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!!