Sunday, October 12, 2014

Grindstone 100 - Virginia Is For Runners

**Mile 42.6**
My body jarred.

"Where the hell am I?!"

My senses started firing...

**24hrs till Grindstone**
We pulled up to the Sharp Top trail head as the sun was setting.
"I think we timed this perfectly."
Joel and I started the 1.5 mile 1500ft climb up to the Peaks of Otter and Sharp Top summit. We passed a few people making their way down the mountain as we frolicked upwards towards the sun... relieving our legs from the 8.5hr drive. This was perfect. I had been aching to run. My new job had me working 70hr weeks for the past 2 weeks, so running had been kept at a minimal. My runs were mostly at night with one long run on my only day off. I had missed the sun...
I missed chasing sunsets...

It was full blown Fall in Virginia. The higher we climbed... the prettier our world got. We cruised along the rocky single track until we started reaching bigger boulders... the summit was near... and so was Wilma.
"Hey dude... look!"
Wilma was less than a few feet a way. It became obvious that she had grown acquainted with the human presence and started towards Joel. We watched in amazement, snapped a few pictures and continued towards the summit. No matter how friendly a wild animal appears... they are still wild at heart. A few moments later we exited the canopy onto a rocky summit... 

The summit was gorgeous!  
We scrambled on the rocks...

Played summit tag...

We were 2 kids on recess... playing on a massive playground...

We finally settled in for the sunset...
We relaxed on top of the summit soaking in the gorgeous sunset. We heard a rustle down below... Wilma was back. We sat for a few minutes until the sun disappeared over the mountainous horizon. We strapped on our headtorches and started back down... just to find Wilma stalking us once more.
The mountain grew dark as we headed back to the car..
We changed clothes in the parking lot and headed to the lodge for dinner. For a moment we thought we may not get served but after 10mins or so... Phyllis came to take our drink order. Phyllis was a sweetheart... she had been working at the lodge for 22yrs and may have had a little too much fun during the 60s... if you catch my drift. Upon requesting a local brew, Phyllis took our IDs out of the room for examination. We downed 2 amazing local brews and a delicious cheeseburger before we headed back to set up camp. After another beer by the fire we took to our tents.
**Mile 42.6**

"Was I asleep?"

I looked down at my Ambit. Reality quickly sank back in. The dark, lonely and foggy dirt road up ahead was hauntingly peaceful... peaceful enough to put me to sleep while running...
**12hrs till Grindstone**
I unzipped the door to my tent and entered a cool, foggy, Virginia mountain morning. ...

Joel crawled out of his tent, "You remember that rain storm we got at 1am? Well... my tent... is NOT waterproof anymore."

Joel started the camp coffee while I started packing...


Nothing beats a good cup of camp coffee...

We weren't too terribly far from the Grindstone start/finish area, so we decided to wake up early and head to the Natural Bridge for the morning. We drove to the Natural Bridge exit and stopped for gas... I hoped this wasn't an omen for another mountain cat sighting...


"They're charging $18 to see a natural bridge?! No sir!!"

We walked straight back out of the Natural Bridge gift shop... haphazardly looking at the fence. Yes. We could have jumped it... no one would have ever known...Rule #2: No cops. Instead, we continued on down the road to Staunton.

We stopped at the Wendy's in Staunton...

"You're total will be $6.66 sir."

Well Hell... that can't be a good omen... but nonetheless... I downed the Damien burgers.

We stopped at the Food Lion for a few last minute treats... Coke and PBR.

We crept out of town and onto country roads which provided clear views of what the next few moons had in store...

We arrived at the Boy Scouts Camp and set up our tents on the outskirts of tent city...

We walked into the Boy Scouts Camp dining hall to pick up race swag, eat lunch, and attend the pre race meeting.
I stepped on the scale...
Patagonia girl, "Want to try and guess how much you weigh?"
I smiled. "131."
*slides counter weights to 131 and pauses*
"Huh. Looky there. You're right."
I smiled and watched her write 131 on bib 79.
I grabbed a small plate and joined Joel at a table off to the side. The pre race meeting was interesting. The RD made everyone who had completed a 100 mile race stand up. He then began with the count...
"Who has completed... 1?"
I stood up.
I sat down.
" 3? 5? 7? 10?"
The last man standing... who I assumed had no life or lots of money... had completed upwards of 60 100 mile races. 60. SIXTY.
After snagging a pair of Swiftwick socks from the raffle, we headed back to the car to grab a few last minute things... like a Wendy's Damien cheeseburger... and my Elevation Tat with the Grindstone 100 elevation profile...

It started sprinkling so we headed back to our tents to get off our feet for the remaining hours before the start...

**Mile 42.6**
I spoke out loud...
"You should have drank that coffee Joel made you at North River Gap (mile 37)."
I slumped over in the middle of a deserted dirt road.
"Did you pull something in your back? What's your deal Andrews?"
It hurt to breathe deep. 4 days later at my FARM appointment with Dr. Beard... I would find out I had dislodged a rib... in which he quickly popped back into place... rendering me good as new.
**30mins till Grindstone**
"You're going to get hot. Go ahead and lose the jacket."
I took Joel's advice and tucked my jacket in my vest before I headed outside to wait by the starting line.
I walked over and hugged Ashley (
"Were you out running mountains last night? You're crazy!"
The one thing I've learned when traveling... even when it is for a race... you have to take advantage of the time you're given to explore a new place. Who knows the next time you'll be there.
I chatted with Ashley, her husband Dan, and Sean "Run Bum" ( for a few minutes as we awaited the start...
We secured our headtorches and when the clock struck 6pm... we ran through the starting chute...
We bottle knecked as soon as we hit the single track and then less than a mile into the race the rains came. It wasn't long before I felt the chill from the downpour. I pulled my jacket out of my pack. A huge group was heading towards me... "I think we made a wrong turn." We are less than 4miles in and they think we made a wrong turn? Nope. I carried on... and a few minutes later... the group came barreling past... "No we are good!"
No kidding...
Night fell and we entered a dense fog as we climbed up the gravel road to Elliot Knob. This climb was grueling and massive... gaining 2500-3000ft very quick. I was in a small group of headtorches when I decided to stop and adjust some newly purchased gaiters. I could already tell these bad boys would have to come off soon... they were rubbing my ankles raw. Without thinking I entered the single track...
"Where'd all the headtorches go?"
I wandered across the slippery rocks for about a half mile...
I missed the knob... I didn't punch my bib. I quickly headed back towards the road to climb the half mile or so up to Elliot Knob to grab the Suunto punch. Great start Andrews...
I retraced my slippery steps and continued the long stretch to the next aid station. The rain was off and on, but the fog was constant. It was hard to make out anything more than 3-4ft in front of you... so needless to say... the down hills were a lot slower than I wanted them to be. The rain had made it too dangerous to try and pick up speed... and I wasn't about to risk an ankle this early.
I refilled my bottle at Dry Branch Gap aid station (Mile 14.6) and started another big climb. The one thing I love about night running is that you can't see the big climbs. I tucked my bottle in my shorts, took a painful deep breath, and pushed until the trail flattened. I loved the climb. 
I rolled into Dowells Draft aid station (Mile 22) around 11pm. I quickly refilled my bottle and bladder and headed back into the misty fog. The temperature had dropped quite a bit since the start. It would eventually dip below 40 at some points during the race... but for now I was in a good place and warm. A few miles passed and my stomach began to rumble. Damien was awakening.
I battled the demon in my stomach for a few miles until it stopped me in my tracks. I excused myself from the trail. That fiery red head Wendy had poisoned me... $6.66... what a hoebag.
I settled back into a rhythm for the next few miles... praying my stomach would settle. It didn't. Again... Damien stopped me in my tracks. I hobbled off stage clutching my stomach. And wouldn't you know it... I ran out of toilet paper. I could hear Lucifer chuckling from the dark woods...
My stomach had finally released the demon by the time I reached Lookout Mountain aid station (Mile 30.5). I downed some chicken noodle soup and chatted with a few bystanders before journeying back into the dark abyss.
It was a little after 2am when I popped the trunk of my Element at North River Gap aid station (Mile 37)... my headtorch caught Joel in a blank, startled and sleepy daze.
"How ya feeling buddy? Can I get you anything?"
"Toilet paper."
I sat on the tailgate restocking my vest with Clifbar gels and Clifbar Shot Bloks.
"I made you coffee if you want it."
I did want it. I wanted every ounce of the black gold that was in that thermos... but I knew in my heart I should decline.
"I can't right now. My stomach has been tore up for the past 15 miles or so."
I knew I ran the risk of becoming dehydrated from Damien, so for the past 7 miles I had downed almost 2 liters of water. I tossed my gaiters in the back before leaving Joel...
"Sleep tight! See you in a few hours!"
Joel had parked alongside the road right before the aid station, so I technically hadn't been to the aid station yet. I hopped on the scale. I had gained 2lbs and my hydration was crystal clear. Solid.
The climb out of North River Gap was relentless. It went on FOR-E-VER. Hands down the longest climb in the race. I pushed hard through the extreme wind, fog and occasional rainfall until the trail leveled out. The trail became instantly fun along the ridge. The wind howled loudly at the high elevation... I couldn't wait to get back to this section during the daylight!
**Mile 42.6**
Ugh. I have to wake up...
"But I just keep cruising... can't stop won't stop moving..."
Taylor's voice slowly started entering my brain...
"It's like I got this music... in my mind... saying 'It's going to be alright'..."
Uh oh...
"Cause the players gonna play play play play play..."
By this time I was singing out loud...
"And the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate..."
And by the time the shake it off hit...
"Shake it off... shake it off!"
I was the crazed loner doing this half run, half dance maneuver in the middle of the Virginia mountains.
I was wide awake by the time I hit Little Bald Knob aid station (Mile 44.6). I didn't even slow up... just kept on cruising... I couldn't stop, wouldn't stop moving...
My headtorch blinked as I passed through Reddish Knob aid station (Mile 49). Luckily the sun would be up soon and I could finally tuck it away. The wind howled as I climbed the concrete road leading to Reddish Knob. A freezing wind hit me as I became exposed to the open parking lot. I ran passed a RV that was camped up top for the night as I made my way over to the next Suunto bib punch. I paused and looked down at the lights below. Little hints of sunlight were playing peek-a-boo through the morning clouds. Almost day break. I couldn't help feeling a little sad as I started jogging back down from the knob... I knew the sunrise would be gorgeous from that spot.
I killed my headtorch as I made my way down the winding concrete road. It was still fairly dark along the road, but my eyes were overjoyed at the sight of natural light... and they deserved a break. There was a crowd at the end of the road. I looked for Joel. We didn't have much of a plan to get Joel to the turnaround... so we were going to wing it...
 **Joel's Recount of 430am to 6am**
4:30am: I'm woken by my alarm, the Samford and Son theme song, and "Good Job Runner" being yelled by a volunteer at AS5 who happen to sit all night on the bumper of the car behind. Lucky for me, about 1:30am, the person with the cowbell was ran off or a bear drug them into the woods. I'm hoping for the bear. Meanwhile, this conversation went through my head:

"Wait, where in the hell am I?
Ok, North River Gap.
Why in the hell am I getting up at 4:30?
To give myself plenty of time to get to the turnaround, that's right. I seriously have to revaluate my hobbies!"

Once the dust wore off by 4:32am, I walked to the AS to find a guy named Sam. I met Sam 5 hours earlier by offering him a Good People beer, but he was focused on his AS duties and making eggs. I was really trying to bribe him to help set up a ride. Sam asked a few buddies if they could help me out, but no luck.

4:45am: I set off up the road. 5 hours earlier, there were only 3 cars, me being the 3rd. Now, there were dozens. Opportunity was looking good. I stopped by the car and brushed my teeth and set off to find a ride. Easy enough I thought. Easy breezy. I walked up and down the road for 30minutes. Nothing. No one was stirring. Somehow, the guy curled up in the front seat of a Honda Fit looked more comfortable than my nights sleep against a cooler and Zach's shoe rack (nice invention though).

5:15am: Im starting to get a little more aggressive. Knocking on windows and scaring babies. Yes, there were actually a lot of babies there. I found a couple with a whole back seat open and they were packing up. This is my ticket. I approached them and they were looking for a lost cell phone. They said they were going to the turn at 50, and they could offer me a ride, but I could tell they were petrified. You know, because I'm some psycho that's going to stick them in a pit and ask them to 'rub the lotion on the back'. But it was my only shot. They said the were leaving in 5 mins. I jetted back to the car, changed into my gear right there on the street, grabbed my pack, gels, thank god my light jacket and a gallon of water. I walked back up the street and they had left. As I was walking back to the AS, they drove past, looked right at me and didnt even check up.

5:25am: Feeling like a complete loser, I returned to the AS to see if there was anyone else. 5:30am was my cut off. I had to leave by 5:30 to get to the turn by 6 to not miss Zach. I saw a woman walking away from the AS with jacked up frizzed hair and possibly a hint of lazy eye. This woman is just crazy enough looking to give me a ride. Her name was Carrie. I explained my story and she felt pity on me. I fabricated the details to sound extremely desperate. It worked. 5 minutes into the ride when we got on very narrow roads, she said, "You know, Im just warning you, most people get out of my car and kiss the ground because Im such a bad driver"

6:03am: We get to the turn, ironically right behind the car that had left me, and she dropped my off. I was very grateful, and grateful to kiss the dirt my feet hit. She was a bad driver, and one day, Carrie might figure out how to work the defrost. I was scared, very scared.

At the turn, it was cold. Very cold. The wind was blowing and there was no shelter. I filled up my vest and set off the 1/2 mile to the check point to see if Zach had checked in. I returned to wait on him. I spotted a guy sitting in the back of a Volvo wagon eating cookie dough and coke. His name was Levi. I sat on his tailgate with him for half an hour and killed time. Dude was so nice. He spotted #79 approaching and Saturday's run had begun.
**Mile 51**
"Hey dude! There's your runner!"
I saw a relaxed, long hair guy sitting next to Joel. 
"Hey bro I'm Levi."
I instantly liked Levi.
A quick climb up a gravel road to Gnashing Knob (Mile 51.5) to check in and it was back down to pick up Joel for the next 13 miles. Sean and Dan had just arrived and were waiting on Ashley. After leaving the turn-around crowd, we headed back up the long, winding paved road.
I was stoked that Joel was now with me. Not only was it an energy boost to have someone so full of life next to you... but I've always enjoyed our running conversations. The climb up the asphalt road was slow. I told Joel I wasn't running much of the uphills... I knew what we had in store. I was stoked that Joel was going to get to run this section with me. It had some descent climbs but it would be a treacherous and hopefully fun downhill. I grabbed a few cookies as we passed back through Reddish Knob aid station (Mile 54). We started down the dirt road when I saw my friend Brandi cruising up towards us.
"Zach!" She greeted me with a hug and a smile. We chatted for a few minutes before we parted ways. I caught back up to Joel and settled into a good rhythm along the dirt road. No complaints about running fire roads when it's this gorgeous...
We passed over the same grassy fields and knobs I had crossed earlier that morning... only this time I didn't have to imagine what the scenery looked like. The absolutely beautiful scene was laid out in front of me on a chilly, windy October morning. Thankfully Joel put up with my slow moving climbing and silly behavior...
We topped the ridge and danced along the beautiful single track. I knew I had to thoroughly enjoy this section because the next 4 miles or so were straight down... so I became lost in the moment...
The downhill was everything I thought it would be... long and painful. After a lifetime's worth of descending... I hopped back on the scale at North River Gap (Mile 65.65)... back down to my original starting weight.
We made our way over to the Element where I dropped the tail gate...
I didn't need to change socks, but I did to be on the safe side. I restocked my vest with gels/bloks, filled my hydration bladder, and took a few swigs of Coke.
"Thanks buddy!"
I was a little sad Joel had to stay behind. I had really enjoyed the last 13 or so miles, but I knew I would be picking Joel back up at around mile 88. I ran up the asphalt for a 100 yards or so before exiting onto the single track. A quick left turn and I immediately plummeted 18,000ft into a very dark place. I wallowed in self pity for a good 15 mins...
I squatted down and hunched over trying to catch my breath and stretch out my back...
"Pull it together Andrews. Stop being a f#!*&%^ baby and move!"
I moved. The out loud conversations with myself tend to work more times than not. I caught a 2nd wind as I came through Lookout Mountain aid station (Mile 72). I pushed hard through the next big climb. I topped the climb and started descending down into Dowells Draft. Of course I remembered ZERO of this climb from the previous day... so from here until eternity... this section will forever be etched in my memory as one of the most pleasant and beautiful down hill single track moments of my entire life... I will be forever winding through the autumn kissed Virginia mountains...
I eventually reached Dowells Draft (Mile 80) at about 2pm.
My legs were finally feeling the affects of all the downhill running. I was looking forward to the long climb up ahead. The afternoon air was cool as I started ascending the mountain. I went ahead and slid my gloves on because I knew I would be moving slower and would lose a lot of body heat during the extended climb. It was a good call. The climb was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay longer than I remembered the descent being. The previous night/morning was so fuzzy from the wind/rain/fog combo... that I couldn't recall much of the mountain scene.
I passed a runner on the way up.
"I'm falling asleep. I need a nap."
I felt bad for the guy... I'd been there. just a few hours earlier. There wasn't much you could do to snap out of it... except to... maybe... "Shake It Off..."
I somehow bottled the Pop before it spilled from my lips... I left him to find his own means of dealing with sleep deprivation.
Before leaving Sleepy behind he said... "The aid station should be at the top of this climb."
No sir. I  had already learned this lesson. DO NOT LISTEN TO ANYONE GIVING OUT DISTANCES TO AID STATIONS!!!!
I looked down at my Elevation Tat and instantly knew I had a long downhill to Dry Branch Gap aid station. I can't tell you how much my Elevation Tat came in handy... without having to think too much... I had the elevation profile, mileage and aid stations right on my forearm. I bid farewell to Sleepy and continued up the mountain enjoying the gorgeous Fall colors.

The climb was again deceptively long. The wind picked up again when I hit the top of the ridge, but diminished when I started my descent. I rolled into Dry Branch Gap aid station (Mile 88)...

Joel was ready to get moving and I had no intentions of stopping for long at the aid station.

"Hey bro! Let's just grab some stuff and get moving."

I didn't realize it, but after I drug myself out of the pits of Hell after mile 65.5... I had made good time. We started the long ascent towards Elliot Knob. The climb was slow moving for me and I apologized more times than Joel probably wanted to hear.

"I'm sorry man. My legs are trashed and my back is hurting. I think I did something to it."

Joel didn't mind. He was a wonderful pacer. We had great conversation, he remained positive throughout my bitchy stages and gave me my space. I tend to worry more about the person running with me than myself... but he did a fantastic job of removing himself from the scene when he felt like I needed to be alone for a few minutes. I like to think we have a solid Bronnection on the trails.  

"Is this climb ever going to end?!" I was just being whiney at this point.

"I'll run ahead and scout!"

It made my heart happy that Joel was here enjoying this place with me. I really wanted him to run as much of the daylight portion as possible to soak up the beautiful Virginia backcountry. 

Joel would run ahead to scout and to get warm and come barreling back. The temperature had dropped and the wind had picked up the further we climbed... but the views veered our minds from the cold...

We continued the slow climb back to the gravel fire road. My back had started getting tight and my legs were feeling the abused... so I started kicking rocks. Not as much fun as I remembered as a kid...
"UGHHHHHHHHHH! I swear if I kick another rock..."
Every time I kicked a rock it propelled me to run a section... positive thinking right?
I saw a power line.
"We're at the gravel road!"
I wasn't sure why I was so excited. This was about to be extremely painful. The faint memory of the previous evening's hauling up this long, rainy and foggy road was blurred... the only thing I remembered was thinking how bad it would hurt at mile 92ish. Well... I was back... and I was right... it did hurt. My legs were taking a beating, so I rotated back and forth between running and hiking... with the occasional squat to try and stretch out my back. It was still hard to breathe deep...
But we carried on... enjoying the last remaining miles of twilight before we entered night #2...
We started around another corner and I slammed on the brakes and did the "soccer mom" stop... you know... the stop where you extend your arm in front of the passenger seat to ensure your child is safe... as if your arm was far more powerful and safer than the seat belt... yea... that one.
"Hold up." I soccer mom stopped Joel instantly.
"What?! What is it?"
A big cuddly black bear was standing in the middle of the gravel road looking down at 2 runners that had just passed. We enjoyed the moment. We started walking towards it and with one crunch of gravel the bear bolted skittishly into the woods. Bryce 100 - mountain lion. Grindstone 100 - bear. 2/2.
We continued down the mountain and caught up to my bearded brethren Niclaus Combs ( and Hannah.
"Did ya'll see that bear?"
"So that's what we heard!"
We chatted with Niclaus and Hannah for a moment before we slipped on our headtorches and entered back into the night.
I shouted ahead... "Where the hell is the next aid station?!"
Joel had went ahead again to scout... or maybe to get away from my whimpering. We were now on a winding dirt road, slowly making our way to the final aid station. Flickering tiki torches indicated we were close. We stopped for a minute at Falls Hollow aid station (Mile 96.6). I grabbed a Snickers bar and an aid volunteer poured coke into my Salomon soft cup. I couldn't contain my excitement.
"This. This is the best snack I have EVER had. No lies. Thank you guys so much!"
I was ecstatic. I grabbed a 2nd snickers bar and tucked it away in my front vest pocket...
"I'll save you for later..."
We continued into the night... crossing over railroad tracks... climbing... dropping... and climbing some more. Somehow... I made one solid push along a gravel road. Not sure how I kept that pace for as long as I did... but it felt good to open up for a few minutes and run. We made our way back through the rocky sections... closing in on the Boys Scouts property. I kicked another rock...
I shouted into the night... "I AM SO OVER THIS S@*%!!!!"
I could see Joel's headtorch stop its constant bob from up ahead and turn around...
I peeled back the 2nd Snickers wrapper. Humph. I instantly felt better. Though I had trudged through rain and over extremely rocky terrain... I walked away from Grindstone with zero blisters, zero bruises, and zero black toe nails. My feet just simply hurt from stepping on and kicking every rock in Virginia.  
Joel pointed at a sign... we were back on Boy Scouts property. Only a few miles stood between us and the finish. We eventually got to the Boy Scout camp showers.
"I'm going to head back to the area and wait for you. Keep it going!"
My smile was hidden behind my headtorch...
"Thanks buddy.... seriously... thanks for everything."
I watched Joel dart down the gravel road back to camp and I turned back into the dark woods. I wandered through the woods... following the pink/reflective strips blowing from the tree branches. 
"Who caught me?"
I turned around to view the bright light shining through the woods...
"Oh... hello Moon."
It was only the moon. I carried on conversation with her as I strolled through the lonely woods... trying my best to piece together the adventure that was just had...
I smiled as I popped out by the lake. I could see the lights from tent city on the other side. All that was left was a simple run down a gravel road into camp. I made my way under the totem pole entrance, across the grassy field, and finally trotted down the tiki torched finishers chute.
After 101.85 miles and over 23,000ft of gain and 23,000ft of loss... I crossed the finish line in 27hrs06mins and hugged that totem pole.
I gave Joel a huge hug and thanked him again. I couldn't have asked for a better crew/pacer/friend to have with me for this adventure. Joel went ahead of me and cranked the heat up in the car. I stripped off my clothes in the parking lot... my apologies to anyone who saw my white ass (was probably brighter than the moon).
We decided not to camp. We both wanted to be home as early as possible. Joel hadn't seen his kids in a few days and I wanted to get as much rest as possible on Sunday before I started another 70hr work week on Monday. We headed back down the country roads and into town where we stopped at a gas station. Joel grabbed some coffee and I grabbed a Gatorade and Advil PM.
"You just drive until you get sleepy and when we stop... I'll get us a room."
PM in hand... "Now is there anything you want to say to me before I pass out?"
I had been up for 40hrs and running 27 of them... I was ready for sleep.  
"Hey buddy we are here."
I awoke famished and through my blurred vision I made out the Golden Arches...
"Can we go to MacDonalds?"
We pulled into MacDonalds and placed my order. We patiently waited while the car in front of us talked with the guy behind the window of the drive thru. We finally pulled up to the window and was greeted by Matt of Roanoke.
Matt: "Did ya'll see that guy driving that car in front of you?"
How could we miss the silver Dodge Caliber with 2 radio antennas on the bumper... big enough to reach out and contact another life form in a galaxy far, far away...

Joel: "The silver one?"

Matt: "Yep. He's a pedophile."

Me: "OMG."

Joel: "What? Are you serious?"

Matt: "You know how I know?"

Joel was starting to get nervous but mustered out... "How?"

Matt: "My boss told me."
Matt of Roanoke leaned out of the drive thru window stopping less than arms reach from Joel. He slowly slipped a 6" red handled knife from his pocket...
Matt: "I'll cut him."
Joel: "Oh wow."

Me: "How does he know?"

Matt: "That guy hit on him once."

Matt walks away to fix my Coke.

I turn to Joel, "Wait, Matt's boss is a kid?"

Matt hands Joel the drink. "I don't have any problem with the gays. They just better not hit on me."

Joel: "Ah yes, cause you got the knife."

Matt: "You know, I got a gay friend. I'm cool with it. He doesn't hit on me or nothing. It's a respect thing."

Matt leaves again to fetch my food.

Joel turns to me, "WTF man!?! This isn't happening. You just can't go around accusing people of being a pedophile."

Me: I'm not completely sure Matt knows what 'pedophile' means."

Matt: "Here you go man."

In unison we say "Thanks."

Joel: "Hey, be careful of that guy in the silver car."

Matt pats his pocket... "Oh I will. Don't you worry."
We started making phone calls for nearby hotels and finally landed a room at the Motel 6. I got to the door and jerked. Locked. I tried again. Still locked.
The Paula Dean looking night clerk yelled from across the lobby. I walked in and informed her that we called a few minutes ago for a room. I went ahead and apologized for my appearance. My worn face and bloodshot eyes screamed 2 day drug binge... not 2 day mountain running binge. I tried my best to semi explain why I appeared this way... but Paula didn't care. Paula just smiled and handed me a room key for a 2nd floor room. We grabbed a few things from the car and headed to our room. I slowly moved up the stairs...
"Looks like you're getting your exercise this weekend."
I glanced over to the lady standing in the breezeway and chuckled... "You could say that."
Joel was already getting ready for bed. I still needed a shower and to eat. I looked over at Joel and smiled...
"We need a beer!"
We cracked open a PBR and tapped cans in victory. I rinsed the mountain dirt from my body and after 42hrs of consciousness... I crawled into a warm, cozy bed and closed my eyes.
For me... Grindstone 100 was more of an adventure vacation than a race. 3 days of camping, mountain running, and beer drinking with one of my best friends. Life gets no better than this...
Till tomorrow...




  1. Great work at the Grindstone! Great read too.

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