Monday, April 7, 2008

Pacing Report - 2008 Umstead 100

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I had the privilege of pacing Meredith for about 30.8 miles at Umstead 100 Saturday night into Sunday morning. I also had the opportunity to be a part of an amazing crew of friends, all of which devoted a significant portion of their time to helping Meredith over the course of 27+ hours. So, before the blow-by-blow account of the 11 hours that I spent on the course with Meredith, I think that it is more then appropriate to mention the entire crew of people (Kickrunners screen names included) I spent a ton of time with on Saturday and Sunday :

Eddie (Chupacabra....or is it Chewbacca?)
Heather (Gingerbread)
Linda (Altoids)
Alexia (Ecodork)
Andrea (SisgerGoldenHair)

It is also important to congratulate all of the runners who participated at Umstead, and to mention the 50-Mile winners (Mens : Matt Kirk in 7:02:40, Womens : Barbara Mack in 9:24:08) and the 100-Mile winners (Mens : Serge Arbona in 15:53:09, Womens : Jamie Donaldson in 16:21:10). In addition to winning the women's field, Jamie Donaldson finished second overall, setting a new women's course record. In particular, many kudos to the following (sorry if I missed a few others) :

Frank Colella - 10:54:07 (50-mile), running 70+ miles with as stress fracture and hematoma.
Lisa Bliss - 19:42:44 (2nd Female)
Doug Vaughan - 22:47:06
Keith Straw - 23:05:14
Tom Triumph - 23:50:10
Emmy Stocker - 24:57:19 (Her first 100-miler, 9th Female)
Meredith Murphy - 27:04:50
Ethel Cook - 28:24:57
Kim Love-Ottobre - 28:44:52 (a new PR)

And now, on to the Pacing Report...

I woke up Saturday morning at around 5:00 AM, put the finishing touches on packing, and headed to the airport for my flight to Raleigh-Durham. The weather reports for the weekend were not too promising, with rain, thunderstorms, and even hail forecast for the race. I was a little worried about being able to land in Raleigh-Durham, but there was a nice little window of time that seemed to fit nicely with my flight time. We were delayed a bit in getting off the ground, but ended up arriving on schedule. Eddie picked me up at the airport and somehow one wrong turn managed to turn the 10-15 minute drive to William B. Umstead State Park into a 45 minute sight-seeing tour. I must have seen about 20 Bojangles on the way (or perhaps it was the same one that I saw over and over again).

The rest of Meredith's crew was at the Start/Finish aid station when we arrived at the park. The weather was quite dreary - overcast and rainy. Meredith had already run the 1st of the 8 12.5 mile loops in about 2:30, and the second in about 2:45 - she was already off on her 3rd loop and was well ahead of schedule. We were a little concerned that her pace at this point was a bit too fast, but she was smart and took it down a notch. Knowing we had a few hours to kill, Eddie and I took off to grab some food and a few supplies. Catering to the needs of the rest of the crew, we would return with Doritos and Flamin' Hot Cheetos. We also wanted to figure out how to drive to Aid Station #2, which is where I would meet Meredith to begin pacing her for the last 30 miles of the race. After 8:00 PM, the park would only open its entrance gates every hour on the hour, so timing was critical. It was another adventure getting to AS #2, but we made it there in time to see Meredith, Frank and Emmy come through. Frank's wife and daughter were there as well (and would end up having the same fruit colored six-foot umbrella that Eddie and I would later purchase).

Returning from her 3rd loop, Meredith showed signs of stomach issues and was having trouble taking solid foods. Knowing that she'd have pacers to support her once she hit the 50-mile mark, she dug deep and hammered out the 4th loop, finishing the first 50-miles in 11 hours. This is a good spot to talk about how much fun the entire crew had in between laps. We had a blast - this was a great crew of people. I particularly enjoyed the outfits that Linda and Heather would wear once the rain became a constant (see yesterday's "Umstead 100 Pictures" post below). It was also really cool spending time with Alexia and Andrea, huddled under our six-foot umbrella that we staked into the ground. We had to move that thing a few times as the water begin to pool around us, creating mud-fest 2008. There was also a fire pit that "somebody's" son enjoyed feeding throughout the night. Many thanks to that boy for keeping us warm. It was also a lot of fun to see other friends coming in and out of the main aid station. I spent some time with Emmy and Frank each time they came through - they were both in great spirits and doing well, although Frank was having some shin issues (to be discussed later - see pictures on his blog). I also learned at some point that Derek (Durt) had some leg issues and had to drop (he had run portions of JFK-50 with what I recall was a broken leg).

Heather took off to pace for the 5th loop, shedding her red space suit in favor of real running gear. Linda would take Meredith through the first half of loop 6. When Linda and Meredith began loop 6, Eddie and I took off to make sure we were at the entrance gate in time to be let loose from the park. We arrived at AS #2 a little early. I geared up and was ready to go. We started the second half of loop 6 in great spirits, moving briskly through the latter part of the course (running the flats and down hills, power-walking the up hills). I could see that Meridith was still having solid food issues, and she reported feeling nauseous many times. We finished the last part of loop 6 in decent time, about where we wanted to be time-wise, but not with much time to waste.

The 7th loop became a real challenge after reaching AS# 2. After starting well, the inability to take in solid foods began to take its toll on Meredith. I have a small suspicion that, considering she did not feel well most of the day, perhaps she was suffering from eating some "bad" food. Nevertheless, casting fear and pain aside, Meredith would continue to plug through. We were reduced to as much of a power-walk as we could manage, but always were moving forward. At one point, I remember looking over and watching Meredith nearly run into a tree on the side of the trail (although there has been suggestions made that perhaps it was the tree that moved into her path). We also saw Tom Triumph at some point in loop 7, looking strong as usual. Frank had dropped out due to stress fractures in his leg. The medics also told him he had a hematoma - just not his day - better to be safe then sorry - great move in calling it a day, Frank.

The 8th loop was also very difficult for Meredith, especially considering how it began. About 50 yards from the main aid station, after a quick pit stop, I recall hearing the words "I'm really nauseous, I think I might throw-up". Now, I'd heard that a few times on the course during the course of the last several hours, but usually those words were followed by a nice belch (boy that girl can belch). I recall looking to my right and not seeing Meredith, then looking a little further back to see that she had stopped. I walked back and watched a very professional, calm, effective display of vomiting. Twice she would spill whatever she had in her stomach, in a very consistent manner. I only wish I had my camera (I had given it to Eddie to hold due to the weather), and if I had something to record the sound, you would all be impressed. We also would run into "hiccup man" several times on the portions of the course with two-way traffic. I don't know how he did it, but this guy seemed to have constant hiccups. You could hear him coming from a far distance away, then continue to hear him well after he passed.

Ultra events many times become "goal reassessment" events, especially the 100 mile distance. Loop 8 was all about goal reassessment. It was a long, tough loop. The rain continued to fall (as it had for most of our 11 hours together on the course). The fog was so think in places that it was hard to see too far ahead. It got cold out there, and it didn't help that we were both soaked to the bone. Yet, Meredith continued to move forward, not an ounce of quit in her. Day broke and we could again see without the use of lights. With every step we were closer to the finish. About a mile from we saw Andrea (she had come out to see how things were). She offered great encouragement to Meredith, took a few pictures, and headed back to see the finish. Finally, in 27:04:50, Meredith was done, besting her time from last year's race on this same course.

At the finish we saw Emmy. She had waited for Meredith to finish and looked great for her first 100 mile race. We also saw Keith Straw and several other who offered words of congratulations for a great effort. My suspicions about Meredith's overall health were probably true - she would continue to feel nauseous, and was able to again witness some excellent vomiting skills - twice more in the hotel parking lot, and again in her room (although I only got the audio version in the hotel room). Eddie and I got a quick bite to eat after cleaning up and hanging with Emmy for a while. It was about 1:00 PM and I felt bad about keeping Eddie up and I had decided not to nap since my flight was at 6:00 PM. So, I had Eddie drop me off at the airport at 1:15 or so. After a few flight delays, some runway sitting, and some in-flight circling, I was back in New York and excited to be picked up at the airport by my girls. It had been a long, long two days and I had been up for nearly 40 hours straight.

The short trip to Umstead was absolutely worth it. Although Meredith did not reach her ultimate goal, she was unbelievable in her perseverance as she dealt with issues that were working against her. This girl continues to amaze me, and I hope that I get the opportunity to pace her again in the future. It was also awesome to see Eddie and so many other friends this weekend. Linda, Andrea, Alexia, Heather - you all are amazing and wonderful people, and so much fun to hang out with. You made the entire experience a blast. I only wish that "Tim" would have enjoyed the fun we were having at his expense. Andrea, best of luck with Boston. Eddie, thanks so much for driving me around.

Emmy - Congratulations on your first 100 - awesome job.

Frank - Great to see you out there. Amazing how you ran with stress fractures, but, smart move letting discretion being the better part of valor. Rest up and heal well.

Derek - Rest up and heal well.

Meredith - Congratulations on a great performance. You were great out there. Thanks for letting me be a part of it. See you and Eddie in a few weeks.


  1. What an awesome experience pacing is and it sounds like you experienced all of it. Nice to see others helping out..


  2. Anthony -wow! --that was a great report and great pix --fun to hear about what you did during the day while we were out on the course (buying umbrellas and doritos)-- thankfully everything worked out with your plane flights, and your pacing duties -Meredith would have never gotton through without you!! She is trying to convince Frank and i to go to the javelina Jundred!! see you on Sat--even if it is cheering from the sidelines! Oh, I ended up going to the Greek restaurant Sunday night with Melanie and Steve -and never got to say goodbye to you, meredith and eddie --wanted to say thanks for your support.

  3. Loved the report! I was disappointed that there was no YouTube reenactment of my puking (8 times total). Thanks for coming out and spending some good quality time on the trails with me, in the pouring rain!

  4. Wow awesome, awesome, awesome job to all of you homies! I can't even i-m-a-g-i-n-e running that kind of distance. Wow!

  5. It's great that you could come out and help - and especially because you know exactly what it takes to run one. I am sure your presence kept her calm more so. I know it would for me. Good job guys.

  6. Wow! Thank you for an excellent commentary on your experience of Umstead. I have been furiously seeking results of the 50 and 100 since early Sunday...thank you for providing some answers!
    And many kudos to you for your selfless and enthusiastic gift of pacing!

  7. Great job supporting Meredith. What an incredible experience!

  8. That's amazing. Congrats to Meredith and to you for helping her through so many miles!

  9. Anthony,
    looking at your races for the year, it looks like you registered for the Javalina 100, is that correct? I will definately make it out there to cheer you on.

  10. MIT - Yes, I am registered for Javelina. There is a very, very small chance that I'd opt to do JFK-50 instead, but I highly doubt it. My plans are to be at Javelina.

  11. Great report on the pukefest!
    I know Meredith was grateful to have you witness the stomach emptying. : )

  12. It sounds like it was a hard fought race for your friend Meredith. She's fortunate to not just have you as part of her support crew but lucid enough to relay such a vibrant, detailed report on her behalf.

  13. Ok Gentile...Mr. Anonymous....let the games begin !

    Details of our wager to follow !

  14. ?? Huh? Not sure who that Anonymous person is but ummm nice panties :-)

    Great Re-Cap and way to go on pacing Meredith and Congrats to All Finishes and especially Meredith for getting it done when you were having a one of those bad days. You Rock!