29 March 2010

Umstead 100: 22:32: Race Report

"An easy 100," I've heard said of Umstead before. I don't think there is such a thing, but Umstead is easier in terms of 100s - the course is 12.5miles long, and you run it 8 times. There are two big aid stations where you can have drop bags and there is quite an array of a variety of food (baked potatoes, pretzels, m&ms, oranges, cantaloupe, hot dogs, pizza, hot cocoa, soups, potato chips, animal crackers, I can go on and on...), so with these two logistical issues taken care of, the 100 becomes *slightly* easier. There's also several intermediary aid stations I usually skipped that just had water and gatorade (some with a little bit more) and usually no volunteers. The footing is quite good (nothing technical) and while the loops can become a little boring...but it's a good race if you love to run. That makes it "easy" too.

The course has some flats, some steeper hills, some rolling hills - nothing too awful, but when you're feeling like death later in the race, it's hard to motivate yourself to do anything but walk up the minor hills.

The pre-race meeting was too long and boring, and I felt bad for my poor sister and her husband (They put up a lot this weekend!) so we snuck out early to head back to their place to eat pasta. I ended up falling asleep around 8:30, and woke up around 3:30 when my parents arrived at my sister's.

The start was fun. My mom, sister, and Brian were a little overwhelmed by the start ("Why do these people need coolers?" "What are they wearing?" "That's what they're leaving at the aid station?" etc.), and quite underwhelmed by the start (One second, I was chatting about where to buy running skirts, the next I was running!).

Lap 1:
I felt pretty good. I went out strong, was happy, and warmed up quickly. (It was in the 30s when we started.) I ran with Tony for a while, scaring myself. (He's a quite bit faster than I.) I felt good though, quite comfortable. (About 2hr16minpace)

Lap 2:
I chased after Tony and kept up on my pace. I met new friends. One of the greatest things about the course is you can see people (like Paul, Shannon, Steve Tursi, and many others) in multiple points -- there's an out and back each time to the main aid station, and another on the "airport spur." It made for a very friendly ultra, with almost a party-like atmosphere. Lap two I continued to feel great. My sister, father, and Brian were at the HQ aid station again (and the intermediary) and brought me some bottled water - the water had a funny taste (which others have remarked on as well). (About 2:20 pace or so)

Lap 3:
Felt great still. Just enjoying the race, the day. Tony was a bit ahead of me and I wanted to catch him, but didn't want to burn myself out. Felt strong. (About 2:20 pace or so) 

Lap 4:
The first half I started to feel really hungry. I had eaten a gel but needed solid food. When I got to the middle aid station, feeling famished, I gorged on pretzels and M&Ms. I learned a very powerful lesson a half mile later: too many M&Ms in too short a time can result in nausea. I ended up clutching my stomach, pausing to dry heave. People passed me, all inquiring (I was bent over, holding my stomach, walking a lot) and one woman paused to help me, giving me Tums. They were magic. (Note to self: carry Tums on every ultra from now on!) I felt a lot better...until my stomach began hurting in a different way - and let's say that a half mile to a portapotty can be too far and I was so glad I had immodium. I lost A LOT of time and felt awful - I was soaked with sweat from illness and this messed my stomach and appetite up a lot.

This one guy passed me and said to me, "You know, you can still do sub-24 if you push yourself." I was walking, feeling horrid and said, "My stomach hurts SO bad." (I was literally moaning to myself b/c I was in so much pain.) He said, 

"If you're gonna walk, walk like you mean it. You can whine when it's over."

That kicked something in me. I ran until I had to run behind a tree to go to the bathroom.

This phrase echoed in my head anytime things got tough.

Lap 5:
When I got back to HQ aid station before starting, I took medicine, drank ginger ale, and ate some pretzels. Some random crew person helped me (I LOVE the runners, pacers, crew, and volunteer at ultras; they always go above and beyond helping, way beyond anything that would happen in a road race).  

I kicked it up. I picked up the pace where I left off, pushing, pushing, passing people who had passed me. "You look great!" "Someone looks a lot better." It was such a welcoming and nice environment and I felt so great and happy and SO much better.

Lap 6:
Pacer time! My little sister met me, all ready to go. I drank some coconut water (mmmm, Zico!), took more endurolytes, and ate pretzels. The rest of the race, due to my messed up stomach, I stuck to a steady diet of pretzels, animal crackers, and Power Gel Bursts. I also took a 5 hour Energy Shot, which helped keep me awake.

I also changed my shoes to a half-size bigger - this helped my swollen feet have room to spread out, and I highly recommend this to anyone running a 100 miler. I also changed my bra and tank top and put on a long sleeved and a pair of gloves.

It got dark slightly before we hit the second aid station, and my sister somehow figured out how to break the head lamp (just kidding, but it did disassemble) and we had to figure it out. The moon was full and some people opted for no head lamp, but I found it mostly helped. I still felt pretty good.

My sister carried my fuel belt which helped lighten things up for me - every little thing like that is always nice!

Lap 7:
I had never met Kelsey before, but she volunteered to pace me. She was fantastic and I couldn't have asked for a better stranger to become my friend during the course of pacing me. She was sweet, funny, interesting, motivating, smart, and a great runner. I was struggling a lot, and Kelsey tried to get me to eat. I tried to eat crusts of white bread. The promise land of pancakes never materialized, despite promises from the RD that there would be pancakes. (Apparently they were made WAY after I finished running, Boooo!) I was a little out of it, swaying and shivering, and Kelsey pushed me. I struggled hard as my time dropped.

Lap 8:
Ow. My feet hurt so bad. At one point, I said something like, "I'm running like a little old lady in high heels." Step, step, step. I think when I was running hard on lap 5, trying to make up for lost time, I ran too hard on some of the downhills...and my quads were reminding me on laps 6, 7, and 8 what happens when you do that.

The first 7 miles of this lap were awful. We walked a lot as Kelsey engaged me in various conversations. When we got to the final aid station, happiness surrounded me but I knew I needed to get something in me or it would last even longer. I opted for hot chocolate, made from a mix, something I'd normally snub but that really helped me. Kelsey encouraged me to eat and I stuffed animal crackers into my pockets to eat during the final miles.

The hot cocoa really warmed me up. I pushed, pushed, pushed as much as I possibly could, running more, feeling good.

And then - then it was over! Down a hill, up a hill - and to my sister, mom, and Brian screaming. It felt great! 55 overall -- and over 220 starters. Wow! A PR of over 6 1/2 hours!

What would I do differently?
  • Not eat so many M&Ms at once
  • Get my mom to bring me pancakes
  • Figure out other food that works for my stomach (and bring more Powergel bursts)
  • Pack bottled water for next year's Umstead
I think that's pretty much it. I ran as hard as I could - and I'm so pleased.

Now - next goals...I would love to break 20 hours! Hah!

A thought that struck me today that's getting me through the day...

Sometimes the things you're not supposed to do are the things you need to do.

umstead 100: quick update

So I did it! I broke the 24 hour 100 mile barrier and ran Umstead 100 Miler in 22:32. I'm sore, exhausted, but so full of life.

Full race report coming soon!

P.S. I think I like 100 milers a lot more now...!

25 March 2010

Umstead 100

This is it - off to JFK to catch my flight to Umstead 100 Miler!!!

17 March 2010

The One

You may think 
I'm the one
and yes I am
but not for you.

08 March 2010

A 50k a Day (Part II): Volunteering at the Caumsett 50k

Iliana has become my ultrarunning partner in crime lately. We email about ultrarunning, talk about it, run long runs together, plot races together. Our vacation time in the next two years has been getting planned out around races. We both have no money due to our expensive ultrarunning habits. It's all worth it, though.

So when Iliana asked me if I'd volunteer at the Caumsett 50k (which I did last year), I said, "Of course." I had a blast volunteering at the race - the race directors were nice, the fellow volunteers hilarious, and I really liked giving back and helping out other ultrarunners. I didn't need volunteer credit, I told her - but of course changed my mind about needing that credit. I will most likely be running the Vermont 100 again - it was so much fun last year, how can I not run it again?

We got to the race at 7:30 and began setting up the aid station with food. Blaming it on the fact that it looks like poo and she did not grow up in the U.S., Iliana left me to spreading peanut butter (though she did spread jelly on some of the sandwiches). We poured snacks into trays, poured cups of water and Gatorade, sliced bananas, made more sandwiches, cut more bananas, handed cups of water, cheered people on, gave people Ibuprofin. It was a blast!

It's also nice to not be in pain and just be chilling and cheering on others. Because I know how much hard work goes into each and every run, I tried to pump up the runners. 

Iliana got into a great system of handing water and drinks to the runners. She got to know the runners, and would call me, "Cherie! Michael Wardian!" That meant two cups of water. Jill Perry? That meant a cup of coke and a Gatorade. Iliana knew everyone's drink preference - after 10 laps, she was a true expert. I may as well slathered my body with peanut butter and jelly in my sandwich creation, but I had a blast.

I knew a lot of the people out there. I got to see the lovely Scott Dunlap (Funny - I saw him, knew I knew him somehow, asked him, and then realized he writes one of my fave blogs, A Trail Runner's Blog), Tony, Steve Tursi again, and others. They were all running and I wished I was running too - but was glad I was helping out.

When it came time for Tony's final lap, Iliana and I began running with him. Iliana ran ahead to pace a doctor on her final lap, and I kept pace with Tony, trying to do my best to cheer him up. I kept chatting about Umstead, races, random things, trying to perk him up. He seemed cheered as he pulled into the finish.

Then, Iliana and I ran with the infamous Ray K from the Ultra list. ("I love his posts," Iliana confided in me.) He shared all sorts of great wisdom, advice, running tips, racing reports. I'm excited that he'll be at Umstead, and he might even have time to run a lap with me (which sounds even better, especially after my pacer AKA little sister's email of this morning complaining that her hip flexor is bothering her).

After we finished volunteering, Iliana and I headed for a long run ourselves. It was getting dark and cold and we explored the trails as much as we could during the daylight. We looped around the pavement, avoiding oblivious children on out-of-control tricycles and old men on wobbly bicycles. 

After the run, we piled back into Iliana's car to finish the Banana Oat Choc Chip bars I had made, drink some water, and say goodbye to a weekend of fun 50ks.

A 50k a Day...(Seneca Trails 50k Race Report)

I have no willpower. Seriously. Especially when it comes to running. Iliana asked me if I wanted to do the Seneca Trail 50k: "It's only $20." And into my training plan. And it was trails. And it sounded fun. And it was running!

So of course I signed up.

The race was cold at the start - just around freezing. I was shivering in a pair of running tights, gloves, my long sleeved running zip up, hat, and yes, hand warmers. We shivered around a registration area utilizing free heat sheets and hand warmers, and the RD encouraged us to use bag balm on our feet - "because your feet will be wet the whole time." Um, I guess I missed the wet factor when skimming the course description...

We started off on a slippery asphalt path, and I slowed down, worrying about ice. I'm a big fraidy cat when it comes to ice, but luckily, it was fairly minimal throughout the race. Most of the race was on trails which were often quite slippery due to snow and mud.

I found myself enjoying the snow and the sunshine, and warmed up after about two miles. I kept my eyes on the path, unwilling to slip down into the creek (which yes, I almost did on more than one occasion), but the scenery was quite lovely (though winter-like). I was not pushing it, as I didn't wish to race this (Umstead 100 is just in three weeks, eeek!) but pushed myself mentally to keep up with certain people and not fall behind.

The trails were fairly flat with some rolling small hills. They were mostly single track and highly enjoyable. There were a few spots with creek crossings - including one where you had to hold onto a rope. That first creek crossing was a bit of a shock - I had no idea there would be creek crossings (mostly ankle high water, but occasionally, mid-calf).  I couldn't help laughing as I crossed - there was just no way to avoid the water, so I tried to embrace. Squish, squish, for the next few minutes after exiting the creek.

The race volunteers were cheerful and had great aid stations (featuring delicious homemade oatmeal cookies!) and cute signs. The aid station at 28 had the theme of "Goldfish" and signs throughout the race talked about goldfish (like "Believe in the Goldfish") and when we finally got to "The Aquarium" we got to chow down on goldfish, yummy homemade treats, pretzels, oh and so many wonderful treats!

It's nice how mellow a 50k feels, especially a "local" one like this. 50 milers are fun but you're aware that there's a lot of work ahead. 50ks feel quick, I guess because I will sometimes do 50k or more as a training run. This was a fun training run with great trails, nice volunteers, and a chance to meet new running friends (and exchange running stories).

I ran the final 10 miles or so with Bekkie and Joe of the Silk City Striders, and chatted with them about the Vermont 100, Massanutten attempts, ultrarunning, life, the usual.

I felt great, running strong at the end. I finished, and immediately was presented with more delicious oatmeal cookies (Yes, ultrarunning will get you fat for the aid stations can more than replenish your lost calories!). We walked to a meat-heavy picnic (RDs, can't you be more like Ann Trason and make your race vegetarian-friendly? The post-Dick Collins 50 Miler BBQ was the absolute best post-race food I ever enjoyed...), ate more oatmeal cookies (Did I ever mention oatmeal cookies, especially good ones, are my fave cookie ever?), and left having met new friends, a great run under my belt, and a feeling of euphoria over my body.

If I ended up getting married...

Chances are, my spouse would serve me with a divorce, for reasons similar to this.

05 March 2010

Packing List for Umstead 100 Miler

Because I don't want to forget anything (I'll have houseguests the week prior to Umstead and my work conference, so I'll likely be packing days in advance), I already made a packing list for the Umstead 100 Miler. (Okay, so I was bored in a meeting the other day...)

  • 3 sports bras
  • 3 tank tops
  • 3 running skirts
  • 3 pairs of underwear
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 2 sneakers
  • rain jacket
  • thin long-sleeved shirt
  • warmer running shirt
  • running tights
  • two visors
  • 2-3 pairs of gloves
  • sunscreen
  • baby wipes
  • body glide 
  • pack of tissues
  • foradil (asthma medicine)
  • albuertol (asthma medicine)
  • 15-20 gels
  • 2 sports chews (power gel strawberry blasts)
  • 4 sports beans
  • 30 endurolytes
  • gaiters
  • velcro for gaiters
  • 2 water bottles
  • fun-sized snickers bars
  • 2 5-hour energy shot
  • ziploc
  • sunglasses
  • headlamps (2)
  • small flashlight
  • extra batteries
  • advil
  • immodium
  • ginger candies
  • for post race: sandals, fleece socks, comfy pants, warm hoodie, clean undies, t-shirt
Did I forget anything???

01 March 2010

Because we all get hysterical after doing anything too long

I tend to freak out too; I remember yelling at mile 48 after an insanely hard hill at the Bear Mountain 50 Miler, "Don't tell me I look good! I don't look good! I look horrible and I feel horrible."

Sorry, volunteers. I was a little...ultra-d out at the time.

I know it's a commercial but I think it's hilarious.