Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset:: Grindstone 100, 2008

Elliott's Knob (mile 9) from the valley near Swoope, VA. Click on the photo for larger.

In 2006, after finishing Western States, I told my husband and ultra friends that I was done with 100s---after two finishes (MMT and WS), I just couldn't find the bliss from pounding the trail for 29+ hours. My body seemed to prefer the "shorter" distances---40 mile to 100K-- and didn't rebel in the same way as it had in 100s. In early 2008, however, a new 100--the Grindstone 100--was announced and would be held on tough mountain trails just 45 minutes from my home. Clark Zealand, with help from David Horton, was going to direct this beast with 23,000 feet of climb. It would start at 6:00pm on Friday, October 3, a start time my sleep cycle preferred and with cool fall weather to boot. I could train on the course all summer (while I was on summer vacation from my teaching job), and taper once school started again. Hmmmm...all the planets seemed to align for this race, so when my husband told me to go for it, I did.

As regular readers of this blog can attest, I have spent the last 15 weeks meticulously training for Gstone. I wanted to be as physically and mentally prepared as possible so I could accept the outcome knowing that I did everything in my power to have a great race. More importantly, I wanted to learn from all my previous ultra "mistakes" to see if I could put together the perfect 100 mile race-- for me.

Here are the top-10 goals that I created for my Gstone race:
1. Start slowly and move my way up the field while keeping my heart rate low;
2. Eat and drink every 10-15 minutes;
3. Pay attention to hot spots on my feet as soon as possible;
4. Take caffeine and power nap when sleepy;
5. Focus on positive self talk and use the mantra, "Make Every Moment Count";
6. Use a three week taper after getting mileage up to 75-80 mpw;
7. Train on the course and visualize running 100-miler pace
8. Spend many training miles climbing and descending to condition my legs;
9. Spend training miles on tempo runs and long intervals for leg turnover;
10.Enjoy the entire experience--the training, the event, the friends, the challenge.

Short version: I was 59 out of 74 runners at the first AS (mile 5) and worked my way to 25th overall, 6th woman, 1st master with my fastest 100 miler time, 28:32. Kerry Owens, my good friend and fellow Master, was between 5-20 minutes ahead of me during the second 50, but I couldn't muster the energy or motivation to catch her. Instead, I chose (wisely, it turned out) to spend 10-15 minutes at each AS in the second half to drink chicken noodle soup, eat scrambled eggs (thanks, J.B.!), and lube my worn feet, so I lost time---but in the end, these "moments" all paid off. My conservative pace allowed me to feel great all night, day, and night with the exception of a bout of sleepiness in the mid-afternoon and nausea in the last 4 miles when Mike Mason (my awesome, awesome pacer) cracked the whip to get me in under 28:00. As I was well under my dream goal of being under 29:15, I was content to walk in the last three miles in order to prevent a nasty episode of nausea at the finish line. Mission accomplished!

(photo at right by Clark Zealand at the Gstone finish line totem pole)

I will be posting a longer report, with pre-race photos and links to more video and photos, later this week after I rest up and clear my thoughts. What do know for sure: My training paid off in spades, as Grindstone was the certainly toughest 100 of the three that I have attempted because of the 23,000 feet of climb, and because it is all runnable (except when you are climbing, and the climbs are relentless, long and come at you throughout the event); watching the sunrise while atop Reddish Knob at mile 50 was a moment I will never forget and will be hard to match by another event; and that I have a group of family members and friends whose support throughout the training and the race meant the world to me.

Thanks, everyone, for your emails, calls, and comments. More later!


Kiry said...

Congrats on a great race Sophie. I know how hard you trained. Good work my friend! I am proud of you!

Sophie Speidel said...


Thanks, sweetie. It was soooooo nice to see your hubby at TWOT parking---I had been thinking about him as I was coming down Little Bald, remembering how he always blasts by me on that section and then... POOF! there he was at the AS. He was so encouraging and kept me very pumped for the next section. Give him a big squeeze for me :-) Thanks for all your support over these months. It was a phenomenal event and I am enjoying the glow. See you at PH? xoxoxxo

meredith said...

Yea!!! Congratulations. I am so excited for you! Recover well. mer

Sabrina said...

Congratulations, Sophie! You were AWESOME. And good luck in your training for Hellgate!

WVmtnrunr said...

Great race this past weekend. You looked strong the entire time! Great race on a great course.

-- Adam

Bedrock said...

Great job Sophie - I knew you would do great. Look forward to reading the full report when you get it posted. Hope you recover well. Congrats again.