Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring Planting

Yesterday was a great day outside and we spent most of it doing lots of fun stuff. Or at least we tried to make it fun. Our attempts at geocaching pretty much failed. Our first "treasure" turned out to have no toys for the kids to take, just a stamp, no ink, and a damp pad of paper. The second treasure couldn't be found and the third was easy to find. But it was wet inside and the toys weren't that appealing. The tiny clapper broke on the way home, the toy car was rusted, the dinosaur was slimy, and all the paper stuff was soaked. We cleaned it up as best as we could and left some stuff there.

The major work of the day took place in the garden. Very excited to have nearly all of our planting done for the year with only the peppers and tomatoes left to plant. So far we have spinach, onions, radishes, and marigolds in the ground. The spinach has three different planting dates and the first batch in the ground is already sprouting. The second batch is nearly sprouted but I'm just being as patient as possible. Out of the four foot by four foot planter, we have two square feet of organized spinach, one square foot of unorganized spinach, two square feet of radishes (one white and one red), two square feet of organized onion, one square foot of unorganized onion, and almost four square feet of marigolds.

We have everything mapped out on paper and have everything labeled in the ground. I may be the grand-son of a farmer but I am by no means a farmer. I fully expected everything to just sit in the ground and die so I was very surprised to see my spinach growing already. Totally unexpected.

Here's the two organized squares of onion. Three different types.

You can see my spinach growing on the far left and the radishes on the right.

Here are both organized squares of spinach. The left row in each square is from the first planting and is already growing.

Friday, March 29, 2013


Blah. I'm beat. Mostly from yesterday's bike ride but partly because of today's speedy pace. I'm glad I had the speed but I learned that I can't sustain it for as long as I want and I can't outrun the problems in my head. Guess I need to train harder.

Overall, the run as fairly unexciting. Sounding like a broken record there. So it was partly exciting. How's that. Partly. I went out with a t-shirt and long sleeve shirt and I was able to strip off the long sleeve at the mid-way point. I also stripped off my buff with about half a mile left to go. I was getting hot. Feels like spring is here. For a week. Then it'll be blazing hot and humid before I know it.

Temps were about 50F to 55F with a light wind. Sun came and went with mostly cloudy skies.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was 6 waffles and an iced coffee. This was a lunch run and my only fuel was a Hammer Gel right before I left. During the run I had a bottle of Hammer Fizz. Recovery was hammer Recoverite (testing out their Vanilla flavor - so far it's okay).

Aches and Pains:
Have an odd pain in my left knee. It's behind the knee but towards the inside of my leg. Very close to where my knees hurt from yesterday's bike ride. My quads were also feeling pretty trashed, especially on the downhills, which I'm also chalking up to yesterday's bike ride. Outside of that, everything was fine.

T-Star shorts, two shirts, my buff, and my phone. I'll start testing new products next month as I begin to roll into a new experiment.

Outbound - 20:32
Inbound - 19:44
Finish - 40:17 (my third fastest for this route)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Balls of Steel

Balls of Steel:
Things were a bit chilly out but I still enjoyed myself. Until I hit the rough head wind with a few cross wind gusts on the way back, I felt like I was flying. I can't imagine being able to run that fast. I mean, five minute miles? Holy hell!

Anyway, I felt great until I got back home, got off my bike, and realized my nuts were numb. No wonder Lance only has one, there is no way a guy can ride a bike that many miles and not do damage down there. Thankfully my shorts were padded because it kept me from feeling any pain when I sat down without adjusting myself. Note to self: don't get in the habit of riding a bike.

I was slightly more carefree during this ride than in the past. I usually get a little panicky when I hit downhills. Today was pretty much a "fuck it" attitude kind of day and I just cranked up the gears and went faster. Not that I was going that fast mind you. Gravel roads, knobby tires, and a fat ass can only go so fast. But I went with the gravity while I could and did my best not to struggle on the up hills. The good news is, at this distance I'm able to get a rough time on how long it will take me to make a trip to the local gas station for my iced latte. And maybe the ride will offset the latte. We'll see.


More beaver dam love.

The other side of the road (same creek as above).

Temps were about 40F. Winds were stiffer than my shocks at about 20mph. Sun came and went with a mostly cloudy sky.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was about as shitty as I could manage. Unhealthy burrito, unhealthy breakfast sandwich, apple fritter, and an iced latte. During the ride I had one bottle of plain water. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite mixed with ZICO coconut water and some iced coffee. I chased that with a couple of Oreos and Cool Whip. Yep, eating super healthy today.

Aches and Pains:
Aside from my testes and my ass, my knees and quads felt the ride the most. Different muscle groups were used and I could feel it. No real pain though.

My bike, my helmet, bike shorts, pants, thermal shirt, wind breaker, buff, and gloves. Also took my GoPro.

Who cares, I'll never be able to run this fast.
Finish - 44:54

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Vagazzled Beavers:

Vagazzled Beavers:
I'm late in posting this but hey, it was a busy day at work. So sue me. The run went fairly well even though I was pressed for time and even got to my meeting 5 minutes late. Turns out I had my times mixed up and I wasn't 25 minutes early like I had thought. Good thing I skipped my coffee run on the way home.

The trail was pretty damp but not too wet despite the recent snow and rain. There were even a few spots with tiny patches of snow left over. There were a few leaners but not really any trees down along the way. Saw a few animals but nothing too exciting. Except for the very clearly marked beaver trail. I swear those things get all vagazzled and then rub themselves all over the ground so you can follow them back home to their den. As a married man I didn't follow that trail and instead stuck to my own.

Steaming start.

Beaver trail.

More steam.

Temps were about 32F at the start and warmed to maybe 37F. Sky was clear and only a hint of wind.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was half a glass of coffee and yogurt. No food on the run but I did drink a bottle of plain water. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite and hammer Soy mixed together with my left over coffee. Not too horrible.

Aches and Pains:
None to speak of.

Wore my T-Star shorts under regular shorts, wore a thermal top under a t-shirt, and took along my GoPro for some photos.

Mile 1 - 14:11 (includes a pee break and cutting a branch off)
Mile 2 - 12:33
Mile 3 - 12:02
Mile 4 - 11:46
Finish - 50:33

Monday, March 25, 2013

Over Under

Over Under:
Oh, where to start with this one. How about the mental side of things. I wanted to do a full 20 miles so I'm happy that I was able to push myself to 18 miles before wimping out. I'm not so glad that the negative thoughts came after barely 5 miles and continued for way longer than I wanted. I was ready to totally bail on the run after getting back to my car after 14 miles but I somehow managed to talk myself into going out for more. I don't know how I did it. I think I actually got so caught up in trying to find a good enough excuse that I forgot about quitting. Go figure.

Then we have the weather. Not at all the worst I've run in but I under dressed below the waist and over dressed a bit above the waist. Which means I was all sweaty up top and cold down below. Not exactly fun times and one of the main reasons I wanted to quit. The occasional wind didn't help and the sun was obscured by clouds. The temps were manageable but still cold enough to make themselves known.

Then we have the monkey butt. I think I've only greased up once when I've worn my T-Star shorts so I didn't think about it this morning. They never chafe. Ever. Well, except for that one spot but I think that was actually a small scratch. Anyway, no grease this morning. And wouldn't you know it, my ass got a little too sweaty and poof, monkey butt. I did my best to ease my pain but didn't really want to lube my ass, especially after dropping a few logs along the side of the trail. Getting tree bark in your BodyGlide is not at all sanitary. After 5 or so miles, I became numb to the pain and just continued on.

And then we have the tree stands. They're very common in my area seeing as I live in the sticks. Rednecks and even a few hillbillies live in my neck of the woods so I wasn't surprised to see them. However, I was surprised to see so many and was especially disturbed to find a few of them overlooking the trail. That I did not like. It's illegal to from, onto, or across the trail. So when I see some redneck's rig in a tree that clearly gives him a shot across the trail, I get pissed. And if I had to piss at the time, I might have done it on his tree stand.

Sadly the tree stands made me nor nervous than the gun range. I've run past the range many times (there's even a well marked detour to keep you out of the rifle impact zone). Last year they built a new pistol range that is literally right next to the trail (parallel, they're not shooting at the trail). Well today was the first time I've seen anybody using it and there was a crowd of at least 15 people. More than happy to see people out shooting, just wish there was a way to raise a flag that says people are on the trail or that people are on the range (although the gun shots are pretty easy to hear a mile away).

Outside of that, things were pretty tame. Saw a few animals, a few downed trees, a few people, and that was about it.

The dead salamander/newt/thingie.

How a redneck marks his tree stand (Mile 14).

The very end of the trail at Little Arc Baptist Church (Mile 15ish).

Daffodil garden out in the middle of nowhere (Mile 11.5).

Temps were about 30F at the start and warmed to maybe 35F by the end. Sky was overcast. Winds were light around 10 mph with a few gusts around 20 mph. I was hoping for a weather day like yesterday with highs in the 50s but didn't get it (part of the reason I was under dressed).

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was half a cup of coffee before I left and some Belvita cracker/cookie/biscuits (about two of them) within the first mile of the run. I had the other two a few miles later. I drank a bottle of Hammer Fizz and finished it after about 9 or 10 miles. I had a Liter of plain water that lasted about 17 miles. I had a bottle of Hammer Perpeteum (2 scoops) and Recoverite (1 scoop) that I started after 9 or 10 miles and nearly finished by the end. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite followed by a greasy cheeseburger (but no fries) and an iced tea.

Aches and Pains:
I felt pretty good for most of the run and only had a few minor twinges in my hamstrings periodically. I think it mostly came from getting cold and not from lack of fluids. I did land funny on a rock around mile 16. I was looking at a bike tire tube hanging on some branches well off the trail and my left foot landed on a rock and slipped to the right. I had to catch myself with my right foot well over on my left side of my body. My ankle hurt as did my chest (likely from flailing my arms about) but after walking a bit and kicking the offending rock off the trail, I was able to continue to run just fine. After the run, the soles of my feet hurt but I'm still able to walk. My back hurt until I cracked it.

I wore calf sleeves, gaiters, T-Star shorts, regular shorts, thermal shirt, long sleeve shirt, winter hat, and gloves. I tested out a new buff and it worked pretty well. I also stuffed some handheld bottles in my hydration pack pockets. I took along my GoPro and my new knife (which I used a few times to trim back the thorns and tree branches).

My splits aren't precise. I didn't start/stop at a mile marker and I forgot to stop my watch when I finished. I also had a couple of pee breaks, one poop break, and a few minutes hacking off some tree branches.
Mile 1 - 12:49
Mile 2 - 17:01
Mile 3 - 13:24
Mile 4 - 17:03
Mile 5 - 13:28
Mile 6 and 7 - 21:31
Mile 8 - 13:45
Mile 9 - 13:54
Mile 10 - 15:36
Mile 11 - 14:36
Mile 12 - 13:40
Mile 13 and 14 - 27:49
Mile 15 - 15:45
Mile 16 - 16:42
Mile 17 - 13:30
Mile 18 - 12:59
Finish - 4:24:23

Virgin Road

Virgin Road:
Nothing too exciting about today's run. Except that I actually went out and ran. That's pretty darn exciting. My motivation levels are  pretty shitty right now so the fact that I'm even getting out of bed and out the door is impressive. Anyway, outside of making it out the door, we also have some pretty new yellow lines on our road. That's right. Us rednecks get excited when the state adds yellow lines to our road. Mainly because our road is too damn narrow for yellow lines.

So aside from the yellow lines, I also got the chance to see the state working on some of the back roads leveling them out. Which means I got to run on some virgin gravel for a mile or two. Nothing too exciting about that but hey, it was entertainment.

This is what virgin gravel looks like. Although, technically not virgin since the Game Warden drove down it about 2 minutes before I took my picture.

Temps were about 35F to 40F. Wind was light. Sun was out with only a few light clouds.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was two hash browns, a burrito, and an iced coffee. During the run I had just one bottle of Hammer Fizz. Recovery was Hammer Soy followed by Hammer Recoverite and some Belvita cracker/cookie/biscuits.

Aches and Pains:
I was dorking around with my stride so my shins, knees, and calves would complain occasionally. Outside of that, things were fine.

Wore T-Star shorts under regular shorts. Wore a thermal top, t-shirt, winter hat, and gloves. Also took my phone for photos and GPS.

Outbound - 22:13
Inbound - 22:47
Finish - 45:00

Friday, March 22, 2013

Run for the Dream Giveaway Winner

Of the six people that left a comment on the Run For The Dream 8k and Half Marathon Giveaway post, only one could win. Last night I had my son pick the winner. As you can see in the photo, he was not at all impressed. Probably because I was interrupting him while he colored an Easter egg.

It's hard to see, but the winner is Jeff Thomas! Jeff, expect a message shortly with more details.

To everyone else that entered and anyone else that's interested in running either race (or both), you can still get a discount on your entry by using code BLOG2013. That code will get you one of the following discounts:

  • $5 off your 8k registration
  • $10 off your half marathon registration
  • $15 off your Patriot's Challenge* registration
The code is only for civilian pricing and expires on May 1, 2013.

* The Patriot's Challenge is where you run both races, the 8k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.

Good luck to everyone running!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Soft Fuzzy Blanket

Soft Fuzzy Blanket:
I was nearly done in this morning by a soft, fuzzy, warm blanket. After strapping the kids in the car and kissing everyone goodbye, I came back in the house to watch the news. Since it was a bit chilly in my shorts, I put a blanket on my legs. And damn near fell asleep. But my coffee was keeping me awake so I managed to get dressed and get out the door. Even if it was an hour later than I wanted.

The run was fairly uneventful. I actually completed a planned workout so a big "woohoo" to me. Outside of that, the trail was wet, there were two downed trees, and I saw lots of squirrels. See? Told you it was exciting.


Temps were about 40F. Air was humid from yesterday's rain and snow. No wind. Sky was overcast.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was a burrito, yogurt, and iced coffee. During the run I had a bottle of plain water and a bottle of Hammer Fizz. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite.

Aches and Pains:
Had an odd pain in my foot for a quarter mile but it went away. I think I twisted something funny but it worked itself out.

Wore shorts, pants, thermal shirt, long sleeve shirt, hat, and gloves. Also took my hydration pack but didn't put water in there, just my spare bottle. Also took my GoPro for pictures.

Mile 1 - 11:49
Mile 2 - 12:37 (includes pee break)
Mile 3 - 12:45
Mile 4 - 12:54 (includes bottle switch)
Mile 5 - 11:51
Mile 6 - 12:07
Finish - 1:14:06

Monday, March 18, 2013

Plain Slushy

Plain Slushy:
I was aiming for 4 but ended up cutting it short since I didn't want to present any more of a hazard to the drivers than necessary. As it was, I hopped on and off the road many times just to prevent any accidents. Including getting my ass ran over. So it was just 2 miles.

Outside of that, just an everyday, boring kind of run.


Temps were right around 32F, maybe 35F. The road was warm enough to melt most of the snow but after a bit, it started to stick and quickly became slush. No sun since it was cloudy and snowing. It was almost freezing rain but not quite.

Fluids and Fuel:
Pre-run was an iced coffee. During the run I had a bottle of plain water. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite and two breakfast burritos.

Aches and Pains:
My calves were feeling it as I tried to run through the slush. I could feel the extra tension with the slightly slippery surface but it wasn't too bad.

Nothing too fancy, shorts, pants, thermal top, long sleeve shirt, gloves, and a winter hat. I did wear my wind breaker which helped and I wore my headlamp just so drivers could see me. Also took along my GoPro for pictures.

Outbound - 11:50
Inbound - 11:15
Finish - 23:06

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I Found My Thrill On Hospital Hill

I Found My Thrill On Hospital Hill:
So I have a non-DM runner friend that inspired me to go run some hills today. She is one of those insane people that puts in crazy miles with crazy elevation. So I figured I'd do my best to emulate her ability and go run the biggest hill I could think of in the area. So I went to Hospital Hill. It's roughly 200 feet uphill in about 3/4's of a mile. Pretty steep for my neck of the woods. So I did three of those with some of the smaller hills on Cowan as a warm-up and cool-down. All in all, more hills than I wanted but less than what I needed.

Temps were about 35F at the start and warmed to about 40F by the end. The wind was moderate. The sun was out in full.

Fluids and Fuel:
Breakfast was a burrito, yogurt, and an iced coffee. During the run I had a bottle of plain water and refilled with a bottle of Gatorade. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite followed by lunch at Panera.

Aches and Pains:
Nothing really hurt. My nose felt a little frozen here and there as the wind picked up and made my snot freeze.

Wore a thermal top, t-shirt, and vest. Wore my SmartWool winter hat. Wore shorts with pants over it.

Screw the splits. With a hilly route, they don't really matter.
Finish - 1:36:13

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Smelling the Roses

Smelling the Roses:
Oh. My. Gawd. I actually ran. Woohoo! It was like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Well, sort of. I felt insanely slow and sluggish as I plodded my way through the woods. Starting to wonder if I should carry an axe just to have an excuse to go so slow.

Anyway, it was raining and I was okay with that. In fact I welcomed it. At first I wanted the challenge but after I thought about it more, I decided I wanted to have fun and play in the rain and mud. So that's what I did. I prepped for a run where I'd get wet, muddy, and probably fall down. I did everything but fall down, which still surprises me, but I guess I just played it safe. The trails were muddy and had plenty of puddles and I slipped a few times but I knew in advance that the boardwalks would me super-slick and that the one section on Laurel Point Trail would put me on my ass if I wasn't careful. So I was careful.

I did manage to scare the shit out of two Canadian Geese and either a pheasant or grouse or something like that. All I know is suddenly 10 feet in front of me a small brown leaf that wasn't really a leaf took flight. There were other birds and squirrels and what-not out in the woods but nothing worth mentioning.

As I neared the end of the run, I spotted two roses tucked into a nook of a tree. I was surprised. I saw a ton of trash along the sides of the trail and even found a geocache near the start. But I've never, ever seen flowers along a run. It felt like a memorial so I left it be.

The beach has slowly been eroding away. I think it's mostly because of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Sandy.

The trail was a wee bit wet.

The odd memorial I found. Two roses.

Pulling a Shawshank.

 The aftermath wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Temps were about 55F to 60F. Wind was light but stronger on the hilltops and river front. It rained nearly the entire time but there were a few breaks here and there.

Fluids and Fuel:
In an attempt to eat less like Biddi tells me to, I had a breakfast of a burrito, yogurt, and part of an iced coffee. During the run I had only one gel for fuel. I wanted more but figured one would be more than enough. For fluids I had my hydration pack with plain water and drank about half of it. Recovery was a shower and a nap followed by a lunch with more coffee, madras lentils with leftover corn and taco meat.

Aches and Pains:
None really. Felt a little winded after the last hill (a staircase really) but I don't call it Highway to Hell just for nothing.

Wore my Lone Peaks, T-Star shorts, and a t-shirt. Wore gloves and arm sleeves but the arm sleeves were rolled down after a few miles. I also wore my North Face hat which again proved itself as a winter hat. That thing is damn hot. I wore my hydration pack just in case I fell and took along my GoPro for photos.

I'm ignoring my splits since I started my RunKeeper app early and stopped it late.
Finish - 1:19:20

Monday, March 11, 2013

First round of spinach

We had a weekend with some decent weather and the weather looked pretty nice for the near future so I decided to plant my spinach a week early. Not all of it, just the first round. I think I'll space them out into three different plantings a week apart. May go 2 weeks apart, I don't know. Haven't decided yet. Right now I'm afraid the ground will be too wet seeing as the back yard is still pretty soggy from our last session of rain and we've got more coming this week. As long as it doesn't freeze, I think we'll be okay. And I've got a ton of spinach seed to sow, so I think they'll be fine too.

Friday, March 08, 2013

2013 Asheville Marathon Race Report

The Marylin Monroe Effect:
I know my race report is a bit late but I needed some down time after the race and since we extended our stay in Asheville, I simply felt nice and lazy about writing up my report. So, the inaugural Asheville Marathon. There was a lot of good, a lot of bad, and a lot of in between. Since this will likely be a long-winded report, I'll jump right into it.

My wife and I used to live near Asheville and would make regular trips to the Biltmore Estate. I'm talking twice a month or more. We loved visiting there. We've seen the estate transform over the years and do our best to go back as often as we can. We've taken the kids there twice now and they both enjoy it. This time around, I signed up for the marathon just because I wanted to see the other side of the estate where the public usually isn't allowed and I've never been. Yvonne felt the same way even though she's never gone over a half marathon before. So while she expected to not finish I was afraid of missing the cut-offs myself (six and a half hour time limit). Despite this, we opted for a nice, long weekend without the kids.

Turns out, our kids and Au Pair came with us. No, it wasn't what we planned but we figured it would be nice for everyone to just stick together as a family unit. Turns out it worked out for the best. Oh, and our Au Pair was actually my father and he called himself the Male Nanny. Anyway, travel day arrived and William spiked a fever. He puked before lunch. And he got to make a trip to the urgent care upon arriving in Asheville. For nearly the entire trip his fever would fluctuate but not really go away. We put him on a round of meds and it helped some but didn't really kick it like it usually does. Which means it was probably viral. Thankfully he appears to be back to normal now.

So with a sick kid, a healthy kid, and an old man, Yvonne and I trooped around the estate and saw what we could manage. We enjoyed the hotel's pool and hot tub and ate breakfast there nearly every day. We took Elizabeth on a horseback ride as an early birthday present, we got to see snow, and we tried to squueze in as much stuff as we could. Maybe too much.

The expo for the race was okay. Not great, not horrible, but okay. Based on other race expos, I expected to see more vendors but it was smaller than some half marathons that I've been to. It was very tight in the expo with lots of people and not a lot of room. I did like that the expo was open pretty much all day. They had a pre-race dinner but we didn't go. There weren't that many freebies to be had and you didn't get much in your swag bag from the race. Really all you got was a shirt and a Sierra Nevada pint glass.

Since I booked the hotel directly instead of through the race website, I had to shell out an extra ten dollars to ride the shuttle from the hotel to the race start. Ouch. Not to mention that they sold spectator tickets for way more than you'd expect to pay and it didn't even give you access to the house later that day. I think this, the price gouging, would be my biggest gripe of all. You had to pay $125 to register for the race and all you got was a shirt, a glass, and a day pass to the estate. For $80 I can register for a 50k and get a shirt and a sweatshirt. And paying for a shuttle? Yes, it was convenient, but $10 seems way too much, especially since I only rode it one way. I'd really like to see them add a season pass, a sweatshirt or jacket, a pair of socks, a bottle of wine, or even a Biltmore book of your choosing. Something, anything to make it feel like a better deal for your money.

Since we're talking about the bad things about the race, how about we dive into the weather. Clearly this was outside of the race official's control. It's something every runner needs to deal with unless you're running an indoor marathon. And really, the temperatures weren't that bad. I think it was 25 degrees at race start and warmed to maybe 30 or 35 by the end. But the wind, it was killer. Of the 1,000 people to start, nearly 50 dropped and I'd venture a guess that nearly 90% of those that dropped did so because of the wind chill. I mean, I warm up pretty good after a few miles but when I look at my race photos, you can't even tell it's me. The only exposed skin is my eyes. I looked like a damn ninja running in a kilt. I unzipped my wind breaker halfway all of two times, each lasting about 30 seconds. I couldn't tell you how many miles I ran with my neck gaiter up around my nose just so I could breathe. Twice I was stopped dead in my tracks by a strong wind gust. So yeah, it was freaking cold out.

Then we have the route. Which was good and bad. The worst part of the route was the gravel. I wore my Altra Superiors but figured I'd be on fire roads and wouldn't need any rock plates. Turns out I was wrong. Many of the sections were nicely runnable with heavy vehicle traffic that packed the road down. But many sections were loose rocks that were large and pointy enough to feel like Jack the Ripper was going to town on your soles. Yes, they had control over where the race went on the estate but I think it was worth the pain. It was no worse than running on the DRHT and the views were way better. I mean, how often do you get to run past the front door of the Biltmore? Not often. Well worth it. Plus on the other side of the river you got to see a few abandoned houses that you never knew existed. And while I did nearly cut three miles off the course by almost making a wrong turn, the course was well marked. Plenty of signs out and plenty of course marshals to keep you headed in the right direction.

Moving into the aid stations, we again have a mixed bag. The worst part of the aid stations was the frozen water. Beyond that, everything was great. They had water, GU, GU Brew, Coke, and other snacks. And everyone that I saw at aid stations was happy, called me by name, and cheered for me. I don't think I saw a single volunteer that was in a bad  mood, including the course marshals that were clearly colder than me. The aid station volunteers also did their best to keep the area clean, which was a pretty tall order considering the amount of trash my fellow runners left behind. Which was really a shame. I mean, I can see losing a top to a gel pack or a tissue or a even a gel pack that slips out of your pocket. But it was abundantly clear that many runners simply didn't give a shit and dumped their trash where they felt like it. Shameful.

The views along the course were great. Not only did we get to run the entire approach road and run past the house, we also ran past the gardens, around several horse and cow pastures, and the French Broad River. There was always something to look at, even though some sections we just looked to see where the rocks were. The dam and vineyards were neat and they even had signs out along the course where you could get a picture of the house or something interesting.

The start of the race started 15 minutes late which I wasn't too surprised by. With the weather, the long drive to the start, and this being the first year, I expected things to start slow. At the finish, the beer tent was clearly marked but the food couldn't be found. In fact, a lot of stuff at the start/finish area wasn't well marked. But it was small enough you should have been able to find what was needed. This was also the first race I've seen runners huddled around the exhaust of a generator just to stay warm. Yep, I told you it was cold.

Overall, it was a nice race. A bit expensive compared to others but the views were great. The weather was cold but expected in the mountains in early March. The finisher's medal was actually wood and the blanket was certainly worthwhile since it was, you guessed it, cold. I think if they dropped the price or increased the free swag, it would be a race to consider in the future. But for now, I think the travel expenses and cost of the race make it difficult to justify going next year.

I took over 100 photos along the course but I'll just post a few of them.

The Approach Road:

Selfies with the house:

The bridge from Last of the Mohicans:

Some of the fire roads on the west side of the estate:

* Edited - Forgot to include this photo of our race swag. The blanket and wooden medallion were for finishers. Best part of all this was the pint glass:

Did I mention it was cold? Temps at the start were 25F. By the finish it warmed to about 30F to 35F. Winds were high with sustained speeds of 25 mph and gusts of 40 mph. There was snow periodically but nothing accumulated. We did see the sun a few times.

Fluids and Fuel:
Pre-run fuel was a bagel with cream cheese. During the run I had a bottle of double-strength Hammer Perpeteum, five bottles of Hammer Fizz, one bottle of plain water, and two bottles of Coke. I also had at least three Hammer Gels, maybe four. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite and a single with cheese, fries, Coke, and Frosty from Wendy's.

Aches and Pains:
The soles of my feet hurt once we got onto the really large gravel. Outside of that, my quads were killing me on some of the hills but nothing too major. I felt well enough to go for a 4 mile run the day after without too many ill effects.

I wore my Altra Superiors with Smartwool socks (although I forgot my running socks). I wore T-Star Running shorts, pants, and my Sport Kilt. I wore my thermal shirt, a long sleeve shirt, and my wind breaker. I wore a ball cap, a winter hat, and my neck gaiter. I wore gloves with hand warmers but ditched the hand warmers after about 5 miles. I took along two Amphipod bottles and my GoPro camera.

Start - 1:30 (to cross the Start line)
Mile 1 - 11:57 (paved and mostly flat)
Mile 2 - 13:35 (paved and uphill)
Mile 3 - 10:35 (paved and mostly downhill)
Mile 4 - 13:01 (paved and uphill, running on the Approach Road)
Mile 5 - 13:42 (paved and uphill, started running through the parking lots)
Mile 6 - 13:38 (paved and mostly flat, going past the house)
Mile 7 - 14:06 (paved and mostly downhill, used the bathroom here)
Mile 8 - 10:40 (paved and downhill)
Mile 9 - 12:30 (paved and flat, leading into gravel)
Mile 10 -12:03 (gravel and flat)
Mile 11 - 10:09 (gravel and flat)
Mile 12 - 18:31 (gravel and leading into hills, I seriously think this mile marker was in the wrong spot, time seems way off)
Mile 13 - 11:49 (rough gravel and hilly)
Mile 14 - 13:32 (rough gravel and hilly)
Mile 15 - 14:09 (gravel and hilly)
Mile 16 - 13:15 (gravel and hilly)
Mile 17 - 14:04 (gravel and hilly)
Mile 18 - 14:05 (gravel and hilly)
Mile 19 - 14:50 (gravel and hilly)
Mile 20 - 13:13 (gravel and hilly)
Mile 21 - 13:05 (paved and flat)
Mile 22 - 14:21 (gravel and flat)
Mile 23 - 15:11 (gravel and flat)
Mile 24 - 14:45 (paved and flat)
Mile 25 - 15:40 (paved and flat)
Mile 26 - 15:36 (paved and gravel and flat)
Finish -  5:52:06