Monday, December 27, 2010

My final 2010 Race: Across the Years 48 hour Race

After a bit of a travel snafu (my flight was cancelled even though the Gaithersburg and Baltimore area did not get much snow) I am about to head off to Across the Years.

Luckily as in every aspect of my life (including drop bags, my fanny pack and personal necessities) I had a back up plan. Although my back up plan involved a flight that is my second most expensive flight this year (the most expensive was my flight to Portland Oregon to get Tristan after his fall off the mountain). Alas it will be worth it to see so many friends and make many new ones during my epic adventure of the 48 hour race at Across the Years.

My goal before my "Italian Flu" and shin splints was a sub 24 hour 100 mile, then to see how much further I could go perhaps with a sub goal of 135 miles because it is the same distance as Badwater. But considering my training has been a bit sparse lately and I sure don't want to start 2010 with an injury I might try to run 120-130 miles over the course of the 48 hours. My friend Karen, who ran the 24 hour Race around the lake with me suggested I should aim for 200 km. This coming from a person who ran her first 5 km in June and tripled her distance one month later makes me think I should step up to the plate and go for 124 miles at a minimum!

During this race, runners can receive messages through the website:

My race starts at 9 a.m. Mountain time on Dec. 29th and finishes on Dec 31rst at 9 a.m. Feel free to send me messages!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Any of you reading my blog for a while know I have a bunch of fears. Sometimes I control my fears but all too often, I let my fears control me. This coming summer when I face the biggest challenge of my life (at least that I have chosen to face) I will have to overcome many fears and will need to toughen up on many levels.

My biggest fears in life are

1) Serial Killers-this fear strikes me in ultras where I end up running alone in the dark extensively. Let me just say from experience reading the “Zodiac Killer” is not ideal pre-race reading.

I have no solution for this fear but considering I carry lots of lip balm, emergency poncho and salt/pepper maybe I can McGuyver something up if ever attacked. Actually I keep telling my husband Tristan that my pepper packets if I opened and tossed at someone is the poor/lazymans pepper spray.

2) Rattlesnakes-actually I fear all snakes but I am particularly worried about rattlesnakes. Maybe I have watched too much “Venom ER” and I have seen altogether too many rattlesnakes along trails. I just finished a book about the Grand Slam in which a paragraph talks about a rattlesnake crossing the course near an aid station. Yikes!!

I have no solution for this fear but I am thinking my “Pepper Spray” might come in handy.

3) Cougars-pumas, mountain lions, panthers are on my list because they are the same animal and if my cat roughs me up pretty badly at only 10 lbs I can only imagine what an animal 10X their size can do.

I have no solution for this but I think this is a job for my “Pepper Spray”

4) Falling-since gravity is a law, not a guidance falling is a big fear. I tend to be unstable on my feet and fall with moderate frequency.

I have no solution for falling but my previous strategy for runs in which falling is likely I tend to sit on my butt and work my way down (for big steps) and at times when courses are slippery I slam into tree’s or other immobile objects. This means after some races, I look like I have been in a WWF match (losing obviously) rather than a race.

5) Dirty Feet-I am fastidious about my feet in particular but actually hate being dirty at all. I may be in the wrong sport! I have been nearly in tears during a few races when the grim line to my foot is a dark brown and I have to touch all the dirt to get to my feet. Even worse is when this dirt has gotten through my gaiters, sneakers and socks and there are dirt gobs between my toes. Eww!!

I have no solution for avoiding dirt. Maybe I need to pick a new sport. I think I could really embrace ping pong except I think I might lack depth perception (although that might be why I fall a lot!).

6) Stream Crossings-my feet can get dirty, I could fall and I’ve seen a coral snake in a river in Florida and a rattlesnake along a river at Shenandoah Nat’l Park, so this is the triumvariate of my fears!

I have no solution for this fear. Even worse I just realized there are a bunch of stream crossings in Western States (and maybe Leadville & Wasatch 100 but please don’t burst this bubble quite yet if this is true, I can cross that river when I get to it). Speaking of my fear of stream crossings, I could pack a raft, a pair of galoshes or stilts, so I guess I do have a solution, although it probably is not optimal.

In all honesty and seriousness, I actually do get quite distressed at all of these issues. I try not to be paralyzed by them but there have been a few times where I nearly panic and have to repeat to myself “Go to your Happy Place” over and over. If anyone has suggestions I am happy to hear what you have done that has worked. Thanks!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Western States 100 Mile Lottery Selection-in pictures

I had heard the Western States Lottery selection at the gym was an event not to be missed so decided I needed to attend. I am SUPER happy that I was in the audience when my name was selected. Being in the gym and seeing your name pop up is better than any surprise that I have experienced. It was unexpected, exciting and an incredible experience. I will remember it fondly for the rest of my life.

This is the moment I realized that my name had popped up on the screen. When I first started reading and saw: “Tammy” I did not want to get too excited since I knew a friend Tammy who had also applied. Then when I read “Massie” it took one more moment to realize Tammy + Massie was ME!!!

Perhaps I should have used my maiden name because I think Tammy Parliment would have registered a nanosecond faster since it has been a name I have seen for 39 years while Tammy Massie is only 10 years old (and I don’t write/see my full name often…mostly I go by Tammy).

When I saw my name called I remember feeling so thrilled. My husband, who was on my right repeated my name and said “that’s you”. Yes, yes it was!

This deserved a “WAHOO!!!”.

In fact this deserved a really long WAHOO with a bunch following it!!!

Continuing my leaping and “wahoo’s”! I pass by the screen of my selection to Western States 100 miler. Although a bit blurry you can see a brief biographical sketch.

“Tammy Massie, Female, 38, Gaithersburg, Maryland”. It shows I had 2 tickets in this years lottery (last year I was not selected) and I believe the races listed include JFK50 miler, Javalina Jundred 100, New River Trails 50 km, Tails for Trails, and several other events.

I remember suggesting that this was better than a 100 miler finish because I could appreciate it. I am always so excited and emotional at the end of 100 milers. But I am also so exhausted that perhaps my reaction is a bit muted.

I can only imagine what a 100 miler finish would be like if I had as much energy as I did during the lottery drawing. I imagine neighboring states would know of my victory!

As I made it across the gym I knew the gentleman who selected my name deserved a great big hug!

He had picked MY NAME, WAHOO!!!

Although I suspect the selection is based on a random number generator if I was programming this lottery I would base the “Seed” on the precise time the button was pressed. Thus I believe it was because my selector pressed the button about 10 a.m. PST that my name appeared on the screen.

I was so excited to see my name and it was such an amazing moment

Of course after hugging my selector, I needed to hug the race director.

I know that directing a race is hard work (I have not been an RD but based on my experience as a statistical conference organizer I imagine it is a challenging job with lots of subtle challenges the runners are ideally oblivious to).

And of course I was still so excited that I had been selected. What an honor!

I had met the Race Director briefly before the race because I was being introduced as the “girl from Maryland” and he had come up to me to introduce himself. I met him again when I was called up for being the runner who had traveled the furthest to get to the lottery and finally I was called up when my name was drawn for the 2011 Western States 100 miler.

I was so thrilled and so appreciative of being selected. It was a dream come true

After I calmed down a bit (just a bit), I realized I was being handed a booklet. I had seen a bunch of runners being handed the booklet but I had forgotten in my excitement. The booklet includes lots of Western States 100 miler running information.

It was an amazing experience!

A few more hoots and wahoo’s later and it was time for me to return to my seat.

Being selected was everything I expected and hoped for and more!

Of course I will be forever indebted to Keith Blom who was able to capture my selection in a bunch of pictures. I clearly need to bring Keith along on my WS100 race because he captured the essence of how I felt from the moment I realized I was going to Western States 100 miler in 2011!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

WOW!!! My 2010 Western States Lottery experience

With Western States Race Director: Greg Soderland before the drawing. Because I had come to California primarily for the race drawing and indicated this to the various super sweet volunteers and greeters, Greg came over and introduced himself. I was so thrilled to be known as the girl from MD. And even more so after my name was drawn just a little past mid-way through the drawing!!!

Western States is a very famous ultramarathon (100 miler) in which many of my hero's compete for top slots. All I am hoping/training for is a sub 30 hour finish. With a bit of luck, good health and hopefully no family disasters this year, I *really* hope to do this!!


I have been interested in running Western States for many years. My first JFK50 miler I heard about it from my running friends (and heros!) Ed C., Dave Y and Bill T. These Reston Runners are LEGENDS. They have run nearly every 100 miler in America and are super tough!

While on my radar, early in my ultra-running career, I did not believe I could finish Western States 100 because is is quite tough, challenging and does not have a great success rate. And of course I am slow! Since I did not believe in myself I did not sign up for the lottery in 2006, 2007, and 2009. By the time I had the confidence, experience and felt if selected I would not be "wasting" a coveted slot, the odds dwindled from guaranteed sucesss ultimately with the two time loser rule to 20% last year. This year my chances even with two tickets was a dismal 14%. I was not optimistic.

But I still decided to fly to California to experience the lottery. Let me just say it did not disappoint. The energy was amazing, everyone was so friendly and I knew about 20 folks in the 200+ person audience.

As the names were selected there was a nervous energy in the air. I had told my husband earlier in the day that the optimal time to be selected (from my perspective) was about halfway through. There would be lots of anticipation but at some point after your name was called you could appreciate the experience.

Arriving at the gym, Tristan and I were fairly early. I got a good seat and put my lucky bear hydration pack on one and my sparkely fanny pack on the other to ensure Tristan and I could sit together. I needed all my lucky animals and items with me. Because we were going to be in the 100 miler for the long haul!

I chatted with lots of super nice runners and family and caught up with my friends while waiting. Folks would ask where you were from and I was happy to indicate I had traveled from Maryland. And yes, my trip here was primarily for the WS100. Visiting Tristan's family and the California International Marathon were ancilliary. I ultimately was introduced to the Race Director, Greg Soderland as the girl who came from Maryland. I also got to see Tim Twietmeyer, who I had met the day before at the CIM EXPO. It was really neat. Just meeting all these amazing running legends was incredible!

Then it was time for the lottery. Announcements were made then it was asked who traveled the furthest? I was next to a gentleman from Cleveland Ohio. But Gaithersburg MD won! I was excited to be called up and received my first bit of goodies: Moeben arm sleeves (my favorite!), a Western States coffee mug and a hat. My day was off to a great start!

As names were selected, the audience would erupt into huge cheers when it was a local. I saw a few names of running friends but quite a few names from MD/VA/DC were not names I knew. And I thought I knew most of the crazy 100 milers in the Capitol area because of belonging to the Reston Runners, Virginia Happy Trails and Montgomery County Road Runners. Alas none of these names were mine.

Each minute I became more nervous and anxious. The energy was electric. I had my fingers, toes and everything else crossed willing my name to the screen. 5, 10, 15, 20 runners were selected. Every time a two ticket person was selected I was excited. My odds improved. But alas odds do not get your name picked specifically. At the halfway point I for a moment lost hope. But I gave a pat to my lucky bears and squeezed my eyes shut wishing super hard. Next thing I know on the board it says:

Gaithersburg, MD

It lists some races: JJ100, VT100, JFK50, Tails for Trails 40, New River Trails 50 km.

These are the races that have gotten me here.

It takes a moment to process, that is MY NAME!!! I start hooting and hollering and jump up in excitement. It is AMAZING. The next few minutes are a blur. I hug the guy who had drawn my name. I hug the race director. I savor the moment. It is AWESOME!!!

Getting your name selected while being in the gym is an experience that is incredible. The crowd cheers for me and is so nice. I am thrilled to recieve my race brochure and a bag. In fact it is only a few minutes later that I look in the bag and realize it is a Moeben Set including a running skirt and a pair of arm warmers in the daisy pattern. This is my FAVORITE pattern. My lucky day keeps getting better.

After my name is selected, I can appreciate the lottery. It is wonderful when folks from the audience are selected. I notice no one seems to match my energy and enthusiasm. I may never be able to show my face in Auburn. But after the drawing is complete super nice people come up to me and say that my antics and excitement getting selected were appreciated. That is neat. I always like to show my enthusiasm and LOVE ultrarunning. I know I am really fortunate to be able to run and and so thrilled that in 2011 my journey of ultrarunning will include Western States and hopefully even the Grand Slam: Vermont 100, Leadville 100, and Wasatch!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My motivation & upcoming schedule: Running Marathons, Ultra's and Training

The JFK50 miler led to a small running injury. It is my first injury since I fell pretty hard and twisted my ankle in my first JFK50 miler. Perhaps this race brings me bad luck:-(

I am still working on my race report but also am trying to keep up with my professional and personal life. And of course in my rehab (which involves nothing except stretching and ice) I have been getting ready for 2011. I am excited about my race calendar and of course that I will be sharing a bunch of races with a bunch of friends. And of course I know I will run into friends at most if not all of my races. Some of my running companions are seasoned marathoners/ultramarathoner and several are my friends who I have coerced into running with my enthusiasm and statements like "Running is FUN!".

Training, while not "fun" in the strictest sense of the word, I do enjoy. It gives me time to think, reflect and just enjoy being in the moment. I do frequently listen to an Ipod Shuffle but frequently I just listen to sounds of nature (if I am on a trail), chat on the phone (sometimes the only time I can squeeze out of a day is on my run) and sometimes I am fortunate enough to run with others frequently these are fun runs at my local running store: Fleet Feet Gaithersburg.

My husband and I are fortunate to have the funds to allow for frequent traveling around the country. And I am always delighted to share a rental car, hotel or carpool with friends. This of course makes my running "slush fund" go farther.

Running marathons, ultra's and even shorter distances which I can extend by running the course backward (if I finish early enough), make runs go even faster. Time flies when you are having fun and in my world chatting, learning about others and experiencing new places keep running fresh and interesting.

And of course my events do have purpose. In the next few weeks I hope to run the California International Marathon and the Rehobeth Marathon. These will be my final train up runs for the Across the Years 48 hour (ATY 48) race in Arizona Dec. 29-31! This will be my first 48 hour race. I had hoped to come into the ATY 48 in better shape but perhaps all my training throughout the summer and fall will help me. My goal is to run 100 miles in the first 24 hours then run an additional 35 miles in the next 24 hours. I am not sure what I can accomplish but I figure I might as well set a pretty lofty goal!

And of course I plan to have FUN!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

JFK50 miler 2010: Leading up to the Race

Running a 50 miler is both a physical and a mental challenge. Little did I know by the end of my 2010 JFK50 miler I would be living out this adage. But alas it is the challenging times, situations and events that frequently make us stronger (at least that is what I said to myself throughout the race). And it also makes a greater appreciation for those times when success is easy and painfree.

Leading up to the Race

My running and professional calendar has been jam packed since 2006 when I ran my second JFK50 miler. But this past fall has been exceptionally packed. I started running what was to be 13 marathon or greater events each weekend back in mid-Sept with my favorite 40 miler, the “Tails for Trails 40 miler” hosted by Faye and Kev Hawn in Hanover, PA. This year I PR-ed in this distance by an hour and yet still was the last place female and last place overall. But I had a great time at the race and it was a lovely day for a 40 miler. My biggest disappointment was the lack of my husband Tristan and dog Gilligan. Tristan was in the midst of rehabbing from his mountaineering accident and Gilligan had passed away just a month before this event.

My next event was the Adirondack Marathon during a Father/Daughter Weekend in upstate NY. Again this was a beautiful day for running and I set a PR on the course. The weekend involved lots of eating, lots of hiking and good times. The Adirondack Marathon is one event you end up weighing more after the race weekend then you did coming in.

The Freedom’s Run Marathon was run with my friend Tammy B who I had jogged a considerable amount of the VT100 miler. I also nearly became her ex-friend by suggesting the Grand Tetons 50 mile Race would be "Great Fun". She was good company during the Freedom Run Marathon until she turned on me at mile ~20. Granted I went for a bathroom break but stayed for the visitor center/store. I would have made my dad proud as I read a few placards, enjoyed the air conditioning in the movie theater/displays and even put on some civil war outfits they were selling at the gift shop. This is all critical stuff for a marathon. But apparently Tammy B has different standards!

In 2009 I ran the New River Trails 50 km in 6:06. I knew I could do better and would tell anyone who would listen I wanted to break 5 hours. I realistically thought I could break 5:30 or maybe 5:15, but I figured I might as well set a really high goal for once in my life. Annette Bednosky puts on a GREAT race and the volunteers, course and overall race experience is excellent. The food along the course is amazing (and I nearly deraile my stated goal by eating perhaps one too many home made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), the scenery along the rails to trails along the New River and easy/non-technical terrain make for a fast course. I achieved my goal with many minutes to spare and PR-ed with a 4:48!!! I was shocked, amazed and super-proud.

The next weekend Tristan and I met up with my friend Dana from the JFK50 miler to run the Breakers Marathon in Newport Rhode Island. This is a beautiful marathon (on a nice weather day) that goes along rocky shores, sand beaches and multi-million (billion?) dollar houses, estates and even compounds. Running with Dana added to the experience as we were able to catch up since our last time running a significant amount of time together: JFK50 in 2006. Oddly enough my streak of PR’s for race courses continued with the Breakers Marathon.

Mid-October I flew to Phoenix to run my second Javalina Jundred 100 km. Last year I had run this race and had my first and most public meltdown (and in fact the whole meltdown was captured on video and a small snippet of it was played on a PBS television special). This year was a completely opposite experience. After meeting up with my friend Jamie at the airport we slowly headed to the race site for packet pick up. Of course on our way we had to stop at Chompie’s and Yogurtini for a huge bagel sandwich and a frozen yogurt treat. Let’s just say no visit to Phoenix is complete without a stop at Chompies and Yogurtini! During this trip an observation was made about my packing style. Apparently I pack heavily. This is both for my traveling and my ultra’s. In fact this topic has come up repeatedly and leads to endless mocking. But I can handle it as I have all my stuff to console me! When setting up my fanny pack it was noted that I had a lot (maybe 5 or 6) lip balms and 2 emergency ponchos. Apparently this caused a bit of controversy including texts to pretty much every ultra runner in America! Pacer Dan, Jamie and Tony tried to have an intervention. It was suggested I did not need a poncho in a desert and 15 lip balms might be excessive. I grudgingly jettisoned a few items. But then I had to text mid-race when I realized I had inadvertently not confessed about a lip balm in my handheld which was used during the race. Apparently texting during the race causes even more controversy! But I believe I win. Oh yeah and I did set a PR for the 100 km distance of 13:45 even with my 5 lb sparkeley fanny pack.

At JJ100 I was so thrilled to see so many friends and make so many new friends. And of course it was great fun volunteering overnight with everyone including the Race Director’s mom: Patty, who is so sweet and kept trying to get me to sit down and relax. At least I was not running the 100 miler, relatively speaking volunteering is easy. In the morning as I swept the course, I headed backwards along the final loop and was fortunate enough to run with my friends: Susan, Rob and Janette who was running her 2nd 100 miler and 3rd ultramarathon ever. The only bummer of this trip was seeing a pair of rattlesnakes right near the women’s shower/bathroom. I nearly refused to come out, but alas I was part of a carpool and had a business trip to go on.

Immediately following JJ100, I flew to Italy. It took 3 legs to get there and nearly 24 hours of flying. I seriously think my employer (the gov’t) is trying to kill me! Even worse on my way back (on Thursday) I ended up missing a connection at Rome. Ultimately I did get home but at one point a British Airlines Agent (the airline of the connection I missed) suggested he could get me a flight from Heathrow to Baltimore on Saturday!!! Seriously! Am I the only one seeing several issues with this “solution”? And I was quite jet-lagged!

Finally getting home on Friday evening I had to make a quick recovery for my 7th Marine Corps Marathon. I was super lucky my neighbor, friend and fellow competitor from the 24 hour race around the lake: Karen had picked up my race packet. So I could rest on Saturday. Sunday I woke up, headed to the race, saw lots of friends who I would say “I just want to finish so I can lie down at the finish line”. My plan was just that and to hope the Marines would pick me up and carry me. Alas even after setting a new PR for the marathon, 4:02, I was able to wander along the course cheering on runners. Ultimately Karen who had run the 10 km joined me in cheering runners and then we walked to meet up with Tristan who had parked the car at Roosevelt Island.

After nearly a week of being sick, Tristan and I flew to Manchester NH for the marathon. We did hike a bit in the White Mountains including going to the top of Mt Pemigawassett. Apparently that trail is pretty tough when you are sick/injured as we both struggled to the top. Luckily I was able to bounce back quickly and had a fairly successful Manchester City Marathon.

I was supposed to run the Richmond Marathon with my friend/FDA/Industry Statistics Workshop Co-chair Carmen. Unfortunately family obligations led to her deciding to postpone her inaugural marathon. My friend and former pacer, Pacer Dan had a similar experience with his first time runner. So we both entered the race runnerless. We decided to run the marathon together. After establishing, no I do not run 7 minute miles we decided a 4:15-4:30 marathon was a reasonable goal considering my upcoming JFK50 miler.

We had a great time running this race together. Although at points “running” might have been stretching the definition of running a little. Alas with lots of fun along the way meeting dogs, proving beyond a reasonable doubt my husband needs to be fired as my crew and that I can eat a cupcake (or pretty much anything else for that matter) during a race with no issues we both had a great marathon experience. Also, since I was unaware that Pacer Dan would be running with me I had not jettisoned anything from my fanny pack and still was able to run pretty quickly. And Pacer Dan in solidarity with me carried a lip balm. He will be pacing me at Umstead 100 and hopefully I can convince Pacer Iva to as well which combined with firing Tristan from my crew should enable me to run a sub-24 hour Umstead 100 miler with a bit of good luck and good training.

All of these races were training for JFK50 miler, but more importantly they are training races for my big 2010 event: Across the Years 48 hour Race in Phoenix Arizona!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Excuses, delinquency in not blogging justified

I am very sorry I have been remiss in not posting for so long. It has been a tough summer.

Life has proven it is like an ultramarathon. Sometimes everything is going great and other times you are puking along the course perhaps even in the fetal position. This has been my life since Tristan’s accident in late June. I have moved forward but it has at times been a struggle. The proverbial second shoe dropped with Gilligan our beloved dog passing away from bloat in mid-August. Gilligan was in perfect health then deteriorated quickly over the course of the evening. In the end his family including Tristan and I and his doggie friend Simba and Simba’s mom Karen were with him. Like I said, it was a rough summer.

I shall try to be better but I can offer no promises. One of the issues of having a sudden and unexpected emergency is that suddenly less important tasks get put to the back burner. Currently my backburner feels like it is larger than many named forest fires! And of course suddenly new tasks crop up. I did not fall into a wormhole that extends the hours per day so I barely muddled through my life and did the best I could to keep a semblance of “normal”.

It took Tristan 10 weeks until his cast was removed and he did not start walking until labor day. And the word “walk” is used very loosely here. Tristan has improved dramatically but the hours, days, and weeks lost this summer are gone. Time is a precious commodity. But so is health(*).

(*)As many know, I was hit by a car (while I was a pedestrian) many years ago (1995). This led to several surgeries each one more invasive and complex than the last. A complete knee replacement was on the list of potential steps in my road to recovery but I was very lucky that my final surgery involving breaking my leg, leveling my leg and attaching wayward ligaments with several screws did the trick. After nearly a year of physical therapy I was definitely not as good as new. But at least I no longer had the oddest gait ever. After about 8 years I finally was able run again. And starting with my second Marine Corps Marathon I have never stopped or looked back. I don’t ever take running for granted. It is something I love to do and know I am lucky am able to do. I hope that my husband has a similar experience in that at least he is able to one day return to the sport he loves. Maybe it will be with some pain (yes, I still have pain) but hopefully it is manageable.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hanging in..just barely

Two weeks ago I was on target to have my best VT100 miler yet (although considering my previous times were 29:06 then nearly 30 hours last year, there was little worse I could do without a DNF). Because of my training including a GREAT race at the ICY-8 (coming in 2nd place female with my friend Ethel's help), several marathons under 4:20 and a great pacing experience at VT City marathon. This was capped off by my final long distance run at the Niagara Ultra starting super early with my friend Diane.

Well last Friday I got the call no one wants. My husband called me to tell me he had fallen from a mountain and was injured. A good samaritan hiker (who happened to be a former guide) found him and called 911. After a nearly 24 hour ordeal, he finally was airlifted to St Charles Hospital in Bend OR.

The play by play of his ordeal can be found here:

(notice he was supposed to be at Portland...if any of you are in the same unfortunate position as I, wait until the rescue has been accomplished and the person is settled in a hospital, had I left immediately on Sat, I would have been waiting about 4-5 hours away from Tristan ended up)

Here you can see a bit more details about his rescue and ordeal.

I flew to Oregon Sunday night and spent a few days in the hospital with him. He was surprised I was able to stay in his room but with a thermarest mattress in my backpack I was ready for anything. Finally on Wednesday he was released and Thursday we flew home. Since then I have been busy making our townhouse as handicapped accessible as possible, renting a wheelchair and in general ensuring Tristan is able to be safe and comfortable.

This has not helped my VT100 training. While Tristan was on his guided climb the week of June 21 I had an 90 mile week. This week was less than 10 miles. I am not sure this is how to train for a 100 but I guess I will just have to dig that much deeper. Last year at VT100 when I was ~5 minutes from DNFing at an Aid Station I promised that I would avenge my dismal performance in 09 (when it was just over a month from my mom passing). This does not seem likely but hopefully I can eek out a finish with my friend Iva who had signed on as my pacer but now will be my crew, chauffer and pacer.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Updates since Umstead

In the past month+ since Umstead I have been busy training for VT100 miler.

I have run a marathon in which I was the second place female in my age gender category (the Maryland Mountain Marathon on April 17th).

I have come in 2nd place female overall at the ICY-8 hour race (which was not ICY--unless it was the ICY-HOT race) this past weekend. I ran 35 miles and had 33 seconds to spare in completing my 7th lap. Had I not completed this lap, I would have been given credit for 30 miles and would have come in 6/7/8th (Because I had been running with my 2 friends Mary and Tammy).

Then on Sunday this past weekend I ran a local marathon the Potomac River Run Marathon and finished in 4:44. This is a PR for my marathon the day after an endurance event by over an hour and has built my confidence for my first pacing experience that is coming up at the Vermont City Marathon (I am co-pacing the 4:45 pace group with my friend Glenda from the Tails for Trails/Bull Run Run/Seneca Greenway and other events--we did not sign up together but happened to volunteer for the same group which is really cool).

I am having a great spring and know I am going to have so much fun at VT100!

I will create some posts for these races but wanted to give a quick update.

This coming Friday my work (the FDA) hosts a 5 km fun run. I have not figured out if I have a time goal but last year I did finish 3rd female in my age category (notice how I conveniently do not advertise my age but sadly you can google it:-( This year I am not sure how my legs will be after my 60+ mile weekend.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2010 Umstead miler: Lap 4

One of the highlights of my Umstead 100 miler each year is running into horses along the course. I like horses.

Unlike VT100, the horses at Umstead are enjoying a nice Saturday or Sunday stroll so are willing to take a moment for a picture or to be pet.

This horse was very sweet (and as you can see from just above me) was hanging out with another horse.

I pet (and took pictures of both) but this was the best picture.

My friend Jason from the Reston Runners was running his first 100 miler.

At this point along the course he had run longer than he had ever done before. In fact he is REALLY speedy so had finished the JFK50 miler in about 9 hours.

This picture was taken about 10 hours into the race. Unfortunately by this time, he had not run 50 miles, but on a positive note this was because he was pacing himself for a 100 miler finish.

Sadly Jason had to pull himself from the course overnight when he started having health issues. But luckily they were just temporary and he was fully recovered by Monday (although I am not sure how long he was sore for).

Jason and I met via another friend (Jim Ashworth one the the two Reston Runner organizers for the JFK50 miler--Jim ran the VT100 last year and this year is signed up and knew I had run Umstead so could provide specific tips and advice)

Gilligan would sporadically show up on the course.

It was nice to see Gilligan and Tristan on occasion throughout the day. In the middle of the day, Tristan went rock climbing and I believe Gilligan entertained himself at the hotel. And by entertained I mean "slept".

In fact during this meet and greet I was a little worried that Gilligan would decide to protest and refuse to return to the car (they were at the T intersection near Gravlyn).

But alas Gilligan I guess knew if he returned to the car he could return to the hotel for some more sleep...

With my friend Frank, who I saw several times on the out and back along the course.

Frank is really nice, a super fast runner and was trying to complete his first Umstead 100 miler. He has run numerous other 100 milers but alas each year at Umstead some health crisis occurs before or during the race.

This year he finished with an amazing time of about 22 hours...way to go Frank!

I know Frank from several different ultra's including the 24 hour race around the lake, Umstead 100, VT100 and several marathons in the MD/VA/DC area.

As I approached 50 miles, I was surprised and delighted to see my friend Annette (who was waiting to pace the women's leader Jill Perry).

Annette in addition to being an accomplished athlete (she has placed first female at Western States), she is a race director of one of my favorite 50 km races...the New River Trails 50 km in southwestern Virginia in Oct.

The race is very flat, has aid stations every 5 miles (with the best home made cookies), yummy finisher soup and very nice hand crafted mugs as a race premium. I really enjoy this race and was the first person to sign up this year...I am still unsure what my award for this is but suggested she provide me a pacer to get me a sub 5 hour 50 km!


Starting my 4th lap I am feeling really good. I remembered my visor so should stop getting comments about how pink my face is (although after applying sunscreen at the second aid station in lap 3 I do not realize I have mitigated this issue by slathering on so much and not rubbing it in that I look like a pink tinted ghost). What I do not realize is that this lap is going to become my worst nightmare. Well not completely worst nightmare because that involves serial killers. But I get ahead of myself.

As I run along the jeep road I feel really strong. I have completed 37.5 miles and have no issues or problems. I have no blisters or hot spots, my stomach is doing well, my legs while a bit tender and tired are no more than what I would expect after they carried me 37.5 miles.

I see my friend Ann as run up the Jeep road. She is looking good. I also see my friend Monica who is finishing her 25th mile and looks happy. I am in between runners but happily chat and cheer on runners heading into the aid station.

Once I arrive on the airport spur I can see a few runners well ahead of me. One shirt in particular pops out, a bright neon yellow/green shirt which I know belongs to my friend Jason from the Reston Runners. I have been significantly behind him throughout the race but am now creeping up on him. I am not sure if he is struggling, I am speeding up or how our paths might be about to cross. Jason ran JFK50 miler in ~9 hours so is considerably faster than I. But it is his first 100 miler so I figure he might be running conservatively.

I jog along and wonder if I will catch up and how long this might take. Unfortunately my aid station breaks are always long, I tend to loiter at the unmanned aid station and I anticipate that I might start needing to find LaTree’s to stop at. It is getting later in the day and I am making sure I am well hydrated but this means sometimes I am hard pressed to make the 4 miles between porta potties.

I also notice ahead of me is my friend Vinnie. Vinnie and I ran a significant amount of several laps during the rainy year (2008) and only separated when he took a nap at the aid station before his last lap. Last year Vinnie was on fire and ran a sub-24 hour Umstead 100 miler but this year chatting at the pre-race dinner, I learned Vinnie was coming off a pretty bad infection he acquired in Thailand in the winter. Vinnie looks good and I am looking forward to catching up with him as well.

Approaching the airport spur turnaround, I see both Vinnie and Jason are just a few hundred meters ahead of me. I figure by the time I pass by the airport I should be caught up.

I am right. As I approach Jason, I am happy to have caught up with someone. For a while I have continued my trend of being between runners. I figure I had to work a bit to catch up but I figure he is probably going a good solid pace that I can maintain for a bit. I know Jason because my friend Jim A the former president and men’s JFK50 miler contact person from the Reston Runners asked Bill T (Luanne’s husband) and I if we would mind giving Jason some advice about 100 milers as well as about Umstead in particular. Both Bill and I communicated with Jason. I tried to give him general as well as specific advice about the 100 miler and tried very hard to answer all of his e-questions quickly and with as much information as possible.

I asked him how he was doing and he seemed to be in good spirits, having no major issues and was doing very well. Granted we were less than 50% into the race (in fact many folks will divide a 100 miler into two “equal” parts of the first 70 miles and last 30 miles, which I might concur with). He reports that he is eating and drinking regularly which is good. He has a handheld which he drinks from sporadically in front of me. I feel good that he is heeding the advice about “drinking before you’re thirsty”. We also walk the hills so I feel sure he is paying attention to the advice “walk before you’re tired” and at the aid station I see him eat, giving me confidence he is following the third important rule: “eat before you’re hungry”.

As we run we discuss his triathlons. He has competed and done well at Lake Placid Ironman. He has competed in it several years including the “rainy year” of 2008. I recall this year vividly because at the same time I was competing in the VT100 dealing with the same rains (and we even had death defying thunderstorms). Typically the Lake Placid Ironman and VT100 occur on the same day, which prevents me from ever thinking about volunteering or competing. But then again I am not sure if I could even do an ironman because of my aversion to swimming and biking…and dirt. Also my 20 minute T1 PR is not very good and would actually mean I had to exert myself in the bike to ensure I beat the time limit.
As we chat, I learn more about Jason. He has a 2 year old who is at home in VA and his wife is supporting and crewing for him at Umstead 100. I am impressed by his ability to raise a child and train for/compete in endurance events.

Approaching the T-intersection aid station, we both step in and grab a beverage. I am getting tired of the yellow/pee colored Gatorade but it is all that is being offered. I drink 3 cups and leave my cup for the next time I pass the aid station. There are pretzels, cookies, trail mix and other treats so I also grab a few pretzels primarily for the salt. I am doing my best to keep my stomach happy and well fed.

As we chat our ages come up and he mentions he did not realize my age. Apparently he thought I was a bit younger. This is very nice to hear. Because athletic competitions post our finish time, place, hometown and age many people know my age. In fact googling my name automatically gets a bunch of hits with my age. I am just glad races don’t post my weight (and in one races case, they do know my weight and could easily post it: Vermont 100 miler).

I point out that I am glad that Umstead 100 is not VT100 because I am running the 100 miler a bit heavier than usual (5 lbs). My defense is lack of consistent training because of all the snowstorms. In fact the truth is I enjoy my desserts and have not been as careful with my diet as I should be. Even worse about 2-3 weeks before Umstead, Tristan flew to New Hampshire for an ice climbing expedition and picked up a dozen gingerbread construction muffins which I ate over the course of several days. This actually followed a week in which a friendly neighbor brought some “Crumbs” cupcakes back from a business trip in NY.

As we continue jogging, we are approaching mile 42. This is not historic; however, we are 10+ hours into our race. Jason points out this is the longest (in time) he has ever run. I capture this moment with a quick picture. I ask him how he is feeling and he remains feeling good and in good spirits. I mention that for me, even at my first Umstead 100 miler, it was not until I was over 12 ½ hours into it that I was in “new” territory in time (and in fact by that time I was in a distance I had not completed either). It is going to be a bunch of “firsts” for Jason and I am happy to celebrate this small victory with him.

Jason and I continue to talk about various subjects and the miles just fly by. Pretty soon we are heading into the second aid station. Jason is a lot more efficient at aid stations then I. He goes in, grabs stuff he needs then moves along. I on the other hand loiter, chat, graze, and waste lots of time. My pacer from VT100 suggests I should waste less time at aid stations I could go a lot faster. Others point out if I took less pictures I could cut off a significant amount of time, but I figure I am having fun and maybe my loitering helps with my relatively high success finish rate. Alas I lose Jason.

After a few more cups of Gatorade, some ginger ale, cola, cheese, pretzels, salty potatoes and a handful of M&M’s and a half banana for the road I am off like a herd of turtles!

Oh yes, I need a potty break so I ask the timing table volunteers if I can put my pile of food on there table temporarily. They are very nice and say it is okay. After a brief potty break I come back, scoop up my stuff and move along. I feel like a chipmunk or squirrel because I shove a vast amount of this food in my mouth and puff up my cheeks. I figure it is easier to hold in my mouth than my hand. And supposedly what goes on at Umstead stays in Umstead, right?

Heading out of the aid station into the sawtooths I am alone again. I am bored so I start making phone calls and texting. I am pretty sure I am well between runners. I know Jason and others left the aid station well ahead of me and there were no runners visible as I left the aid station. I talk with my dad who had a nice hike in NY while I was busily running 45+ miles. He mentions that he hiked 5 miles or so and was tired. In fact he suggests I would not understand how tiring 5 miles is. Hmm…

I then get a text from my friend Jamie. She suggests I am the 3rd place female. This is when my lap and race take a turn for the worse. I do not handle pressure well. I also know I am not third place female. My friends: Jill, Shannon, Emmy and a bunch of other females I know are well ahead of me. I have no idea of my placement; however third place is wrong. Oh yes, Jamie suggests I finished 50 miles in 8 hours! This is crazy-talk. I text her that I am completing mile 45 and it is about 10+ hours into the race. The race timing system must be having a glitch.

In fact as I was heading by the T-intersection someone had made an odd statement to me about “way to go Tammy—great run”. I assumed they were being nice but it was an elite and they specifically seemed to be suggesting I was having the best race of my life. This is too much pressure.

Luckily before I can stew too much over this I am surprised to see my friend Ed walking along. Last I saw him we were not to far apart and I assume he is on the same lap as I and has passed me while I was ineffectively moving through aid stations (seriously I take a lot of time in aid stations). He is not moving very quickly so I start thinking he might be struggling.

I catch up and we chat briefly. I am lapping him. This is very sad. I know Ed has struggled in ultra’s before but I was hoping this one would be the one he could finish. After the race, I learn he has been having some asthma issues. And with all the pollen it has really acted up. We chat briefly then I move forward. I sense he could use some encouragement so decide, what better time to call my friend Jamie (who happens to be his coach). I call her and she picks up on the first ring. We chat briefly and she is able to give him some encouraging words. After a quick goodbye, I resume jogging and continue chatting with Jamie.

I need to figure out if I am hallucinating and am having the best race of my life. Jamie is pretty certain my name has popped up for the 3rd place female and is confident I finished 50 miles in 8 hours. I assure her that I have not been holding back that much and explain even at my PR at Rocky Raccoon 50 miler my time was a respectable (but not super duper) time of 9 hours 50 minutes. I suggest there must be a glitch. Jamie is shopping but can chat while doing so thus we chat for a while. We catch up about life, I ask her about her dog Morrison (who was taken for a long walk earlier in the day) and I tell her about Gilligan who keeps popping up on the course. In fact unbeknownst to me I am about to have another Gilligan encounter in just a few minutes. At some point Jamie decides I need to start focusing on running. So we hang up.

Just a few minutes later I get a call. It is Tristan. He asks me where I am. I am running the sawtooths, I know I am behind Vinnie and Jason. I am a bit puzzled by the question, but make sure he knows I am not the 3rd place female because that would be crazy!!! He ensures I have not made it to the T-intersection at Gravlyn. I say I am not there but have about half a mile to get there and 2 major hills. He says he is getting close to the intersection and has a surprise for me. For a few moments I think it might be my father in law who had expressed some interest in heading to Raleigh since he had gone to Duke many years ago for his B.S.

Oddly enough, after I hang up from Tristan, my father-in-law calls. I then become convinced he is the surprise at the T-intersection and they are just trying to cover for it. My father in law is calling to say they have picked up a celebration cake from Ukrops (a store that baked 2 of Tristan and my wedding cakes—we had a 3 tier cake as well as 2 smaller Ukrops cakes at our wedding so we could share lots of leftovers with our graduate statistics department back in 2000) for me. But I figure he simply asked a neighbor to do so. We chatted about the weather (which was beautiful), Tristan’s and my drive to Raleigh and how I was doing in the race. After a bit we hung up and I continued running along.

As I got to the T-intersection I was somewhat expecting to see Tristan and some mysterious companion or thing. I had conjectured it could be his dad, some yummy cake, the dog, my supervisors daughter (who he had rock climbed with…maybe she was ready to pace me a lap:-). There was an extensive list. Alas my surprise was Gilligan. He was a good surprise. I gave him a big hug and a kiss. It was good to see him. I took a self portrait with him. Then we found a regular jogger who was willing to take a family portrait. Gilligan even jogged with me a bit; however, I cautioned Tristan that Gilligan might not be as thrilled about heading back to the car which was about half a mile away. So they headed off to get some dinner and do whatever they do when I run 100 milers.

In fact I have no idea what they do. I assume they wander around aimlessly a bit, perhaps watch some TV (at least during Umstead March Madness is going on so I assume they watch the games) and perhaps drive around exploring the city or park. But like I said, I have no idea. And Tristan does not really talk about the specifics. As long as we do not get tickets or he does not disappear for days after the event I guess it will just remain a curiosity to me.

As I jogged along the Gravlyn, I continue to feel really good. I am having a perfect race, I am super happy (well except for the alleged 3rd place female) and am just thrilled to be doing I love so much. I catch up with the young lady who took my picture and we chat briefly. She asks a bit about the race and I tell her about Umstead 100. She is really impressed and wishes me luck. Once we get to the bottom of the hill passing mile marker 10, she turns around and heads back to her car which apparently is near Tristan’s.

By this time I am closing in on Jason and Vinnie. I power-walk up the massive hill before the T-intersection aid station and catch up to Jason and Vinnie. But have no fear, I lose them at the little aid station. This is the story of my race. I get into a rhythm and start to chat with other runners and then suddenly we arrive at an aid station. I “aid station” like it’s a full time job while others go in and out quickly. In fact a bunch of people before, during and after the race comment that if I either sped up my aid station visits and/or took less pictures I could cut off a significant amount of time in races. But alas I do not want to set the bar too high. Also I don’t handle pressure well which brings me to the continued speculation I am the 3rd place female.

Getting on the out and back I end up having a few friends comment about my status as 3rd place female. I try to explain in the span of about 15-20 seconds as runners pass by that I am not third. There is a computer glitch. Every time someone congratulates me for being third I feel like crying. I know I am PRing and that I am proud of but being third is too much pressure and clearly is not a accomplishment that I can claim nor do I want to. I like being mediocre at best and while I do not relish being last place in events it is a place I am comfortable with.

This gets me to thinking about the B&A trail marathon I ran a few weeks before Umstead 100 miler. This race was an unmitigated disaster in my opinion (well except for the fact I got 35 miles in over the course of the day). I started early, as I have at the race since my second time (the first time I did not know about the early start). With the early start I have up to 7 hours to finish but realistically I tend to finish in 5:30 or 5:45, so I am right in the heart of runners finishing between 4:30 and 5 hours.

Starting early with about 30 other runners I jog with my friend Amanda and several others. Amanda was recovering from a cold so planned to take it easy but her first few miles were pretty quick. After a bit Amanda needed more walk breaks than I, so I scurried on ahead since I wanted to build some mileage after I finished. As I was jogging along, the runner ahead of me angered me. He took a cup from an aid station then jogged with it for a while then tossed it aside. This made me so mad (this did motivate me—littering is one of my hot button issues). At that point I picked up the pace and decided to set about doing my own interpretation of karma. I decided I would beat this gentleman no matter what. I figured we all were early starters so I was not going to have to break a world record. I passed the runner. For a bit he was near me, particularly when I would loiter at the aid station (because I want to make sure I toss my trash in a garbage can, not along the course, thus I must drink while at the aid station). About 10 miles into the race I successfully got ahead so I was not getting caught at the aid stations.

Moving along I expected to be passed by the leaders including my friends Serge and Karsten. Typically the leaders pass me about mile 8 or 9 at the latest. I made it past the turn off for the half marathons and was still in the lead. Spectators could see I was an early starter (as we had an extra bib indicating this) and I mentioned it since I was not liking the pressure of being first. In my mind I was cheering on the faster athletes to go faster so they would pass me. I was not passed until about mile 17. I was very conflicted until I was passed because I wanted the extra mileage and to beat “litterbug-dude” but I really did not want to be first.

As I got to the second turnaround at the B&A trail marathon about mile 19.5, I was able to see where other runners were behind me. I had a good lead on my mortal enemy, litter guy (and my husband alledged that I only have friends, because apparently I refer to nearly everyone as my friend) and the first place women is about 1 mile behind me. I feel optimistic that she will be passing me about mile 24 or 25. As I continue jogging and chatting with runners who are passing me I am now cheering in my mind for the first place female. I want her to pass me so people stop informing me I am first place female (then I have to correct them, aargh). As I pass mile marker 24 I start hoping first place female is coming up from behind. Then at mile 25 I start getting worried. I am plugging along running 10+ minute miles because I want some time to run back along the course to pace in friends and the faster I finish, the more friends I can pace in).

Getting close to the turn off to get to the finish I know I have less than 0.2 miles to go and glancing behind me, the first place female is nowhere to be seen. In fact I finish (seriously nearly in tears indicating no, no, no I am not first female) and about 3-4 minutes later, the first place female arrives. On a positive note, with all this extra time I am able to run out 2 miles, cheering on runners until I catch up to my friend Amanda who I pace to the finish. I then head out on the course again to retrieve my good friend Jean and walk/jog with her in her final 2 miles. In addition to pacing my friends in I also get 2 slices of pizza and a yummy cookie with peanut butter (perhaps not the healthiest sandwich ever but oh so yummy!). This makes up for the stress I felt from about mile 13 on. The point of this digression is that I really really hate pressure that I would never be able to do in my wildest dreams. Whether in athletics, academics or any other area of my life if I am not able to do it I know my limitations. I might be able to break 24 hours for Umstead 100, but coming in first, second or third place in 16 or 17 hours is not even in the realm of possibilities.

Back to Umstead lap 4. I need to get this 3rd place female monkey off my back because it is weighing me down. If I had a stuffed monkey, I would have pulled it out and prominently displayed it. In fact the desire to alert the timing table to this glitch motivates me to put some pep in my step.

But before I get to the start/finish, I see my friend Frank and Emmy. Both are looking really great and I am pleased to get a hug and a picture with each of them.

I am thrilled to be finishing 50 miles. It is approaching 5 p.m. (11 hours on the course) and I am all set for a new Umstead 50 mile PR. Passing by the Umstead 100 miler sign I take a moment to take a picture. I need to document my progress and hope I look happy. Since I do not look at my pictures until a day or two after an event, it is always a bit of a surprise if I am in the picture, if I look happy and if the picture is in focus (although a picture being in focus is not readily apparent until I see it on a larger screen than my camera).

As I start the downhill through the parking lot I am delighted to see a friendly face. It is my friend Annette, the RD from one of my favorite ultra’s, the New River Trails 50 km. I also know Annette from the VT100 miler in 2009 when she not so surprisingly beat me significantly. Annette is so fun and really energetic. I get a big hug and a picture then continue on my way. I figure I will be able to see her a little more as I return to the course in a few moments.

Running up the hill, I am cheered on by many spectators. Because there are lots of runners on the course (even many of the 50 milers are still running) it is a noisy run up the hill. This makes me happy as it gives me lots of energy. Arriving at the top of the hill my first priority is to alert the timekeepers that somehow they have me a lap ahead of where I am supposed to be (with a 50 miler completion time of 8 hours!). They are now aware and assure me they will resolve this issue which makes me happy. No more pressure, wahoo!

My friend Chito is standing outside of the lodge waiting for me to arrive. He is going to be my pacer during my 5th lap. I don’t need to do anything major so I suggest that within a few minutes we will be off. He elects to make a final potty break while I eat and drink. As he heads over to the real restrooms, I indicate that after I finish my “dinner” I will head out on the course.

It is in fact dinner time, so I decide to supplement my usual food with a cup (and ultimately a second cup) of potato soup. I also ask the nice volunteers to make me a chicken breast sandwich including ketchup. Apparently I may be one of the few who likes my grilled chicken sandwich with catsup, but that’s okay. My stomach is feeling fine so I eat and drink quite a bit while at the aid station. Finally I decide I have had enough and get ready for my 5th lap.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2010 Umstead 100 miler: Lap 3

With my friend from LI, James R. along the course who was running his first 100 miler.

He was super sweet and had an amazing support crew! His whole family came out to cheer on everyone including himself and a bunch of others (I think a dad and a brother in law also were competing).

Their crew were so much fun and so encouraging, they would cheer wildly for every runner and were so sweet and helpful to everyone.

I ran a few miles with James, and Jeff who ran together and essentially finished together.
With my friend Ben Dillon.

Ben was taking pictures of runners by the airport spur mid-day. These pictures were developed quickly and were put in the runners finishers packet.

Thus a few days after the race, I got my finishers certificate as well as a picture of me running in this area.

I think this really thoughtful gesture by the race organizers makes this race really special. It is not often that races provide pictures for free. And these pictures are really professional!
My friend Jill is so cute. She places first at so many events but also has a moment to ham it up for the camera.

I have run a few races with Jill.

We both ran Umstead last year as well as VT100. Jill is so cute and is so enthusiastic throughout the race.

I have to say ultra-running is so much fun because you do get to meet and interact with the elite runners and they are all so nice and encouraging. I think that ultra running is a event in which everyone supports everyone else which makes it such a great sport!
I have run a bunch of ultramarathons with my friend Ann.

Most recently we both ran Rocky Raccoon although Ann competed in the 100 miler, while I completed the 50 miler.

At Umstead, we swapped our roles as Ann ran the 50 miler while I ran the 100 miler.

Sadly between Rocky and Umstead, Ann ended up with a bad case of the flu a cold that slowed her training and led to her choosing wisely to run the 50 miler.

Here I am at the second aid station timing table.

This is right before I applied some sunscreen and then looked like a ghost for the remainder of the day.

The timing station volunteers are so nice and enthusiastic. I know their task is really tough because they have to make sure they capture the number of every runner. I have done this task at Bull Run Run and it can get to be challenging when runners come in clusters and you have to have eagle eyes to be able to see the bib numbers of runners.

Thank you volunteers for keeping track of me and my time!!!


As I head out for my 3rd lap I am feeling really good. It is a great day, I am feeling strong and the weather is perfect. I am excited because I believe I am now on a PR pace and am following my goal pace splits. Sadly somehow I put in my wrong split sheet in my fanny pack and have my goal splits for Vermont 100 miler. The horses should be passing me and it should be mid-morning. But alas I am not at VT100!

Running along I am really happy. I am still able to perform simple mathematics and calculate that I should be on target to complete 50 miles at about 5 p.m. This bodes well for my goal of a sub 27 hour finish.

As I jog along the jeep road I am excited to see my friend Jimbo. Last year I watched as Jim finished his first 50 miler. This year I am able to see Jim complete his second 100 miler. He looks really strong and after a quick hug we head in our respective directions.

On the airport spur I am excited to see my friend Ben Dillon. Last year he was a runner and all the other years I have run Umstead 100 he has popped up along the course as a photographer and a super encouraging volunteer. He is really nice and it is such a treat to see him along the course. One of the reasons I love this race so much is the personalized attention to all the runners. I must say this is true of most ultra’s, but Umstead 100 really takes it to the next level. I take a picture of us then continue on knowing I will see him a few moments after I get to the turn around.

I am settled into a comfortable rhythm in this section. I continue to be between runners but I am content to ponder my thoughts and enjoy the day. I consider putting in my headset but decide I would much rather be able to interact with other runners. The jeep road, airport spur and out and back section all have lots of runners now. It is really neat to see so many runners who are looking so strong and are working on achieving their goals. I chat with a few briefly, wish others good luck and try to give lots of encouragement to everyone.

Approaching the T-intersection aid station, I am thrilled to be lapped by my friend Jill. She is looking really strong and is having a great day! Because she calls out for me from behind (I knew she was going to pass me soon because I saw her on the out and back), I am prepared with my camera. I take a picture of us then she speeds along leaving me in her dust.

Jogging along I am back to running alone. I am content to do this and don’t mind thinking about how happy I am to be running Umstead and reminiscing about how I got here. I think about my previous 100 milers including both Umstead and Vermont 100. I have had such great experiences at both. I think about the final miles of last year’s VT100 when I ultimately had 3 pacers by the finish. At that time I felt like a rockstar with an entourage. All Dan, Shane and Tristan needed to do was put on sun glasses and a trench coat. My many miles with Shane were so much fun, and he was so sweet. Then when we acquired Dan as my pacer was cool. Initially Shane was going to bail, but thankfully Dan convinced him to continue on with “Team Tammy”. Both were so much fun and so encouraging. And apparently in ultra’s I think about other ultra’s which might be a paradox:-)

I also think about other runners and volunteers who have been so sweet to me. Rhonda, the co-RD was so helpful in my first Umstead 100. We ran quite a bit of the first lap together, she telling me to pace myself and giving me the belief and confidence I could finish the race. Blake of course is an amazing RD who always is so helpful and encouraging to all the runners. He gives so much of himself to the race and all the runners and really provides all the support to ensure runners success.

Of course the volunteers take such great care of the runners at every aid station. They refill waterbottles, check on runners spirits and health and attend to every need. It is so much fun in the aid stations that frequently I find myself loitering regardless of my time goal. Myra Norwood the RD’s wife is always so thoughtful and kind and has a positive word for all the runners. And of course Sally’s Asylum captain: Sally is always so helpful. She has run ultra’s and knows just what every competitor might need before the runner!

As I jog along I am approaching a handful of runners in front of me. They are about 300 meters ahead but I feel like I can catch up. It is several of my friends who are looking strong and moving along. I decide to put some pep in my step and slowly get closer. Occasionally they are out of my sight as we round various bends but I am steadily progressing and the gap is shortening. As I do this I hope I am not creating issues for later in the day when I may be struggling to put one foot in front of the other, but have decided to throw caution to the wind.

I finally catch up to my friends. I am about to have my most embarrassing moment during the race. I ask my friend, we’ll call her Anita because that’s what I called her (and had been doing throughout the day!). Her name is Ann. Oops! I apologize profusely for this mistake and make a mental note not to call her Anita again.

Sadly incorrectly naming friends is a chronic condition I face. I have my name on most of my clothing (in case I need to be rescusitating and because I can never remember my race number which spectators occasionally use when cheering).

Alas, on occasion I remember friends names slightly incorrectly. Usually I get the first letter right but then I get the rest of the name: Dave’s are Dan’s, Anita’s are Ann’s, Jennifers are Jessica’s (and vice versa) etc. I try to convince Ann that her parents were going to name her Anita, but alas this is just a wild guess on my part.

Approaching the second aid station, we chat and catch up. The last time I saw Ann was at Rocky Raccoon when she looked really strong. She has been training really solidly but recently had a cold or flu so was planning only to run the 50 miler. She finished in a very respectable sub-11 hour finish.

In the second aid station, I lose Ann. I am busily eating, drinking and ensuring I am well prepared for my entire 100 mile journey. Up to this point I am feeling really great and very strong. I am happy, my legs are still very fresh, I have no stomach issues and am really excited to be well ahead of my target pace to finish under 27 hours. Continuing my diet of eating banana’s, pretzel’s, M&M’s, salty potatoes as well as cheese, and Chex mix, as well as several cups of Gatorade, Ginger ale and coke. A handful of pretzels and I head out on to the course.

As I announce my number to the check point, a nice volunteers suggests I look a bit pink. She offers me some sunscreen. Since my face does feel a bit burned I happily accept this kind offer. I slather it on my face. What no one tells me is that I do not rub it in effectively. For the remainder of the day, I have a white face covering my pink face. I look like a ghost!

The sawtooths are a bit challenging because for the most part you are either running up or down a hill. Some of these hills are pretty steep and I make use of the adage “walk the hills”. I try to walk the hills pretty quickly and with purpose, but a few times I find myself loitering a bit. This is particularly noticeable when faster runners lap me. Inspired by these runners, I try to put some pep in my step up the hills. I also continue jogging for a bit of the incline of several of the less steep hills. I am moving along and feeling so great!

I am sorely missing my “cheat sheet” for my estimated/goal pace but I know I am ahead of my predicted time. I start becoming a bit anxious about this for multiple reasons. I should not be running as fast as I am and secondly, I may be having issues when I acquire pacers and crew. After the finish of my 4th lap (mile 50), I am supposed to get my friend Chito as a pacer. I told him to be there by 5, but may be arriving right at 5 or just a little before. And at mile 57, I am supposed to meet up with Tristan to trade off my Garmin, my camera (which needs a change of batteries) and to give my cell phone so it can be charged overnight. I try not to get to worried and figure I will adapt if I end up being too fast.

Umstead State Park is a beautiful park in Raleigh, NC. The current 12.5 mile course follows a jeep road as well as several different bridle paths. On these roads and trails over the course of the day, you get to see joggers, hikers, families, folks walking dogs and occasionally horses. In this section I am excited to see my first horse. It is a pair of very nice horses. After getting permission from the riders, I pet the horses and take a few pictures. I really like running races in which you get to see animals and I love interacting with friendly creatures. One of the horses licks me, which I find a bit horrifying. But I try not to react and start shrieking about horse slobber. I am glad I carry cottonelle wet wipes and make a mental count of how many I have; plenty, so I am not too worried.

Along the sawtooths I am amused by several signs a family has put up for the runners. They have inspirational sayings, encouragement and a few joking suggestions. I think this is awesome and wish I knew who put up the signs so I could thank them! I slow down to read the signs and chuckle at the jokes.

Running along I chat with a few runners who pass me. And I chat with a few runners as I pass them. Since my new burst of speed going up the hills, I do pass a few folks. Essentially these were runners who passed me during my long aid station break. I know I should be more efficient in the aid stations, but they are so much fun and the volunteers are so chatty. It is nice to have a conversation with a person from the “real world”. While running ultra’s I feel a bit sensory deprived. I know a day is progressing but I have no idea of what is going on. Major current events could be occurring both those of us running are oblivious to it. The same thing happens when Tristan and I go on hiking vacation because we will not listen to the radio, see any TV, read the newpaper, etc. This is quite liberating and since most news is bad it actually is quite uplifting to be unaware of the days events. But I do find it a bit disconcerting at the same time.

Pretty soon the bulk of the sawtooths are over and I just have the final hill to get to the small aid station with treats and gatorade. I like this little aid station because I can look forward to a few treats after making it through the mountains along the backstretch.

On the out and back section I am excited to see other runners again. Everyone is looking really great and so strong. I am delighted to see my friend Emmy. She is able to report that our mutual friends Tony and Frank are ahead of her and are doing great! After a quick picture we head in our respective directions.

I am excited about approaching mile 37.5. I am nearly finished 3 laps and it is not even 3 p.m. yet. I am going super fast and the miles are just flying by. I continue to jog all the flats and run the downhills and I walk the uphills with purpose.

Heading along the jeep road I am very excited to be getting closer to the start/finish. And of course I am thrilled to see other runners. It is such a beautiful day. It is warming up, it is sunny and is just perfect running weather. Running down the hill, I take a pit stop at the potty. Then I continue on. I can see the sign at the start finish. I jog up the hill and announce my arrival. “Runner 179, Tammy Massie here”.

I have been wanting my visor for quite some time. This time I am in a place where I can act on this need. I walk into the lodge to my drop bag and right on top is my flowering visor. I put it on and head out to the aid station to eat, drink and be merry.

Super nice volunteers refill my water bottle. Others offer all sorts of food. I grab my staple of pretzels and cheese. I also grab part of a chicken sandwich. For beverages, I drink some Gatorade, coke, gingerale and some mountain dew. I am keeping well fed and hydrated and continue to have no issues. After a final beverage refill, I head out for my 4th lap.