Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2010 Umstead 100 Miler: Quick Race Summary

At the beginning of the race, Gilligan and Tristand headed out to the T-intersection by the airport spur.

They stood there and cheered me on as I completed my first half mile then waited until I finished my first 2.5 mile.

In fact leaving them I believe I heard, "Way to go...only 97.5 miles to go!"

Gilligan in fact had a little bit of an issue getting to the T-intersection (as per Tristan) and refused to move forward. But by the time I passed them, Gilligan seemed to be running at high rates of speed.

This is my favorite picture taken by one of my friends approaching the main aid station.

You can see here that I am running pretty quickly and am very excited about being on the course heading off for another lap.

Overall I had a great day at Umstead. The weather was great, the friends numerous and I always felt good and energized.

Umstead is so much fun and is a super well organized 100 miler. They take very good care of you. The aid stations are well stocked, the course is relatively easy and you really don't have to worry about getting lost as you do the same 12.5 mile loop many times.

The only "technical" section is right near the main start/finish area, which is in this picture and realistically it just is a bit of roots and some railroad ties. All you have to do is lift your feet about 2 or 3 inches and you should not fall. Although I tend not to lift my feet more then an inch if I can prevent it.

This sign completely cracked me up, so I had to get a picture of it.

In case you cannot read it, it says:

Boss: Why aren't you signed up for the 401 K?

Worker: I don't think I can run that far...

I laughed up each time I saw this sign.

There actually were several others signs in this area and if I am not mistaken, they changed out over the course of the day, but I could be confused....

Here I am with two of my pacers: Chito and Mark.

Chito was a friend I knew from the Marine Corps Marathon, Disney Marathon, Mardi Gras Marathon (and was a roommate there) as well as the National Marathon. I convinced him to pace me and promised it would be great fun...hopefully it was.

Mark was my pacer from mile 75-87.5. He was so much fun to hang out with and so encouraging! He was positive, upbeat, incredible funny, had lots of stories and just made what I consider the most difficult miles just fly by!

I had an amazing time at the Umstead 100 miler this past weekend. I saw many friends, met many new friends and ended up exceeding my expectations for my race finish time.

When training for Umstead 100 miler throughout last fall and the winter, my goal was to cut off 1 hour from my time. Every year since my first 100 miler in 2007 when I finished dead last, I have reduced my time by about an hour. My times were 29:36 in 2007, 28:42 in 2008 and 27:40 in 2009. I thought with all the training I had done and my recent PR’s including cutting over 30 minutes from my 50 mile PR during the Rocky Raccoon in Feb, that improving my time by 1 hour was reasonable.

My “dream” goal was to break 26 hours; however, I was not sure how realistic this was. Apparently it was unrealistic to go this slow! My time was 24 hours and 58 minutes. Oddly enough for a while I was thinking my time would be in the 25+ hour time range. However, in the final mile I decided I wanted to be able to say I had finished a 100 miler in sub-26 hours so put the pedal to the metal. I had 1 minute 20 seconds to spare.

My race was filled with the three “F’s” essential for a successful race: friends, fun and foto’s! During the race I was able to catch up with so many friends along the course and meet so many new friends. I saw so many friends who I knew from Umstead 100 and VT100 like Emmy and Tony shatter their records and Frank who finished his first Umstead with a 100 mile PR and am so proud of them! My friend Jim stepped it up a notch. My friend Meredith completed her first 100 miler after having a baby just 8 months ago in about 29 hours, WOW! My friend Janette finished her first 50 miler creating a PR:-) I saw many new friends accomplish their goals of finishing their first 100 or 50 miler and so many records set. It was a great day for a race and an amazing experience.

Since I will have a very long and detailed race report but I want to post a blog as quick as possible I have decided to bullet point some of my race highlights including:

* My pacers: I had 4 different pacers at various times. My friend Chito rode to NC with my friend Bill/Luanne (Thank you!) and paced me laps 5 and 8 from mile 50-62.5 then 87.5 to 100. Umstead provided two pacers in the night: Zee and Mark. Zee had biked across America and Europe and clearly had a very interesting life. Mark was just a HOOT! When I first got to the aid station and was asking for a pacer I was grilled at length about my needs: both running pace as well as personality. He was hysterically funny and good company. Apparently he was looking for a social and outgoing runner and I believe I fulfilled this need (although I still have no voice from our antics on the course). Finishing hand in hand with Chito and Tristan was amazing.

* I did not expect to finish in the time I did. I am a slow runner and my predicted pace chart showed this. About 1:30 a.m. I realized I was about to “abandon” Tristan heading out for my 8th and final lap. I had suggested I expected to make it to the main aid station about 5 a.m., but he should be there at 4 a.m. “just in case”. Well arriving at the main aid station at 3 a.m. I realized I had just dropped him before I acquired him. A bunch of text messages and phone calls later I finally conveyed to Tristan that he should meet me at the second aid station.

* Because of a wardrobe issue in lap 5, I lost Chito for many miles (in fact the last half of the lap because I was running so fast), I ended up making a phone call to a friend: Jamie D who has come in first at this race previously. She is a super fast athlete but also so sweet and encouraging (and was my “phone a friend”). While I was chatting with her I ended up seeing Blake the RD. I let him speak to her which was really cool. Then a few moments later our mutual friend Tony P runs up from behind lapping me. He also got to speak to Jamie. This was so crazy…I ended up calling her and then had two friends who knew her show up within a few moments. The statistical probability of this is infinitely small (and I am a statistician!).

* The amazing folks at both aid stations. The volunteers are exceptional! They cater to your every need and make sure you are well fed, hydrated and are ready for your next lap. Everyone was so nice and encouraging. I loved other runner’s crew because they were all so sweet to me and so loud when cheering for me. This gave me so much energy. Seeing so many friends as I would run up the hill was amazing.

* Seeing my friend Annette (race director extraordinaire New River Trails 50 km) along the course waiting for her runner Jill and getting a huge hug! Then a few miles later when they lapped me, stopping for a "Girl Power" picture even though Jill was on track (and did end up) finishing in a Course Record, Go Jill!

I could not have asked for a more perfect race. I ran fast but felt good. I was so inspired by others and just had a great time. I am ready to sign up for next year and to try to run a sub-24 hour 100 miler!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Preparing for Umstead 100 miler

The past month has just flown by.

Because of the early Feb snowstorms I have had to cram a LOT. In my personal life, in my professional life and most of all in running. Since the Mardi Gras Marathon I have run 2 more marathons:

the B&A trail marathon in 4:19
the Lower Potomac Marathon in 4:29

and finally this weekend I ran my final tune up run for the Umstead 100, the National Half Marathon.

During all these events I was so lucky to see many friends and even run with many friends. I sure hope I will be able to crank out a few race reports in the near future.

I am really excited but nervous about Umstead. I hope that I will be able to break 27 hours. It would be even better if I could break 26:40 so I could reduce my 100 miler time by 1 hour (which is my current trend).

I feel that I am getting faster and faster and if I can dig deep I can do this. At this point the weather looks decent: sunny and high of 60 low in the 40's and I am nearly packed. I just have to pack the most important part of my outfit, my shoes (okay my second most important because my sparkeley fanny pack is #1!).

Sadly this weekend I decided to wash my shoes and unfortunately my shoes are still drying. I am optimistic that by tomorrow they will be dry and thus can be packed. Then all I have to do is wait for 6 a.m. Saturday morning when the race starts....

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A PR for the course (but not the marathon) at the Mardi Gras Marathon

The tree's, telephone poles, lights and everything else gets covered in beads in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. This year, someone really decorated several of the light posts along the course which amused me highly.

I love the sparkeley-ness of New Orleans, particularly after Mardi Gras. This year with only 1.5 weeks separating Fat Tuesday from the race, meant there were beads on many surfaces that were still colorful and sparkeley.

Here I take a moment to appreciate the beads and compare the bead covered post to my outfit which consisted of lots of pink and bit of sparkeley.

You can see marathon runners on my right and the half marathoners are on the left across the St Charles Trolley tracks.

Other years the marathon course has gone north on Poydras Blvd, the road that the Drury Hotel (where I have stayed the last 2 years).

Sadly this year I had to divert by about 400 meters to get to the hotel for my breakfast (even worse last year, the breakfast opened early, but this year breakfast started at 7 a.m. and the race started at 7 a.m.!)

Because I wanted my belgium waffle, I took a slight detour about mile 10 to get my breakfast. I had to make my waffle, but it was so YUMMY! Although a few minutes later I followed this up with a white chocolate covered marshmallow's. I will advise those of you considering to do this, don't. I nearly puked...

Along the course there was a great pyrennes. I love big dogs so I took a moment to give him a hug.

Oddly enough my doggie friend was just barely heavier than gilligan at 120 lbs (Great Pyrennes are usually closer to 150 lbs).

The dog was really sweet and very soft. Each time I travel for a marathon, I miss Gilligan (as well as my kitties) so any time I see a critter, I try to meet and give them a pet or a hug.

Near the end of the marathon we ran through City Park. City Park is one of two large parks in New Orleans (Audabon Park located in the Garden District is the other large park).

City park has several playgrounds as well as some authentic Louisana bayou/swamp land.

I took a moment to slide down the kiddie slide (although the person taking the picture did mention loudly that I may have been way over the recommended 50 lb limit!)

I have to say getting out of this slide was very challenging because it was only about 3-4 inches from the slide to the ground...but I am a professional!

After finishing the race, I saw my friend John "the Penguin" Bingham. He is really nice and so enouraging to everyone.

I have met John numerous times including a Fleet Feet Fun Run, along the Marine Corps Marathon Course, at the Phoenix Rock and Roll and Disney Marathons.

John is very kind and so supportive of all runners. He has authored many books that are very inspirational and definitely provide advice, encouragement and support for all runners.

This past weekend I ran my 3rd Mardi Gras Marathon. Previously this race was an exceptionally well organized marathon by the New Orleans Track Club. I have really enjoyed the previous "intimate" race.

This year it was the Inaugural Rock and Roll Mardi Gras Marathon. There were 15,000 runners and apparently it took me nearly 30 minutes to cross the start line.

My gun time was 5:40 but my chip time was 5:12. Sadly this time does not deduct my various pit stops along the way including a stop at my hotel to make then eat a belgium waffle. Nor does it account for visiting with several friends along the course, stopping at the various aid stations to imbibe in "adult beverages" or other activities.

I did have a great race and was excited to see lots of friends along the course. Because I have run this marathon for several years, it seems some of the spectators know me. This is really cool because I feel like many of the spectators and volunteers along the course are my friends and it is like a mini-reunion.

The course is neat because you get to see the Garden District, French Quarters and City Park. All of these places have a very different feel, but are typical New Orleans. Also this year since Mardi Gras was just 2 weeks ago many of the tree's along Charles Street had beads. I guess the tree's in New Oreans are really wild!