Carry on my Wayward Son". I think about how Rob and DeWayne Satterfield sing that song except they changed the words to "Cary Long my wayward son..." Great! A few minutes later the runner behind catches me. IT WAS FREAKIN ROB YOUNGREN! You know how some people have that one eye that looks straight ahead and the other kinda goes to the side. My eyes did that when I saw him. I could not believe it. Well remember that blue arrow sign I told you about earlier. Rob went left instead of straight. He had gone 3 miles out of the way. Later I find out that many people took that route and some made it all the way back to the finish line early. We talk for a while and I thank him for taking away my dreams of 10th overall. He eventually leaves me and I find myself alone again, except for coming up on another snake. Up jeep roads and around a corner I see a grouping of flags on the right and a single flag on the left. As I passed i thought that maybe I should check the trail to the left....nah. Half a mile later I see four guys running towards me. Two of the guys was James Suh and Rob. They stated how they went about 1.5 miles and did not see any flags. We back tracked and found that the trail turned off at the flags. Rob began to express his displeasure with going off course again. I learned some colorful words from him that I could use if the biting flies come back. He and James leave me. By this point the heat has reached the level of total suckfest. More hills, flies, poison ivy and ticks. A lady and a couple of guys catch me and we talk about how we all got lost. They leave me and I get to the sign that says 5 miles left. I think..."yeah right." This is the point in every race where I question "Why?" Why do I do this. I just wanted this race to be over with. I could not take another hill. I round the corner and guess what? Another friggin hill. I walk much of the last 5 feeling like a fat necked, honky, feeling sorry for myself butt gasket. Finally I reach a flat section realizing I was close to truly dropping off the mountain. A guy comes running towards me and all cheerfully says, "Your almost there." I asked him how far. He replied 3/4's of a mile. I yelled "What? 3/4's of a mile?" 
For some reason this seemed like 10 miles to me. With a half a mile to go I feel a monster blister pop on my big toe. I finally begin to drop off the mountain...exit the woods to the pasture. As I reach the finish the race director asks me how it was. All I could say was "Brutal". Rob, and Chris was at the line to greet me. Chris got lost and finished with around 26 miles. I saw 2 snakes, pulled of 6 ticks and got poison ivy on my legs. I was pretty bummed about my race and stated that I would never run this race again. I said that about Stump Jump and ran it the next year. I thought I meant it about this race but after a day or two I got my mind back. You see, we didn't trail race...we had an adventure. They should change the name to "Music City Adventure Race"
Unfortunately the poison ivy and ticks were not the worst of my problems. On the way home as the Aleve started wearing off I began to feel my thighs. They were on fire. I called my wife and said that I'm gonna take a shower and she's gonna check out every square inch of my body for ticks. When I reached home I could barely walk. I got in the shower and WHOA! My thigh twins looked like they were polished with a belt sander and my JimTom looked like it was in a motorcycle wreck. 

Lessons learned: Wear spandex

Songs that played in my head: "Beat this Summer" by Brad Paisley, "Rend" by Eddie James, and "YMCA" by the Village People.

As always, I thank Jesus for getting me through it and my wife for puttin up with me.



Sunday, April 7, 2013

Oak Barrel Half-My Soft Taco

Pre-Topless- Photo by Gelmis

Sooooo, Oak Barrel Half did not go as planned. I put out there on Facebook that I was going for a 1:35. I picked the wrong course and wrong day to pick such a lofty goal. This week was full of mistakes in preparing for this race. First was food choices: Mei Wei, Ding How, Zaxby's, Nothing But Noodles, and the day before the race...fried chicken and fish for lunch, and Big Ed's meatlicious pizza for dinner and 32 Degrees Yogurt bar. Mistake two was not wearing my spandex under my shorts. Mistake 3, wearing my new McKay Hollow Shirt.

It is a beautiful Saturday morning as we line up for the start. David Bier, Rachel Eidson and myself line up in the front ready to execute the 1:35 plan. The actual plan was for David to fall apart halfway through. Christy Scott had a plan to run a 1:40 and of course my goal was to beat her. I mean not like in domestic violence, more like finish in a blaze of glory then laugh and point as she suffered to the finish line. Good plan huh?

Well I start the race, (wearing a shirt) and everything seems to be going well. Me, David and Rachel are running strong. The course winds through "Deliverance" country and the smell of Cow Caca sticks to your teeth.
David, Christy and Rachel-Photo by Gelmis
As we approach the hill David takes the lead. Friggin Rachel passes me through the steep part. Before the race I took a Gu and at the top of the hill I took a Power Gel. Unfortunately I decided to wash them down with Gatorade which proved to be a muddy mistake. I finally catch Rachel and we run together for a ways just like last year. I forgot how rolling the course is once you get up top. Around mile 7, I am a little ways in front of Rachel and I see a blue poop rocket on the side...I debate whether to stop or not but decided to press on. The further I went the more my stomach was turning. I frequently looked for an exit and was eying the ditch's with water to sit in and launch some poo-peedos. As we are running down the hill I am looking back for Christy and Rachel. Around mile 8 I realized 1:35 was a long shot. At this point David is out of sight and I am doing my best to catch him. While approaching mile 11 I couldn't take it any longer. I saw a small grassy drive on the left going along a fence and exited to play "Crouching Tiger Hidden Crapper". As I hunch and fertilize I can see the runners passing by and if they looked my way they would have seen me. All of a sudden I see Carrie McCary, Rachel, and then Christy. As Christy approached I pondered hollering out to her, but determined not too since she has been known to carry a camera. I also thought I could pinch, squeeze, wipe and run to catch her. Well therein lies the problem...I was prepared for the pinch and squeeze but neglected to prepare for the wipe. There were no leaves, corn cobs or sticks. So I took my 2013 McKay Hollow shirt off, and began the clean up. Outstanding choice of running shirts Blake...It was a pleasure to wipe with. Plus it left no dinglberries. So I pull up my britches and enter the race. I round the corner for the final mile and just run enough to make it in. Upon the final turn I am greeted by Will, Tim, and then Suzanne Taylor, Gregg Gelmis and David. I finish the race topless, with nipple tape on and a time of 1:47. 
Photo by Gelmis
After myself, and Aaron Penton hung out with Tim Pitts and others for a while I decided to go to the truck and change. As I am walking this dude who looks to be about a 103.5 yrs old with his beautiful young wife and daughter was waving for me to come over to them. He began to tell me that he and his family read my Race Reports and loved the Mud Pie stories from McKay Hollow. They said that read all my blogs. That made up for a sucky day. I thanked him and his family for not being completely disgusted by the reports and was pleased to make some new friends. Oh and Mr. Fahey...Just kiddin about the 103.5. Not kidding about your beautiful young wife. Did she lose a bet or something?

So I make it to my truck and grab a wet-wipe to do a little hazmat clean up. It seems that I forgot that wet-wipes had alcohol in them. When that maxi-pad hit my soft-taco I lost it. That cheap porto john paper I used before the race evidently took off a layer of derma. My wipe alley was on fire.

Needless to say I'm disappointed in my finish and the fact some cow is gonna use my McKay shirt as a salt lick. Very happy for all my friends that placed in their age group. It seems like most of the first place age group awards went to Huntsville people.

Finally, It seriously made my day when the Fahey's introduced themselves and told me how they enjoyed these race reports. I appreciate all of you who take the time to read them...Shout-out to Jeff Deaton and his buddy. Holluh.
Photos by Gelmis
The Picnic-Photo by Gelmis
Tim, Andy, and Will-Photo by Gelmis

Saturday, March 23, 2013

McKay Hollow 25K 2013-Mud Pie and Cheez Whiz

Rick Grief-Photo by Gelmis

I see a dirt nap coming-Photo by Gelmis
McKay Hollow 2013 began dark, cold and wet...and turned into my favorite McKay finish. Tony Scott outfitted me with a Salomon windbreaker and gloves before the start due to the cold rain. Close to 200 people line up and await Blakes "Go". We take off on approx. a half mile on the road to the trail head. We begin our descent down Sinks trail and the trails are covered in mud and water. All of a sudden I see a runner down and it's Randy McFarland. Next thing I know me and Eric Fritz are ice skating down a mudslide grabbing for trees to keep it from looking like we shiggity'd all in our britches. We make it up Sinks and Panther Knob through Stone Cuts. Picture this...running on the flat part of Stone Cuts it's Christie Scott in the lead (at least in our group) followed by Fritz and myself. Behind me is a dude with a perfect perm. So lets call him Perfect Perm Peter. Well P3 wanted to show Christie his smokin perm so he comes flying by me with 2 shoes on...by Fritz with 2 shoes on...by Christie with one shoe on. P3 passed us in a micro-lake... his shoe was at the bottom. Well he went snorkeling and got his shoe and passed us again. Anyway, we fly down Sinks towards three benches and up to Mtn Mist. I look up a little ways and P3 and Graybeard are on the wrong trail going out Sinks. I think to myself..."Self, if you let them go then thats 2 positions higher you will finish in.." Well of course I do the right thing. I push through Mtn Mist and do a run/hike up Warpath, blow through the aid station at the top. The South Plateau trail was a friggin lake. To this point myself and Doug Daniels are trading positions. He lets me by, knowing I can flat out-run his redneck butt down Rest Shelter. I am feeling great pushing through McKay Hollow and Slush Mile and I hear that dreaded thump and "Ugh". Ken Pfleger had dirt pie for a snack. I turn around and he is laying prostrate moaning...Doug stops and I keep hollering, "Are you ok!" I debate whether to stop or not then I see Doug helping him up. As I make it around the turn past the Death Trail exit I see Ken way back walking...So I press on. Doug catches me and passes me going up Natural Well. Again I perform the run/hike up. We make it past the sink hole and move up towards arrowhead. There was a dude in front of me and as he jumped over one of the logs crossing the trail his foot got caught on a briar and BAM, mud pie. I'm glad he wasn't looking cause I probably giggled a little. I finally make it to the Arrowhead extension and to the aid station, I blow right past it....Ok so we make it back on Natural Well before the SOB ditch.

"I Can't believe Cary beat Me"
Photo by Gelmis
I had just enough pee in my bladder to be annoying. A conversation with Brett Wilkes came to mind. He said, "if you having the race of your life and you have to pee, what do you do? Especially if it's raining, you could pee all over yourself and no one would know." I thought to myself, I am having a great race...It is raining....But I couldn't do it. So I engineered a plan. What if I pull my glow-worm out and run like a cowboy riding a horse, and wee wee while running? So I tried it...Something went wrong in the execution. I did not take into account the bolognee pony flailing wildly while running. Needless to say I sprayed cheeze-whiz all over myself. And once you start its hard to stop that thing. 
Anna Edmiston-Photo by Gelmis

My stomach started hurtin a little and I was able to ease the pain with fratulence. Shortly after I turn around and Ken caught up with me. WHAT? This guy busted he knee-knuckles and was walking earlier, now he's passing me. As he passed me he said, "It smelled like Big's Ed's Pizza back there..." Guess what I had for dinner last night? 

We make the turn down Arrowhead  and as you get to the flat part it puts slush mile to shame. I was worried in the beginning about wearing my Hoka's instead of my La Sportiva's for the mud, however, they performed amazingly. I cut through Arrowhead and had to pray to God to settle my stomach...prayer answered. I began the ascent up Cry-baby hill and ran/hiked it faster than ever. I was feeling great. I reach Death Trail and do the same run/hike. It was amazing. I passed a couple of people going up and just kept pushing. I reached the stop and ran to the finish....2:49. I was happy. It seems I came in 20th overall (Jason Shattuck did not beat me). This was a big milestone for me on this race.

This was hands down the funnest McKay Hollow that I have ran. So many from our We Run Huntsville Saturday Trail group showed up and conquered it. Congrats to all of you.

It seems like I am forgetting something........Oh Yeah
I BEAT CHRISTY!
Photo by Gelmis

Awesome People-Photo by Gelmis


Photo by Gelmis
Rob Youngren (left) 2nd Place, Eric Charette 1st Place-Photo by Gelmis

Dink Taylor 3rd Place- Photo by Gelmis
DeWayne Satterfield 5th Place-Photo by Gelmis


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Savage Gulf 2013-Boulder Hopping and Dirt Naps

2 Studs

Normally when you run a race the first time its real hard and the second time not so much. This is not the case for Savage Gulf Marathon. First off, Randy Whorton said I could be on the Rock Creek race team if I win the Chattanooga Stage Races this year. So there is a chance...

Usually my race report consists of a lead character such as Pig Tail Penny, Pippie Longstocking, Lady changing her oil, or a midget sprinter. This report the lead character's are Blonde Betty and the Dirt Napper. Before I get into their story and the race let me lead up to it...

Timothy Pitt & Will Barnwell


Friggin Will Barnwell jinxed me. I had approximately a 1 year shart free streak until the day before the race. Will sends an email to everyone that there will be no stops on the way to Savage Gulf unless "Cary" sharts himself. Whadya friggin know...before the trip I try a tricky maneuver called the crop dust and end up spraying cellulose in my tighty whitey's. Thanks Will...I hope you get a hemorrhoid. 

Anyway, we get set-up, get the sweet potato's on the fire and do what all grown men do while sittin around a campfire...talk about things we should not and see who can fart the loudest. I believe Marc Davis won however Will's had the best dynamic range. Some homeless dude (Alan Jaques) comes walking through the woods all hungry and crap and helps himself to some sweet potato's. 

I could not sleep. It was a long hard night for me. I was cold and missing Janice. I promise Will, Marc, and Tim if you friggin tell anyone what I told you I will beat the crap out of you...My family reads these blogs! What I tell you at Savage Gulf Stays at Savage Gulf. 

My Hot Wife
Anyway, as we are prepping for the race Blonde Betty comes walking over to us and straight to me... she says "Can you help me with my pack, I'm a complete retard"...To which I replied, "No your not, your only a little retarded." Very glad she laughed...Anyway I get her fixed up and all the guys are just looking at me...One of them says..."Blonde's never come up to me and ask me for help", to which the others concurred. So during the run I got to thinking about what they said. You know pondering why men and women seem to be more comfortable around me...then it hit me. AH CRAP THEY PROBABLY THINK I'M GAY. And I'm not. You've seen my wife. She's smokin hot. I mean she'd still be hot even if she had some fingers missing or something.

Stone Door
Melanie (Blonde Betty) and Benj
















The race starts...We run on top and after a couple of miles begin the descent down "Stone Door". Stone Door is like our Stone Cuts on Monte Sano except about 150' high. I will try to describe this race the best way possible. Stone Door, boulder hoping, wet mossy rocks, switch backs, more boulder hoping, people falling, then we get to the bottom and cross the first swinging bridge. There are several amazing creek and dry river bed crossings all through the gulf. On the way to mile 10 we come up on a beautiful waterfall and rock shelf. The waterfall produced and amazing cooling effect which greatly helped because it was already getting too hot for a trail run. 
I promise, this is the most beautiful course I have ever run. Joe St. Lawrence and myself kept a steady pace and was able to catch approximately 6-8 people who started to fast. We hit the switch back climb which takes you to the second Aid Station. I completely forgot how hard this section was. As we ascended I slipped on some roots and Joe caught me before falling down the side of the switchback. As we entered the 13 mile aid station Toboggan Joe left me and I was own my own for most of the second Mtn ridge running. This section is one of the few runnable sections on the whole course. At the end of the ridge running you begin  the descent on a wet softball size boulder laden trail. It is what anyone who has run Mtn Mist would call the SOB ditch except is last forever. At the bottom in my opinion is where the race starts. From around mile 18-22 is an excruciating rolling, rocky trail, including the backtracking of the boulder field experienced around mile 5. It is SO HOT. Every creek crossing I dip my hat in the water to help cool my body. I am so ready for this race to be over, eagerly awaiting the final climb to which I know will be painful. As we are running the rolling rocky single track a couple of chics, are catching me. One of them hollers out with a cramp...I asked her if she had any salt to which she replied "no". So I thought, "What would Tim Pitt do in this situation?" I turned and said "Good luck with that" and took off...No, I gave her some S-Caps and that heifer, and I mean that in a good Christian way, took off and left me. We finally begin the ascent only to realize at the top we were going back down to the river. Then we finally begin the ascent, and of course end up going back down. I am so beat down that I am just walking. I have no watch and no clue what time it is or where I stand...FINALLY, the climb out. And yes, it was just as bad as last year. I make it to the top where I have a 2.9 mile South Plateau type trail to the finish. My goal was to knock off an hour from the previous years time. I wanted to come in around 6 hours but during the final ascent I felt like I would come in around 6:22....As I broke through the woods onto the road, up the drive to the finish, I crossed at 6:23...59 minutes faster than last year.

Now for the Dirt Napper. Benj Lance is a young ultra-runner and one of the nicest guys I know. I kept looking for Benj to come across the line...I figured he would be about 30 minutes or so behind me. Benj was nowhere to be found. We leave headed home not knowing where Benj was. On the way home we see the results get posted and Benj finished dead last. I was shocked because he is a great consistent runner. This is what he posted about his experience.

"So, embarrassed to make this status, but here it goes. Finished DEAD LAST today and in 9 hours. So many things went wrong it is comical. Got really sick, and so dizzy from the heat that I thought I was going to pass out and laid down next to the trail after the 3rd aid station. After many runners checking on me, I fell asleep until Melanie woke me and made me march a little down the trail, again the Dizzyness and inability to walk at all came so I curled up in the fetal position in the shade and gave up. Many minutes later the sweeper woke me up from a really deep sleep and I started walking with him. At the bottom of the last big climb a park ranger (ginger beard) informed me I couldn't finish, but I ignored him and hauled butt up the big climb, at the top I waited for the sweeper and we walked it in slowly... 9 hours for a freaking marathon... what is wrong with me. PS that course is beautiful, and the hardest marathon there is. My first DFL..."

MY FRIEND TOOK A DIRT NAP! Not once but twice, and still finished the race. Benj, a buttload of people would have quit and hitched a ride back. I salute you brother!

Oh yeah, Friggin Daniel Lucas was there and was topless.

Thanks for reading...And thank you Jesus for allowing me to come back home to Janice and Alex.