Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Suuuuure I'll do the Meat Grinder

THE DATE: July 1st 2011
THE TOPIC: Post on the FB Meat Grinder Death Run invitation

Georgia Snail: Awwwww, man! MG the DAY before PRR?
LHRM:  Yep : )
Georgia Snail:  Well, y'all have fun with that...next time I'm in!

THE DATE: July 3rd 2011
THE REASON: Because I am dumb me.

A little background.  'The Meat Grinder*' is a run from the base of Amacalola Falls to the top of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.  After a run on Thursday night Amanda thought it would be fun to run something a little different this weekend.  So, being me, I was in as was Margaret, Michael, and Todd (by default).  We would be later joined by Len and Kerry who would bring their A game and kick all of our asses.
The Meat Grinder*?  Well, the traditional route runs up the gravel trail from the Visitor's Center to Springer Mountain and back.  We changed it up a bit.  We climbed the 9 billion steps, ran to Springer, down to the parking lot and back up to Springer (while I rested my ankle), over to the Hike Inn, and eventually down the gravel road to the back of the Visitor's Center.  Total mileage: me +/- 18.5, everyone else +/- 20.

The day before the run I decided that it was time to get a new phone.  Yes, I am now part of this century and have my own little Android.  So, because of this new piece of equipment I  ended up sleeping only 4 hours before which would turn out to be a pretty challenging run.
Highway 136 overlook.

Is it me or does the O look like it is about to fall over?
The plan was to meet at the Visitor's Center at 7:00am.  Because Fabio (me) has been consistently 4-5 minutes late for most of his recent runs, I decided that I would be early this time and arrived at 6:30 only to see Kerry and Len there already getting ready.  Shortly thereafter Michael, Margaret, Amanda and Todd (Amanda's imaginary boyfriend) rolled into the parking lot.
It was game time.  Water...check.  Food...check.  Camera...check. Pulse...check.  And then we started running.  The last time I was here I was a lot fatter and a lot out of shaper than now so it was kind of weird for me.  Last time I had a really hard time with even walking up to the first of the 7,973 stairs.  This time I cruised up the 7,498 stairs and was only moderately sweaty at the top.  This is not joke...there are 7,465 steps...I counted them.
Heading up to the 7,235 steps.

My phone has a reverse camera!  Damn I look scraggly.
Michael a.k.a. 'Mad Dog' on stair tread 5,698.

Are we there yet?  YES!  Finally after 12,285 steps we reached the summit of the falls and were awarded with an awesome view.  Then it was more running.  I have to say that the next section of trail from the Lodge to the summit of Springer Mountain was wonderful.  The environment was really diverse where some of the trails were really rocky, others grassy, and others would run through thickets of mountain laurels (my absolute favorite).  In addition to it being wonderful it was also very challenging and did not hesitate to lay a beat down on my ass.  At the top of the falls we lost Kerry and he powered up to the summit by himself only to meet us on the way back down at which point he would turn around and run back up.
Plaque at the southern terminus of the AT.
At the top of Springer I decided to let the crew run down to the parking lot and back up while I rested.  Yeah...my ankle is nowhere near healed yet...I knew I was really pushing it and definitely needed the rest.  While they were running I was visited by a swarm of bees.  These little suckers were all over me.  OK, there were only about 10, but for me that is a swarm.  Being the smart guy I am I placed my water bottles and hydration pack about 20' away where they then went to get the water.  Speaking of water, I had gone through about 50 of 110 ounces that I was carrying when to my astonishment Todd only used 10.  WTF?  How is that possible?  I am still amazed.
Swarm of bees on my water bottle.
Time to head back.  Our plan was to run by the Hike Inn and refuel there. On the way back we saw trail signs pointing out water that continually teased me as I began to ration the remaining 60oz I had on my back.  It was getting hot.  Dehydration is no joke and can be really dangerous.  Besides, I didn't want to have to pay Todd $5 for some of his water...thanks for the offer anyway man.
Screw the shelter...
Hey, that's that on the tree over there?  It's a freakin' trap that's what.  I, being me, walked over to see what it was and this is what I read:
It's A Trap!
For real?  You're going to lure someone over to this very spot with a piece of paper only to warn them that the very spot they are standing in is surrounded by a deadly rattlesnake?  I mean, really?
After we all laughed at me for a while we returned to running and finally made it to the Hike Inn.  Just before we got there I had to literally squeeze the remaining water out of my pack.  Once there though, for a small donation, we had peach cobbler, lemonade, Arnold Palmers, and water...lots of water.  I refilled everything.  Then we chilled out for a minute.
Who wears a 10K shirt on a run like this?  I do.

Action shot of Mad Dog.
5.5 miles to go.  And wouldn't you know that I used another 110oz of water?  It got hot, and I used all of it again finally getting relief at the Visitor's Center.  I have to admit that I finished last again, but whatever...I am only testing myself against myself.  I run my own race.
One of the many overlooks / views along the way.
No, the word Zensah is not melting...that is salt...
 To finish up the run we set up near the stream from the falls, which Amanda and I also sat in for a bit.  It was cold, but nothing like the time we ran into the lake at Fort Mountain in February...that was COLD!  This is the life.  A hard beautiful day ending by a mountain stream, eating food, drinking bear, laughing, and just plain relaxing.  Couldn't have asked for more.
We look so happy, don't we?  What the hell?  At least Mad Dog is showing his pearly whites.

THE DATE: July 4th 2011
THE EVENT: Peachtree Road Race.
Something happened to me that doesn't normally happen.  Actually it's never happened.  I missed a race.  I've not participated in a few due to injuries, but never have I not woken up in the morning.  I slept from 11:30pm to 8:30am and right through three alarms...wow...I am kind of pissed.
There will be another race...oh well  :-D


  1. Sorry that you missed Peachtree, but it's excusable under the circumstances. I still need to give Meat Grinder a go.

  2. Awesome man. Loved the report. Good times.

  3. Fantastic report on an awesome day!