Wednesday, April 7, 2010

2010 Umstead 100 miler: Lap 2

With Blake along the course.

Blake is an amazing race director who puts on a GREAT race. He also is a super nice person who believes in all of the runners and does everything he can to help everyone succeed.

I always look forward to my yearly visit to Umstead because of Blake, his wife Myra, the wonderful volunteers, really nice runners, awesome crew (of others...mine not always so much) and the infectious atmosphere of energy and enthusiasm.

This sign has been put up since I started doing Umstead 100 four years ago.

Each time I read this sign, I wonder what kinds of people have hills as their friends. In my world hills are my enemies and arch nemesis.

Although I do spend alot of time on hills training for Umstead 100 and even more time training for Vermont 100 (where the sign should read: "Mountains are my friend")

I think the general consensus is that this sign is a bit of false advertising but it does facilitate conversations:-)

I have known my friend Emmy for many years. We first met at the 24 hour race around the Lake in Massachusetts many years ago.

Subsequently we have run VT100, Umstead 100, JFK50 miler and the 24 hour race around the lake together.

Emmy is really nice and is super fast. This year her Umstead 100 time was well below 24 hours...GO EMMY!!!

Here I am with my friends Luanne and Monica.
Luanne has walked several 50 milers including Umstead, Rocky Raccoon but also really supports runners. Luanne is really sweet and very encouraging to all. She bakes the best cookies which she brings to many ultra events.
Her husband Bill has run numerous 100 milers including: Umstead, Vermont, Western States, and so many others...he is really fast and really nice.
I have known Monica for many years. We have run many marathons and a few ultra's together. Monica typically is quite a bit faster than me and is quite an accomplished runner. She is super enthusiastic and lots of fun.

Approaching the main aid station, I take a moment to document my progress. I was very happy to be finishing 25 miles and to be 1/4th of the way through the race.
Of course I was looking forward to lots of eating and drinking as well as lots of cheering, enthuisiasm and energy from the aid station because there were lots of volunteers, crew and others ready to cheer on each runner as they climbed up the hill.
I do really enjoy this race and am thrilled that I can participate in something I enjoy so much with so many great friends!


Heading out of the aid station I was surprised and delighted to see my friend Steve. Steve and I have run a few events together and in fact he was my ride to the Self Transcendence Marathon, a marathon that occurs within about 4 miles of my dad’s house in August. Steve and I also survived the Epic conditions at the VT50 this past September when it rained the entire time on the course. If I am not mistaken he was second to last overall and I was last place. Thus in my opinion we both were in the right place. My friend Ed also caught up to me while I was at the aid station and was just a little ahead of us.

Steve and I chatted briefly about what a nice day it was. It was completely different than the epic VT50 in Sept 2009 in which it rained the entire time and the course was so muddy you would take one step forward and 3 steps back. And on that course you had to be super cautious because there were several places in which if you were to take one step to the right or left you would fall 20, 30 or 40 feet into a gulley. I ended up finishing that race with bruises on my chest because I was using tree’s to stop my falls.

After a little bit I realized Steve and my pace were slightly different (and I had to go to the bathroom and ~2 miles to get to the nearest one), so I picked up the pace a little. In fact many times I hurriedly sped off from runners it was because I was running towards a latrine. This year the race was really nice because there were porta potties or bathrooms about every 3-4 miles. This meant throughout the day I was more likely to be able to make it from one to the next without too much difficulty. Overnight I cannot say the same is true, but at night if you turn of your light and no one see’s you, did you really pee?

I was moving pretty quickly, accomplishing my goal pace of about 12 minute miles. This meant the miles just floated by. I was always surprised when I would see mile 1 approaching the airport turn around, mile 2 heading to the jeep road turn off, mile 3 just before the aid station at the T intersection, mile 4 heading down the hill near the lake, mile 5 on the long but very gradual incline by the meadow and 6 in the zig zags approaching the second aid station.

While running along in this section, I caught up to Jerry, Maria, Tom who were all moving along with purpose. I knew Jerry from last year’s Umstead so we chatted and caught up. Also Jerry mentioned a bunch of races in the New Orleans area where he is from. I suggested a 50 km in New Orleans would be really cool since the Mardi Gras marathon is now too big and impersonal for me. He suggested they are thinking of having a race from Baton Rouge to New Orleans which might be something to consider. Unfortunately it sounds like it will conflict with JFK50, but perhaps one year.

Blake was standing along the course taking pictures. He had passed on his bike right before I joined up with Jerry, Tom and others, so it was not unexpected that he was taking pictures. It was nice to catch up with him briefly and to say how much I was enjoying the race and the weather! It was such a gorgeous day and was only getting better.

Continuing on, I was excited to see the “caution bicycles congestion ahead” sign. This meant the aid station was just around the bend and down the hill. I was very excited to arrive there and to announce: “Runner 179”, then to get down to the business of eating and drinking.

Everyone in the aid stations are so nice and helpful. They immediately grabbed my waterbottle and refilled it and asked what I wanted. Since I had no idea I went to get a beverage (Gatorade) while I thought about it. Then wandered over to the food table and sample a bit. Then I refilled my cup of Gatorade and ate more. I remember eating my typical ultra fare of: banana’s M&M’s, pretzels, cheese, chex mix (yummy!) and some other treats. I was feeling really good. I refilled my cup with more Gatorade, grabbed a big handful of pretzels and was on my way.

Walking out of the aid station I was delighted to see my friend Ed just ahead of me. Again we ran/walked together. He was looking good but was feeling fatigued. I asked if he was eating and drinking plenty and he suggested he was. We chatted about stuff this time entirely about running. At some point I got behind him. I had been texting and call friends from the beginning of lap 2 and at this point it got out of hand. I could not go a few feet without a text or a call. It was pretty cool! I decided to return a call to one of my texting friends Jamie. Jamie is Ed’s coach so once I caught up to Ed she was able to offer him some words of encouragement.

Because I am the youngest in my family, I had very small legs when I was a kid. My entire family being older than me, had long legs. But they did not care about this difference. When we hiked we had to keep up with our parents. I am still not convinced my parents would not have abandoned us. This means I can hike very quickly and I can hike up hills super fast. Alas this means during the sawtooths I do end up losing folks. This time I lost Ed.

As I was jogging along, I realized the sun was very bright. Luckily after the first lap I had put on sunglasses. But I had forgotten to put on a hat. In fact I did not think it was necessary. I was wrong. Because I was feeling a bit toasty I decided to see if Tristan could drop off a hat I had inadvertently not put in either drop bag (well it wasn’t inadvertent I decided if it was cold, it was not necessary to have a hat—not sure where this idea came from but it is my list of bizarre rules). Tristan texted me back that he could drop off my hat if I could describe where it was and what it looked like. My description was: it has flowers on it and it is in my backpack. I got a clarifying text about the hat being white and confirmed this, but suggested mostly it was flowered. I was pretty sure we were talking about the same hat but was not 100 percent positive.

The sawtooths are very hilly with many different types of hills. Some are short and steep, others long and gradual and some are long and steep (like my least favorite hill I call stumpy’s hill after my husband’s cat which I despised). This section is tough on fresh legs but as the miles go by it gets harder. I still conjecture that each lap the race personnel call in some work crews to throw on some extra dirt just to spite the runners! I’m not sure what we did to deserve this, but I am sure it is true.

Running along I end up being between runners. Actually for a good portion of this race I am between runners. Sometimes I can see runners well ahead of me and I am aware of runners well behind me, but for the most part I am all alone. This is okay because I just think about all the time I spent training and preparing for the race.

I have so many wonderful memories of races I have run over the past several years: Imelda at Marine Corps Marathon, Dave at Delaware then Harrisburg, Joleen at Las Vegas, Jennifer and Cheryl at New Orleans then Phoenix, my friend John and Jenn who every year drive me to the National Marathon (or half depending on when Umstead is) and of course my friends who have run so many marathons with me either they or I are stalkers: Amanda, Jean, Laurie, Tammy, Then of course there are my ultra-running friends: Jamie, who has been so supportive of me in running but also has fed and hiked with Tristan and I, Julie from Rocky Raccoon last year, my friend Mary who ran her first 100 last year at VT and is signed up again this year (and of course Tammy who we have now coerced into it). Of course I have so many work friends who have been incredible supportive: Germaine who I used to hike with back in my FDA-CVM days, my mentor and running buddy (I believe I am the mentor in this relationship): Flo, my friend Angela who guided me through my first marathon, my frequent traveling companion and co-worker: Ann who has accompanied me to VT Ctiy Marathon and New Orleans and may be signed up for the 2010 VT City Half, my supervisor Dale who allows me to take many long weekend so I can get training runs in warmer places who even shared her daughter a UNC grad student: Jill so that Tristan could go climbing while I was busily running on Saturday and so many others.

On the out and back I cheered on other runners and they cheered me. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE this race! It is so pretty, has great volunteers, is so energizing and just great fun! The other runners were so enthusiastic and so much fun to see. I was happy to see my friend Emmy and Frank during this section. And of course I got a picture and a hug from both. They looked super strong and were both running a very solid race.

Jogging along I was able to appreciate what a great day we were blessed with. It was sunny, warm with a picture perfect blue sky. Unfortunately this sort of caused me a small issue. I had a pair of sunglasses on, but was feeling the sun on my face, arms and legs. For some reason when it is not hot, I refuse to accept the sun is still bright and powerful. So I applied a bit of sunscreen I did not go overboard and slather it all over. At this point I was starting to get comments my slight pinkness. Since my husband was not around, no one called me “Lobster face” but I could tell that was the implication. Because of my inability to associate a cooler day with the sun I had not packed a hat in both my bags. I had a hat but could not remember which aid station bag it was in. Luckily Tristan had agreed to bring me my flowery visor and texted me that he had dropped it off at the main headquarters.

As I turned onto the Jeep Road I wondered if I would run into Tristan. It was a bit before noon and I knew Tristan had an appointment with my supervisor’s daughter at noon to do some rock climbing so I thought he might have to leave quickly. As I approached the road leading to the aid station, I was delighted to see Tristan. He gave me a big hug and asked how I was doing. I was happy to report that I was having a great race and was feeling super strong. I was on target for my sub 26:40 finish goal and was thrilled about seeing so many great friends.

Heading to the main aid station, I had a brief potty break a few hundred meters before the aid station. It is hard to decide if you should go before or after the aid station/timing table. If you do it before your previous lap time is a little longer or after, the next lap time is longer. I tried to be consistent and always use the potty heading in as I have done in other years. After a brief break it was time to continue on.

Once I arrived at the aid station I completely forgot about the flowery hat/visor Tristan had dropped off (for some reason in my mind he dropped it off at the second aid station. Once I decide something, it is hard for me to accept something else. So I skip going inside the lodge and simply focus on eating and drinking at the aid station.

I give a big hug to Sally, the captain of the aid station and take a picture. Someone takes my water bottle and refills it while I grab some Gatorade. I then start eating. Pretzels, banana’s, M&M’s, cheese, are all food that seems to work for me. I munch a bit then at some point grab a handful of food a cup of Gatorade and hit the trails.

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