Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Umstead 100 in 2009: Lap 5 pictures and Race Report

With my official lap 5 pacers: My sister, Cindy and husband, Tristan just after we got onto the aiport spur. Apparently the memo said to tie your shirt/jacket around your waist to be in the cool crowd and we all got it!

Okay, this is a horrifying picture, (thus most likely taken by my husband), but it is one of the few pictures with Wayne and I. Wayne had an amazing race and finished I believe with a new PR...way to go Wayne!
My sister and a huge Clydesdale Horse. As she was petting him, I was getting concerned that if she got kicked or bitten I would be out my alpha pacer and have to rely on my beta (or zeta pacer). And I am sure my parents would be plenty angry that I caused her harm. I've been bitten by a horse during JFK 50 two years ago (right in front of Cindy), so this injury is still fresh in my mind.

With my friend DETurtle from Kickrunners. She was doing the 50 miler and I believe like many of the rest of us, she PR'd. She is really sweet and we spent a mile or two walk/jogging at various points.

With my pacers: Cindy and Tristan and the Race Director Blake Norwood at the AS #2. The Umstead 100 endurance run is is an amazing race and I know I could not finish without all of the support of the RD, the volunteers, my various pacers, my fellow runners, their crews who are always willing to help all the runners and so many others. THANK YOU ALL!!!

I have no doubt Tristan will be able to catch up to Cindy and I as we exit the aid station. It is great that I am now halfway through (in distance) the 100 mile. But I know the race doesn’t really start until mile 50 (as per Stacey a new runner who was super fast but really nice…and had a crew of about 10 all with matching pink shirts!). In fact I think the race doesn’t start or get interesting until mile 62 or 75!

I am not running that fast (although this is no different then my “real” life because I never run fast). In fact exiting the aid station I walk up the entire hill and even the flat until essentially I am at the T intersection. I use Tristan as an excuse but in fact he catches us about 300 meters out of the aid station. I also continue to carry part of my second chicken breast sandwich so use that as an excuse (there is no running for an hour after a meal, right?). As we head out Frankie passes me. She is looking exceptionally strong and running like a champ. I see my friend Kim from Kickrunners coming into the aid station and many others. I now know most of the runners (by name as well as number) within a mile of me. This is the last loop that it will be easy to identify runners because the following loop I expect it to be dark.

Once I started running I started getting complaints from both of my pacers (a helpful hint to pacers is: be prepared for anything when you are pacing me!). Apparently they both expected me to be walking the majority of the lap. After my initial laziness I picked up the pace and jogged most of the “regular” sections. Of course I walked the up hills but I continued to jog the downhills and flats. I felt really good and other then incessant complaining by my pacers I was happy. A few days after I finished the race, I heard from my husband that one of the topics of conversation while they waited at the aid station was about how I would walk most of the lap.

Guess I “punk’d” them didn’t I?

Cindy’s issue had to do with deficiencies in her wardrobe. In fact she was dressed for a stroll in the park, not really a run. And Tristan continues to have knee issues. For both of them prior to heading out on the course I suggested I could get a “real” pacer. But alas both suggested they were up for the job. So we continued jogging at a blistering 12-14 minute mile. As we continued, my sisters complaints about her jiggling boobs became more frequent. In fact she mentioned on occasion she should have put on a sports bra. I indicated that at the second aid station, mile 7 into her journey, I had access to a sports bra. I suspect my sports bra would fit her (S/M champion seamless, which I believe is the smallest size out there…basically it squashes my whoo whoo’s which is fine with me). One comment I recall being made was that she would have no place to change (I guess at that point in the race I had no shame in changing in front of folks). But of course I suggested she could not change out but make a Micheal Jackson like fashion statement and simply put it over her shirt. That suggestion did not fly.

I think Tristan was a little bit embarrassed about this conversation (and the fact that it kept being brought up). But alas if you can’t handle girl talk, don’t pace when you are outnumbered 2 to 1 by girls. In fact we taunt him a little by asking if he is excited about booby talk or horrified. I think this is a paradoxically question because the booby talk is about his sister in law but it is booby talk. And I think it was last year at Umstead we established that if I die, Cindy will not marry Tristan as a consolation prize (and this was when she was between boyfriends). Poor Tristan has no beta wife, so all he can do is hope I don’t die.

Tristan’s problem was less personal. His knee apparently would twinge. But in fact this did not become an issue until late in the lap. But I was worried because he tends to run then regret it. At some point he did slow down and was walking about 50 feet behind us ala Gilligan style and I got really worried. But to cover my anxiety, I suggested was he having some wardrobe issue, and did he need a cup, which of course I would not be able to provide (unlike a sports bra). At that point we all realized our conversation had really taken a turn for the worse.

As we continued jogging, we would occasionally pass folks and be passed, but now this was becoming less frequent. Pretty much all runners were spread out and most of us were settled into a comfortable and steady pace. At some point I realized there was no way for me to make it to the next porta potty and I had to go. I told Tristan and Cindy of my intention. Then I walked into the woods a few steps. I then spent a few minutes recreating the scene from Austin Powers when he is being reconstituted from being cryogenically frozen and keeps whizzing for several minutes. Cindy and Tristan kept up their conversation while I attended to my business, and finally I popped out of the woods. My sister immediately commented that I did not go very far into the woods. I responded by this may be the last time I go ~10 feet into the woods because once it gets dark I barely get off the path since I don’t want to fall down or trip.

We continued jogging along. The topic of conversation turned towards my sister who is now dating a guy who Tristan and I refer to as “J-man” (there is a story about why we can’t use his name and it relates to inadvertently calling him a different bad name that will get both of us killed! And my sister is military and has pointed out that she knows how to use a gun and at one point missed being an expert marksmen by one shot…yeah my family has chosen the intimidation route! We’re like the Simpsons and the Bundy’s from Married with Children all mixed into one dysfunctional family….we put the “fun” in dysfunctional should be our motto!). Well we get lots of time talking about their relationship, J-man’s son (who is a typical 5 year old, whom he has custody of) and other assorted topics that fall under the category “what is said in Umstead stays in Umstead”…although if someone sent me enough money to enter a few more 100 miler’s or buy a few pairs of shoes I would totally squeal!).

Approaching mile 6, I catch up to my friend Turtle from kickrunners. She is powering along. She wishes me luck and suggests I am doing well. My sister takes a picture of us and we chat briefly. Apparently I am asleep at the wheel and my sister yells at me after we move along, “you have to wish her luck and tell her she looks really good”. I do this (I now realize I am getting tired and a bit incoherent because I love giving folks words of encouragement…it is the highlight of my race). During this episode Tristan is about 50 feet behind us again bringing out his inner Gilligan. I am unsure how we dropped him briefly but he catches up.

We see my friend the Clydesdale horse in this section. I have already met it and tell my sister it is friendly. The owner re-iterates this and says we can pet it on the neck. But for some reason, Cindy sort of approaches from more the front then the side. I think the horse owner was a little worried that Cindy was going to get bitten, squashed or something because she suggested petting was to be on the neck. Cindy obeyed but for a few seconds I was worried I was about to be responsible for my sister getting taken out by a horse. I don’t think my parents would have been pleased by this. At Cindy’s request, I take a picture of her and the horse. I then pet it and Cindy takes a picture of me and the horse. It is a HUGE horse. After we head off, I comment to Cindy that I never knew Clydesdales could be ridden, I always thought they just pulled wagons and beer. But considering the height and the girth of the horse, the rider was amazingly flexible (because I sure would not be able to ride the horse without snapping my leg into two pieces mid-way between my hip and my knee). Guess you learn something new everyday.

Pretty soon nature calls again. I have no idea why I am peeing so much except I do keep pounding down the drinks. I really do not want to be carted off to a hospital because at this point I realize I do not have my insurance card on me. Every other race I have my insurance card just in case, but this time it is in my wallet I think in Tristan’s backpack or the car. Oh well, I try not to dwell on this. This time as I head into the woods I take about 2 steps and find a stump/tree I can grab for support. My sister comments that my latree is getting closer and closer to the trail. And in fact although I checked for other runners before I found my potty, a few moments later, a runner comes up. I think Cindy might be horrified on my behalf and thus she starts encouraging me to “go faster, go faster”, but the nice runner suggests that he will just avert his eyes. I am sure I am less disturbed by this because I have seen many folks doing their business throughout the day. We move along and continue our chatting about random topics. I continue to be very happy and relatively pain free. I am happy I am eating, drinking and peeing normally. Everything is going well.

Soon in the distance are the “loop de loops” that signify the approach of AS #2. We round the final bend and head down the hill and there are the porta pottys and tents at AS#2. Tristan and Cindy head to the porta potties, taunting me with their ability to relieve their bladders in appropriate places. I walk by the runner check in “Number 182” and then I head over to the food/beverage section. A nice volunteer takes my water bottle and fills it with water, while I grab some Gatorade, coke and Mountain Dew. I also feel a bit quesy so I wash this down with some ginger ale.

Blake, the Race Director is at the aid Station, so I chat with him briefly and when my pacers finally finish their pit stop, I get a picture of all of us. I tell Blake I am really feeling good and am feeling a sub-28 hour finish. So far my splits suggest I can do this.

My sister and husband are excited to see they have Papa Johns pizza at the aid station. It is both of their favorite pizza so they each grab a slice excitedly. I call it “Poopy Johns”. Need I say more? But alas I take a piece anyway and ultimately eat a few bites, then give the remainder to Cindy. Sadly I forget to tell Cindy that treats on the course come and go anotherwords the pizza will not likely be there the next lap. By the time I tell her of this, we are too far for her to return for an additional piece.

I realize this section of the course has cold pockets and it is starting to get dark so I decide to grab a few layers. I put on my shirts in the aid station, but walk out of the aid station with my long pants. Ultimately I realize I should put on my pants so on the bridge about 300 meters from the aid station I get Tristan to help dress me. I tell Tristan and Cindy there will be cold pockets and they would be welcome to borrow some of my spare clothing (I have 3 additional pairs of pants in this aid station: 1 thermal pants, 1 rain pants and 1 windpants as well as numerous shirts of varying thickness). They both decline. Tristan has long pants on but only has a short sleeve shirt and a longsleeve around his waist, so I am more concerned about him. When pacers get cold sometimes they can pressure their runners to go faster than comfort, so I re-iterate my offer of bright pink, pastel green or vibrant purple layers. He declines again.

As we head into the sawtooths I take advantage of the uphills to walk. This time my walks may be more pedestrian. And the downhills I am really starting to hate. I grit my teeth and go down wishing my knees felt like they did on lap 1, but alas this is only a sneak peak at the next few laps. During this section we continue to chat and joke around. It is good times for all of us. Sporadically we lose Tristan who seems to really be bringing out his inner Gilligan. I am surprised he does not just lie down on the course and start rolling around. Apparently my speed is getting to his knee. Cindy is a trooper but now again she mentions her wish for a sports bra and how she is looking forward to a minor wardrobe change at the main aid station. I mention I am looking forward to the main aid station because I will be changing out my shoes. I am excited about this because my feet continue to be painful. My feet are painful but manageable pretty much the entire race because the entire time my shoes have been tied too tightly.

We talk about our jobs, Cindy’s goal to run JFK50 miler this fall (which she’ll do fine at), our near and distant plans and all sorts of topics. It makes the sawtooths go pretty quickly. It is now dark so I use my headlamp. My petzel e-lite provides just the right amount of light on the bridle path section of the race. It gives me a bit of perspective and ensures I do not twist my ankle in some unseen indent. During this lap I realize I better pay attention to the speed hump right near mile 10. Immediately preceding and following it, there is a 2 inch or so high hump that just shuffling does not clear. I make a mental not but each subsequent lap I forget about the pre-10 mile hump and nearly stumble, aargh!

The tent at the aid station at the top of Mt Everest is lit up with runners congregating and socializing. Since I am starting to find it challenging to walk in a straight line and I either have to step into and out of a ditch or walk on a wooden beam to get in (i.e., “walk the plank”), I ask Cindy and Tristan to get me a Gatorade (and don’t skimp on it! Is the last think I tell them). They kindly do. I drink up my full cup of Gatorade and continue to plod along. I am still moving, but am really starting to feel my joints stiffening. But I expect this and I think of the sign “Pain is your friend”. There is also a sign that suggests “Hills are your friend”, these people in NC have really weird friendships, eh??

We continue heading to the main aid station, and the topic of conversation becomes: will Tristan be able to make it out of the park by the 9 p.m. gate opening. It is looking questionable unless we all pick up the pace (and by “we” I mean: me). I am not sure considering all the hills between us and the aid station. And my powerhill walking is more power shuffling. And I know the last section right by the aid station will be really challenging because it is dark but the challenges of the rocks, roots and uneven surface will be exaggerated. Thus we have a little group discussion and decide Tristan should go on ahead. Otherwise he will be trapped in the park for an additional hour. We agree that he should be a the main aid station by 5 a.m. if he wants to pace me my final lap. After a hug and what I imagine is a really stinky kiss, he is off.

Cindy and I continue our jog/walk seeing other runners on the out and back. Everyone is so nice and friendly but they are getting more subdued. It is approaching 9 p.m. and we have been at this for over 15 hours. And for some this will mark the halfway point in time. I hope this is not me but fear a little that I am slowing down considerably. Cindy and I cheer on other runners and their pacers, chat with folks as they pass by and continue our journey. Soon enough we are at the turnoff.

Just as I feared, the jeep road is challenging. My e-lite headlamp is not sufficient, but Cindy shares her stronger headlamp. I use it as a flashlight and light the way for both of us. We basically walk this section even though it is downhill. I don’t want to injure myself this far into the race. As we pass by the Umstead 100 sign we see car lights in the distance. We speculate it might be Tristan but it is too far away. We continue moving forward, while the headlamp moves towards us. It is Tristan and it looks like he has a few minutes to spare. Hopefully he can get to the main entrance quickly enough while it is open. Cindy speculates that since it is so early in the evening, they may be a bit more lenient with the gate timing. Apparently Tristan makes it through, but I do not know that until the next morning.

Approaching the main aid station, there are less crowds (somewhat because of many folks finishing the 50 miler and somewhat because it is the night). But the folks who are there are just as enthusiastic and encouraging. I walk up the hill and get to the aid station. I am excited, it is time to change out my shoes!

Heading into the aid station a nice volunteer takes my waterbottle to refill it. And I head inside. Cindy escorts me inside and I ask her to bring my drop bag forward. She does and places it on the first table closest to the entry way. This is good. I take off my shoes and socks, and simply pull my gaiters up. A quick look at my feet show they are looking really good. No major blisters, a few hot spots and all my nails are intact. I apply a tad of glide on my heel which continuously suffers from dry skin and switch into a fresh pair of drymax trail running socks. I then put on a new pair of sneakers and I am happy. Unfortunately my chronic shoelace tight/loose issue occurs again. As I am dealing with my feet, I see my friend Hugo. He has finished the 50 miler and is looking really good. He is waiting patiently for Emmy and others. I get a nice volunteer to take our picture and chat a bit. He is in good spirits and it is nice to catch up however briefly. Soon enough I cannot drag out my shoe changing any longer.

Cindy comes bounding into the aid station and checks up on me. I am fine and just need to get up and refuel and rehydrate. I head to the food/beverage section and munch on a variety of stuff. I have another chicken sandwich but have the same issue with chicken falling out as the previous lap. Oh well, clearly my hand eye coordination is really poor. I have some soup and ask for extra noodles. This really hits the spot. I also drink lots of Gatorade, some coke, mountain dew and ginger ale. So far my stomach is doing well but I do worry. I know my 6th and 7th laps tend to be toughest on my stomach and I tend to get some sleep deprived nausea. I say my thanks to the aid station volunteers and Cindy and I head back onto the course.


Just_because_today said...

almost feel like...hmmmm maybe but nah!

elvoy said...

Tammy - Again, great photos and commentary. I didn't realize you would be at the Delaware Marathon next month. I'll see you there. Cheers.


Runner Tammy said...

Hi Myriam,

You crack me should consider a 100. Both Emmy and I had alot of fun!


I am glad you enjoyed my commentary and pictures. I had an amazing time during the race and am looking forward to VT100 in just over 100 days!

I will look forward to seeing you at Delaware. I believe there are to be some out and back sections which hopefully allow us to meet.