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