This year’s version of Stone Steps saw many records broke due to the GREAT weather & GREAT course conditions. Not a speck of mud & Dave Corfman (RD) and Dave Krekeler had used leaf blowers to clear the entire trail!! Had it not been for this effort, I surely would not have finished – all those rocks & roots hidden underneath leaves would have translated into race ending sprained ankles.
The race started at 8:00 with nice & cool conditions. I wore a singlet & gloves but ditched both after the 1st lap. The gloves would have been handy a little later when I took my 1st fall . . . . I went airborne after tripping during a downhill section. It was like I was in slow motion – I had time to think how I was going to land – I threw out my hands & tucked my shoulder as I went into a roll. This worked OK as I only came out with a stiff shoulder & a couple sliced fingers from the rocks. In a 2nd fall later in the race, when I was bringing up my rear foot, it got snagged on a tree stub & down I went in a split second – no time to think about this one. My foot remained hooked & I went down hard onto my knees & hands & forearms. Fortunately, I wasn’t going too fast but managed to scrape up both knees pretty good. Both of these falls could have been a lot worse. After the race, I noticed that every runner I saw had some evidence of having gone down – I wasn’t even close for a “best blood” award here. Also, coming into the race with my ankles finally at 100%, I turned my right one, once again, on the 1st lap. It wasn’t serious & I was used to running with a sore ankle, so it wasn’t unusual to continue “as usual”.
The loop format was such that I didn’t have to carry anything – the longest loop at 5+ miles stretched it a little on the drink so I took extra time to catch up at the end of that loop each time. After completing the 5+ mile and the 3+ mile loops for the 1st time, my time was 1:32:16. This was close to my split time 2 years ago when I finished the race in 6:05. This split was a much better pace than when I took off too fast with a 1:24:43 in 2007, resulting in my 1st ever DNF & the only DNF of last year. By the 4th lap though, I began to feel my legs giving out & I dropped off the 6:05 pace considerably. Realizing that I could not beat my previous best for the course, I concentrated on just finishing the race – like no more falls! My official time was 6:27:38. The record for my age group was again lowered – this time to 5:35:40! Since I had no real excuses this race, this pretty much lets me know how I stand on my level of fitness – I have some work to do.
Next up is the inaugural running of the Pinhoti 100 in Alabama. I won’t have 38 hours (like Grindstone) to complete this race. With a 30 hour time limit, it’ll require everything to go smoothly. This will be my 1st point to point 100 miler – a brand new trail/experience every step of the way -- looking forward to it!
Some links to other Stone Steps race reports: