With my friend Ben Dillon.
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 bunch of ultramarathons with my friend Ann.
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.