Friday, July 31, 2009

IronGirl Triathlon Pre-Race Practice Swim

On the line to register for the pre-race IronGirl practice swim at Centenial Lake in Columbia MD. There were approximately 900 (?) participants attending this event with an even split between first timers and seasoned racers. I am in neither group, I am just an incompetent ultra-marathoner trying so hard to not come in last and yet really not succeeding. But I do have eating down (and people keep saying that is an important skill set for endurance athletes:-)
Right before I entered the water, I got my final picture (in case I drowned, was eaten by a gator, attacked by a shark, frieghtened to death by a fish or turtle or had some other catastrophe befall me---anyone know if there are attack foxes in MD lakes??) You will notice in this picture my camera's strap. Basically my waterproof camera is clipped to me when I am swimming. When I stop to ask someone to take my picture, I unclip it and hand it to the person. The camera's strap has two fishing line floats since I have yet to successfully teach my camera to float.

This is the view from about 200 meters after we started looking back to the ramp I had just swam away from. You will notice many 40-45 year olds lined up ready to get in the water and swim over me.
In fact I was kind of trampled a few times. Thank goodness I had my camera's floaties to rely on helping me! It definitely was more crowded this year and the swimmers were more spread out. Hopefully during the race my strategy of swimming about 100 meters away from all the buoys will help me in staying fairly isolated. Otherwise I am going to totally practice yelling "Shark!" every few minutes to frieghten and discourage swimmers from getting too close to me.

Here I am swimming along the course. This was taken during my second lap when there were very few people in the water. Each lap was ~1200 meters as per the Race Director who set up the buoys. My second lap I did not make it to the last two buoys but probably got 3/4th of the way to the turn around buoy. I was pretty pleased with my effort, although I suspect tommorrow I will not be able to lift my arms up at all!

After the swim, I was able to regain my sea legs (or is it land legs) while a nice volunteer took my picture. In fact this was when I decided to go for another lap if we were allowed (which we were). I was suprised that only a few of us were taking the opportunity to swim extra far because it is not often you get the chance to do long open water swimming and many ladies do use the IronGirl as a training event for an Olympic, Half Iron or Iron Distance triathlon.
The water temperature was pretty pleasant in the lake; however there was a lot of seaweed/seagrass which I found quite disturbing. Alas, I am optimistic next time I swim this lake they will have mowed (or whatever it is called when underwater), as they have the past few years.

I have participated in the Columbia IronGirl Triathlon the past two years. Each year I think I cannot lower the bar in my poor performance then exceed my expectations. Last year a ~20 minute T1 (going from swimming to biking) took me nearly 20 minutes. In the same amount of time some of the competitors were able to complete an entire segment of the race!!!

Well, I had such great fun I am back for another year.

This year I really have not swum much and my biking has consisted of Bike to Work Day and the Tour De Cure metric century that I turned into a 50 km bike event.

I am glad I am gracefully able to get out of my half Iron distance Tri in Sept because I will be presenting at a Regulatory Affairs Professional Society Annual Meeting (and I know I cannot show up and present with Seaweed in my hair, sporting triathlon attire and smelling of pond scum--or can I??) I am sure I can make the Olympic distance I will transition to (especially since this IronGirl is pretty close to that length).

I had alot of fun at the pre-race practice swim and enjoyed the camraderie that I associate with the IronGirl. It is a well run event in which all the competitors are so encouraging!
Now I just need to cram a little in the next 3 weeks!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vermont 100 miler: Comparison of 2008 and 2009 Results

Here is a summary of my VT100 miler splits. My husband (who is a sweetheart and an AWESOME SAS programmer) created some code that can use the splits provided on the VT100 website to calculate the time arrived at each of the main aid stations as well as the pace between major aid stations (if there are any others out there wanting the SAS code or a printout like this, drop me an e-mail).
Unfortunately due to rounding errors (the race management group truncated the seconds of our times), this loses about 10 minutes to the final race time.
Regardless, this gives a sense about what my two VT100 miler experiences were like.
This year I started off a bit faster. This was sort of done on purpose to get a big buffer in case I slowed down (apparently I needed this more that I realized). Also, I knew what the course was like and felt a bit more confidant about moving quickly on it at various points.
Considering these results, I LOST alot of time changing my shoes. I know this based on my 16 minute/mile split at Stage Road (shoe change #1) and my 25 minute/mile split at Margaritaville (shoe change #2, when I loitered a bit with Tristan and wandered around aimlessly).
After Margaritaville I lost a lot of momentum and was really bummed out about life in general. And after I lost my pacer almost immediately following Camp 10 Bear I also got depressed and started wallowing in self pity. Both locations you can see a dramatic drop in my pace. But then I really picked up the pace when I acquired both Shane and Dan at mile 77 and 88 respectively. They were GREAT pacers and I was so lucky to have them.
Speaking of getting bummed on the course, I had a bizarre experience at VT100. I will call it a "reverse hallucination". Somehow between when I started the race and I finished the race I ended up with a moderate sized gash (~1 inch) in my calf. I have no recollection of getting this battle wound. I showed it to some of my co-workers (who are medical doctors) and tried to see if they could identify where, what and how this happened. None could.
So my proposed reverse hallucination (when something occurs during a race but you have absolutely no recollection of it), is that I was attacked and bitten by a fox somewhere between mile 62 and 77. During this 15 mile interval I was essentially alone (no one passed me and I did not pass anyone). Thus I easily could have been kidnapped by aliens, approached by a serial killer or even attacked by a fox.
Tristan suggests I somehow got scratched by a branch or ran into a rock. However, since I do not buy into Tristans hypothesis "The simplest explanation is right" (or some crazy long winded quote), I think I had a "reverse hallucination" and I was attacked by a fox (or maybe a small bear or bobcat would also work).
In fact Shane suggested he paced a person (who DNF'd cause that what Shane does to his runners) who saw many chipmunks running amok on the course. It is unclear what these chipmunks were doing or if they were attacking the runner; however, clearly there was a wild band of critters going nuts on the course.
I sure I hope I survive this!

Another Last Place Finish in July

A grilled cheese sandwich during a race is always yummy...although this one at the Race Around the Lake Marathon was not a race sanctioned aid station but was a church fundraiser. But regardless it was tasty!
Enjoying the lake while partaking in a yummy coconut smoothie from Gingerbread construction company (good smoothie, great muffins!!) In fact for this picture what you cannot see is that I was sitting on a bench appreciating a small break from running (yeah, that's what I'll call it even though I was "running" 20 minute miles at best!)

"I'm in a race, can you call me later?" (these are words you'll never hear me say). In fact I was calling people left and right. Although no one was home or else they were screening their calls at 7 a.m. Saturday morning!
I think I need to upgrade my friends and family. If I need to phone a friend during a race, they should be available!!

Here I am sizing up my competition, a very cute golden retriever puppy. I think I could beat him in a marathon, but he abruptly quit after about 100 meters.

During the race I wanted to check my google e-mail (in case some sponsor decided to offer me some big bucks for my inspiring performance!). I also needed to check in online so I could get a good seat on my return Southwest flight (nothing but A's in boarding group is my philosophy). And of course I like to keep on top of the news:-)
Notice that my new laptop matches my running outfit. I think I will start running with Pinky because she would be a really cool accessory to go with my lei, sparkeley fanny pack and lucky mountain goat: Jim Baaaah--n (thanks Glaven!)

July has not been a stellar month in terms of athletic performance. Although it started off well since July 4th I ran a 5 km fun run with my friend Flo and we did not come in last. Since then my placement has dropped precipitously with:

1) Last place female at Vermont 100 miler (how did this happen??? after Umstead 100 in 2007 I vowed never to come in last place and suddenly I recapture the pathetic-ness of my youth).

But apparently last place female was not a low enough bar for me...

2) Last place overall at the Race Around the Lake Marathon!!! was my next event. (Even if I had skipped my shower, sleep, blogging, e-mailing, muffin-buying and eating, I still would have come in last as my main competition for last finished in just over 7 hours! Excluding my tasks and sleeping would have simply altered my time from ~14 hours to ~8 hours).

I had been hoping there was a glitch and someone unexpectedly finished after me but now the official results are posted showing me as the last finisher.

I am optimistic August will bring me improved placement; however, considering I was 2nd to last in the IronGirl Triathlon last year and I have been last in 50 km races before, I am not convinced I will do much better.

My IronGirl Triathlon poor performance I blame on my waterproof camera (which totally wasn't pulling it's own weight), my ~20 minute transition time (excuse me for wanting fastidiously clean feet) and my general awful swimming and biking capabilities (throw in bad running and how I came in second to last is easily understandable!)

Maybe I need a new strategy. Or maybe I just need to embrace my pathetic-ness. Or maybe I need to take the advice of one of my bloggy friends, Joy who suggested to her kids "You're a winner for even finishing". Yeah, that sounds right!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Finished the Race Around the Lake Marathon in under 14 hours!

With my Muffins purchased at the Gingerbread construction company on Saturday morning. During the race I ate a total of 4 muffins. This does not include my pre-race muffin eaten before the race clock started. Next year I think I will aim for 5 muffins!

At the display window at the Gingerbread construction many choices so few laps! I love the chocolate dream but also had a boston cream, a gingerbread and of course 2 chocolate dreams during the race. My pre-race carbo loading muffin was a chocolate dream.
With the sign at the Gingerbread Construction only regret is that I did not get a picture of me in front of the building at night of me looking longingly into the building wishing it would open. At the Lake during my second lap just after sunset. It was a great temperature and a really nice night to run, scamper, jog and walk.

You will notice in the previous pictures I have two different outfits on...this is because I had my night outfit and my day outfit. This was separated by a shower and some sleep. This is the kind of marathon I could become accustomed to. It was very civilized.

Yesterday I finished my PW marathon, but had a great time!!!

I showered, checked myself in online to my Southwest flight, shopped at gingerbread construction company, ate, socialized, took lots of pictures and even had a good nights sleep during this 14 hour event!

It was great fun and I think next year I shall sign up for the ultra and aim for 50 km. In fact this year I did end up jogging/walking over 30 miles; however, I had aimed low and only signed up for the marathon, so my extra laps were simply victory laps.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

24 Hour Race Around the Lake-My Marathon continues

I am now less than 2 laps (6 miles) away from finishing. I am doing well and having lots of fun! I think I can break 15 hours for this marathon...maybe even 14 hours, but I do not want to set the bar to high!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Race Around the Lake Marathon: 14 miles down and time for bed!

I have just completed 14 of my 26 miles at the Race Around the Lake...I am tired so I am going to bed. I will resume tommorrow morning about 5:30 a.m.!

I have already started my marathon Gingerbread construction muffin eating, yummy!

I am feeling optimistic I will finish this marathon well under the 24 hour limit but probably over my personal worst at Disney.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vermont 100, it's all about the Friends!

The Reston Runners (which I am a member--although I do not live in Reston VA) had several runners competing in the VT100 this year. We even snagged the Race Director Julia H. for this group photo which includes runners, crew, pacers and chauffers.

We have all been planning to do this event since early in the Winter (well except for me, I decided last July 20th!). I think everyone had a great time and knows why I like this race so much.

With my friends John(?), Emmy, Me, Chris and Frank after the pre-race briefing but before dinner. It was so great to see and catch up with so many friends before, during and after the event!

With my friends Debbie (left) and Caroline (right). I know Debbie from a bunch of ultra's and Caroline because we ran a great deal of the George Washington Birthday together.
Debbie was our driver/chauffer to the race so Tristan could get a good head start on his drive and hike in New Hampshire. Since I try to be self sufficient in races (with respect to his questionable crewing and pacing) this was fine with me. Thank goodness they had lots of drop bags!
The girls from Reston Runners: Me, Mary K and Anna. We spent quite a bit of the first 30 miles together but then I lost both of them during my first time consuming shoe change.
In reality I should have skipped this shoe change because almost immediately following it I stepped in a mud-pit and soiled my shoe!

Food is my friend, so here I am with a freshly baked brownie!!! The home made goods all along the course was so tasty and yummy and since I throw caution to the wind when doing ultra's I was devouring every treat in sight. This still does not beat the minty cupcakes with coconut at Margaritaville, but it is a close second.
In fact during the entire event there were lots of tasty home made treats including cobbler, cookies, cupcakes, whole grain bread, salads.... I was really glad I was running a 100 miler and expected to burn of all the calories!

Vermont 100 it's all about the Friends Part 1

My friend Paige with the "Bull" sign. This sign is pretty funny and quite famous in this race. It is unclear to me if the sign is intended for just the VT100 milers or if there is a chronic problem of people cutting through other's pastures. (and people think I am crazy for being worried about Serial Killers at 2 in the morning when I am all alone...clearly there is a crime wave that is going on in VT!)

My WONDERFUL Crew Tristan at Margaritaville. Since he succeeded in his limited tasks and did a good job driving me, he is listed as my friend. But if he slips up in future 100's he returns to the status of "Mortal Enemy":-)
In fact this year he was quite attentive, did exactly what he was explicitly directed and walked me out of the aid station (when this picture was taken) saying positive things and suggesting he knew I could finish.
Before the race I had the pleasure of meeting Jill, the winner from Umstead. She is really sweet and very encouraging. During Umstead she was moving so quickly but each lap she would cheer on the slower runners or offer up encouragement.
This sport is so GREAT because everyone is so positive, encouraging and supportive regardless of one's ability.

With my friend Mary K from the Reston Runners after the Taftsville Aid station with a few tasty treats. I ran a bit of the race with Mary but knew she would pull ahead of me. She tends to finish JFK in <10>
She was pretty nervous going into this 100, but I knew she could do it. In fact looking at the stats, women DNF significantly less then men, so statistically speaking I had faith. And then knowing her, I knew she could dig deep and finish!

This is me with my friend Bob G. Bob has struggled with blisters throughout his running career. The course with it's incessant mud and so many hills really added to his difficulty. This was exacerbated by some significant stomach issues which unfortunately led to him accepting a ride from Tristan at Margaritaville.
He is really TOUGH!!! At Umstead 100 he had BLOODY feet and nails that were falling off left and right (and the pictures/video from this was worse then any horror movie ever!).
In fact I loved his comment as he and Derek were finishing Umstead and about to buckle..."They should not give us a buckle at the finish, they should give us a belt so we can whip ourselves silly when we think about ever signing up for one of these in the future!"

Vermont 100 is an amazing experience. It is definitely challenging, but it is also really fulfilling. The pride of accomplishment is something that can never be taken away. And in my humble opinion it really is a group effort. I certainly could not succeed without the race organizers, aid station volunteers, pacers, other runners, crew and of course my husband who lets me train as I need to and drives me around.

In fact this year Tristan expanded his chauffer duties to my friend Tim and Bob who sadly but wisely ended up pulling from the race at the Margaritaville Aid Station.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Time to train up for the Race Around the Lake Marathon this Weekend

I am signed up for a marathon this weekend, the Race Around the Lake in MA (it seems so easy on paper to run a 100 miler on one weekend and run a marathon the next weekend...what a fool I am!)

But alas I am committed (or again, should I be committed?).

I am really excited about this event. I have done the 24 hour ultra-marathon Race Around the Lake before (twice) and had a great time. Both times I ran 56 miles (this was before my 100 miler days). Once I stopped because it was 95 degree's and I seriously felt quite faint about 17 hours into it. And the second time the race was called for severe weather about 17 hours into it (this was the year I learned I was a napping addict and vowed to simply run through the tiredness at ultra's...thus a good learning experience). This year I am only signed up for the marathon.

The course is a ~3.1 mile loop around Lake Quinapowett in the suburbs of Boston, Massachussetts. The surface is 10% grass/soft pack, 30% Macadam, and 60% Concrete. Around the Lake is a Cemetary, Residential houses, a business district and MOST IMPORTANTLY: Gingerbread Construction company!!!

The first year I ran this race I saw this establishment at night and thought: how cute a place specializing in creating cutesy tree houses. In the morning I would go to the Honey Dew Donuts until several laps later I decided to get a closer look at this fine establishment.

I learned it is called Gingerbread construction company because they make Ginger Bread houses for special occasions. But they also make the best muffins ever!!!! The chocolate dream cupcakes are the best. Followed by the Gingerbread, Strawberry Shortcake, Pumpkin...the list goes on!

Well, that year I only bought one or two muffins, but Tristan and I did get one or two for the road. The next year I knew about this store so paced myself with occasional trips to this store.

This year because of coming off VT100, I will be stopping by this EXCELLENT food service establishment every lap that they are open and buying a muffin or two!! Considering my strategy is to run 3 laps at night, go to bed, then complete the next 5 laps over the course of the day (starting around 6 a.m. when this store opens!), I will be consuming 5 muffins throughout the race. Also, I probably will start with a pre-race muffin or two on Friday afternoon (they close at 6 p.m., otherwise I would totally start my first lap with a trip to the store:-(

And of course after I finish the marathon (or else prior to their closing time of 5 p.m. on Saturday), I will head over to stockpile some muffins. Tristan said he would pay for this trip if I brought him home some muffins. I figure I will buy 2-3 dozen to bring home. I expect about 4 muffins total will make it home to Gaithersburg (I don't want to set the bar too high!)

I love post 100 miler eating binges!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vermont 100 mile 2009, The secret of my success: My Pacers & Crew, a story and a few pictures

With my AWESOME Pacers: Shane and Dan. They were great throughout the last miles of the race in keeping me focused, moving forward and happy. Both were so sweet, entertaining and just made the miles fly by.

I am incredible lucky to have had such great pacers who really made this event seem not as monumental. We kept the conversation flowing, cracked tons of jokes and just had a great time (well at least I did). They pushed just enough to keep me well in advance of the time limits even though prior to getting into their capable hands I had lost a considerable amount of time and was worried I would DNF by timing out.

This is "pacer" Shane. You will read an amusing story about Shane (and how he crushed the spirit of every other runner he paced at VT100 in 2009). But I am stronger and refused to succumb to his long string of DNF'd runners. As hard as he tried I would not be discouraged (Just kidding...he was an amazing pacer, I think the carnage of his previous runners was pure bad luck--or maybe he was mean to them but by the 3rd runner he realized he should not say things like: "Wow you look really bad" or "it probably would be easier if you would just quit" or the classic, "You look really tired maybe you should just give up now")

With my pacer Dan. Several weeks ago Dan noticed I had indicated I was lookng for a pacer for mile 88-100 on my blog. While I am sure based on last year I could make it to the finish line alone. It is considerable easier if you have company and someone to help you along.
Dan was amazing. He said just the right things and pushed the pace just enough to create a nice buffer but was not so tough as to break my spirit.
We had alot of fun during out 12 mile journey and I was able to show him the experience of an ultra from a slower runners view. We saw the burned out car, I picked a few berries and was able to see and appreciate the beautiful sights while still maintaining about a 16 minute mile pace!

Here I am with Tristan and all my drop bags. Because Tristan was only going to be at one aid station (and sometimes he is a little less reliable), I even had a drop bag for that AS. Within these drop bags I had plenty of stuff that I might need along the 100 miles. In reality I probably used less than 10%!
Tristan is a good chauffer and this year performed very well at Margaritaville. He followed my explicit list and even busted it out a few times (which kind of cracked me up because my note was written in my voice, not his general fact I think I might write/speak a bit oddly)

At the end of the race, we run along a signficant amount of single track. Here I am closing in on the finish. I am very excited because I know barring any huge catastrophe I should be able to easily finish sub-29 hours. In fact I had 20 minutes to spare.
I really enjoy this race for the camraderie (with other runners, pacers and crew), the beautiful scenery as well as the awesome race organizers and volunteers. It is an event that will part of my calendar for many years to come!

First, I would like to thank my wonderful husband Tristan for being a great husband! He lets me run wherever, whenever and however I want without any complaints or objections (of course it doesn't help that he has successfully gotten himself demoted to simply be at one aid station and to be my chauffer freeing up his 100 miler weekends considerable:-)

And of course I am forever indebted to my pacers: Shane and Dan. They paced me through some tough miles and made the challenge of running the last miles to the finish seem almost easy.

Here is one of my favorite stories from VT100 this year, my Pacer/Runner story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed experiencing it.

I had arranged a pacer through the VT100 mile pacer request group. Theresa (my previous pacers spouse) was to pace me from mile 70-88. Last year I ended up dropping her husband, who was supposed to run with me from 70-100. Unfortunately he was unable to complete this 30 mile journey. For those of you unfamiliar with ultra terminology, this means I "dropped" my pacer because I kept going but he did not. This typically happens to elites when they realize their pacer is holding them back but can happen to anyone.

I picked up Theresa at mile 70 at about 11 p.m. in the evening. She helped refill my water bottle and with cutting sparkeley's waistband because I was getting fatter by the minute.

We walk/jogged for a few minutes with her in the lead. At some point I realized that she might be going slow for my benefit, but I had just completed about 5 miles at a 25 minute mile pace and was quite concerned I would not be able to finish in under 30 hours so needed to pick up the pace. As we approached this massive and steep hill, I powered my way up. I could hear her breathing for a while but then started breathing heavily myself. After about 5 or 10 minutes I looked back and there was no Theresa nor any headlamp indicating she was close behind. I knew I was pressed for time so continued on and hoped she was okay (this hill was SUPER steep so I am not sure I could even have managed to go down to look for her). At the next aid station I alerted the volunteers to my missing pacer.

This sort of bummed me out for a bit because I know how challenging the overnight is. It is dark, lonely and depressing. And I am afraid of SERIAL KILLERS!!! Seriously I am running alone in Vermont and am convinced there is about to be a massive crime spree in which either I am killed or I am kidnapped for ransom. Tristan and I are gov't employee's (who go on alot of inexpensive vacations thanks to Southwest--who we LUV), but don't have much money. I am sure if someone kidnaps me, the will just kill me because they might get $5 or $10 but pretty much that is it. Every noise freaks me out. And not in a good way to get me some adrenaline to get some speed but heart attack type adrenaline. At the aid station I ask how far ahead of me the next runner is but they suggest it is close to 10-15 minutes. And as I am running this section, the biker patrol passes me and I ask where the person is behind me. They suggest a mile or so. So I am all alone and frightened. I am pathetic!!!

Well as I approach the next aid station I figure it does not hurt to ask about potential pacers because I know runners DNF throughout the race and I am hoping someone else's pacer might still be up for a 25 mile jog to the finish (and I am not adverse to soliciting aid station volunteers!) They inform me a pacer is looking for a runner but he is ahead of me. Apparently he is agressively seeking business. He is roughing up runners left and right not accepting no for an answer:-) But alas he is not around when I am there.

I continue my fear-fest 2009. This section of the course is challenging and I am able to catch up to some runners in front of me. This is only because they are clearly slowing down. I am trying very hard to maintain a sub-20 minute mile pace because I know I need a buffer for potty breaks, aid stations and just in case fear-fest '09 turns into Pukefest '09!

I stumble on my friend from earlier in the race a nice gentleman who had been pacing an older Korean gentleman (who was making use of an early pacer from mile 47-70 because he was over 60; those of us under 60 have to make it to mile 70 to earn a pacer). We chat briefly but his runner is really sleeping and staggering. I mention that I heard a rumor there is a pacer looking for runners. I ask if it is he. He says yes, but he wants to get his runner to the next aid station. I ask if the next segment I can have him and he is agreeable. It is my lucky day!

In fact my future pacer friend would yell "Go Tammy Go" throughout the Camp 10 Bear Loop as we hopscotched our way around the loop. Initially his runner would go faster then slower. And as we were getting out of the loop because his runner DNF'd he again cheered me on as he passed me (on what I did not realize was his quest to get a runner--and then DNF them:-).

At the aid station I used the porta potty (maybe that was why my fanny pack was so tight!) As I went in, I handed my fanny pack to a volunteer and asked him to ensure my pacer did not go on ahead. I finished peeing (ala Austin Powers) and then went to the Aid Station to start eating and drinking. My pacer arrived and we decided it was time to continue our journey, but this time together. His runner DNF'd at this aid station because he was essentially falling asleep on his feet. We exchanged names, mine Tammy (or "Go Tammy Go") and his was Shane (or "Pacer Shane")

So for those of you keeping score, Pacer Shane has DNF'd TWO runners during this race. And I have dropped TWO pacers during my VT100 miler journey (one in 2008 and one in 2009). Neither of us have a good track record. Pacer Shane suggests not only will he pace me until I am handed off to Dan, if I don't mind he will finish with me. I am fine with this.

Pacer Shane is amazing. He keeps up a great conversation. Keeps me moving forward and unbeknownst to me is suffering terrible with chaffing issues. The next ~10 miles fly by.

As we approach mile 88, when I am to be transitioned to Dan, Shane suggests he needs to stop and get a ride back to the start. I am so appreciative of all his help but understand this is the first time he has run more than 20 miles (in fact by this time he has run 41 miles). Considering his intention to bail, I jokingly suggest to Pacer Shane, "I win" because I did not DNF like his other runners but I did drop him.

Somehow while I am attending to stuff and getting weighed Shane decides to continue the journey with Dan and I. I am so impressed!

Dan is a great pacer and really keeps me moving. He is so encouraging and always has positive things to say. I know we are really pressed for time, but explain I had two long shoe changes and a section when I just was not moving very fast. With Shane we had managed 16-18 minute miles but because of me (and Shane's) tiny little bladders, we kept having "LaTree" breaks as well as one aid station break when I might have been a little slow on the uptake.

Dan gives us a sneak preview of the various sections of the race indicating "we have a long hill" or "steep downhill" or other pertinent information. Shane and I notice that many of these statements are preceded by. "I believe". It cracks us up by the end!

Soon enough we stumble on Tristan. This is good. Tristan was to walk the course backwards to meet up with me and Dan. By the time I finished I had my own personal Entourage. All I really needed was for Shane, Dan and Tristan to wear trench coats and sunglasses and escort me over the finish!

There is always next year to fulfill this dream:-)

Upon finishing I was so thrilled that I had spent so many hours and miles with Shane and Dan. And of course adding Tristan to my pacing team about mile 98/99 just added to this wonderful shared experience. Shane, Dan and Tristan really made the last part of my VT100 experience memorable and great fun.

Start of VT100 miler pictures

The Vermont 100 miler is both a horse and human race. The horses start an hour after the runners and pass the runners along the course. After the race, I asked the owner if I could get a picture with it. The rider came over and invited me to go under the visual fence (tape!) to be closer. This horse (#101) was really nice and friendly as were the rider and owner.
Here is the horse passing me during the race. It is quite fun to have the horses pass because the riders are so nice. The horses so powerful and strong and everyone is so friendly. At the pre-race brief, the runners are asked to talk with the riders to show the horses we are not monsters but are just crazy runners out for a 100 mile jog. The riders are so sweet because they will wish you luck and express how impressed they are with the runners. I have to say I am impressed with riders who are willing to go 100 miles in up to 24 hours!

Here I am before the race with the race director Julia Hutchison. She is really sweet and enthusiastic! And so encouraging.
I know I will be back to run this race for many years to come. Everyone is so nice: the volunteers, runners, pacers, crew and everyone associated with this race.

After the race, I got a picture with Julia...she is still as encouraging as ever!
This was her first year as the race director and she did a fantastic job! My entire experience was awesome and I am itching to sign up for next years race.

Here is my final pre-race picture with Tristan before the race. Since he was going to hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (Mount Madison and Adams) I was not 100% sure I would see him again. The presidentials within the White Mountains have a moderately high death rate (read the book Not without Peril to get a sense of how many people have perished...both experienced and inexperienced hikers!)
Luckily Tristan made it up both mountains safely and then met me at Margaritaville at mile 62, just like he was instructed:-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Success at Vermont 100 in 2009

After VT100, I decided a post-race dip in a stream seemed like the right idea. The cold mountain stream felt so good on my legs and hopefully will aid in a quick recovery (especially since I have a marathon this weekend!) The stream was pretty fast so in addition to being quite refreshing it also gave my legs a small massage. This stream was right near a public library off Rt. 12 (near an intersection that veers off to Interstate 91).

This impulsive little stop was really great! Next year in fact I think Tristan and I will stay through mid-day Monday and I will let Tristan abandon me in the stream Sunday afternoon and I will completely immerse myself.

Of course my post race dip in the steam was followed by a game of putt putt. Here you can see me during my near victory at Putt putt near Quechee Gorge.

Although I am really bad at Putt-putt, I really like it alot. And this course was particularly challenging because there were all sorts of barely noticeable slopes and hazards.

Oh yeah and the fact I had to pee from about the 3rd hole didn't add to my concentration ability and focus (that and the fact I had been up for 30+ hours by this time!)

At one point (okay many points) in this race I had serious doubts I could beat the 30 hour cutoff. I had 2 very LONG shoe changes, loitered quite a bit from mile 62 to mile 70, I was averaging 20-25 minute miles and came into mile 70 needing less than 20 minute miles for a victory.

But with so much help from Shane and Dan I completed this race in 29 hours and 40 minutes.

This time for the VT100 miler is 34 minutes slower than last year, however because of losing my mom followed immediately by Gilligan's cancer diagnosis my training has been abysmal since May. I am thrilled I even finished!

I will write more later but as a post race celebration I waded in a frigid mountain stream and nearly beat Tristan in putt putt golf (My score was about 87 and his was 85 on a par 45 course!).

By the time we arrived home last night, I had been awake 48 hours straight...I need some sleep! And of course some tasty treats such as donuts or ice cream:-)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vermont 100 pictures and splits from Last Year and goals for this year

This is one of my favorite pictures from last year. It was taken relatively early in the day between storm #1 and storm #2 (of about 5 storms!). This is a nice pasture/field on the top of a mountain. It was pretty steep getting to the top and I was a little worried about falling on the way down, but the other side of the mountain was a bit more gradual.

Here is my friend Rob A with a horse approaching. Rob was really good company and an excellent mentor during our many miles last year. He was very cautious to never run up any hills. I have the tendency to get in a zone and would forget and be trotting along. He also was really funny, had lots of good stories and has run well over 550 ultra's!!! He is a running machine.

Going up a pretty steep hill in the hail...yes, hail. This was immediately following the storm in which there was lightening that we could see, feel and hear simultaneously. In fact at one point I simply stopped because I was so panicked (although there was pretty much nothing I could do except "pick a god" as one of Tristan's mountain guides suggested on Rainier if it did happen to blow up!)

This was the most unsatisfactory shoe change I have ever had! You will notice my "camp chair" is conspicuously missing and I am stuck sitting on a guardrail. And look what a mess my feet/shoes and gaiters were! This is a self portrait. If it included my face, you would see extreme rage as I was emoting "grudging" because Tristan was not where he was supposed to be with what he was supposed to be with. Oh yeah and as I was washing my feet he would bring over 6 oz cups...until finally a nice volunteer brought over a pitcher of water. I REALLY hate dirty feet!
Before the start of the race, I feel welcomed...perhaps it is because of the sign. This race is extremely well organized and implemented. The entire race I felt taken care of and well supported by the staff, volunteers and other runners/riders. Even the horses were encouraging as one licked me. Maybe for my salty sweat but I like to think because he/she was a sweetie!

Having run out of calendar days to train and being all packed and ready to go, I have spent the last few days reminscing about what a great time I had at the Vermont 100 mile last year. I was able to reconnect with lots of friends and make lots of new friends (including several of the horse riders).

The 2008 race definitely was challenging with lots and lots of hills, hail, lightening striking within a few hundred meters (splitting a tree in fact!), strong winds and several torrential downpours. I would like to think this year can only be better (well except for the bad the stimulus $$ is not going to level a few of the huge mountains or to connect them with a nice bridge!).

So far the weather is predicted to be in the mid/upper 70's during the day with lows in the mid 50's. This is acceptable to me but not ideal. I would much prefer mid-80's for the high and upper 60's for the low because I tend to get chilled very easily. There also may be the chance for rain/showers on Saturday. I am not a fan of rain; however, I have packed lots of raingear and will have a poncho in my fanny pack so I will be prepared for whatever the weather is.

I plan one change of shoes at mile 62 (Margaritaville) and even have a back up pair of shoes in my drop bag at that location. I have a second change of shoes at "Camp 10 Bear" which is an aid station we pass at mile 47 and 70. I don't plan to change my shoes more than once but a pair will be available if I decide spur of the moment at the Camp 10 Bear Aid Station.

For those of you interested in what last years splits were, here is a summary. You will notice that I averaged about a 12-13 minute miles early in the race and over a 15 minute mile later in the race. I don't do negative splits for 100 milers!

AS…Name………Mile…..Prev Time
3…..Taftsville B..….15.3…….7:37a
5…..Pretty House.…21.1….....9:17a
7…..Stage Rd….…..30.1….…11:50a
8…..Route 12…..….33.9…….12:50p
10.…L_Covered B…39.2….…2:06p
14.…C_10 Bear…….47.2…….4:04p
17.…Tracer Brk…….57 ………6:41p
20.…Schl House.……65.1……8:56p
21.…C_10 Bear……..70.1……10:12p
23.…West Winds…...77……..12:38p
25.…Cow Shed….….83.6…….3:10a

My goals for VT100 this year include:

1) Finishing in relatively good health (ie conscious with all limbs, toenails and organs I started the race with--I could stand to lose a few pounds so a loss of 2-3 lbs might be nice--Maybe too much ice cream and donuts this summer:-)

2) Finishing in under 28 hours. Based on Umstead 100 this past April, this time might work. But the lack of training may adversely impact this goal

3) Finishing in under 29 hours. Last year my time was 29:06....just 6 minutes away from being sub-29 hours. I know the course, have excellent pacers lined up and have (hopefully) successfully fired "dead weight" Tristan (well except for Margaritaville--and all I need him to be is halfway coherent--coherent enough to read and follow his explicit directions!).

4) Finishing in under 30 hours. While 100 milers definitely have a wild card component, I think I can finish the entire race assuming I do not have some catastrophic event occur. The question in my mind is can I beat the time cutoffs? And of course the catastrophic events are always possible. All it takes is one good pukefest, a case of explosive intenstinal distress or even a stumble on a root or rock (*or running away from a snake).

This may be my last post until Monday, however, perhaps at VT Tristan and I will locate a library where I can create a quick post before and/or after the race.

*most likely scenario!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Congratulations to my friend Jamie, first place female at Badwater, Snakes on the run and an event I am missing

With my friend Jamie, Badwater Women's Champion 2008 and 2009 and Morrison (her Newfie) this past April. We had a really nice hike up Deer Canyon. This is where I learned that both my dog and I are slower than her dog and her! Morrison was bookin up the mountain (even though she kept insisting he was lazy:-) He needs a few lessons about lazy from Gilligan

After I caught my breath from screaming like a girl, I realized I should take a picture of the snake to prove I did see one on my run today. I sure hope this is not a sign of things to come at VT 100 because I am not a big fan of snakes but every time I go to Vermont I seem to see them.

A sign advertising the free concert at the park Tristan and I live by. But we will not be here. This park we could easily walk the 5 minutes to the park and check out the music. Historically it has been blues or folk, so after partaking in the $4 full barbeque meal (in the old days...last year it was a wallet busting $7) we could head home. Quite a few years the concert ended up competing with thunderstorms but when your house is a mere 400 meters from the concert venue you don't have to worry.

Today I ran an easy (but confidence building) 4 mile loop by our house. This loop entails only 5 turns, one of which cuts through green acres into a quiet neighborhood using a recreation trail. Right along the recreation trail I saw it...a snake. I hate snakes. Or is it I fear snakes. Regardless this did not make me happy. In fact after my snake sighting (which I took a picture of), I continued on with a bit more pep in my step.

I also learned today Tristan and I are going to miss one of the yearly highlights of living where we do, a free concert on the park. Every year to date we have been around for this Thursday night concert and are able to grab our lawn chairs, our dog and a few bucks for treats. But this year we will miss it. Alas, Vermont 100 is considerably more important.

Finally, I have been riveted by the Badwater action via webcasts. I have many friends running this year including Jamie D (from Umstead 100 & Rocky Raccoon--and of course Morrison:-), Iris (from Niagara Ultra & VT100), Anthony P(from VT100, Rocky Raccoon and Umstead), Keith S (from the Marathon Maniacs--whom I have run numerous marathons with although considerably slower--and he looks way better in pink then I do!).

Jamie has come in first place female in an amazing time of just over 27 hours. She will be continuing on to the summit of Mt Whitney and I know she will be setting a new record for the entire Badwater course (from the lowest point in the continental US to the highest).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Vermont 100: What was I thinking??

Every time I sign up for a 100 miler, it seems like a good idea on paper. But as time gets closer I realize how far it is. One hundred miles in the car tires me out! On my feet completely exhausts me.

But now I am committed (or is it, I should be committed). I am pretty well packed, have a race day strategy and am just waiting for the starting "GO!".

I am familiar with the course (it is described as a shamrock in which you start, run around Woodstock VT, get to "Camp 10 Bear" at mile 47 then loop around returning to "Camp 10 Bear" at mile 70, pick up a pacer and run the final 30 miles to the finish. The course goes up and down mountains sometimes getting to the top and then running down, other times getting to the top then running along the ridge. We run on asphalt, single track and mostly jeep/VT roads. The course takes us along fields, through pastures, by farms, over rivers, in forests and even through several covered bridges.

We travel up the old suicide six ski trails, we run through a maple farm and by many farms including one farm that has a warning sign indicating "You can run this pasture in 10 seconds, But the Bull can run it in 9!"

Other than the first 15 miles (which have only 1 aid station and no drop bags), the rest of the course has aid stations about every 5 miles and drop bags about every 10 miles. I have packed my drop bags with lots of items including:

Layers (shirt, pants, jacket),
Spare Shoes,

For aid stations later in the day I have
spare headlamp
more layers (shirts, pants, jacket)

I also have "med pack" which are snack sized ziplocs with
toilet paper
wet wipes
bug wipes
pepto bismo

In my fanny pack "Sparkeley" (the SILVER one) I will carry
a starter "med pack"
spare small flashlight
petzel elite headlamp
spare battery
several sports bars
lip balm
sunscreen packets

My outfit will be my lucky outfit including my
Pink "Tammy" Hind Tank
Pink Marathongirl Skirt
Seamless Moving Comfort underwear
Seamless Champion bra
DRYMAX Trail Running Socks (best socks EVER!)
Hawaiin print "Dirty Girl" gaiters
Flower pony tail holder
Pink Bandana

I will wear my Garmin 305 and expect it will stop working about 50 miles in. Tristan will provide me my second Garmin at Margaritaville.

I have not entirely decided my shoes but know they will be Asics Gel Kayano XIV (blue/purple) or XII (red). Whichever pair I do not start in will be carried by Tristan to Margaritaville for my planned shoe change at mile 62.

This outfit has served me well (no blisters, good finish times and happy ultra's) and thus I stick with what works.

I know it will take me about 30 minutes to get ready before the race. My biggest challenge at 2 a.m. on Saturday morning will be to get in my contacts. My second challenge will be to apply glide on every potential chaffing surface on my body. This includes by my bra, underpants and every seam or location where clothing may rub. I can happily say I no longer need to waste a cannister of glide on my feet because of my DRYMAX socks (have I mentioned how GREAT they are??) but will apply a smidge to my heel because of dry skin.

I am anxious for this race to start because at this point there is no time left for cramming. Also I am now excited and ready for this big event. I know I will have an AMAZING time and will savor every minute of my journey!

Managing Expections...My VT100 crew

My pacers are lined up for Vermont 100 and I am very excited. I know Dan and Theresa are expert pacers and will keep me going with cheerful and encouraging commentary throughout the last 30 miles of my 100 mile journey.

My crew situation is a different story. Tristan, my husband, has tried and failed (or is it tried to fail) numerous times at many of my ultra-events. To reduce the odds of disaster I have fired him from all crew locations except one (last year I tasked him with three and that did not turn out well). The aid station I suggested he meet me at is mile 60, Margarittaville.

I provided him with a relatively short list of explicit tasks (less than 10 written in plain English just like the FDA-likes).

First I will provide his response and followed by my written directives. You can decide if I am being unreasonable and expecting too much (you also can see I have no idea how to spell Margaritaville:-). Or if I should hit the panic button right now!

From: Massie, Tristan
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2009 2:43 PM
To: Massie, Tammy
Subject: RE: Simple Directions for Vermont 100 miler (version 1) May be updated

I don't know about MargarETville but MargarITAville is a state of mind not an actual place so I may have trouble getting there. No, really, I'll be there.

From: Massie, Tammy
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2009 1:14 PM
To: Massie, Tristan;
Subject: Simple Directions for Vermont 100 miler (version 1) May be updated

Tristan’s directions: For the Margaretville (mile 62) Aid Station

Please ensure you arrive at Margaretville well in advance of me! My expected time based on last year is 8:11 p.m. However this may be optimistic or may be slower than this year. I would suggest that it is very unlikely I would beat 7 p.m. but I might beat 7:30 p.m..

Margaretville will be hopping place with Jimmy Buffett songs played over and over and over. And of course to entertain yourself you can help out other runners by filling water bottles, reminding them of how many miles to the next aid station, refilling beverages or whatever the volunteers at Margaretville might need.

BEFORE I arrive
Set up camp chair very close to aid station (preferable BEFORE the Aid Station by just a few feet ~10-20). Put backpack on camp chair with "stuff". The "stuff" will include:
change of sneakers,
glass case with contact stuff & glasses,
Wet wipes/towel
Fresh Bandana
Various Layers (shirt/pants/jacket)

There will be a "Sea to summit" waterproof bag with Sneakers, socks, gaiters and glide. Loosen laces of sneakers, take out wet wipes place in this pile.

You may leave this bundle of stuff & shoes in a plastic bag until I get there (in case people vomit, it rains, or someone spills).

WHEN I arrive
See how I am doing. Good questions are:
How are you feeling?
Is anything bothering you?
Is your waterbottle full? (let other volunteers attend to this!!)
What do you feel like eating?
Remind me of the tasty minty cupcakes!!

BEFORE I leave I have the following tasks to complete (with your help/reminding)
1) Take my contacts and give me my glasses
2) Take my camera
3) Take my GARMIN
4) Make sure I have a headlamp and back up flashlight
5) Make sure I replenish any of my medpack
Includes: Toilet paper, pepto, immodium, advil, wet wipes, bug wipes
6) Offer me a fresh IPOD
7) Take my hat and/or sunglasses if I have them.
8) LAYERS: Suggest I take a pair of pants and/or shirt/Jacket

Note:If it is muddy I will need to wash my feet. I will want pitchers of water (or water bottles—one will be in your bag) to do this, followed by wet wipes. Just ask the nice volunteers at the Aid Station (AS)!!!!

If things get rushed ask an AS volunteer to help you. That is what they are there for.

As I leave ensure I am properly dressed, hydrated, have adequate lighting, have my fanny pack filled with stuff, look comfortable and happy.
I should HAVE GLASSES on (and contacts out)
I should HAVE HEADLAMP on (and spare flashlight in my pack)
I might be carrying or have just put on LAYERS: shirts/pants/jackets
I should have a full water bottle
I should have eaten/drank and enjoyed a few minutes of not running!

Friday, July 10, 2009

A few pictures of San Diego and more VT100 preparation

Here I am in front of a Helicopter during the social event on the Aircraft Carrier the SS Midway. I spent a bit of time exploring the various helicopters and planes, then after about 2 minutes headed for the desserts!
Here I am with my friend Mike a fellow Marathon Maniac. I was quite startled when I heard my name as I was walking the EXPO one day. It was my friend Mike from the Marathon Maniacs and 50 States Marathon clubs! Mike is alot faster than I (sub 4 hour marathons by ALOT) but we Maniacs/50 Staters are a tight knit group, our insanity of running many marathons in a short amount of time bonds us.

Here I am at the Rose Garden at Balboa Park on an afternoon/evening run. I ran most days when I was in San Diego. I liked to run along the harbor as well as to Balboa Park (where the Zoo is located). One day I kind of ran too far and ended up having to get a taxi back to the hotel. So I had to put in a reciept for a one way taxi far this single direction transport has not been questioned, which is good.

One day I took the ferry to Coronado Island (really it's a peninsula) so I could try a new location to jog. It was a really pretty Island with lots of beautiful and large houses. I enjoyed jogging along the boardwalk, up and down the various roads and along the various waterways. I also got a sunburn! I would go outside for about 20 minutes and turn bright red!

Here I am on a jog to Balboa Park one morning. On this day, I knew not to continue on too far. This is the Cactus Garden which is quite interesting and has lots of different cacti. I touched a few and poked my hand up a bit. I really need to stop trying to pet animals or touch sharp objects!
In this park I was a little nervous because I asked a docent about the presence of rattlesnakes and she suggested they are lurking around. Nothing scares me more than rattlesnakes, so I did not go onto more obscure trails. I really need to get over this fear if I ever plan to do Western States!

Today I had a GREAT morning. I recieved an e-mail from a runner friend, Dan R. who will be in VT for a personal trip and noticed I mentioned that I was pacerless from mile ~90-100 at Vermont. He asked if I was still looking for a pacer and volunteered to keep me company.
Dan is a really great guy who I know several different ways: 1) I met him briefly at Bull Run Run 50 miler this past April (as well as his girlfriend Elizabeth who was crewing for him and is so sweet!) 2) He belongs to at least one of the the same running clubs as I do, the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club and 3) He is friends with super running machine Jamie D and 4) I stalk his blog (yeah, I admit it, I stalk people on blogs:-).

Upon reading his e-mail, I immediately responded, I still need a pacer and would LOVE if he would keep me company for the last few miles.

I reminded him that I am not remotely as fast as he (he placed 10th overall at Bull Run Run...I on the other hand might still be out there)

And in my mind I thought unless there is a large portion of dessert at the finish and that is the last dessert on earth I probably would never be as fast as 99% of the population. With the last dessert on earth at stake perhaps I could come in first place, but we'll never know, will we?

Dan said he was fine with my lack of speed. He is planning to park at the finish and run his way backwards along the course to mile 88 (we ultra-runners don't get too anxious about specific distances because 10=12 miles, right?), then pace me into the finish. Based on my last years time I should arrive at Bill's about 4:48 a.m.

I mentioned to Dan that I recall I arrived at this aid station before 5 a.m. but left a bit after 5 a.m. I had to get weighed (just a few moments) then seemed to sit down for no good reason. I believe I might have wasted about 15 minutes at this aid station and as far as I can remember there was no reason for this. I had no shoe change but think I might have been depressed about starting up running after losing/breaking my pacer.

This year I will be handed off seamlessly from Theresa to Dan. And I know both Dan and Theresa will take really good care of me because both have been so encouraging via e-mail messages!

I am getting really excited about VT100! Only 7 full days to go.