Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Back home from Denver

My business trip to Denver was great!

It was the optimal mix of business and pleasure. I got to see so much, meet so many people, enjoy a useful conference, hang out with great friends and even run a really fun race. And I even set a PR for my 5 miler by about 10 minutes (my previous 5 mile races have always been closing in on an hour).

I finally was able to find my Cherry Creek Sneak 5 mile results and learned my chip time was: 46:17, this means my pace was a blistering 9:15! And this race was at altitude. Imagine what I could have done without

a) the pre-race 3 mile the race site
b) the headwind (which there definitely was one even though all the other runners said it was a protected course!)
c) the lack of oxygen:-).

Well perhaps this will help as I try to run the Frederick Marathon this weekend in a sub 5 hour time (well unless I take too many side trips...I know the course goes right by a Fractured Prune Donut and a Bruster's Ice Cream; why do race directors challenge me so much??)

I am really bummed this trip is now over, although it is nice to be back with the whole critter family. The dog was excited to see us when we picked him up from Billy's house (the old english sheepdog we babysit). And became even more excited when we took a side trip to Brusters Ice Cream and Yogurt to partake in "second scoop free" because it was raining.

And reality will set in tommorrow when I deal with my expected pages and pages of e-mails...I am one of the statisticians hired specifically in preparation for a potential pandemic influenza and as the swine flu has gotten more and more publicity over the past several days I am very afraid of my workload...but I am a 100 miler so I am tough!

In fact tommorrow I may have an abbreviated workday because my re-scheduled procedure from back in March is to be tommorrow. After this, I will have to make the decision if I should simply take the rest of the day off or if I should work slightly loopy. My baseline is slightly loopy so I might just gut it out:-)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Eating my way through Denver--The ACRP including Gala with Pictures

A surprise snowstorm at Denver the day of our presentation and the Gala...sadly when we'd the 10 day forecast when packing before we left for Denver, it was suggested the warmer days would be a high in the mid-70's and the cooler days would be in the low/mid-50's.
On this day, the start of the day was 28 degree's and the high was 45 degree's with snow that turned to rain in the afternoon. I was underpacked for business clothing but luckily I had lots of running layers and hiking clothing for colder weather in case we headed into the mountains for a day.

Here I am in front of the dessert trays...notice the variety of desserts displayed. Every 15-20 minutes they would change out the types of desserts displayed. I felt it was my job to quality control all the desserts.

Is there anything better than double-fisting desserts??? I say emphatic NO!!!

Tristan looking disappointed after my visit to the dessert bar. In fact he mentioned I may have growled at him and bared my teeth when he tried to snag the last tasty treat...but one should never get between me and my desserts!

Yesterday I gave my presentation at ACRP (Association of Clinical Research Professionals). I think my presentation was fairly well recieved by the 120 or so attendee's in the session based on the fact that:
1) No one boo'ed me off the stage
2) No one threw food (and at the conference we were provided food and hot beverages so people had ammo)
3) A few people actually said nice things:-)

Tristan, my husband also presented and I think he enjoyed it. The audience was really nice and supportive/encouraging which I think is a bit different then statisticians. Sometimes stats folks are a bit beligerant!

After our morning session we went to a few session (we divided and conquered) and in fact did not see each other until the late afternoon/evening.

In the evening there was a gala. It was GREAT. There were all sorts of buffet tables with healthy and not so healthy food. Since I have attended this conference and gala before I gave Tristan my eating strategy...go around for an initial pass. Take one of everything, then have a dessert break, then return to food you really enjoyed for a second pass, then another round of desserts and continue this pattern until all the food is removed or until there is a reversal of fortune.

After this year's gala I can proudly say I am not allergic to salad with goat cheese, pecan's, lettuce, craisins, vinagret or blue cheese dressing. Also on this list is chili con queso corn chowder, a bunch of cheeses, corn muffins and about 40 varieties of desserts.

I was disappointed there was not a chocolate fountain but consoled myself with about 10 chocolate covered strawberries (white and dark), a bunch of chocolate truffles, some yummy mystery deserts, and many varieties of tiramisu and cheesecake. I now may have used up all my Umstead 100 calories but I still have my Cherry Creek Sneak 5 miler calories and of course about 7 marathons between now and the VT100 in July:-).

Tommorrow, Tristan and I head home. We will be happy to see our pets, but this trip has been so much fun!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cherry Creek Sneak 5 miler--Now with PICTURES!

At the start of the Cherry Creek Sneak 5 miler. This race has been run many years and the announcers suggested there were over 10,000 entrants for the 5 miler, 5 km, and various shorter distances for kids. It was definitely a well run and cute race.

Along the course, I tried to capture the moment. The course had a few out and back or 270 degree angle turns where you had the opportunity to see runners ahead or behind you. I found this alot of fun because I could cheer on and interact with some other runners.
Near the end of the race I took a moment to snag a spectator to take my pictures. Here you can see there are lots of runners. While it was suggested that the course would start opening up about mile1-2, I never really had much space or was alone. It wasn't terrible however, after Umstead, my Feb/March marathons and Rocky Raccoon, I just am not used to 10,000 runners.

During the race I saw a very cute Newfie. She was actually very small but very sweet. As you can observe I was about 40 feet off the race course for this "heavy petting" session, but it was so worth it. While I love seeing new places, meeting new people and traveling in general, I do miss my pets, so anytime I can get some critter-lovin I am all over it.

With a Bernese Mountain dog after the race. In fact, after this race I ultimately saw 3 other Berners and heard a rumor about a 4th Berner who I did not get to meet. Berner owners are always so nice and tend to let you pet their dogs...and some will let their dog rough you up a litle bit as the dog tries to lean on or knock you over. Gilligan does this to nearly everyone! And I interpret it as a sign of love and affection.

Today I started my day by running about 3 miles to participate in the 2009 Cherry Creek Sneak. I signed up for and ran the 5 miler. I debated signing up for the 5 km as well but decided to simply run the course backwards cheering on the 5 km runners.

The course for the 5km and 5 miler were very similar so this also gave me a sense of the weather as well as the course (which was really flat). Sadly I made it about 3 miles in 30 minutes then the altitude hit me...I was wheezing and whimpering like a sissy seal-level girl. Utlimately I finished the 5 miler in 48 minutes and change. I have no idea what my chip time was but assume it was about 48 miles.

The race was very well run and the course very cute. If I happen to be in Denver during a future race I will do it again. As a celebratory treat I got a tasty cupcake. Sadly the altitude made me feel really nauseous right after the race, so I am planning to eat my cupcake in a bit. Of course it will be followed by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Caramel Apple and a Milk Maid Gelato...I am powering through my Umstead calories.

A great day with the Donaldsons

With Jamie and Morrison at the beginning of our walk/hike at Deer Creek Canyon. You will notice it is slightly foggy/misty but realistically the weather was perfect for a walk.
With Jamie and Morrison at our "turnaround" point. I think Morrison was ready for a 10-20 mile hike but alas word on the street is that Morrison is not a big hiker. I would politely disagree because he was constantly in the lead and really did not seem very tired during our walk. Gillligan would have been lying down protesting after about 5 feet!

Jamie, Tristan and Morrison taking a glance at the major hill we could have gone up. But alas everyone wussed out. Jamie had her 24 hour race (so she was excused), Tristan had just climbed Mt Elbert (so he was excused), but Morrison and I were so ready for some hill work!

This walk ultimately became pretty muddy so Morrison gets a small and brief bath/rinse. Morrison seemed pretty agreeable. I say this based on my perspective in which Gilligan who tries to scamper away when it's bathtime in the backyard.

Jamie and Morrison seeing us off after a great hike and wonderful afternoon. Jamie is so sweet, enthusiastic and just a great friend!
Morrison is a really good and friendly dog, but don't believe the Donaldson's when they tell you he is lazy:-) I think he needs a "Party Animal" collar since he seemed almost as active as Billy the Old English Sheepdog we babysit!

I have known Jamie Donaldson for well over a year (well in fact I have known her for 2+ years because at Umstead 100 miler in 2007, I would run into her in the out and backs and then get passed numerous times by her). She was always so friendly and upbeat throughout the entire race.

Last year at Umstead we had a chance meeting in the bathroom right before the race and since then have become very friendly. We both are mathematics people (Jamie is a math teacher and I am a "mathematical" statistician at the FDA). We also both have large dogs (although hers is bigger, I think mine is heavier). Last summer during a statistics conference at Denver we were able to go for a hike and have dinner with the Donaldson's which was great fun!

Yesterday because we were in Colorado, my husband and I went to Jamie's house again and had a GREAT afternoon! Our first activity was a hike at Deer Creek Canyon with Jamie, Morrison (their Newfoundland) and Tristan (who is all messed up from peak bagging and forgetting to wear glacier goggles...if you read any book about Everest/K2 or other mountains, after HAPE/HACE-altitude related injuries, the next most common issue is sunburned eyes...well Tristan experienced this since it was not too bright out during his mountain climb). Here you can see pictures from Jamie's camera within her blog, I will post some of my pictures later (which I was a bit disappointed in my sub-50 picture performance, although because of the mist/fog I knew my pictures might not be the greatest).

Jamie kept suggesting Morrison was going to be slow, not be about to power through the hike and was kind of lazy...during out hike, I would suggest Morrison is Billy's long lost sibling (Billy the insane Old English Sheepdog who powers through 15-20 mile hikes like they are Sunday Strolls). We were expecting a dog like Gilligan who after about 5 steps sits down and after 10 steps sits down and rolls over refusing to go foward. Morrison really powered through the hike and at times was dragging Jamie. This alarmed me a bit because Jamie is about to head to the 24 hour World championship in Italy and if he got out of control any disaster would be on my shoulders. Luckily nobody went flying but a few of us got quite muddy. Luckily Morrison was the only one taken to the backyard for a rinse.

After our hike we had a really nice BBQ chicken dinner that David started while we were on the hike. It was really yummy and lots of fun. Of course I provided Caramel Apples (the treat of champions??) for dessert:-)

We hung out for a bit but Tristan looked really tired. Apparently it took him 5 hours to get to the top of Mt Elbert (the state high point), but 10 hours to get down on Friday. (seriously even Gilligan might have been able to do this faster...and if not he would have just rolled down the mountain letting gravity do the rest).

We did get to see Jamie's "Wall of fame", which has grown since we visited last Summer right after Badwater. I had seen her award for her Rocky Raccoon first place finish, but Tristan had not. And neither of us saw her Javalina 100 miler first place award. Both awards are really unique. Jamie has not seen my perserverance rock or my Norwoodie, which are both unique and functional...the walking stick after a 100 makes walking to the car, around the house and getting up and downstairs so much easier. And the rock is good for whacking yourself in the head when you think of entering another 100 miler:-)

After our visit with Jamie and David, we headed back to the hotel by way of the "Old Maid Ice Cream Store" I will post a picture later, but essentially the building looks like an old milk jug. And the ice cream and Gelato they sell is really good and the portions are HUGE. I was a sissy and ordered a double...but today I will go for a triple!

Friday, April 24, 2009

In Denver for a Business Trip

Tristan and I are at Colorado for a business trip to attend and present at the Association of Clinical Research Professionals. Both Tristan and I are speaking at a session, which I am excited about but Tristan is dreading (since he is very shy and hates public speaking). Of course we plan to insert a bit of pleasure during our 5 days here in CO including some side trips to Boulder, Littleton and even a bit of exploring Denver.

We already hiked a bit of the Flatirons in Boulder and visited our favorite Bagel place: Broadway Moe's. I did a recon of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory but I ended up disappointing myself by not getting a chocolate/caramel covered apple because I was full. I am very ashamed of this. I need to toughen up and dig deep while here since I don't get these yummy treats at home.

Since there are 3 local races in the Denver area on Sunday, I may run a race. However this is contingent upon decent weather (which currently looks a bit questionable). The races available include a 5 miler, 10 km and 5 km. These are quite short for my tastes but I could always run to the race start to add some mileage:-)

Since I am using a public library computer this post is brief. Unfortunately our hotel does not have reasonable priced internet (read this as "Free"), I may not post again until I arrive home next week.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Fracture Prune Donut/Umstead 100 mile story

With my family/pacers Cindy and Tristan about mile 51 during Umstead 100 in 2009. I am still considering firing them both because in retrospect their pacing might have been a bit (VERY!) questionable. Of course I had very low expectations for Tristan who has been fired multiple times, but my sister I was shocked at her encouragement to "walk" much of miles 50-75 because she wanted to go slower...and she is the "fast" sister. Maybe I need to whine to my parents about this. As for Tristan, he is back to being fired (except as my chauffer). One of these times his firing has got to stick!
With Cindy, Tristan and Imelda at JFK50 miler in far Imelda is my only crew/pacer who gets an "A" for effort and implementation. Based on this maybe my problem is related to my family and perhaps I need to upgrade and improve my family. I consider myself the best sister and wife so clearly the problem is not with me:-) And even my sister has acknowledged I am her best sister (but then again she also suggested I am her worst sister...way to see the glass half empty sis...and that assumes our parents aren't holding out on us about additional siblings)

Yesterday's trip to Ben & Jerry's as well as by the "Fractured Prune" reminded me of an amusing story from the Fractured Prune which still makes me giggle...

About a week after Umstead, my sister, Cindy stopped by to visit Tristan and I in Maryland. We met up at Fractured Prune in Rockville for some celebratory donuts (since each of us had run 25 or miles more the previous weekend).

We chatted about the race including how everyone may be using Umstead 100 as a training run for the JFK50 miler in the fall. And we all discussed our various stages of recovery. I learned that I made all involved in my 100 mile racing experience acquire a limp. Cindy had no training leading to Umstead 100 (with her longest training run back in January when she ran the Disney Half marathon), Tristan has been fighting chronic knee pain since a 10 miler injury in early January and my lame excuse is that I ran 100 miles. My sisters feet were so badly mangled she had to wear street shoes instead of military issue shoes to work on Monday and Tuesday. I sure hope they send any demerits my way!

Cindy had a few funny post race stories that cracked me up. After she paced me, she decided to just sleep in her car from about 1 a.m. until she woke up (about 8 a.m. or so was her goal). Unfortunately where her car was parked made this a bit difficult because when cars came into the parking lot headlights would shine brightly into the car. This even caused a problem during the night when she was pacing and needed to change into her sports bra. The headlight issue continued to plague her after her pacing duties were over and also would wake her on occasion throughout the night.

But she mentioned that the lights weren’t as bad as someone setting off a car alarm sometime during the night/morning. I knew Tristan had ’fessed up to setting off the car alarm while pacing me (if you press the wrong button on the Jeep, aka “Death Trappy’s” key, it doesn’t lock the door; instead it sets off the alarm), so I innocently asked if she recalled what time and suggested perhaps 5 a.m.? I think she was puzzled by my ability to predict the time almost down to the minute. I then totally squealed on Tristan and pointed out it was he who woke her up with the car alarm. She acted like it was no big deal but I bet he gets a terrible Christmas or Birthday present for this transgression.

Her second amusing story has to do with her inability to get to the ladies room after waking up after her car nap. Because I “broke” her during her pacing duties, she struggled to get out of her car in the morning when she got up. Since the bathrooms were about 200 meters away from the car, she had to make an executive decision about if she could or even wanted to make it to the real restrooms. She decided to utilize a “LaTree”. She looks around, makes sure she is alone and finds a suitable spot. Well apparently a few moments later a car comes around the bend headlamps brightly illuminating her in this compromising position. This cracked me up. Although I like to think it is payback for Cindy & Tristan’s inability to warn me about approaching runners about mile 55 in my race when I was making use of a “LaTree”.

This just proves karma can, should and does bite folks in the tuckus!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's at Downtown Rockville!

Today is free scoop day at Ben & Jerry's. This is the most important day of the year. It's like Christmas, St Patricks, New Year's, Umstead 100, Vermont 100 and Easter all wrapped up and scooped into one day! (well except for election day last year when we scored a free scoop of ice cream, a Krispy Kreme Donut, and Starbucks Coffee)

Of course Tristan and I partook in free scoop day.

Here, I am waiting on line. The line was not too bad. I assume somewhat is because we arrived at 5 p.m. and because the weather was a little iffy.

Here I am imitating the Ben & Jerry's cow licking its lips (or sticking it's tongue up it's nose!). Tristan's comment while taking this picture was "You look like a cow!" I am not sure this is an appropriate phrase to udder to one's wife (particularly if you want to live through the day).

With our freebie cone. Life is good. In less than one month I will be at the Mothership in Stowe, Vermont during the Vermont City Marathon in May. I stupidly have not been training for eating a Vermonster (29 scoops of frozen yogurt, 5 cups of liquid toppings, 4 cups of dry toppings, and 1 cannister of whipped cream). Well, I still have time to train for my trip to VT in July for the VT100 miler!

In Rockville Town Center near the Ben & Jerry's there is also a Fractured Prune, a really good donut shop. They make hot donuts and you get to choose the toppings. Ice Cream and Donuts in the same block...clearly I've died and gone to heaven!

For dinner, Tristan and I had California Tortilla, which is a cute restaurant. They have many sauces to spice up tortilla's and burrito's. These sauce titles are classic!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Work, Play and Stories from the Bull Run Run 50 miler: Marina Aid Station

At aid stations anything you can see Reston Runners Tammy B and Mike B (note: not the same "B")goofing around at the aid station. Tammy was crewing for her friend Homer who ran a bit of the GWBirthday Marathon with us back in Feb. And Mike has decided to dumpster dive in this picture. With Mike around you never know what to expect!

Anna is enjoying a moment or so at the Marina Aid Station. Anna is so sweet, such an exceptionally runner and has such a warm, inviting and sunny personality! I am shocked in my "good wishes" e-mails at Umstead she threatened to trip me if I happen to speed by her:-). She consistently beats me at the 50 mile distance so I am not expecting to finish remotely close to her (well unless I trip her early on in the race:-)
The aid station is as good a place as any for doing a little internet surfing and twittering! I kid you not. And as you glance closer at this picture, notice my friend (who has run this race the last several years) has BRR50 shaved into his head...that is dedication!

My friend Marce from JFK50 finished her first BRR50! She is such an amazing athlete as well as so nice and funny. I believe her comment after the finish was: "You were smart to sit this one out and volunteer" parents didn't raise a fool!
Debbie and Monica both finished the Umstead 100 mile just a few weeks ago. Both ran it in around 24 hours (ie way faster then me) and are already recovered enough to be back doing more ultra's (and a relatively tough one at that). I know I will see Debbie at VT100 and believe I have a few marathons between now and VT100 that I expect to see Monica.

Sorry for this delay in my post but yesterday just flew by. But now I have a bit of downtime to reminsce about Bull Run Run 50 miler (which I will never run! seriously I would have taken pictures of the mud on runners feet, but my camera would be horrified and probably break down in protest). I don't do mud, trails, long distances, hills and a bunch of other things this course throws at you.

In fact while running a small bit of the Glutamous Maximus Fat Ass 50 km that goes on a piece of the course this past Dec., I thought to myself, too bad Bull Run Run is not during Dec/Jan cause as least then the ground would be frozen and I would be covered in about 3-4 pairs of pants and 8-10 tops thus at least giving me some padding when I fell. But alas it is run during April, a week or two after Umstead conveniently giving me the excuse it is too close to Umstead (well until I saw my friends Monica, Deb and some other hard core runners on the course). But I'm a sissy and I'm sticking with this label so I shall not be running this event in the forseeable future (i.e., EVER!)

Volunteering was so much fun. And it is alot easier to volunteer than to run (I think as I struggle moving my hands because they are feeling the burn after opening and closing about 100-200 bottles and camel backs:-). Oh yeah the assembly of many peanut butter/jelly sandwiches might have contributed to my hand pain as well.

The day started pretty early for me because of the ~40 mile ride to the Marina at Bull Run. After an uneventful drive I parked my car at the remote parking lot and started my shift. Opening food, putting out treats and pouring beverages was the duty for the morning. Pretty soon the fast runners were arriving. They were so quick and looked really good. The top runners really do not take much if anything. Maybe that is why I am not elite (that and the fact that "bear chasing me fast" is defined as 10 minute miles). Pretty much water and a gatorade was the extent of the items the top 10 runners grabbed heading out. A few of the faster runners had camelbacks or water bottles to refill which the volunteers tried to do as quickly as possible. After 30-40 minutes past the front runners, the runners actually started eating the food set out with a bit of gusto, drinking the assortment of beverages and chatting with volunteers. There were pretty challenging waves of runners that came through but all the runners were so nice and friendly.

Sporadically I would take out my camera and take a picture while I did my job (luckily I have extensive experience with my camera so can pull it out, turn it on, take a picture, turn if off and put it back in my pocket while simultaneously doing something else. And of course the knowledge that my camera is waterproof (and thus sweat and gatorade proof) as well as shock proof (up to 6 feet) makes it fairly industructable.

Either coming through the aid station at mile 21 or 44, I was able to snap pictures of my friends from Reston Runners including: Dave & Anna, the Jim's (Jim A and Jim B), Marce and Homer. I know a bunch of other Reston Runners were running but either they slipped by or had dropped.

Of course I also got to see and take a picture of my friend Monice as well as Debbie from Umstead 100. They both finished close to 24 hours and looked so strong at Bull Run Run!

My friend Dan Rose was supposed to be taking it easy and using BRR50 as a training run for Mohican. He looked like he was having a great time and looked really strong both times through the aid station. I had the pleasure of meeting his friend Elizabeth and his parents and am envious that he has such a great crew. What I need is for them to mentor my crew and pacers who seem intent on creating their own pacer rendition of the Keystone Kops/Three Stooges and Simpsons all roled into one!

When there were no runners coming through the aid station was pretty laid back and alot of fun. I knew Mike from Reston Runners (and being passed early on the towpath this past year at JFK50 miler), I vaguely knew the aid station captain Jeff as well as a fellow VT100 miler, Jim. There were several others working the aid station who I befriended over the course of the day.

So the best (and most embarrasing story from my perspective) was my inability to recognize Sean Andrish. This would not be as bad as my question to clarify who he was (or if he was an ultra-runner was: Are you doing Promise Land next weekend...and yet my friend Mike did not discretely punch me in the arm, kick me or just simply football tackle me). Sean was very gracious about my faux pas and I now have a picture of him in relatively speaking "street clothing". I just would like to point out alot of people do not look like their pictures from events and certainly UltraRunning Magazine while creating very nice pictures (as exhibited by the Rocky Raccoon 100/50 miler Spread from this past Feb including yours truly), does not always capture what the runners look like in real life. In fact I am more likely to recognize runners by their gait or the back of their head or bodies. This is particularly true for fast runners if I have been passed by them several times because of me using an early start or a lap course. I also learned that the Sue Ellen who was running with Caroline from the Virginia Happy Trails VHTRC who I ran a bit of the first few laps with early on in the race is his mother. Small world, eh?

My next horrifying story has to do with a poor runner who DNF'd because she timed out. Closing in on 6 p.m. we started cleaning up the aid station in anticipation of the 6 p.m. cutoff. Unfortunately at least one runner did not make it to the aid station by at least 10 minutes. She indicated she would appreciate a ride and since the aid station was essentially cleaned up (with about 2 boxes needing transport to a car), I did not feel bad about driving this runner to the finish line and post race festivities.

As I mentioned earlier in this blog my car was pretty far from the Marina Aid station, but the walk was apparently fine with her(I offered to bring the car over). But as we walked to my very messy car this runner made the mistake of suggesting she felt a bit queasy. Well of course because I had just been to Umstead I thought I had my puke bucket in the car (yes, I have a puke bucket in every car just in case). Sadly somehow it had been taken from the car; however, there was a steel water bowl of Gilligan's in the back seat. After I cleaned the passenger seat in the car well enough to give her room to sit and a bit of room for her feet (but not the entire floor--because I am not that good a hostess), I hand her Gilligan's rather large dog bowl. I kind of felt bad (but apparently not bad enough), and ultimately as got about 10 minutes into our ride she mentioned she felt fine.

In fact by that time in our trip I was about to puke because the dirt road we took was a bit rickety and uneven. But drivers rule says the driver does not have to experience the humiliation of the barf bucket! In retrospect I am not sure what I would have done if she puked in Gilligan's bowl. A piece of me goes with the wasteful philosophy if something is puked in, it should be thrown away (and in so many other area's I am the queen of recycling!). But then, Gilligan has eaten, thrown up then eaten his own puke. And in fact I think he thinks others puke (and poop as well) is a real delicacy so he might have been thrilled by this. Well alas there were no reversals of fortune in my car.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Volunteering at the Bull Run Run 50 miler in 2009

Team Jim (Jim A-shirt off and Jim B-shirt on) arrives at the Marina aid station for some food, beverage and good cheer. As in most cases we were accomodate 2 of the 3:-) Jim A was using this race as training run for VT100 which I know he, Anna B. and I will all be running (I think there might be a few more Reston Runners but am not positive)
My friend Dan Rose hydrates and makes small talk at the aid station. He is really nice and his friend Elizabeth and Parents were so sweet. Dan was supposed to be using BRR50 as a training run...I wish my training runs were as speedy. But way to go Dan!
My friend Tammy B crewed for her friend Homer. This was Homer's first 50 miler and he did really GREAT! He finished the race and looked really strong all throughout the race. I was able to take this picture when I headed out of the aid station to walk a bit with my friend Debbie (also then I could bring her cup back to the aid station after she liesurely drank some gatorade).
My friend Ethel from I have known Ethel for several years and have crossed paths at various ultra's including the race around the lake, Umstead and VT100. She is always very nice and a super strong runner.
Dave Yeakel enjoying some time at the aid station. The last few years he volunteered at this aid station, but this year I suppose decided to kick things up a notch by running the race. Guess we now know which one of us smarter, don't we?:-) Dave is an extraordinary ultramarathoner and has run Leadville, Western States, VT100 and many others (again, the theme of who is smarter continues:-).

One of the highlights of my year (including Umstead 100, JFK50 and many other races) is my yearly volunteering at Bull Run Run at the Marina Aid Station. This is my 3rd year volunteering and as usual I had a great time. Other years it has been one week after Umstead but this year I had a weekend in between. Sadly I feel as tired as ever after this 10+ hour day.

I saw many friends as they crewed for other runners, many friends on the course, many friends volunteering with me and made many more friends today. Ultra runners are a great group of people!

For volunteers today was picture perfect. Sadly for runners I imagine it was a bit toasty with temperatures topping out about 78 degrees. The marina aid station had runners dropping at both mile 21 heading out as well as a few heading back to the finish at mile 45. And volunteers were kept busy filling water bottles, making gatorade, filling cups and basically keeping runners hydrated and to a lesser extent fed.

I enjoy volunteering immensely and hope I am a great volunteer because I have all my senses tuned into the runners needs volunteering so closely to Umstead. It is the kind words, the telepathy in figuring out my needs and the encouragement that aid station volunteers that always help me through any tough times I might have in races. And they give me the strength to get to the next aid station when I can refill on food/beverage and of course most importantly on encouragement and positvie energy.

I was even lucky enough to run into a few friends from Umstead 100 who were running Bull Run Run 50 only 2 weeks after Umstead! These runners are so amazing and inspiring. I walked my friend Debbie about half a mile after my aid station to stretch my legs a little. We chatted briefly and I will look forward to seeing her at VT100 if not sooner. I also paced my friend Monica (from Richmond Marathon when we ran about 5 miles together as well as Umstead) very briefly and we chatted about life in general. Monica is so happy and enthusiastic. It is always a pleasure to meet her at various races.

I also got to see so many of my Reston Runner friends. Anna B. has a great race and was moving the first time I saw her and was picking up the pace during the last half. I know she will have no trouble at VT100 this summer. Jim B and Jim A also looked really strong. And as usual were running together, how cool is it to run nearly every race and training run with a friend? Marce was looking really strong and I know will run a great race at JFK this fall. I got glipses of Dave Y., Ed C. and many others as they scurried through my aid station.

I will write more tommorrow (because I have lots of stories). In the meantime Congratulations to all Bull Run Run 50 Miler finishers!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Living in the Past: Rocky Raccoon 50 mile 2009

This past week I was really excited to finally recieve my copy of UltraRunning Magazine. Friends had alluded to a picture in the magazine including one of me! When I finally got my magazine (seriously I think I could have run to the distributer faster then the US Postal system got this mail to me) I saw my picture.

I think it is pretty good. Although my husband commented that I should be looking up and paying attention to the picture. I informed my husband that if I did look up, this picture would be labeled "Tammy Massie: Face Plant #1" or "Tammy Massie earning a 0 for technical merit, composition and artistic impression on her Fall".

I did really enjoy Rocky Raccoon and am ready to sign up for next year. But before I do that, I probably am going to sign up for Javalina 100 mile. I have so many friends doing this race, heard many really great things about it, there is a state high point right by the course (which benefits my husband and his climbing) and of course my calendar is free the weekend of Oct 31rst!

So far the endorphins of my Umstead 100 mile have not abated and I have already signed up for a marathon one week after VT100 mile (although it has a 24 hour time limit), I signed up for a 50 km two weeks after VT100 and if I could send in my check now for Javalina, it would be in the mail!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Umstead 100 mile Random Photo's

Since I am not that technically competent, here is a link to some additional photo's from the Umstead 100 miler on Flickr. (Note the limitation of ~40 photos is not related to my desire to share but Flickr's inability to share more of my 700+ pictures).

Umstead 100 Mile Wrap Up

Below you can see several items related to Umstead 100. Blake Norwood the race director takes pictures along the course. When he sends the final race packet including certificate of completion he also includes pictures which is really nice!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Umstead 100 mile 2009 Final Lap, Lap 8 including Race Report

Approaching the finish after 27 hours and 46 minutes (the official results are now available here). This year (like last) I actually ran to the finish line. My first Umstead my spirit was crushed so I just walked dejectedly to the finish so happy to be done with my death march. This year while quite pained, I felt pretty good at the finish.
Starting my final lap about 89 miles into the event. Sadly my whole outfit looks to be in disarray and yet my husband couldn't take a moment to warn me about the fact I looked like a hobo! And now wonder why they kept asking me my number at the aid stations!

A view of the lake during my last lap. you will notice in the distance on the downhill there is a sign that tells runners they are going the wrong way (well unless you just want to end it all in the lake at mile ~92!)

With Tristan, Bob and Derek at about mile 98. All the runners in this picture are a mess. Sadly again, Tristan omitted telling me about my lack of fashion sense and my modified knee brace was visible (or else I want to be like Micheal Jackson and start a bizarre trend!). My knee became excruciatingly painful mid-way through lap 6 (miles ~70). After that I was just trying to be stronger then my knee. Since I know cold really irritates it, this "brace" was primarily geared towards keeping it warm.

Running by the Wisteria about mile 99 during the last section of the bridle path. This was the last time I was genuinely running, but I did try to scamper pretty quickly along the jeep trail since I wanted to break 28 hours. Sadly I had no idea when the gun went off at the start and really did not want to finish in 28 hours and 5 seconds or some really small amount over 28 hours. In fact I had created quite a buffer and finished well ahead of 28 hours!

In my opinion the Umstead 100 mile endurance run is a 7 lap race and a bittersweet victory lap. Sadly my victory lap has an auspicious start with Tristan bringing up my beloved deceased dog, Snowball as our first topic of conversation. What the #($#(??? While I am barely moving forward at a snails pace I seriously consider running back to the aid station to ask for a “real” pacer. And in fact I get a little teary but he does not see this. I think I really have to fire him for good. Otherwise I have got to bring a big stick and whack him with it when he is being a bad pacer.

After I compose myself I tell him that we should not talk about my cat, Pepsi, dog Snowball, guinea pig, Susay or Author or any of my other pets that are no longer alive. How in the world with millions of potential conversation starters does he always end up bringing up my beloved but dead pets? I really need to give him some “Southwest Airlines conversation starters” if he is going to pace me in the future. My most recent free flight came with the following suggestions: “If you were stranded on a deserted island which actor or actress would least like to be stuck there with?”, “What’s the most unusual thing you know how to do? Are you a dog person? Cat person? Fish person? Something else entirely?”, “When was the first time you flew Southwest Airlines and where did you go?” Of course the conversation stoppers Southwest recommends are classic as well: “The most unusual thing I know is how to do is eakspay igpay atinlay”. “If I were stranded on a deserted on a deserted island I think you’re the person I’d least like to be stuck with”. Start every sentence with the phrase, “Like my cat Mr. Peepers always says….”, “This represents my primary voyage on an Earth bound jet propulsion vehicle. You humanoids and your inventions are so cute!” Classic, eh?

Since our conversation is not going that well, the miles seem to drag on. Since all of the 50 milers and many of the 100 milers are finished there are very few runners on the out and back. Since it is still a little before 6 a.m. it is still dark. But as we head back from the airport spur it is starting to get a bit lighter.

We slowly trudge along but I am now in pain (I have been since about mile 65) and am in a bad mood making each mile seem vastly further then it is. As we get close to the unmanned aid station we see Rob A and Susan D completing their 7th lap. They are moving fast (and/or I am moving slow) and I would not be surprised if they caught up to me by the finish.

Each mile is getting harder to complete but after 20-25 minutes I pass another mile marker. I am convinced 100 mile race directors mismark the last mile markers by placing them about 5-10 miles apart. But alas on this loop course it is obvious that my exhaustion, pain and slow pace is just making it that much longer to accomplish completion of each mile but the mile markers have not been moved. Oh yeah, and my Garmin is also confirming each miles passing, so either the race director, garmin, and course markers have a really solid alliance or my conjectured conspiracy is just that.

Scuffling along on the course (because walking would be too strong a word), I realize I need the potty again. Luckily we are near a nice flat area that has easy access to a tree right alongside the course. I take full advantage and am happy that it is early enough that there are not many folks out for Sunday strolls. Because I now have my seamless underpants, marathongirl skirt, thermal pants and windpants it is a bit of effort to get my layers sufficiently down to do my business. But ultimately I succeed. Since I felt a bit queasy for several hours I know I am drinking less, thus I am peeing less. This is good because my quads of steel are now quads of screaming, sissy barely able to hold me up paper. Luckily I do not fall over or pee on myself. It is all about the small victories now.

As we continue on, Tristan and I talk a little about my lap with my sister, both the lap we all did together as well as my solo lap with Cindy. Tristan mentions he is a little horrified by the fact that my sister was spitting a lot. Cindy mentioned that her current boyfriend/suitor thinks it is hot that she spits. This is good because the boyfriend must think she is really hot! In Cindy’s defense the pollen and dust is pretty bad so spitting is one way to jettison this gunk from one’s mouth. I sort of accept it and just really look forward to brushing my teeth and my post race shower. We also chat about my sister’s relationship and speculate wildly. Tristan said I did not ask enough questions (and I asked plenty) because a few of his questions about her current relationship that I cannot answer. I am a little disturbed by his interest in my sister’s relationship but let it pass.

At the Y-intersection by the lake there is an interesting fog. It is very pretty (although also a bit spooky) so Tristan takes a slight detour to take a picture. I continue moving forward since anything other than forward progress delays my quest for the finish line. After the unmanned water stop and the loop de loops we are heading into AS #2.

At AS#2, I take off a few of my layers but keep most on (even though I know it will get warmer). Sadly I also know in the sawtooths there are pockets of really cold air and I am moving slower and slower. My last mile into the aid station took over 25 minutes, even without a bathroom break! At the aid station I take one small cup of Gatorade, drink a bit and then drink a full cup of coke. I foolishly do not get my water bottle refilled but luckily at the next unmanned water station I do get it partially refilled. I also take a few crackers but decide to hope I have consumed enough calories to get me to the finish. I also know I have 2 marathon bars in my bag in case I do run out of steam. Unfortunately at this time my stomach is getting queasier by the minute and I am a little concerned I am going to jettison a lot of food from one orifice or another. Thus, I decide to limit the carnage if this does occur.

As I start heading out of the aid station, I thank the volunteers profusely for all their help and encouragement. My friend Gumbi (from the pacer desk) arrives as I am in the aid station and I get to thank him as well. It is sad to leave the aid station but this means I have only 5.6 miles to the finish line. This is a manageable distance and I have close to 4 hours to do it. I am excited because I can almost taste, smell and feel the finish line. As I head out of the aid station, I ask if they want me to move my bag to the truck that has arrived, but the nice volunteers assure me they can attend to it. As I head out, Tristan doubles back to my drop bag and gets some of my encouragement letters. In the night (when I had Pacer Deb), I was able to read 1 letter but because the aid station was so hot (and I was concerned about erupting into flames), I did not read the remainder of my ~30 “encouragement” letters my husband solicited! While a mediocre crew, questionable pacer and poor Sherpa, my husband is good at getting friends to provide encouragement for me.

With a big bag of encouraging e-mails in his hand Tristan catches up to me. I am simply walking now because my knees are quite bothersome, my feet are tired of being stomped on for ~100 miles and my stomach hurts a bit. I am a mess! Tristan says there are lots of e-mails to be read and since we are going so slowly he can read them while I walk along. This sounds good to me. We decide that I should try to run 20 minute miles which should enable me to break 28 hours with about 1 minute to spare (although at this time I am clocking 25 minute miles!). Using our arithmetic skills (of which I have little to begin with but by this time I am incapable of figuring out the smallest of equations) Tristan suggests a letter every 5 minutes. This sounds good to me, so I set my watch onto its intermediate timer for 5 minute intervals. This task really helps the time pass and gives me so much energy!

I am honored, humbled and moved by all the kind and encouraging words my friends write. There are jokes (runner and non-runner) which make me laugh, poignant reminders of how I have met so many friends, stories and fables and all sorts of thoughtful letters. All too often we forget how a small word, a kind gesture or even a simple hug can make a dramatic impact on someone. Suddenly Tristan and I are increasing our speed to 19 minute miles, 18 minute miles, 17 minute miles and even faster. I laugh, I cry, I reflect. My race is coming together really well and I feel like all my friends are a part of it. I reminisce about how I have met many of these folks. Some are family who I have known my whole life (apparently my dad thinks commenting how he ate grasshoppers at Mexico is a good subject to include in my encouragement letter. He also mentions after your finish eating grasshoppers you can use their legs to pick your teeth—does anyone want to adopt me?), some are friends that I know I will meet again from relatively recent races and others are co-worker friends who have watched me grow and blossom as a runner. This fills up the remainder of my 5.5 miles and gives me so much pep in my step apparently Tristan is having some difficulty keeping up.

At the unmanned water stop I have Tristan refill my water bottle while I take advantage of a stump on the side of the trail to take off my pants. Sadly the stump is not very stable and it is on a pretty sheer cliff. Since I realize the instability after one let is off, I am kind of trapped. I cannot hop my way to a better stump. Visions of falling down this hill and breaking a leg or even getting slightly crushed go through my mind. And I do not have my insurance card, aack!!! I try to wiggle as little as possible and to do this quickly. This is not easy when my knees will not bend more then about 175 degrees (barely better then straight for those of you not in the know). Finally with Tristan’s minimal help my pants are off. Clearly I need to practice having Tristan take off my clothing at home. In fact I remember at JFK50 there were a few guys ready to help me get off my pants, so one would think Tristan would be up for the task as a guy. I finally gingerly get up and take a few steps from the log. It does not go rolling down the hill, but I comment it would be pretty funny if it did.

As my Sherpa, mule, reader and pacer, I give Tristan my two pairs of pants. Somewhere earlier during the “backstretch” within the Sawtooths I also give Tristan my thermal shirt and second long sleeve shirt. Once my pants are off I realize my legs are a bit chilly. While my left leg is tough and can handle this, my right knee has the tendency of seizing up if it gets too chilled. I realize I need to put on my pants or somehow warm it. Tying my long sleeve shirt around my knee seems like a good idea, so I do this. I now look like kind of a freak, but my knee appreciates the extra bit of warmth. Tristan and I resume running and pick up the pace a bit. 14 minute miles become 13 minute miles and pretty soon I am consistently running 12 minute miles. I am shocked about my ability to move and am getting more excited each step I take. I am now creating a small buffer so I could slow down a bit and still get a sub 28 hour 100 mile.

Unfortunately my stomach starts feeling really bad. I am cramping up really bad and feel like I am about to have a “bojangles” experience. I am in a panic. This would be a disaster and while I carry toilet paper, I am not sure I would have enough if this tragedy occurred (and I expect my friend Anthony would suddenly start calling me “Ms. Poopy Pants” although this concern only comes up after the race). I keep moving fast, take 2 Immodium and just hope that I can hold it for the next 2.5 miles. I express my concerns to Tristan and tell him if I dart from the finish line to the bathroom he should send in a lady (or come into the bathroom after a bit if I do not get out in a timely manner). I try to focus on the fact that my legs are finally moving quickly and that each step I take is a step closer to the finish line and a bathroom!

As we head up Mt Everest for the final time I am glad to think to myself, good riddance Mt Everest. This hill to the T-intersection has been the bane of my existence for 8 laps, but now I am winning our epic battle. At the unmanned aid station Tristan grabs a cup of Gatorade but I move on. He catches up and we continue moving at about a 12-14 minute mile pace depending on when I look at my Garmin. I run the hill running a 16 minute mile pace. I am loving my Garmin because it assures me I am keeping ahead of my 20 minute mile pace and gaining significant amounts of time.

Up the second major hill I see two runners walking. As we get close I realize it is my friends Bob (from blog my runs) and Derek (from kickrunners). They are both in good spirits mentally but physically both are a mess. I convince Tristan to take a picture. Then a runner comes along and we snag her for a group photo of Bob, Tristan, Derek and I. She is running fast and I think she might have grudgingly does this. Well regardless we get a really good picture of all of us but this delay probably costs us all about a minute. I tell them they should tell the race timers and have it charged to my time Bob points out the blood gushing through his sneakers. This is terrible and I feel for him. Having suffered through terrible blisters in 2007, I feel so sad that he is having these difficulties. But both he and Derek are moving forward. I really need a bathroom and want to finish so I resume running. After a few steps I suggest to Tristan that he should go back to Derek and Bob and read them a few jokes but he says he is not sure he could catch me. I think he is joking but after the race he suggests I almost dropped him.

Tristan takes a few action shots of me running, and continues to read encouraging e-mails. It ends up that once we get to the jeep road there are only one or two left. Since it is a bit treacherous I suggest we need to focus on just moving forward. I continue to run this section although at a bit slower a pace of about 14 minute miles. I am really excited. There is nothing that will stop me. Well except for a fall. My fall about 1 mile from the finish at Rocky Raccoon 50 miler is fresh in my mind so I pay particular attention to my footing. During the really gnarly sections (I know there really aren’t any but after 28 hours and 100 miles I think there are), I slow to a very fast walk. Passing my the Umstead 100 sign I pause briefly and am so excited. Tristan gets out the video camera, but I am starting to cry. But this time (unlike on my way out for this lap) they are tears of joy. I am completely overwhelmed.

I know I am going to break 28 hours but now it is just a question of by how much. My watch is all messed up (ie I cannot see the time because of my interval timing) and Tristan’s watch seems to be off, so we both think I have 2-3 minutes to spare for my goal of sub-28 hours. I pass by the bathroom hoping that my stomach is able to hold off for a few more minutes. I start the small climb to the aid station. There is an unexpectedly large crowd at the finish line. And they seem to know it is me. After I finished, I realized that spectators can see runners for a significant amount of time prior to that final hill. Tristan veers off to the non-runner side and I continue up to the finish line. My friends, fellow runners, race officials, volunteers are all cheering. I am feeling really good but hoping I do not fall. Finally I reach the finish line. I take about 2 steps just to be sure (because the hanging red line is actually hard to figure out where exactly it is) and lean over a bit.

I am excited, exhausted, proud, thrilled. So many emotions go through me. I have now finished a 100 miler and I am sure it is under 28 hours. I ask for my time and somehow hear 27 hours and 55 minutes. Wow, that is close to my goal of 28 hours!

Alas, a few days later my friend Anthony posts my unofficial time as 27 hours and 46 minutes. I now have my results in my hand and it says I finished my 100 mile run in 27 hours, 46 minutes and 48 secconds. I had nearly 15 minutes to spare!

After I stand bent over for a few minutes trying to compose myself, figure out what to do with my life and catch my breath, I decide I just need to walk a bit, refill my bottle, get some Gatorade and ginger ale. Helpful volunteers attend to all my needs and soon enough I have no idea what to do with myself. Sitting at the finish line with Anthony, Turtle, and other friends seem like a good idea. So that is what I do.

As I sit enjoying the beautiful day, savoring my victory, and chatting with folks at the finish line, I see my friends trickle in as they complete their 100 mile journey. We are all champions for this effort.

While I wait for runners to finish, some of the spectators ask me about their family members or friends on the course. I do the best I can to provide information. I know about Bob and Derek and several other runners I was near during my brief visit at AS #2. I also can talk about several runners I saw during the out and back section at 5:30 or 6 in the morning. I also suggest that in my opinion if you make it to lap #8 at Umstead you are going to finish (and I say this having my spirit completely crushed by the race in 2007). Of course there is the chance you time out, but I think knowing the clock is ticking can suddenly put some pep in your step.

I see Bob and Derek finish a bit after I finish. They both look exhausted and pained and the walk up the hill looks grueling. My friends from Hawaii finish. My friend Kim S finishes with plenty of time to spare. She will not be last this year! My friend Angela I finishes the 100, I am so excited for her after her DNF at Rocky Raccoon 100 earlier this winter! Rob A and Susan D. look really strong as they finish! All of my friends are finishing successfully. I am so happy and excited for all of them!

Tristan goes to the car and brings Gilligan to headquarters. Sadly he ties Gilligan very far from me. I do not get some Gilligan loving until about 40 minutes after my finish as I head to the shower. Gilligan is as excited to see me as I am to see him. But sadly I cannot jump up and down and excitedly wag my tail. I can just pet his head. He pays me back for this apparent lack of enthusiasm by stepping on my foot!

For the first time after the race, I use the toilet. It has running water, I can sit and relax so I take my time peeing. Apparently the Immodium does the trick and I do not have a Bojangles experience during the race or even after the race. This is good. After peeing I get up and take a shower. Although others may suggest a cold shower, ice bath or some other form of torture I stick with a nice hot shower. I limit myself to 10 minutes because I do not want to worry Tristan and I want to cheer on more runners.

After my shower I return to the finish line and continue to cheer runners. My friend Carolyn G. from Virginia Happy Trails ends up being the final female runner to finish and earns a “Norwoodie” (a walking stick). Loius J. from VA is the final runner to complete the race and earns a Norwoodie and a perseverance rock. I cheer on both of these friends with gusto. I have at one point been the final finisher and it was so nice to have a small crowd cheering at the finish line.

It was a great race and a great weekend for me. I got to do what I love, with people whom I love and I could not have asked for a more perfect race experience. I have already cleared my calendar for March 28th next year so I can do Umstead 100 once again!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Umstead 100 mile 2009 Lap 6 & 7 Pictures including Race Report

My view of the Umstead 100 mile course during laps 6 and 7 (miles 62-88). I guess with my headlamp I had a bit of a view, but realistically from about 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. it was pretty dark along the course. You can get a pretty good description of the course at my friend Anthony's blog
Taking care of my feet with a complete shoe/sock change at mile 62.5. While I was attending to my feet, my sister was attending to her whoowhoo's (which apparently she thought we would be running/jogging as much as we did so had not initially had on a sports bra...she frequently mentioned the jiggling going on which may have disturbed my husband during lap 5, when they both were pacing me!)

My feet looking pretty good at mile 62.5. My pants are not looking as good and are a bit dirty. I am really glad my feet were not dirty because I REALLY hate dirty feet. In fact in a sprint distance triathlon I spent more time attending to my feet then some of the faster competitors did in the lake swimming or doing the 3.4 mile running portion.
You can see why I take really good care of my feet at my friend Bob's blog. Two years ago I ended up with massive blisters on every surface of my feet (although no gushing blood), since then I have been fastidious about taking good care of my feet.

Approaching mile 88.5 While it looks like I am depressed, I am not. It just is a bit rooty in this section so it is better to pay particular attention rather than fall. And while I am improving the artistic presentation and technical merit for my falls (based on my Rocky Raccoon mile 49 fall), I hate falling as much as I hate dirty feet.

With my pacer Deb. She was an awesome pacer and lots of fun. One of her friends paced my friend Emmy to an impressive sub 24 hour finish!

It is dark outside and the jeep road is getting harder each time I go along it. It is a hill so I simply walk until we get essentially to the T-intersection. We head right onto the airport spur. There are now fewer and fewer runners on the course because many are just doing the 50 mile and those of us doing the 100 are now fairly well spread out. Sporadically we see others headlamps on the out and back section but for the most part we are alone. Cindy is good company and we chat about lots of stuff. I don’t get to spend that much time with her much anymore, so it is a real treat to hang out with her. I have her captive for about 4 or 5 hours if I play my cards right. I am slowing down which I think she appreciates, but she is now in a sports bra so the jiggle boob issue is resolved. Unfortunately she continues to get rocks in her feet. About every 30 minutes of so she will abruptly pull off the course and get rid of the rocks. I am unclear if she is just grabbing a rock or if she is taking off her shoe. I don’t ask and she doesn’t tell. While we are still relatively close to the main aid station I offer up a spare pair of sneakers that can be attached to gaiters. I know we are the same size and there is no way I am going to use the 3 pairs of sneakers I have at the main aid station (in my defense when I packed there was a prediction of rain for both Sat and Sun, and I really prefer to be able to change out my shoes at every opportunity if my feet might be getting wet). She declines the offer of gaiters and sneakers.

Moving along slowly we chat about our personal lives, our work, our respective significant others (as if we could talk about Tristan in front of his face). We spend a lot of time talking about her current suitor. Then we start talking about our parents, who have been divorced for about 20 years. I advise Cindy to never think about getting married, getting a PhD or any other event that brings our parents into the same zip code. Cindy says she has successfully spoken to both of our parents and beaten them into submission for her big events. I ask her how but apparently like the rock in shoe resolution it is on a “need to know” basis.

This starts a new line of conversation. How much ransom we would pay to liberate my dad? Which by the way my dad never called me to discuss this (I am very disappointed by this). Earlier in March, my dad went on a ~3 week “GAT” tour of Mexico. This is a fairly inexpensive but very active tour company that sees many highlights of a variety of countries. Previously my dad went to the far east including Thailand, Burma, Vietnam and countries and really enjoyed himself. This year he used the same tour company for a trip to Mexico. Unfortunately Mexico is having some unrest and several people have been killed recently and several Americans have been kidnapped and held hostage. I guess my dad was hedging his bets before this trip and had asked Cindy how much she would be willing to pay for ransom. Apparently her response was: “how much money in the will can you forward me now?” Well, at least my dad knows where he stands. I guess I would have asked the same thing then suggested I needed at least a 10-20% cut for my effort in wiring the funds (and possibly being kept up to wait for any demands). Clearly our family is cutt-throat. In fact I bet if I was brought up in the 90’s or 2000’s, we would have emulated survivor and we would either have to forage for our own food or else form alliances and vote people (maybe parents) out of the household! Or perhaps we would have been raised in a “Simpsons-esque” family. In fact this past January during our trip to Arizona I heard my dad say something about how Homer would handle the situation, yeesh!

I realize I need a potty break. So I take a moment to do so. I no longer even try to go more then 3 steps off course now. Every step is a potential twisted ankle, broken foot or some other tragic end to my 100 mile attempt. Cindy comments that pretty soon I will be just whizzing right on the bridle path as Gilligan would. This is a good suggestion but I am not sure how I could do this without some kind of tree or limb for support. My thighs are strong but not that strong! Since I am the only one using a headlamp for privacy I simply shut it off. Luckily no runners are running aided by just the moonlight.

After our lighthearted banter about my dad we started talking about my mom. My mom had a stroke several years ago which was quite catastrophic at the time, but she recovered relatively well from. About 2 months ago she had a relapse after taking Evista (which is contraindicated for stroke survivors). Both my sister and I had bizarre conversations with my mom and were very worried. My mom is now in Texas being looked after by my Aunt. But it was pretty clear she had another episode. We talked about what can and should be done but really arrived at no resolution. I guess I go with the philosophy you have to live life to the fullest because you never know when you end up running to the light. Obviously I would never want to put anyone in danger, however, I would much prefer to time out in an ultra, on a hike or doing some activity that was my passion then sitting alone in an apartment or nursing home. This discussion ensued because my mom who has lived in a motor home for about 10 years is planning to hang up her keys. It appears this is caused by her recent episode, but considering she is now just 70 and her parents lived until their early to mid-80’s she may have 10 relatively good years to do whatever she wants. Well, it is her choice.

After family discussion time, we soon approached the inviting lights of AS #2. It was a welcome sight to have all sorts of activity and people. I called out my number and headed into the aid station. A nice volunteer refilled my water bottle while I drank lots of Gatorade, coke, gingerale and mountain dew. I believe Cindy used the real porta potty but apparently I am not really keeping very good track of her. At this aid station break I felt less interested in food but I took a handful of cheese nips and salted up several slices of potatoes. At this point I did not want to upset my stomach, but on the other hand I wanted to ensure I was consuming enough calories. I ate some bananas, M&M’s, and a few more pretzels then after a brief chat with the volunteers headed back onto the course.

Have I mentioned how much I hate the sawtooths this late in the race? The hills are a killer whether going up (fatigue is setting in) or the down (these are quad busting hills at the beginning by this time I am ready to just fall down and roll). Up and down, up and down over and over and over again. In the dark it is hard to get any visual references for where you are. Occasionally there are the neon orange glowsticks indicating turns or mile markers. But all hills start looking alike.

During this section Cindy and I keep talking about various subjects. I reminded her last year she made her friend Imelda do this section with me. Granted this is the shorter of the two sections between headquarters and AS#2; however, it is hilly. I seriously thought last year Imelda was going to kill me by the end (and it’s not even my fault she got the “worse” section). Even more tragic is that poor Imelda definitely got the worse weather. As we left AS #2 together last year, one of the few torrential downpours occurred! Oh well, Imelda still talks to me and Cindy so we could have completely alienated her. In fact she ran the Disney half marathon this past Jan as her first half marathon and is now signed up for Marine Corps Marathon this fall. So if there is bad weather for that race, I have toughened her up!

Cindy and I continued plugging along but I was moving slower and slower. Luckily Cindy had several layers on and a thick jacket. Her first lap she expressed a little frustration about the fact she did not really need her jacket, but this time we would put on our layers and take them off but overall we definitely needed the extra clothing. Cindy was a lot of fun and kept her end of the conversation flowing. A few times we would be startled by runners standing right alongside the path using the facilities and Cindy commented to me, “Well, people don’t seem to be going very far into the woods do they”, I suggested I was an overachiever with my 3 or 4 steps for the LaTree’s by this time.

Soon enough I nearly fall flat on my face passing by Mile Marker10. I knew I was supposed to lift my feet but decided I was better than it. Sadly this nearly causes me a face plant. I remember to lift up my feet for the 2” bump just past the mile marker. Then it is up Mt Everest. This hill is growing each time I run it. At the unmanned aid station Cindy and I go in for a refreshing (and by refreshing I mean nauseating) cup of Gatorade. I am sick of Gatorade but choke it down because I know I have at least 8-10 hours more on the course in which I need to be hydrated and have my electrolytes somewhat in balance.

As we get to the Jeep road I violently rip my headlamp out of my sister’s hand and beat the crap out of her. Just kidding (but would this not be an awesome way to instill fear in my future pacers??), although, I do ask for the headlamp so she doesn’t inadvertently take it with her. I offer up the kids head lamp since she will not need it to be on for more than 1 hour but she declines and suggests she can easily make it back to the car with no light. We walk down the jeep road this time because I really don’t want to fall. I tell her how much I appreciate her pacing me and suggest that I may or may not see her the next day depending on when she heads home and when I finish. Sadly she is not around to see me finish, but she does leave a note on the jeep saying “Great Job Tammy ;-)” We had a lot of fun and I will miss her as my pacer.

Heading into the main aid station the crowds are a bit more subdued but still as encouraging. I am happy to have completed 75 miles and thus have less than a marathon to go. All I need is for my legs (and in particular my knee) to keep working and of course for my stomach to not have a reversal of fortune or even worse a “Bojangles incident”. Now I have to explain a Bojangles incident.

The Bojangles Incident occurred last year to an unnamed person (who will remain unnamed forever!). But the story is hysterically funny from my vantage point (since it is not about me). This person last year (not a runner). Was around to be a pacer/crew for a runner. During the day, pacers are not allowed and for this course crews are minimally needed. Thus, this person went out and had a good time during the day. Recall last year it was rainy and miserable for the runners. In the day this person apparently wanted some fried okra. Apparently it was thought “Bojangles” has fried okra so this person went there for a meal. After consuming a late lunch/early dinner, this person headed to the main aid station to greet their runner. Upon entering the park, this persons stomach felt a bit quesy and upset. As they got close to the main aid station they realized their dinner must have been bad or disagreed with their stomach. It was not a reversal of fortune (code for puking), it was dinner going through express! Well, they made it to a spot along the road right near the aid station but knew they could not make it to the bathroom. Thus they scurried into the woods away from the road for some relief. After a few moments with their buttocks in full view, a car comes driving down right near the area they are going….aparently they are on a different road or their road loops around. Regardless someone is getting a good look at this whole situation! Because of this story, anytime my husband or I have extreme upset stomach, we call it a “Bojangles incident” (note: this story is important in lap 8).

Well, back to this years race. As I head into the aid station a nice volunteer takes my water bottle and fills it up. I ask for a pacer at this point since I know Cindy has finished her pacing duties. The nice volunteers introduce me to Kevin who shakes my hand. But a few moments later I am told my pacer is Deb. This is fine with me. I have had both genders of pacers provided by the wonderful pace desk at Umstead: for a man pacer I had Bobby in 2007 (he was so awesome!) and Amy 2008 (she was so great!) and both worked out very well. Ultimately it is Deb who is my pacer. At the pacer desk I briefly chat with the pacer organizer “Gumbi” (Keane) who suggests he knows me via a Sonia, a professional friend I know by way of a conference I am arranging. Gumbi knows Sonia from The Darkside Running club. I get to meet him as I am introduced to my pacer Deb. He is really sweet and mentions I am quite famous because my friend Sonia sent out a picture of me to her running club and instructed that they take good care of me. They all do!

Continuing with attending to my food and beverage needs at the aid station before I head out I eat and drink just a little. Since I do not want to upset my stomach and I am feeling a bit queasy I stick with a few bites of salty potatoes, some Gatorade, coke and ginger ale. I do not go into the main aid station to see my drop bag because I don’t think I need anything. Cindy gives me a big hug and wishes me luck. And then with a bit of fanfare and cheers, I am off for my 7th lap with Deb.

Lap 7

This is my pacer, Deb’s, first time pacing at Umstead 100; but hopefully not last. Living up to my expectations set by her predecessors: “Pacer” Bobby and “Pacer” Amy in previous years, Deb is a great pacer! She is entertaining, helpful and enthusiastic and makes this lap great fun.

She is a veterinarian who lives in the NC area and has extensive experience running marathons as well as triathlons. She has qualified for Boston and run it, thus is very fast. I hope I did not disappoint her with our 4.5 hour overnight hike/death march at Umstead!

The first order of business is for me to tell Deb my hopes, dreams and expectations. This takes about 1 minute (just kidding). I explain that pretty much I am looking for company, encouragement and someone to make sure I don’t get nuts on the race course (and by “get nuts” I mean suddenly develop the urge to run sub 12 minute miles!). I suggest if she thinks we are walking a flat she can encourage us to run but I am pretty content with my pace and expected finish time, thus do not suggest she push me. I realize I have not come in 1st (or 2nd or even top 10 by this time…maybe next yearJ). I also ask her if she will be warm enough if we walk the majority of the lap, she says this would be fine and she is well prepared with a bunch of layers.

As we head out of the aid station, I see my friend Emmy heading towards the aid station. She is just completing 88 miles and looks to be on her way to a sub-24 hour finish! Walking up the jeep road to the T-intersection I do not even attempt to run. It is too treacherous and I am not sure what would happen if I fall. I suspect I would just lie upside down like a turtle on its shell, flailing about. Once we get off the jeep road onto the bridle path I jog a few steps then decide it must be an uphill so we resume walking. While walking to the turnaround on the airport spur I only see a handful of runners. My friend Kim from Kickrunners passed me during lap 6 and is now moving solidly well ahead of me. She is looking good and ultimately finishes well under 28 hours. Coming back from the turnaround Deb and I run into Emmy who is being paced by Debs friend and fellow Veterinarian, Karen. They are really moving.

Deb chats about her evening (morning?) at the pacer desk. She jokes about how she has tried to drum up business as a pacer, but was unsuccessful until I came along. This is pretty amusing to me because she describes it as going up to runners and roughing them up a little to try to encourage them to want pacers. She suggested there is a cluster of pacers waiting for runners but they just waited and waited and waited. I think one thing I learned my first year is that while pacers are great there can be lulls when no pacers are available due to the gate being locked. My 6th lap that year I was offered a pacer if I stayed for about 30 minutes in the aid station, but I realized I needed to keep moving. Thus from mile 62.5 to 75, I was pretty much alone. Since then I have tried to provide my own pacer for at least a lap or two (and in fact I already have Tristan and Cindy signed up for pacing although both have been told that encouraging a runner at mile 50 to walk is not a good pacing strategy!).

As Deb and I jogged a little and walked a lot we chatted about ourselves and our athletic accomplishments. Based on our conversation it is clear that Deb is a lot better an athlete than I. She has qualified and run Boston Marathon as well as a half Ironman Triathlon. But I may be more persistent with my 100 milers and multiple marathons. We chatted about our favorite marathons and she suggested the Boston Marathon is great for the crowds. She also likes the Big Sur or Avenue of the Giants (I think) in California because the course was beautiful and the runners are treated very well. Sadly my race calendar is full for 2009 and up through Umstead 100 next year (assuming I am quick on the “point, click and sign up” and can get into the race) thus I will not be adding races to my “to do” list anytime soon.

As we are running between mile 3 and 4 on the loop, my friend Emmy and her pacer, Karen come running up behind us at high rates of speed. They are really moving and just stop long enough to say hello. I know it is Emmy’s last lap and thus I congratulate her on an impressive run. Pretty soon they disappear into the darkness leaving Deb and I alone.

Continuing on along the course Deb tells me a bit about the area around Umstead since she went to vet school in Raleigh, NC. Naturally (?) the topic of conversation turn to her years in vet school including how cows have 5 stomachs and how she has stuck her arm up a cows butt (seriously!). I get a little worried because I am getting paced by someone who may have just threatened to knock me down and probe me (and trust me those cows had no idea what was coming). We chat about anal sac expression for a few minutes (to show I am not intimidated). Gilligan, my dog, sadly needs regular anal sac expression possible caused by severe allergies, but that is what a vet is for. Luckily somehow this conversation fizzles out.

As we approach the lake (which I only know because there is a sign pointing runners up the hill complete with neon glow stick), Deb mentions that Raleigh has a pretty extensive greenway enabling runners and bikers to get around town. She mentions along the backstretch of the race, there is a recreation path that will take you to the art museum. I make a mental note to tell Emmy this since she visited the art museum on Friday. Although I imagine if Emmy runs Umstead in the future she will not be inclined to jog/walk or bike from the park to the art museum.

Along the backstretch of the course Deb and I talk about our various non-sport related injuries. Deb talked about how she smashed her face at her daughters playground this past fall disobeying the rule “No running on the playground” (in my mind I am shocked about the no running on the playground rule, not the face smashing). Apparently running around the playground she inadvertently missed seeing a jungle gym that she ran into at high rates of speed. It took a bit for her face to heal and subsequently she had to get some facial/nose surgery to resolve some issues. Oddly enough her insurance initially would not pay for this surgery. I can relate as currently I am trying unsuccessfully to deal with my insurance regarding items they should cover. Alas this makes me realize I do not have my insurance card on me. This is a bad sign. My insurance (same one that will not pay for some critical blood tests) has a stupid rule that you have to alert them to a hospital visit within ~24 hours. Sadly I am unsure if I am admitted to a hospital that I would be coherent enough to realize I need to call them and if I was unconscious I really don’t think my husband would call them. Thus the importance of carrying my insurance card should become apparent! Well, now that I realize it is in my wallet which is closely guarded by my husband and/or dog, I am convinced something bad is going to happen to me. I clearly instruct Deb that if it looks like I need to go to the hospital she should just push me into a ditch and leave me to be eaten by a bear, because then the insurance company will not have to be dealt with. I think she is a little disturbed by this because apparently pacers have to come back with the same number of runners they left with. And the runner must be in essentially the same condition they left the aid station (well except maybe a bit more tired and stiff). I consider telling her to find a random solo runner and act like she left with them but considering the challenge the pacers had in finding agreeable runners she might be out of luck. Thus we stick together and luckily I do not need any medical intervention.

This leads to a secondhand story from Deb. Apparently the pacers regularly held night runs, chatted with each other and got advice for successful pacing strategies. It really shows in how every runner I know including myself who utilized the pacers were extremely impressed (well I was until I learned the pacers were drinking Wild Turkey Bourbon and Jim Bean at the aid station while waiting for runners and didn’t even offer to share with the runners). THANK YOU PACERS!

A few years ago a pacer was assigned to a gentleman runner sometime late in the night. The pacer was having a nice run and getting along with the runner well until somehow the runner started hallucinating. The runner abruptly bolts into the woods yelling “Don’t worry, I’ll catch that turkey”. The runner darts around the woods chasing this phantom turkey while the pacer becomes more and more alarmed. The runner is chasing the “turkey” through the woods and is mumbling things incoherently. The runner is going too fast to be caught, so the pacer pretty much helplessly watches as the runner scampers around the woods in the dark. Finally the runner gets tired and the pacer is able to catch them and get them back onto the path (with no turkey). Ultimately the pacer returns to the aid station with their runner and this story became pacer-lore. Well, after hearing this story, every so often I would mess with Deb a little and suggest I could see or hear a turkey in the woods and that we should run after it. It would have been even funnier if I could have just run full speed into the woods but alas my legs were not moving.

Pretty soon the lights of AS#2 were in the distance. Although very few runners were on the course, the aid station was a hub of activity. After checking in: “Runner 182 here”, I got to the business of eating and drinking. A nice volunteer filled up my water bottle and I drank some Gatorade and coke. I ate a bit of salty potatoes and decided a cup of potato soup would hit the spot. Since I knew the second part of the course was a bit chilly during my lap with Cindy, I decided I should put on a pair of my windpants. I went to my drop bag and pulled my AS#2 drop bag pair out and debated where I should put them on. The tented part of AS#2 was filled with heaters (with flames I might add). I was a little concerned about being in the warm part because I might decide not to continue on, so I say very close to the edge. I also was a little worried about the flames in the heaters and how I, my clothing or my drop bag could erupt in flames. If I was going to flame out in a race I did not want it to be “flame out” literally! Deb ultimately helped me get my pants on (which luckily after the JFK50 incident of 2005, I know to unzip pants before I put them on or take them off) and I added another thermal top and I was ready to go (or so I thought). I started to continue my journey when I realized I wanted gloves. Deb helpfully offered to go back and get them. When she brought them to me, I realized my ears were cold. I knew I had a headband in the same glove bag so Deb again headed back. I thought about sending her back to see how many times she would go before she beat me up or abandon me but alas with my windpants, thermal top, gloves and headband I was comfortable. At the aid station I did offer Deb some of my layers because I had packed for single digit weather (and rain as well), so had plenty of clothing to spare. But Deb suggested she was very comfortable.

Heading into the Sawtooths I was dreading the ups and downs. The hills were really getting to my knees. The downhills were quite painful and while the uphills not painful I had run out of steam about mile 70. But we just plugged along. During this section I explained to Deb that I might have extreme difficulty particularly with the downhills because my right knee had stopped bending. Because I had hit by a car many years ago my right leg can be quite problematic at times. During training time periods this is fine because I will just take some time off but during races I have to grit my teeth and toughen up. This led to a conversation about my car accident (I was hit as a pedestrian leading to several escalating knee surgeries over the course of several year with about 10 years of rehab) and her husband’s recent rotator cuff surgery and leg osteoarthritis.

I told her I was really depressed after getting hit by the car. I think it was about 6 month after being hit that I started getting quite depressed and it got worse over time. I never knew if any of my surgeries would be successful and after each failed surgery my options decreased. In fact for about 3 years post accident I walked with a terrible limp and my gait was all messed up. During this time I could barely walk no less hike, run, bike or do many of the activities I really enjoyed. In retrospect this really taught me to appreciate life, my ability to do challenges like 100 milers, 50 milers and marathons and to have a good time doing these activities. I mentioned that I am a HUGE fan of good physical therapists that listen and help you to achieve your goals with hard work and determination. Unfortunately I had my fair share of PT’s who did not listen and would push me too hard landing me in bed in excrutiating pain for several days.

I now really listen to my body and pay attention to determine if pain is good pain or bad pain. But I also am very careful to have lots of activities and interests that I can cultivate if something catastrophic happens to me. I think volunteering at races definitely provides the energy, enthusiasm and excitement without necessarily the exertion and is something will be a lifelong commitment regardless of how my legs hold up. I also make sure to take lots of pictures along my running endeavors because if I ever cannot continue running, I can at least reminisce about what a great journey it has been.

During this section we somehow missed the worst downhill of the race. I typically walk it backward and have my pacer hold my hand so I do not fall over. Somehow our engaging conversation allowed me to get down this hill unassisted. Or else we somehow cut the course but never left the bridle path and started at AS #2 and ended at Gravlyn. This really confused me for a bit. Because as we were approaching Gravlyn, Deb said “we’re about to get to the T intersection” and I kept insisting we were not because the nightmare of a downhill was coming up. When we got to Gravlyn I was shocked. Idea’s that were considered for this lapse in my life included: cutting the course, an alien abducted me or maybe unbeknownst to me I was chasing a turkey in the woods with Deb in hot pursuit during the awful hill. But somehow we were on Gravlyn and had just over two miles to headquarters.

My time with Deb was a lot of fun. I had a great time and spent most of the lap thoroughly enjoying myself mentally (physically I cannot say the same but I was moving forward and that’s all that matters). Deb was so cheerful and upbeat the entire lap and I found her to be a very amusing pacer. She had all sorts of stories, kept me moving forward and made sure that I was not doing anything too crazy.

A brief visit to the unmanned aid station secured us each a bit of Gatorade, which she kindly brought to me. This eliminated my need to “walk the plank”, which I am sure would have resulted in my falling in the ditch by this time. Heading back up the three major hills we were seeing fewer and few runners along the course. But a real treat was hearing my name out of the darkness and realizing it was my friend Rob A and Susan D. Rob must have really good eyesight. Although perhaps he heard my voice; Deb and I kept up a pretty good conversation during our entire lap together. Lots of conversation and lots of giggling!

Getting closer to the aid station I realized I needed a brief potty break. About 2 or 3 steps off the course near one of the smaller trails I found an appropriate LaTree and I believe Deb may have used the other side (I never really paid attention to what my pacers did while I was using the facilities—I was to busy willing myself to not fall down, pee on my sneakers or do something else embarrassing). As we headed up the final hill we could see headlamps of other runners heading onto the bridle path. This alerted us to how close to the jeep road we were. I turned on my Princeton Tec headlamp and held it like a flashlight to ensure I did not stumble and fall this section. It was about 5:20 a.m. and I was heading into the aid station for my final Lap. It was just a little bit after Tristan was instructed to be there. I figured if Tristan wasn’t there, and no other pacers were available (or even if there were) I was getting ready to beg Deb to pace me another lap. She was such good company and so far I had behaved as her Pacee. She successfully returned me to headquarters about 4.5 hours after we left; essentially in the same condition she found me.

At the aid station I hear my name. It is Tristan. I am a bit surprised. I have had to fire him multiple times and I would not have been shocked if he had missed the gate or been dressed inappropriately. But alas he is there and dressed to hike/walk/jog/run. I thank Deb profusely for her great pacing and am sorry to see her go. I know she has to sign me back in then I totally know she is going to the backroom for the Jim Bean and Wild Turkey!

I am not at all interested in food and am definitely not up for much beverage. But I grab a cup of Gatorade, followed by a coke and a gingerale. My stomach is a bit queasy, so I just take a small bit of salty potato. I do not need anything except my camera from my bag. I ask Tristan to get it since I really don’t want to see sleeping folks, runners that have finished or other sights that subject me to the lure of the chair. Tristan gets it and catches up to me as I am heading out of the aid station. I realize I should get a picture of Deb and even exchange e-mails so I have Tristan take our picture and we each write our e-mails on a piece of paper.