(Sep 27, 2014 to Sep 28, 2014)
Part two of my Pinhoti Slam journey. Georgia Jewel 100 is an early fall race. Early fall races are probably the worst time for me. I always have a difficult time training over the summer. I don’t do well getting my training done when the humidity is high and the temperatures are high. Here’s how things went with the race.
I showed up gung ho. Ready to run and complete my second 100 miler for the year. Georgia Jewel is a 50 mile out and back course on the Pinhoti trail. It’s not as difficult as Double Top 100 miler but it’s not easy either. With about 17,000ft of elevation gain, a runner knows they’ve done something when they finish.
This run was the race that made me accept the fact that Hokas are not the shoe for me. I ran the last 30 miles with some serious pain on one foot. Again, I’m writing this two years after the fact so here’s what I remember.
Martin was running the 35-mile race. Paul Morris was running 50 miler. Both of these guys had a great race. Here’s a link to the race results. (http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=27391#id538952)
Wonda and the kids were my crew this time around. They did a super job. I didn’t have a pacer. Really, I’m a pretty easy guy to crew for during these races. I really just enjoy seeing them. But, Wonda does make me food. The problem is I almost always get sick. So, I think this race, Wonda did a bunch of work to get food ready for me and I probably didn’t eat any of it. This was a lesson for both of us. Now, we both prepare more to make sure we have thought out what is needed and I try to me more realistic about what I really will eat.
The course is pretty well known. 50 miles on the Pinhoti trail. It sort of goes as follows. Single track trail on the Pinhoti. First 10 miles starts on payment, connects to a gravel road then onto the Pinhoti trail. Once on the Pinhoti, there are 5-6 miles of a well-known rock garden. The rock garden is quite enjoyable at the beginning of the race. After the rock garden, the trail is very enjoyable all the way to the top of John’s Mountain. John’s Mountains is the halfway point of the race. From John’s Mountain it’s downhill for a bit on single track and then the trail starts turning into some other types of trail. The last half is made up of forest service roads, gravel logging roads, and some power line cut trails. At the turn around point, Wonda was waiting on me and ready to help out and get me moving. However, I was suffering from dehydration. The sun had come out and warmed us all up. I had to sit and hydrate and eat for a bit. I changed my shoes ate what I could and got back on the trail.
This is where the fun started. I experienced a few dark periods primarily because I was experiencing more pain than normal with one of my feet. The combination of the dehydration and the new foot pain, I did plenty of walking. I wasn’t worried about my pace initially because I had run the first half of the race at a decent pace. Darkness came and the temperature dropped and I started feeling better. However, I couldn’t convince myself to ignore the foot pain. I was just not dealing with the pain well at all. Yep, it hurt, but I needed to ignore it. I wasn’t able to ignore it. Every step seemed to hurt more. I knew I had 18-25 more miles remaining but I just couldn’t get to moving. I mostly walked all the way to the Snake Creek aid station. My wife was supposed to be waiting on me and I was looking forward to seeing her. When I came limping into the aid station I was thinking a runner may waiting to pace me and I was looking forward to seeing the crew. However, when I got there, my crew was there but since it took me so long to show up, Wonda had fallen asleep. Snake Creek is located in between to mountains. Runners run down switchbacks to the bottom of one mountain to get to the aid station and then leave the aid station running up switchbacks on a different mountain. I point this out because when I got to the aid station, I could look back o
n the mountain I just came off of and see many, many headlamps running down the mountain about to catch me. This energized me. I found my car and work up Wonda. She helped me out real quick. I think I just changed shirts so I wouldn’t chafe and I grab some food a the aid station and headed out. Being able to see the lights running down the mountain kept me moving. It also helped me to finally ignore the foot pain I had. Before I knew it, I was running when possible again. My pacer didn’t make it. I was finishing the race solo. This was ok at this point as I was ready to finish. My dark point had passed and I was back in the game. My power hiking was back and I was running the flats and downhills. I kept this up all the way to the finish. The rock garden that I enjoyed at the beginning of the race was essentially torturing on the way back to the finish. The constant up and down over rocky and technical terrain is not the most fun way to finish any race. However, I pushed through it and kicked out on the final 2.5 miles of pavement taking the runners into the finish. I sat down and enjoyed being off my feet. I was exhausted. 9th place out of 29 finishers with 28 hours and 44 minutes.
This race had great race directors. Karen and Jeremy… The volunteers were awesome. I wish I could call out more detail here but it’s been a long time and I just don’t remember.
Things that could be better with the race:
- A longer window of time for packet pickup and race morning pickup
- I know volunteers are hard to find but it would be nice if the race didn’t have so many water only stations
Gear I wore:
- Ultimate Direction (UD) SJ vest
- Combo of Hokas and Altras
- CEB compression socks