Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kenny Wheeler: race report: 2009 Grindstone 100

Grindstone 100

Kenny Wheeler

Thank you Clark for a completely awesome event. The Boy Scout camp is a perfect place to base this event from. All the volunteers were wonderful. Now that I have buttered you up…HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!! What a course. I was not even remotely ready for this race. A series of nagging injuries kept me from training like I wanted too. The lack of training led to some weight gain and the rest, as they say, is history.

This was my 1st attempt at 100 miles. I wish that I had been able to complete it, but I thank God that I have the health to even try. I did learn a LOT and as is usual for me I learned it the hard way. I have not made up my mind whether or not I will do Grindstone next year or not. I guess I will wait to see how MMTR and Hellgate go.

The week leading up to the race went very well. I was starting to get a little nervous, but figured worrying about it was not going to help anything, so I made a conscious effort to calm down and I prayed a lot. I didn’t get to sleep in as long as I wanted to on Friday morning, but I slept well. Better than I have ever slept before a big race. My wife drove us to Staunton while I chilled in the passenger seat. We met up with my buddy Mark on I64 and he followed us to the motel. We checked in and then things got a little crazy. We suddenly realized that it was 12:35, we were in Staunton, none of us had printed the directions to Camp Shenandoah and we had less than 25 minutes to get to the mandatory pre-race meeting. We made it a few minutes late, but I don’t think we missed anything important.

After the meeting my crew went back to town to get lunch and some last minute supplies (munchies and drinks for them) and I just rested in the shade. The next few hours really flew by, then Clark said a prayer for us and away we went. I thought I was embarking on my epic journey, if you have ever watched the documentary on the Western States 100, Gordy Amsliegh talks about 100 mile races as being an epic journey. It didn’t take long to figure out that epic must be another word for TOUGH !!!

I have run in the dark. I have run in the fog. I have run on unfamiliar trails. I have been on steep mountains, but I don’t think I ever did them all at once and I know for a fact that I had never done it all night long before. I made it to AS 3 and it helped a lot to see Mark and my wife. It always helps to see a familiar face. I grabbed some food and water, kissed my wife and away I went. I was totally alone till AS 5. That was a long stretch. This is where my race fell apart. I was so paranoid about getting off the trail, that I was reduced to a slugs pace. I would think, I haven’t seen a pink ribbon for a long time. Then I would look behind me and there would be one 10 yards back. I wasn’t afraid of getting lost. I just didn’t want to get off course because I didn’t want to go any extra distance. The course was marked very well, it was my paranoia that was causing my problems at this point.

I finally did make it to AS 5. My wife and Mark were their waiting on me. They lied to me. They said I looked good. I didn’t feel good. I had been reduced to a blubbering idiot at this point. They told me to suck it up and get moving, so I grabbed more supplies and left. I knew this was a long section, but HOLY COW !!! I thought this section would never end. It got so bad that I kept hoping a bear would attack me.

Really. I figured if a bear attacked me then I would have a good excuse not to finish. Nobody would expect me to be able to finish after being mauled by a bear. I was really low, but I still thought that things might get better once the sun came up. The sun came up, but nothing got better for me, by 8:00am I knew that I was done. All I had to do was get to the next AS and it would be over for me.

About 4 hours after leaving AS 5 I finally got to JB’s aid station. I sat down in a chair by the fire and told them that I was done. I am dropping. They said sorry dude you can’t drop here. You have to go to the next AS to drop, its only 4.5 miles…. Great !!!! I sat there for a little while, then grabbed some supplies and started walking. During this section, if a guy would have come along in a truck wearing a hockey mask and holding an axe, I would have gladly taken a ride out of there with him. Well that didn’t happen so I got to walk out.

It was tough to quit, heck it is still tough 4 days later, but like I said at the beginning. I learned a lot. If you plan on doing this race next year you have to do a lot of hill (I mean mountain) training. Up and down. You have to run all night at least a few times.

Thanks to my crew Manon, Mark, Randy and Kristin, Jeff and Amy, if they gave finish awards for crews, I believe my crew would have finished in the top spot, they were fantastic!

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