Wednesday, April 8, 2009
What a weekend ! It is almost impossible to start my Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run race report without first mentioning the tremendous success that so many runners had at Umstead. It truly was a record setting weekend as 248 runners hit the course. Jill Perry battled Kris Whorton the entire way and ended up with a course record time of 16:02:27. Whorton was only 3 minutes behind (16:05:34). 74 year old Barbara Macklow finished in 29:46:11 and his believed to be the second oldest woman to complete a 100-mile trail run. Good friends Doug Vaughan (21:05:48 - 23rd place), Grant McKeown (22:06:23 - 37th place), Emmy Stocker (22:18:49 - 40th place), Wayne Bates (23:12:49), Joe Galioto (23:26:02), Lane Vogel (26:14:25), Tammy Massie (27:46:48), Bob Gentile (28:14:22), and Derek Hills (28:14:22 - first 100 miler) all had amazing performances (many of which were PR performances).
Then there is the overall winner, Dave James (15:05:10 - he led from start to finish). Dave will hereinafter be referred to simply as "The Champ". I have trained with this dude at Rockies. Not only is he one of the nicest guys I know, he is one tough runner. Oh, and by the way, I predicted that he would win this event and told him he would weeks before the event !
For me, Umstead was a huge success, a perfect day. I finished in 21:39:37, good for 32nd overall and a PR by 1:45. Even better.....once again, blister free with Drymax Socks. What follows is a recap of my Umstead 100 experience.
The Course - The Umstead 100 course is a 12.5 mile loop run 8 times. Each loop as two out-and-back "spurs". The Headquarters Spur is 1.85 miles in length and is used to access the start/finish aid station. The Airport Spur is .75miles in length and is only run on the out-bound leg of each loop. The course traverses a converted dirt road that now serves as a jogging,biking and bridle trail. With a width of 10 to 15 feet, the trail offers excellent footing, no single-track, and no creek crossings. The surface of the course is primarily fine packed powdered, granite screenings. There is crusher run material located on a portion of the course that is a vehicle access road. Rolling topography provides a total of 8,000 feet of climbing over the 100 miles (1,000 feet per loop) making the course entirely runnable. Each 12.5 mile loop has 2 aid stations (the Headquarters aid station and "Tom & Jerry's Ptomaine Tavern", which is located at the 6.85 mile mark). There are also several (7) unmanned"water only" stops in each loop. The 2 full, "second to none" aid stations contain just about everything under the sun - cookies, fruit,potato slices, sandwiches, hard candy, candy bars, bananas, crackers,hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, pretzels, trail mix, soup, ice cream,yogurt, pizza, water, Gatorade, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, coffee, southern tea, fruit juices and milk. They even made me egg sandwiches late at night.
Travel and Pre-Race - I made the decision to fly to Raleigh Thursday night. For the last 100-miler (Javelina Jundred 100) I chose to fly the day before the race, and that seemed to have a negative effect on my mental and physical condition. Emmy and The Champ arrived at my house in the early afternoon so that Wayne could give us a ride to the airport (he would arrive on Friday). The Champ was eating everything in site - I think he had 4 bananas, 3 oranges, 2 apples and a Slurpee ! The flight down was a little on the bumpy side as we flew over and through a few storm systems. Once in Raleigh we picked up our rental car and headed to the hotel where Bob was waiting after arriving in the early afternoon. Burgers and fries at Big Daddy were on the menu as we met two of The Champs friends for dinner. It was great to have the opportunity to sleep in Friday morning, but I was pretty much up by 7 AM. Once Wayne arrived we re-connected with The Champ and drove to William B. Umstead State Park to inspect the course and location of the cabins (Tom and Doug had 2 cabins and were kind enough to let Bob use them to store his race drop bags). That was followed by a trip to the super market to snag some race supplies. I really didn't need much....my fueling plan was going to be basic and the aid stations had plenty of good eats. At some point during the morning I started to feel groggy and tired. My head was killing me - not a good sign. I made the decision to go to packet pick-up at 1 PM when it opened, then return to the hotel to get my gear ready and rest (picture is of Bob getting his race packet). This plan seemed to work. By dinner time I felt better. Pre-race dinner was interesting - chicken sandwiches and french fries from Chick-fil-A. With dinner done it was chill time, and I finally fell asleep somewhere around 10 PM.
Race Morning - Why is it that I always wake up before the alarm goes off, even when the darn thing is set for 3:30 AM ? I think it was 3 AM when Bob bounded out of bed to grab a quick shower. I used that time to eat a bagel and have some coffee. Wayne's room was one door down. By 4:45 AM or so we were in the car and on our way to the race. I finally got to meet Jennifer Vogel - she would run with me for loops 6 and 7 as part of her training for the Keys 100 (and after putting in 20 miles while we were in the early stages of the race). I also met her husband Lane and we would later run a bit together and pass each other on the out-and-back portions of the course. It was a bit cold out, but not too bad. Pictures, chatting, and a few bathroom stops later we were off and running the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run !
Pre-Race (Wayne, Bob, Grant, Emmy and Tammy)
Loop #1 (0 - 12.5 miles) - Now, I had started out with a set race plan - run the entire first loop to loosen up, take the next 3 loops running 8/2 (8 minutes of running with 2 minutes of hiking with a purpose), take the next 2 loops running 9/1, then finish with whatever I had left for the final 2 loops. I started out with Wayne and Emmy. We were running at a fairly good pace. The Airport Spur was flat as a pancake which invited a fast pace. After some early chatting, Wayne hit the woods and we would all put a little distance between us. Emmy and I talked about walking the hills and after running several of them early on, I made a decision to pull back a bit and walk the bigger hills to make sure to keep my heart rate in check. I'm glad I did, because soon Doug would catch up to me. What ! ? ! I thought he was ahead of me. Doug is a fast and disciplined runner, and I had no business being ahead of him. So I decided to stick with Doug for the rest of the first loop. He was moving well and walking the hilly sections. Lane caught up to us and hung with us for a while before taking off. I was running so well with Doug that I thought it would be good to try to stick with him for the 2nd loop and he promised to tell me some great stories about a friend of ours. We hit the start/finish area (called "Headquarters") with a time of about 2:20. Good, but way ahead of pace.
Loop #2 (12.5 - 25 miles) - My fueling plan was to take 1 Gu Roctane every 2 hours, one bottle of Clip 2 each loop, and mix in some Cliff Shot Bloks and aid station food. I also would take 1 S-Cap every hour. After re-stocking with Clip 2 I headed back down the trail to look for Doug. I got to his cabin where his wife and Tom's wife were sitting. "Where's Doug," I asked. "He's gone...he waits for no on," was the reply. Oops. So I was off on my own to enjoy the tunes on my IPod. At some point I hooked up with a guy named Lee (I think he was just running 50 miles today). He was super nice and the time flew by. I still found myself running well and fast. The Umstead course has mile markers which is awesome to keep your pace in check. I was calculating mile splits and noticing that I was moving rather quickly. Fueling was going just fine. Feet were great. As I hit Headquarters aid station I looked at my loop split - 2:17 - wow what a pace for me. I was looking at a 9:20 first 50 miles, better than my 50 mile PR. Funny, when I would cross paths with the Champ at the end of the 3rd loop he would let out a "Tony, I just set a 50-mile PR by 30 minutes !"
Loop #3 (25 - 37.5 miles) - I'm pretty sure this is the loop on which I met Fred from Kickrunners. I spent a lot of time with Fred and we were having a very nice loop. I wanted to dial it back a notch to avoid the mistake I have made in most of the 100s I've run. Walk the hills...dial it back...walk the hills...dial it back. Every now and then I'd pass someone I knew. Emmy, Wayne, Derek, Bob, Doug. Everyone looked fantastic. My stomach started to bother me a bit. A few ginger chews took care of that. I finished this loop in about 2:30.
Loop #4 (37.5 - 50 miles) - I kept with the fueling plan. It was working like a charm. I had a burger at aid station #2, as well as some turkey and roast beef sandwhiches. Some of the water at AS#2 had a nasty taste to it (reminded me of the sulfer tasting water at Vermont 50 several years ago). I was still walking the big hills and running strong. I somewhere abandoned the 8/2 and 9/1 plan because the hills were well spaced to allow me to open it up a bit on the flats and downs, with a nice recovery hike on the hills. Wayne was looking great. He was good enough to point out that I had forgotten my hat (I had changed shirts to deal with the heat of the day), but grabbed it for me and gave it to me as we crossed paths on the out-and-back Airport Spur. Bob was on track for an excellent performance. I hadn't seen Emmy for quite some time. Grant was a bit worried about that and as we passed each other on the out-and-back portion he wondered if she was o.k. I hadn't seen Tom in a while as well. I would later learn that he dropped at 75 miles. This loop was a perfect 10 minutes slower than the last, and I came into Headquarters aid station at about 2:40, making my first 50 miles time about 9:50. This time was 10 minutes faster then the time I logged at Rocky Raccoon 100 in February. Part of me was worried, but I felt a trillion times better at this point at Umstead than I did at Rocky. As I finished the loop I saw Jennifer walking Lane out from Headquarters aid station. He looked great. Jennifer and I briefly discussed what we thought my time would be for the 5th loop. I thought it would be a tough one because of the heat. We figured 3 hours, maybe more.
Loop #5 (50 - 62.5 miles) - I kept moving well for this loop. Knowing that I'd have Jennifer's company for the next 25 miles was motivation to move. I would talk to various runners as they would pass me or I would pass them. At points I'd stick with a runner and chat, but I mostly kept to myself and enjoyed the day. It was gorgeous out. This loop turned out to be faster than we though - 2:49.
Loop #6 (62.5 - 75 miles) - It was great to have day light for most of this loop. When the dark came it didn't really matter as the moon light was strong enough to let us run without the use of lights. I did have a hand-held flashlight in my pocket, but rarely used it. Jennifer and I hit it off from the start. We shared running stories. She is one incredible runner. We also had a ton of laughs. With her company time was flying by. At some point I started to wonder where Lane was, and as I finished this loop (or maybe it was the very beginning of the next) I saw him. He was behind me. How the heck did that happen ? I didn't pass him. Or did I ? Turns out he made a pit stop and I had passed him without knowing. I was also looking for The Champ. I knew I would see him heading the other way on his last loop soon and wanted to make sure to give him some encouragement. I had seen him and his closest competition all day. He was murdering the course and ahead all the way. I would eventually see The Champ - he was on his way to victory. We continued to cruise. Jennifer was a trip. Everytime I'd say "shoud we walk this hill" she would say, "what hill....this isn't a hill". She kept me moving well and we finished this loop in around 2:52.
Loop #7 (75 - 87.5 miles) - This was one of the most hilarious segments of running I've every experienced. I think the videos below will tell the story better than I can (please excuse the corny comments as the mind and mouth work differently this far into a 100-miler). Towards the end of the loop Jennifer said she wished she could stay with me for the final 12.5 miles. We talked about a possible sub-22 hour finish. I'm good at doing math while running, and I was constantly computing the worst case scenario. I had a good shot, but I'd have to keep moving. Jennifer convinced me to allow her to get a race-provided pacer, and after finishing this loop in about 3:05, I headed out for my last loop with my new friend, Carl.
Loop #8 (87.5 - 100 miles) - As I was finishing Loop #7 I saw Bob. He was not looking good at all. I had told him that I'd catch up to him and see what was up. I caught him on the Airport Spur. Blisters...yikes. They were killing him. It would be a long haul for him the rest of the way (he still had loops 7 and 8 to complete). When passing by the Headquarters Spur on my way to the rest of the loop I saw Lane coming in to complete his 7th loop. He wasn't looking good either. ITB issues had gotten the better of him. Yet, he would stick with it, step by step to the finish. Carl and I continued to move well and get to know each other. I am always amazed at these wonderful volunteers who come out to make sure the runners are taken care of. What would possess Carl to give up a Saturday night (at midnight no less) to come out and run 3 hours with some total stranger ? I was happy to have him by my side. He let me dictate the pace, and at times we simply decided to take the hills by storm. We ran well. We passed several runners. I had met a girl, Cheryl, during the course of the race. We were leap-frogging a lot. I finally passed her for good and she looked great. She was on her way to a great time. We hit the last turn that signaled the final stretch of the loop. Carl and I both knew we had sub-22 hours in the bag. When we hit the Headquarters Spur I noticed that that I could hit under 21:40, so I pushed hard up to the top of the hill and ended up with a loop 8 time of about 3:02, making my finish time 21:39:37 !!!!!
The back-and-forth with race director Blake was classic. "Have you finished before," he asked. "I've finished a 100, but not at Umstead," I said (you only get a belt buckle when you finish your first Umstead 100... after that you must purchase the buckle separately, which is done to help keep the cost of the race down). "Well," Blake said, "looks like you finished in under 24 hours." "Yes sir," I said. "You know what that means, don't you," was Blakes next line. "YES, SIR," I said, after which he handed me a shiny silver "100 Miles - One Day" buckle !
Post-Race - After finishing I headed into the main lodge. There was plenty of food and drinks to choose from. Where's The Champ. I was dying to see what his time was and if he had won the race (remember, I predicted that he would). I found him asleep in a corner. I changed my clothes and sat down at a table and kept looking for Emmy and Wayne to come in after finishing. There was a nice warm fire in the lodge where I relocated myself to. Moments later, The Champ was up and came over to where I was sitting - huge guy hug and high fives...victory in the bag. Soon Grant walked in. He ran such a consistent race. Emmy would follow. Then Wayne and Joe. All had new PRs and sub-24 hour finishes. We all debated whether or not to head back to the hotel to clean up. I didn't want to - I wanted to see Lane, Derek, Tammy and Bob finish. So, I took a mattress and blanket and took a 2 hour nap (from about 4 AM to 6 AM). When I awoke I saw Jennifer, and after telling her that I hit sub-22, she gave me a giant hug. I spent most of the rest of the morning with her looking for Lane to finish. I also sat outside by the start/finish area with Mandy (she ran 50 miles and set a new PR). We watched all the finishers come in. I think the best way to describe our friends finishing a 100-mile race is to watch the videos that I took, so, enjoy.
There are so many people to thank. My coach Lisa Smith-Batchen who continues to guide me to improved times. My pacers, Jennifer and Carl. My pacer for my prior two 100-milers, Rick Gaston, who taught me a lot of what I used at Umstead. All of the race volunteers - they are amazing. The Champ (Dave James) for giving me some great advice over the last several months and letting me run with him every now and then. Wayne, Kristen and Dot for all of the great training runs, but especially Wayne who spent countless hours on the trails with me. Bob for all his support and amazing friendship - he really hung in there at Umstead and set a new PR - congrats Bob !! And, of course, Drymax Socks. I continue to be amazed by this product. I don't have to stop during the race to address feet issues, and post-race recovery is so much easier when you don't have to deal with blisters. The proof is in the pictures. Take a look.