Pinhoti Race Report - 11/2-3/2013
I finished Pinhoti in 23:34:40, my 11th 100 mile finish. I went to Sylacauga with the stretch goal of breaking 24 hours on a course that has beat me up twice before, and all the stars aligned for me. My training went well, including a 10 day vacation of hiking and running in the canyons out west, and 4 days of running in the mountains of Virginia while visiting my parents. I stuck to a diet for the first time in I don't remember how long. Going to the race 10 lbs. lighter than my last race had to make a difference.
Race day conditions were near perfect, with temps starting around 40, rising into the 50s mid-day and dropping down to the high 30s the following night. I pushed the pace (for me) right from the start, trying to stay close to the 24 hour pace chart I had set. I took one nasty fall at mile 9, toe-hooking a rock and managed to come down hard on my knee and elbow, cutting both. I felt the knee for the rest of the race. I was close enough behind Patrick Bene for the crew to still see me at the early aid stations. Dave Bracken, Vinnie, and George Buffington (who runs the best crew stop ever) let me know that everyone else (Andy Matthews, Nick Bach, Sean Connolly & Amy Costa) were all looking good and that Patrick was pulling away.
I had one brief down spot from miles 29-31 where it got real hot and I started to lose my head a little bit. But I took some endurolytes and sugar and pulled it back together fairly quickly. The only real downer of the day was coming into Adams Gap at mile 55 to see Patrick sitting in a chair, done for the race. I tried to cajole him to rest an hour and start back up; but he had dug too deep, too early. Fortuitously for me, his loss became my gain as I inherited his excellent crew and pacers who were jonesing to go. Dave ran with me the next 30 miles over the hardest part of the course. It is some very pretty, but wickedly difficult terrain, particularly going up and over Horn Mountain. We ate up the miles by seeing who could tell the longest stories (it was a draw).
Vinnie picked me up at mile 85 and brought me the rest of the way in. By this time, a sub-24 hour finish was looking very doable and I just needed to finish steady. Unfortunately for Vinny, I had put on headphones by this point and withdrew into my own head just trying to keep going. We had one brief scare when we didn't see a race marker for nearly 10 minutes; but we fortunately didn't miss a turn. We hit pavement with 3 miles to go and he induced me into dropping the hammer (what was left of it anyway) for the final stretch. 23:35:40 and 31st place.
Andy got his first 100 mile finish in 2 years, Nick got his first 100 ever, Sean finished only an hour behind me, and Amy got in for her, what was a long training run. Even Patrick's first DNF could be looked at in a positive light (read his post). As usual, the RV ride up and back was a blast (I may only enter races that are in driving distance). Looking forward to recovering and then gearing back up for Ancient Oaks in 7 weeks.