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.


Dan said...

Hi Tammy. Found your blog via this comment over at GQ's place and thought I'd say hello. Just now finished reading all (so far) of your Umstead 100 race report postings. Nice job! And great pictures! I especially liked this one. Kinda reminds me of my first Ironman. Here's a snippet from my race report:

However, there is one neat part about being out on the run course well after dark with all the other slow folks. Except for the first mile or so right around the finish area there were no streetlights. It was dark. I mean pitch-black dark. And no matter where you happened to be when it got dark, the volunteers would give you one of those green glow necklaces. I got mine at the turn-around point on my third lap. It's hard to believe but there were runners behind me, so when I turned around I could now see them coming towards me headed for the turn-around. Remember, it's totally black out on the road so all you can see are these bouncing green circles of light slowly approaching you, spaced out every 50 yards or so. And then you pass like two ships in the night, exchanging a brief greeting if you can remember how to make your mouth work.

But somehow, somehow, I managed to get back to the streetlights near town on the final lap. I felt like I was having one of those near-death experiences. You know, total tunnel vision, running towards the light, seeing the faces of long-lost relatives, and shouting "I'm coming, I'm coming, wait for me!"


I'm thinking of taking up ultras once I convince myself (and my fragile male ego) that I'll never be anything more than a mid-pack Ironman finisher. Of course the premier ultra out in this neck of the woods is the Western States 100. Is that one on your "to-do" list yet?

Also ... I know exactly what you mean about a heavy waist pack. Lately for my long runs I've been carrying 24 oz of water and 6 gels. That's 2 pounds right there, plus the weight of the pack and the water bottle. Feels like I'm dragging an anchor around on the trails!

Best of luck with your running. I look forward to reading about more of your adventures.

Runner Tammy said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the comment. I love your recollection of the night running during your Ironman. 100 milers may be more expendable so we do not get any reflective or glow gear, so instead of aliens we sort of can sneak up on each other and act like bears, sasquatch, or other real or fictional woodland creatures.

I had a really great time at Umstead. But until recently Western States 100 (WS100) was not on my radar (I knew of it but thought it was for more hard core runners than I...but now it is starting to leach into my to do list).

My "to do" list is exceptionally long which I have to think about before I send in my check for WS 100. I have VT100 this summer (hoping for a PR), then a half Ironman which hopefully is a stepping stone for an Ironman (although currently I only have the run mastered and am planning to fake my way through the bike and swim:-) oh yeah and the transition area which my PR from swim to bike is 15 minutes and PW is about 20 minutes!!!