Thursday, July 31, 2008

50 Marathons in 50 States

Tammy and Dean Karnazes after the 50 Marathons in 50 States: Delaware Marathon
Dean, my Mom and I after the 50 Marathons in 50 State: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marathon (Note: I was supposed to participate in the Breakers in RI, but my mom was in the hospital after a stroke..but here she is just a week later!)

Today I am going to attend the premiere of the move 50 marathons in 50 states with Dean Karnazes. I am really excited about seeing this movie with my sister, Imelda and Tristan. I ran the Delaware Marathon with Dean in 2007, so there is the chance I have a cameo! During the Delaware marathon I met my friend Dave Z. who I keep in touch with and plan to run Harrisburg (and hopefully Akron if I can just persuade him that 2 marathons in 2 months is reasonable:-) And now Delaware is even more special because it is where I have my Marathon PR 4:17 (thanks to a lightening storm I wanted to beat to the finishline).

Monday, July 28, 2008

Brief Summary of VT 100


Me, hanging with a herd of cows on the course. Is there a bull hiding behind the tree??

This summary highlights some of the adventures I had during my 100 mile journey through Vermont July 19-20th.
It was an exciting 29 hours and 6 minutes. My favorite stories from this event include lots of weather, lots of wildlife (even though I was reassured there are no wild animals on the VT100 course, but some of those people suggested the course was not hilly so their word was already suspect), and lots of amusing people along the way.

1) The weather-for those of you who have looked at the race results, the 65% success rate show how difficult the race conditions were this year.

It was hot, humid and it seemed to rain on and off the entire weekend (it rained during the pre-race dinner, right before the start, during the race, in the morning of the second day, during the post-race lunch. I think Vermont is a Rainforest, although when I googled it there is no mention of Vermont being a Rainforest)

Of course with the rainstorms came other nasty weather. At mile ~45 I was running along with my friend Rob Apple and several other runners along a road. We were surrounded by pastureland, which was not too bad until the lightening storm arrived! During the storm we were witnessing trees about 200 meters from where we were running getting struck by lightening and simultaneous thunderclaps. This was not good. Initially I picked up the pace and probably was going faster then any other runner (well at least in my mind), but at some point I kind of panicked and could not move forward. Luckily Rob convinced me to move forward and I think I survived (I am writing this review/report, right??)

As the lightening storm continued including massive quantities of torrential rain, we finally made it into the woods by the Maple sugar farm. There were a few hills we had to climb that were raging rivers and tough to climb up (two steps forward, one slide backward!). As we continued in the Maple sugar farm we had the opportunity to experience our next challenge: Marble sized hail. Initially, I thought someone was pegging me with acorns (something my husband would totally do on a hike!) but then I was a bit puzzled why it was on my head, not my back/shoulder: ping, ping, ping. What the HAIL???? Well, luckily the hail did not get much bigger and we were somewhat protected by the tree’s.

Because the rain was so significant the course became completely waterlogged. As we scampered through the Maple Farm, there were pools of water/mud that you could not avoid stepping into on the course. Well, apparently I decided to take a quick dip in one and sank into mud that reached mid-calf. I am not convinced that if I had not had my dirty girl gaiters (which are not SUPER DIRTY girl gaiters), that I would not have lost my sneaker. I pulled my foot up as hard as I could and glug, glug, out pops my foot caked in mud. It was awful. I really hate dirty feet and I almost quit on the spot. But alas, I would have to run myself to the next aid station anyway and by the time we arrived there, I could see the humor in the situation.

In retrospect it is pretty funny how in this ~10 minute time frame the weather deteriorated so quickly and by the end of it I was ready for the swarm of locusts!

2) The creatures-Prior to Vermont 100, I expressed my concerns to anyone who would listen. I worried about snakes, lightening, the hills and bears (in that order). Well, as you can see from above, my fear of lightening was founded. And even though before the race friends suggested there were no snakes and even Rob Apple (500+ ultra’s including many VT 100 milers) who I had started running with at mile 10 suggested the course really lacked wildlife. I mentioned that I really dislike snakes and he assured me we would not see snakes. As we are running about mile 35, he starts encroaching on my personal space, which was a bit puzzling. A few moments later he cautiously mentioned, “there is a snake over there.”, “A SNAKE???”, I am ready to shriek in dismay, but recall how this attracted a herd of snakes in Stowe two years ago! Yup, he was right, there was a 2-3 foot garter snake enjoying the course. And people say I worry too much about things that won’t occur!

This incident actually followed a previous incident that occurred earlier in the day in which I nearly gave myself a heart attack. When I was at about mile 7, the sun had risen and I was near a meadow along a tree lined portion of the course. At the time I was all alone and thinking positive thoughts (no snakes, no lightening, no bears, all is good). Then in the distance I hear some rustling in the marsh/meadow. I see a stream and lots of tall grass and some high flowers. It looks like the perfect place for a bear to sneak up on me. Then out of the corner of my eye, I see movement. I see a brown large creature. It is coming at me stealthily. Is it a bear???? Oh no, I am all alone and I think I might be on the bears menu. What can I do? What should I do? Well, since I have my camera and am ready to document my death, I bring the camera out of my fanny pack and turn it on. As this large furry brown creature gets to about 5 feet from me, I snap a picture (good idea, right?). Then as it becomes more visible I realize it is a rather large brown cow. Phew! I am okay. Scared, but okay.

So my run ins with the wildlife continue through the entire race. In the afternoon, I am jogging along and decide the next aid station is too far (and actually the porta potty may be up to 10 miles away). What is a girl to do? Well in an ultra the option is to find a “latree”. Since at the time I was with mixed company and the others had the same idea, we each picked a side of the course and set out. Early in ultra’s I tend to walk 20+ feet off the course and find a nice tree. Well, this time I picked the side of the course that had the pasture. I walked along, found a suitable tree and was using the facility. One suggestion I have for any future runner is DO NOT use the pasture side. It was infested with mosquitoes! About 4 bits on my tuckus later in just a few seconds I am getting really agitated but really cannot do anything except think to myself, “how can I explain these bites on my buttocks to my husband?” I hurry up as best I can and run back onto the course where the mosquitoes are not as numerous. All future latree break’s I ensure are in the woods!

Where there are mosquitoes there are mosquito eating creatures. And this leads me to my last animal encounter. It is dusk and I am running all alone. Because of my ~30 minute shoe change I am well behind Rob and the other runners seem to be going a bit slower than I, so I am having issues finding someone to jog with. As I run, I nearly get hit in the face by a flying creature. Then another almost hits me in the ear. I think it’s a bird. But no, it’s not a bird, its BATS. I am not sure if I am cool with having bats flying within a few inches of my face. It is a quite disconcerting. I don’t think bats make my top 10 list of animals to fear (rattlesnakes, corral snakes, water moccasins, copperheads, fire ants, bears, sharks, alligators, hippopotamus, scorpions, cobras). Luckily the bat infestation seems to go away after a few minutes and I am able to return to fearing other things (a recurrent thought I have during the night when I am alone is: how many serial murders have occurred in Vermont? I don’t think there are any but perhaps the state better at covering them up than lets say Florida and California..yup, nothing but positive thoughts going on in my head!?!). Luckily ultimately I get a pacer and once I have his company I feel safe and defended.

3) Enthusiastic Crowds, Volunteers and Support from Friends-the aid station volunteers are awesome. At each aid station there is a wide selection of food and beverages and super nice volunteers to attend to the runners needs. They are all great! And I know I could not run 100 miles without the support and cheering of these folks. And of course in spirit I had lots of friends who answered Tristan's e-mail seeking encouraging words to put in my drop bag...THANK YOU!

As I was running in the evening (slightly concerned about serial killers), I had the most surreal and amazing experience. Going up a massive hill you could hear a party going full force. Initially I thought it was an out of control aid station, but as I approached I realized it was a bunch of college students having a rather large and noisy party. Many of the party goers were around a bonfire near the course, but there were several college kids’ right on the course yelling at the tops of the lungs, cheering on runners. They may have been pretty drunk but they all were very good natured. As I got closer there was one young lady in flip flops who was the most enthusiastic person I came across during the hundred miles. She was cheering, talking and expressing how amazed she was at the runners. She ran with me for about 400 or so meters. During our jog up the hill, she mentioned (and I observed) she was in flip flops and had no headlamp. But she suggested that if I could run 100 miles, she could easily run to the top of the hill in flip flops. She introduced herself (I think Sara). She was really encouraging and gave me the boost I needed. Her passion and enthusiasm as she kept saying “Your guys are F***ing Amazing!”, “You are AWESOME” and lots of encouraging words it really gave me so much strength. I really appreciated her passion, enthusiasm and energy. After finishing the race, I was describing this experience to one of my friends who was near me (~28.5 hours), we realized he had seen the same group of girls when he was running with 3 guys. Apparently my young lady friends were flashing the guy runners. He suggested one of the three guys almost quit at this point since the view and ambiance was way better then the race.

One aid station that earned a special place in my heart was mile 83.4. I meander into the aid station and they enthusiastically greet me: “Nice Shirt!” I have my Pink “TAMMY” shirt on and it makes me happy. So I respond, “Yeah, I thought so to when I beat up the girl who was wearing it!”. They laughed and suggested I had the best attitude so far and in their book I get an approved medical clearance because I am coherent and in good spirits (it doesn’t last but at mile 83 I was happy). I do enter the aid station with a slightly sour stomach and really tired (2 a.m. seems to do that to me). Immediately I notice a bag of what looks like coffee beans, I ask if I can eat them (seriously I am ready to take a few handfuls), the volunteer mentions they are chocolate covered coffee beans which are even better (and probably would get me less of a look then gulping down coffee beans or grounds!) In addition to being tired, I do still feel a bit queasy, so I ask for some Pepto Bismo or Ginger (two items that I have found give me relief). They respond that they do not have any Pepto but offer up some Tampax. I am a bit puzzled by this offer and suggest it is just a bit of nausea but so far I have not had a reversal of fortune (competitive eaters term for puking, which I embrace enthusiastically!) A few minutes later a gentleman comes in and asks for some “second skin”. He is given the bad news they do not have that either, but he is also offered some Tampax. Guess there was a huge discount on it in VT! Actually this aid station is a place where my friend Wayne slept a few hours before I arrived. Apparently they protected him with two kiddie plastic cars (you can see a picture and a very humorous account of his 100 miler from his pacers perspective on the following blog on July 21, 2008). Well, I am a little surprised these aid stations workers did not create a fort using Tampax boxes considering it was their solution for whatever ailed any runner! They really cracked me up.

4) The Challenges of the course. Let me be clear: The HILLS on the course were insane! The entire course was spent going either up or down. I will give the folks at Vermont some credit for availing the runners to different surfaces at they ran up and down, up and down, up and down over and over and over…. Oh yes, and those who created the race course were polite enough to offer different grades of hills and distances for how long these hills were. Some of the hills appeared to violate the rules of physics. Several hills were so steep that I was surprised that having a runner on it did not create the critical mass necessary for the whole hill to avalanche down. In fact, I was going to google the word “hill” and “Vermont” to see how many types of hills there are in Vermont but I suspect there are probably about 500 different types of hills (apparently they have many different types of soil there, which the state is quite proud of…do it, go on the Vermont website, you will learn about loamy soil and lots of others soils to dirty to mention on my blog!) And the variability in the lengths of the hills was a real treat! There was one hill I am pretty convinced took about 50 of the entire 100 miles in going up it! Even worse is that several of my “ex-friends” from Virginia who had run VT100 previously suggested the hills were not that bad. I don’t what course they were following but I will be honest with you. The only surface you ran on the entire course was covered with hills. I come from a fairly flat area in Maryland. There was nothing that could have prepared me for these mega-mountains along the course. I was surprised several times when I crested a “hill” (read this as mountain) that there weren’t Yaks, Sherpa’s and oxygen canisters strewn about!

Well, in addition to the hills there is one last treat this course throws at you. As you exit the last aid station (which by the way the last five miles is tough, it is along single track and again either goes up or down). Regardless, my big issue, the proverbial WALL struck about mile 90 or so. In fact it was a genuine stone wall. When I reached it, I thought to myself, what kind of a sick bastard made this course?? (well okay, that thought popped into my mind about mile 20. but this time it popped into my mind in ALL CAPS!!!!). This stone wall was about 2.5 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Not sure what it was supposed to keep in, but it sure nearly succeeded in keeping me out! I arrived sized it up and considered my options. In my slightly diminished mental capacity I saw the following options:
a) Look both ways in hopes of finding a tree that I could lean against or could support me while I climbed up and over
b) Start disassembling the wall stone by stone. I had a lot of anger at this wall so I could channel this anger for good, not evil by flinging stones one by one until I could make it over easily
c) Lie down next to it and hope some kindly runner, pacer or volunteer elected to fling me over. And once on the other side continue on my journey.

Ultimately after a few more choice words to the person who created this course I gingerly sat on the wall, faced one way, tried to swing my legs over gracefully and then catapulted myself over the other side. It sounds graceful here, but trust me, it looked like I was having some massive seizure! I think in the Olympics I would have been awarded a 1.0 on a 10 point scale (and that number more out of pity then actually deserving it!)
With that hurdle cleared it was time to get down to business and to finish the race. A few miles later my husband comes wandering down the course and suggests the finish is just about the bend (seriously, he said “Just around the Bend”!). About 2 hundred bends later (and nearly a divorce or a murder…or both), I stumble out of the woods and there is the finish line. One final step and I cross it. A quick curtsey for the crowd and I am done. Sadly I have no idea what to do. My entire existence has been running, running and more running for the last 29+ hours. I am at a complete loss as to what to do. A seat sounds like a good idea so I take one. It was an incredible journey and my first reaction is never again. But after about 8 hours I am ready to send in my check! It was an amazing experience with such great people who I am privileged to have met, run with or just followed in their footsteps/hoofprints:-)

These are just a few highlights of my race. I hope you enjoyed it.

I will be writing a comprehensive (and unabridged) race report about my experience but expect it will take a few weeks. I also will try to create a document about what I think might have been better training as well as items I needed or might have needed along the way.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Photo Highlights of Vermont 100

My poor shoes and gaiters! I think they deserve to be retired!

At the Award Ceremony with my friends Kris and Randy Whorton!

Left: At the Finish line with Tristan

Below: Made it past the Bull, Whew! (but used the regulation route)
Enjoying the good weather for a moment
Left: My friend Rob during the hailstorm
Right: Tammy and Tristan at the Starting line
With my pacer Randy, his wife Theresa and Tristan, my crew

With my friends Wayne, Emmy and Frank at the start line
Running so fast I am out of focus!
Running with the horses

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vermont 100

I had a great time at Vermont 100 this past weekend. I saw old friends, made new friends and enjoyed spending time with others who are as passionate and enthusiastic about running as myself.

I will write a comprehensive race report in the next few days but just to give you a sneak peak. My race included:

* Snakes
* Lightening striking 200 meters from us
* Hail
* Almost losing my shoe in a big mudpit
* Having a young lady in flip flops run along side me enthusiastically at mile ~68 yelling how awesome the 100 mile runners including myself were
* Learning how deep I could dig in adverse conditions!
and lots more.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Off to Vermont & Thanks!

Today is my last day at home before flying to Vermont.  Tomorrow, my husband and I get up bright and early to fly from BWI (Baltimore, MD) to Manchester, NH on Southwest (our favorite airline for so many reasons!).

I have all my "stuff" packed, labeled and put into many different drop bags.  I should be relatively set for the upcoming adventure.  I ended up needing one full suitcase/duffel, a full overnight backpack (which I have never overnighted in but makes me look like a real hiker) and part of my husbands suitcase.  Oh yes, part of his carry on is filled with my essential stuff such as an extra pair of sneakers, spare outfit, raingear, etc. just in case our checked luggage takes a trip to someplace other then NH!  

I think my husband was freaking out the other day when he thought he only would have 1/2 of a bag for his hiking/vacation equipment; so he appears now to be rather pleased to have a full hiking backpack and 1/2 of a large duffel and enough room in his carryon to include several books, an ipod and a little food.  

We're still having a debate how to spend Thursday (t-minus 1 day to 100 miler).  Our choices include a trip to Canobie Lake, a small theme park near the NH/MA border which would be great fun (but mostly standing up and walking around...perhaps not the best way to get ready for a 100 miler).  Our other choice is to go north to Stowe VT and go on some factory tours including the Ben&Jerry's Factory tour.  As you can see from my previous blogs, there has never been a dessert I do not like!  We would also walk along the recreation path in Stowe and head over to Pie in the Sky a really good Pizza place in Stowe.  So even this plan involves some exertion.  Oh yes, and if I go to B&J's I might feel compelled to eat a Vermonster (29 scoops of ice cream, 4 cups of toppings, 1 can of whipped cream.... yum!)  This would be an excellent celebratory meal; however, the wisdom of it being a pre-race carbo-load could be a bit questionable.  But how awesome would my post be if I could consume a Vermonster and run Vermont 100 within 2 days.  I bet you the elite competitive eating contest winners could not perform a similar feat!      

As I get ready for Vermont I hope I am mentally and physically prepared.  I think my face smashing incident in early June did not help my preparation (a 30 mile day turned into a 7 mile day with trip to emergency room--and I am still puzzled why my hands remained relatively unscathed because my chin had to catch my fall!).  And after getting back to running the next day, I was a bit skittish to go far or fast.  But on the other hand, I felt really good at the Niagara Ultra and perhaps the reduced training regime has helped me to have fresher legs.  I guess Saturday/Sunday will be the test!

I do know as I have trained up for this 100 miler, I have really felt the support and encouragement of so many friends.  There are so many to name, but here is an abreviated list:

My husband and pacer, crew, driver, massage therapist, cheerleader: Tristan,
My sister, and former pacer/crew for Umstead 100 and JFK 50 Cindy and our friend Imelda,
My running supporters:  Chris and Robyn Gault from FleetFeet Gaithersburg who are always willing to order any equipment I might need (my favorite special ordered item is a pink pair of Tifosi sunglasses that transition in the light...cute but functional!).  My Fleet Feet Thursday night gang members who are too numerous to name (and actually I do not know everyone's name:-(  Karen, Larry, Jack, Cynthia, 
My running friends:  I have been so lucky to have so many friends through the years:  Peter W. from Reston Runners, who has been such a help as I have matured as a ultra-runner, Dave Z., who I ran Dean Karnazes Endurance 50 race at Delaware, Meg and Anne from the New Orleans Marathon, Dean P. who I met at a Dean K. signing and then saw along the MCM Marathon route, Richard T., from Canada, my guinness book of world record holder friend (for fastest time for 7 marathons on 7 continents), Diane C. my "dirty girl" friend from Canada, Belinda P. and Vinnie, my "pseudo-pacers" and friends from Umstead 100, my official pacers at Umstead in 07 and 08 Bobby and Amy, my friends from Reston Runners: Anna B., Jim A., my original ultra-mentor Diane L., Dave Y. (who has tried to give me the inside scoop about VT100 having just run it in 2007), Katherine H. (my first crew in JFK in 2005), Leo L., a fellow statistician and ultra-runner who is getting it done well into his 70's!, my elite athlete friends who are always so nice and encouraging: Anne L., Kris W., Annette B., Lisa B. and Jamie D. There are of course my co-workers: Sukh S., Ann S., Katherine B., Kathy M., Jennifer R., Qian G., Jessica K., Jingyee, Carmen C., Andrea J., Melisse B., Tina K., Donna L (& Chris who so graciously let me use their beach house during the Potomac Marathon), my friends from grad school: Margaret S. and Jackie T., and my informal and formal mentors who serve as role models to me both personally and professionally: Anna N., Dale H., Janice D., Georgia C. and Flo H.   

Without my family's good wishes and encouragement when I was running cross country and track during my youth I would not be here.  Thanks Mom & Dad!

You all have been such an inspiration and I am incredible blessed to know you all!  This is the positive thought I will carry in my heart as I run VT100.  When I get depressed, pained or just am ready to succumb to the "Lure of the Chair" I will think of all who are supporting me! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Preparing Part II

So today I am back to being anxious about VT 100. I thought I was all set until I checked It looks like it will be a hot day in VT. I had packed for all conditions but now think I have really overpacked because the low is only predicted to be 65. Who needs winter weight cloths at 65??? At 59 (the previous low) I need winter cloths but 65 is positively balmy. Oh yeah and now no matter what weather internet site I go to suggests possible storms/rain. Aarghh!! I am like my cat (pictured above with my yummy pre-race treat:-) and I am not a big fan of rain and being wet during races.
Well at least I can reminisce about all the tasty treats I have gobbled up in preparation for VT100 (well unless Boo-the cat in the background gets to my cake before I do).
On a positive note, I am watching the Badwater race unfold and am happy to see so many athletes I know and am friends with doing really well. I feel like my husband who watches March Madness progress. I am rivited by the "action" (although the webcasts perhaps are not as exciting as live broadcasts, I still have been clicking on the website with regularity to follow the runners progress).

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I hope you enjoyed the last post by my guest-writer/husband/crew/pacer: Tristan. I never knew he perceived that he was a "backstabbing competitor" previously but perhaps that is why he consistently gets low marks in pacing/crewing/chauffering. Maybe like his housework skills it is all a ploy to get out of doing it!

Today, Tristan went to Shenandoah to climb Old Rag, White Oak Canyon, Hawkbill Peak and Cedar Creek. Because I am afraid of rattlesnakes (which we have seen) and falling down (which I have done), I elected to stay home.

Fleet Feet Gaithersburg (aka my source or "dealer") was hosting a pre-IronGirl seminar series to give some insight about biking, running and swimming. Since I am incompetent at virtually all 3 sports, I figured this refresher would be useful. I learned how to change a bike tire (which is only going to be useful if I remember to buy an inner tube!). And I learned a few other tips for getting ready for the event. Since this is my second IronGirl I think I can fake my way through for a second year in a row. All I need to do is: 1) Not take ~10 minutes in the transition from swimming to biking and 2) Not start the bike on a flat/under-inflated tire and 3) not take a break to appreciate the sights during the run and I probably will improve upon my 3+ hour time.

Spending time panicking about the IronGirl helped distract me from the more current panic associated with VT100. I have now given up cramming and actually think I am 90% packed (I will buy a few more items in New Hampshire..No sales tax, yeah:-) and it is easier to get my beverages/food close to the race rather then have Southwest transport it.

Finally, because it is now too late to cram running/fitness related activities before VT100, I have decided to cram eating/drinking related activities. My current strategies is to eat 3 healthy meals a day supplemented by lots of high calorie foods to ensure I have adequate bodyfat during the 100 (at least this week, this is my justification!). You can see one of my tasty treats above. Yum!

Friday, July 11, 2008

My Support Staff

Name: Tristan Massie

Relationship to Runner, Tammy: I am not sure I would qualify Tammy as a Runner. But if I suspend my disbelief about this phrasing, Tammy is my wife of 8 years

Occupation: Statistician for the FDA in the suburbs of Washington DC (just like Tammy)

Previous Ultramarathon Roles: Crew, Pacer, Chauffer, Backstabbing Competitor

Role at Vermont 100: Chauffer and auxiliary crew

Favorite Athletic Accomplishments: Summiting Mt Rainier, Mt Hood, Mt. Whitney, and Borah Peak (among other state high points since my goal is peak bagging all 50 states high points or at least the interesting ones)! And of course running a few marathons and ultra's with Tammy (Disney Marathon, Richmond Marathon and Niagara Ultra 50 km)

Favorite Moments from previous crewing/pacing experiences: So many stories, so little time (and one story I am not allowed to talk about...what goes on in Umstead stays in Umstead!). I think seeing Tammy finish always with a smile on her face is really inspiring. And of course meeting her new friends she makes during events.

Why do you think you have been demoted to auxiliary/back up crew? I have been fired? Alright, this is AWESOME!

No, really, why do you think you have been demoted to auxiliary/back up crew? Oh this is tough as there are so many possibilities! What man pretends to know the inner workings of a woman's mind? Well, there is the "Sandal Incident of '07" (Umstead 100 miler) in which I brought Tammy flip flops instead of Teva support sandals at mile 98, oops! There is the "Possum Incident of '06" (pictured above) that occurred during JFK 50 miler. I was busy taking a picture of Tammy and a wild opossum at mile 40 along the course and couldn't care less how horrified Tammy was becoming as the opossum was approaching her at high rates of speed (definitely moving faster than her at least)! I see this as useful training for the bears and snakes of the future. Then of course there are several races I neglected to meet Tammy at pre-set locations. I even once abandoned her at the finish line because Gilligan (our dog) and I were peak-bagging in PA and Gilligan wanted to savor the accomplishment of another states high point and refused to come down the mountain for a while! It was all the dog's fault.

Any words of wisdom: I guess thinking about it, I deserved to hear the dreaded words (although it wouldn't affect my income): "You're Fired". But hopefully I can redeem myself at VT100 and get back on the approved pacer/crew list!

Good luck Tammy and all the other runners!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Beautiful Day for a Run!

Picture: Tristan on Mt Rainier

Today was the first day posted the weather for Vermont 100. That means it is within 10 days to the start!

To prepare, my husband and I ran Sugarloaf Mountain for my last hill training session. We ran up and down 3 times. My husband suggested it is a 500 feet climb from the parked car to our turned around point. I am not sure this is accurate but hopefully my husbands POLAR watch/heart rate monitor watch is correct (either it was 500 feet to the top or his heart rate was 500 beats per minute!).

We reminisced about various races he has crewed for me, paced me and visited me along the course and finish line. He has subsequently been fired for crewing/pacing/picking up from the race but they were good times when he was successful at his tasks (I do alot better a job helping when he climbs mountains reliably bringing beer, pizza and treats 9,000+ feet up mountains he has climbed. I have been up both Mt Rainier and Mt Hood to do this).

Tristan also agreed to an interview later this week since he will be serving as my crew (him and my friends at the VT100 who will be moving my drop bags throughout the course). You can look forward to hearing the good, the bad and the ugly (stinky?) about being on "Team Tammy".

Monday, July 7, 2008

Countdown to Vermont 100

Just about 2 weeks until Vermont 100. I am happy, excited, many emotions, so little time!

I have been training really hard the past few months. My husband and I have gone to Sugarloaf Mountain (a mountain I run up and down several times while he hikes with 50 lb pack in training for an upcoming mountaineering class). I have run to and from work several times (and one direction many more times) and of course ran the Niagara Ultra 50+ km.

I am as ready as I can be for VT 100. I even started packing my bags this weekend and hope my strategy will work out (shoes, socks, glide and gaiters available every ~25 miles). I think my husband will drop in on me now and again, but as he has had some crewing irregularities, I will not necessarily count on him showing up at the right place at the right time.

I have been paired with a pacer this past week and I am looking forward to meeting Randy my pacer. I know I am in good hands as he has paced the last 5 years:-)

I am also looking forward to seeing all sorts of friends from a variety of races. Many new friends from Canada that I met at the Niagara Ultra will be there. And several friends from Umstead 100 will be running. And I will get to meet some friends who I have met through (thanks to the introduction to this online forum by my friend Belinda from the Umstead 100). It should be a really fun reunion!

In the meantime I am trying very hard to ensure I meet all my work and family responsibilities. This includes a birthday party tommorrow for two of our cats: Zaboomafoo (8) and Sagwa (5). The whole family is getting ready for this celebration!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Niagara Ultra 50 km-summary

The Niagara Ultra is one of my favorite races. The course is beautiful (even with this year's modification I refused to embrace...and thus ended up running 60+ km!). The course follows a recreation path along the Niagara River on the Canadian side of the River. It goes by several scenic and historic sites including monuments by Queenstown, the Botanical Gardens, the Spanish Aero Car, the Floral Clock. My extralong version also passed whirlpool rapids, Victoria Gardens, Clifton Hill (including a brief visit to Tim Hortons for a donut), the Secret Garden, and of course the American and Horseshoe Falls.

My husband and I have traveled to this race for the past 3 years and plan to continue for many years to come. So we are friendly with the race director and consider many of the runners our friends. This year because we stayed at one of the hotels at Niagara on the Lake, I even hung out with several of the runners the night before the race including: Diane, Addy, Iris, their respective spouses and a bunch of other ultra runners (and race directors) from the Canadian Ultra running community. I will be seeing many of these folks at the Vermont 100, which will be nice.

During the race, I ended up running into many of my new and old friends. For about 10 km (once I rejoined the course after my 4 a.m. start that took me all the way to the falls), I ran with my husband and Richard Takata. Richard had been the guiness book of world records holder for 7 marathons on 7 continents. Alas his record fell earlier this year. We had spent a bit of time with Richard when he drove to the JFK 50 miler in Fall 2007, including sharing a meal at the Reston Runners pre-race dinner. As per my suggestion, Richard started the 50 miler at 5 a.m. so every so often along the course we would run into each other and chat.

Finally, I ended up losing both Tristan and Richard as I went sightseeing and taking pictures of the pretty scenery. I actually thought I would be in last place (for the second year in a row), but in fact there was one other runner who took over 9 hours. In my defense considering my extra mileage to see the falls, the number of pictures, bathroom breaks (gotta look and smell fresh in a race!) and my little side trip for a donut, 9 hours is not that bad!

After finishing, I was able to spend a bit of time with all of my friends. It was nice to catch up and share stories of the run. I was a bit bummed out that Tristan and I had to rush back to USA after the race so we could catch a plane back home. The day after the Ultra, I was heading to a conference in Boston. After getting home about midnight, I had just 3 hours of sleep before the airport shuttle picked me up for this business trip. Guess this lack of sleep hopefully has prepared me for Vermont 100, which is now just under 2 weeks away!