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!

LAP 4

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!!!

LAP 3

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.

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!


LAP 2

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.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Umstead 100 mile 2010: Lap 1

Gilligan likes to participate in races...the only problem is that he believes 100 m races really means 100 meters with a car trip to get from point to point.

Here you see Gilligan at about mile 2, after I had gone to the airport spur turnaround.

In fact intially Gilligan was not willing to walk all the way to the airport spur T-intersection, it was only with me begging him to make it there that he grudgingly decided to step it up a notch.

Okay, I didn't have to beg, he was so excited about all the people and potential folks to pet him, he did scamper along for a bit.
At the second aid station, Gilligan beat me.

In my defense I ran the ~7 miles while Gilligan hopped a ride with Tristan.

Gilligan was happy to hang out near either of the aid stations because alot of runners (including myself) will discard food when we realize things are not going down the hatch. Or alternatively if we end up realizing we are full enough.

Gilligan scored a partially eaten egg that I ended up spitting out. He and I are really close:-)

Or else he is a dog and has absolutely no standards for his food.
Gilligan loves being pet by anyone.

Here Gilligan is getting some loving from my friend Ed.

I have run a bunch of races with Ed including Rocky Raccoon 50 miler in 2009 as well as the Self Transcendence marathon in NY in August.

Ed is very pet friendly and in fact has a Ragdoll cat (which Gilligan has 3 ragdoll cat siblings: Zaboo, Sagwa and Powderpuff). In fact, Gilligan may think he is a ragdoll cat as he was raised by our oldest ragdoll Zaboo. I am not sure Zaboo did a high quality job of raising Gilligan as Gilligan is quite lazy and can become beligerant when he doesn't want to go forward.
Here I am with my friends Loiuse, Jerry and some other runners in the Sawtooths along the back half of the course.

I have run several events with these runners including Umstead 100 miler with Jerry last year.

Jerry (yellow shirt) is from New Orleans, has run that marathon numerous times as well as many other 50 and 100 milers.

You can see from this picture that it is still a bit chilly, the weather was perfect for the race with just enough chill in the air to make running very pleasant (although that meant wearing a hat and gloves).
As I approached the start/finish line, I asked a very nice person to take my picture.

Sadly this was about the 3rd picture take (lots of fingers and the camera strap was in the others), but alas it gave me a moment to think about what I wanted from the aid station and what I needed to do.

It was starting to get sunny and warmer so I did end up going into the lodge to take off a shirt and put on my sunglasses.

Of course while I did this, some nice volunteers refilled my waterbottles and made sure I was ready for the next lap.

LAP 1
The first lap started in the dark. I tried to ensure I was in the proper group of runners so I could achieve my goal of 26:40. I wanted to be with runners who would jog at a moderate pace but walk the hills. I saw many friends (or should I say heard), while heading out along the jeep road. Nearing the T-intersection I heard a big dog barking and knew it was Gilligan.

Gilligan did not get to the intersection with Tristan because apparently Gilligan refused to go further. But when I stumbled on them in the middle of a Garmin crisis (my watch somehow was not charged), Gilligan was showing me up by running super fast. After alerting Tristan to this issue and asking he get my other Garmin out I continued running. Just getting onto the airport spur the top runners were heading back. They were moving.

Pretty soon I made it to the airport spur and headed back. I was excited to see Gilligan and Tristan. They are good cheerleaders (well they are when they make it places). After grabbing my back up Garmin (that has a 10-12 hour battery) a quick photo, and a hug it was time to move on.

Running along the day was a bit chilly, but I was bundled up with a bunch of layers (both shirts and pants), gloves and a headband. And by moving I was warm enough. Slowly it started to get lighter out and the mile marker signs seemed to be popping up very frequently.

The unmanned aid station soon was off on the left. I grabbed cup of Gatorade and drank, I refilled drank some more then placed my empty cup in between the coolers for later. In fact throughout the race I would do this because this aid station you see 16 times during the race. I feel bad about wasting so as best I could I tried to be green. I would say most of my cups got at least 3 or 4 uses before they disappeared (well at least I assume it was my cup-so far I have not dropped dead of some unknown disease).

The lake about mile 3.5 looked spooky but pretty with fog all over. Of course I took a picture. Little did I know that by the end of the day I would take well over 1500 pictures! Many in which I stopped completely and a few in which I (and others) posed or hammed it up for the camera.

Jogging along I was with my friends Seth and Fran. I ran a bit of the earlier miles from VT100 with Seth (which he completed well ahead of me) and Fran did her first 100 miler at Boulder in Oct. This was their first 100 miler together as a couple and they wanted to see how they got along. Not only did they get along super well, they both set 100 miler PR’s running Umstead in under 24 hours…way to go!

Seth and Fran moved ahead and I was alone just for a bit. But pretty soon I joined a bunch of friends from other races. I would chat briefly then either they would speed up or I would speed up so these conversations were not too long. I believe I chatted with Rosie from Kentucky for a bit, Ray and few others.

As we approached the aid station I was excited to see Tristan and Gilligan waiting for me. I said hello, gave a quick hug then moved to the business of “aid stationing”. At the second aid station I decided to waste some time. Well, not exactly waste time, but I sure did not move through quickly and efficiently like others. I wanted to drop off some of my layers into my drop bag. Then I ate and drank like a champion. Gatorade, banana’s, M&M’s and pretzels were item’s on my “to eat/drink” list.

As I was eating I saw my friend Ed C from Rocky Raccoon 50 and the self transcendence marathon last year. He was looking strong and was moving quickly. While in the aid station I decided I needed breakfast so took an egg and lots of pretzels for the road. Walking out of the aid station I chatted with Tristan. I was feeling really good and very strong. So far I was on target for my 26:40 finish.

As I ate my breakfast, Tristan mocked me for my large handful of pretzels and egg. Apparently I looked like a glutton. But I did not care. As I munched on my egg, I decided I could not swallow the final bite without having a “reversal of fortune” (puking), so I ended up spitting it out on the side of the course. As per Tristan as he and Gilligan headed back to the car, Gilligan got my ABC egg (already been chewed). Oh well at least it was fresh and he knew where it came from.

As we approached the mile 7 marker, my friend Ed caught up to me. I took a few pictures of us then soon enough Tristan realized he would have to get Gilligan back to the car (which apparently was not as big a struggle as he expected probably because of the ABC egg Gilligan had his eye on).

For many miles here, I ran with my friend Ed. He was planning to run his first 100 miler and seemed to be doing well. He was concerned he was going too fast but seemed to have a strong rhythm going on. We talked about how running was going. In my case I had run so many marathons and ultra’s during the winter, while Ed did a bunch of training runs near his house in NJ. I was very impressed by this because I really struggled in the winter because of all the snow. For a few weeks there just really weren’t places to run and I REALLY hate treadmill running. Luckily a few of my marathons were destination events in warmer area’s where I could get some good running in.

We also talked about our respective pets. Ed has a ragdoll (Tristan/Gilligan and I have 3), so we chatted about their health. I told Ed about Gilligan’s bout with cancer and how Gilligan is now cancer free for 8+ months! Ed’s cat sadly is having some urinary issues. It sounds like the cat is at the end of an ultra and spends a lot of time peeing. It has had some bloodwork. I suggested because of having personal experience that it could be diabetes. My cat Pepsi had diabetes and simply needed an IV saline drip. My mom’s cat also had diabetes and needed insulin. The insulin was easy to administer and relatively speaking was not too expensive (a 2-3 month supply of insulin was less than $60 and the syringes were about $5 for a 30 pack). The biggest challenge was that about every 10 administrations I would give myself some insulin.

As we ran along, Ed would insist I should run ahead because he did not want to slow me down. I was a bit puzzled by this because I was running a very comfortable pace. I would rather run a bit slow and conservatively during the first few laps rather than run to fast and crash and burn. So we kept on chatting. At the unmanned water stop at the top of one of the numerous hills in the “sawtooths” we parted ways since I had plenty of water and he needed a fill up.

Moving along with purpose I was feeling really good. I had no pain, was feeling refreshed and energized and was just having a great time! The rest of this lap went by super fast. I chatted with so many runners, watched the sun slowly rise and just appreciated running on such a gorgeous day. I know I am incredible lucky to be able to do what I love and the icing on the cake is that this race is my favorite.

Pretty soon I was jog/walking up the big hill approaching the small aid station at the hill. My Gatorade cup was still there so I filled it up and drank down a few cups of Gatorade. No need to get hyponeutremia or dehydration! I also grabbed a few pretzels for the road then headed back onto the course.

Near the start finish of the race, there are several miles of out and back sections. This means you get to see runners that are well ahead of you (before the jeep road turnoff to the main aid station) and runners within about 600 meters of you (at the jeep road or along the airport spur). I really like this section because you can cheer on runners and many will cheer on you. There is lots of energy and encouragement all around. I also like this section because you know you are getting close to the main aid station which means food, beverages, crew, spectators and lots of activity and excitement.

After passing the small aid station, there are three moderate sized hills until you get to the right hand turn onto the Jeep Road. I was feeling good so even ran a bit of these hills. There were so many runners heading towards us and it was so great to see everyone doing so well. I was able to see so many of my friends who are considerable faster than I and was excited to see everyone moving so quickly. It was going to be a day with many PR’s and course records broken!

Turning right onto the Jeep road I was excited but a bit anxious. This is the most challenging section of the course because it is a bit rickety, has some roots and rocks and the final climb to the start/finish area even has some railroad ties for good measure. But I made it through this section easily. The crowds were just amazing and the cheering nearly deafening. Everyone was so encouraging and enthusiastic and made running seem effortless. Unfortunately as I approached the main aid station I needed an intermission. There is a bathroom about 300 meters prior to the start/finish and I wanted to use it. Then I would have more stomach space for Gatorade and treats.

After my brief break it was time to resume running and finish off lap 1. As I crested the hill I asked a spectator to take my picture, then I headed into the lodge to my drop bag. Time to lose some layers, grab my sunglasses and then finally to eat, drink and be merry!

After my visit with my drop bag I came outside to the aid station and got down to the main business of the day: eating and drinking. Nice volunteers refilled my waterbottle. Others asked what I might need. Sadly I had tried to come up with a list of tasks I needed to do,food I must eat and beverages I must drink, but it ended up that I loitered drinking a few cups of Gatorade, followed by some coke. And of course I had my pretzels, banana’s, M&M’s, some cheese and some cookies. Then it was time to split this popcorn joint. A brief “THANKS” to all the volunteers and I was off.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My pacers Video of the race

Here is a video from Umstead

Thanks to Chito from RuninDC I can share a video of my Umstead experience. It shows a variety of scenes and runners along the course.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Umstead 100 miler: Before the Race

With the Race Director's wife: Myra Norwood before the race.

Myra is so sweet and always so encouraging throughout the race. She watches out for all the runners taking really good care of everyone.

It is always a real treat to see Myra and she always seems to be at the main headquarters day and night throughout the race, ready to offer words of encouragement, food, beverages or whatever else a runner might need.

Thanks Myra!!!



With Jill Perry, the female winner from 2009 (and 2010, but we didn't know it at the time).

Jill is super friendly and super fast (you can see my priorities...friendly first:-).

Jill and I have run several ultra's together; however, she always beats me significantly. But at the rate I am improving (1 or 2 hours per ultra, I will be her competition in about 8 years!)

Each lap that I saw Jill I was able to get a picture of her and a few I was able to get a self portrait picture of us together. I believe with a count of 4 pictures she can easily subtract 2 or 3 minutes from her time...

With my friend Tony before the race.

Tony is a running machine. He recently ran the Brazil 135, has run Badwater (and will be running Badwater again this coming July) and has run a bunch of other 100 and 50 mile ultra's including Javalina and Umstead.

Tony took really good care of me last year at VT100 just a few days after Badwater. He helped me clean my feet at mile ~40 walking around getting me all the necessary feet cleaning stuff.

Then he helped me again at mile 70 when he was waiting for his runner Bob (who my husband happened to have taken back to their hotel room after DNFing at Margaritaville at mile 62).

Tony is super sweet and ended up shattering his 100 mile record this year, go Tony!

With my friends Emmy and Frank.

Emmy and Frank have run so many ultra's with me including the 24 hour race around the lake (where I met them), Umstead 100, Vermont 100 and JFK50.

Both Emmy and Frank are accomplished runners who finish 100 milers within 24 hours and then recover super fast and then run marathons/50 kms or other long distances within a week or so of completing a 100. They are running machines.

And yet both are so nice and friendly. And they have a super nice family. I always look forward to seeing Frank's family including his wife Pat and daughter Katie who are always so encouraging and take good care of Frank and all his friends.

With my friend Jenny before the race.

This year Jenny finished the 50 miler then started volunteering at the main aid station. Jenny is so nice and friendly.

Jenny and I ran a few miles of Rocky Raccoon about a month and a half ago. During this time she really lifted my spirits. She learned about my mom passing away and was so kind and supportive. She had met my mom at Rocky in 2009 (who became quite well known because she had a cat on a leash). As Jenny and I were running we discussed how I felt that my mom was there supporting all the runners from heaven and she concurred.

Jenny has been running many 50 and 100 milers recently and always runs so fast and consistently. She tends to finish in the top 3 of females and is so down to earth and encouraging (like so many other super fast runners!)

BEFORE THE START
4 a.m. is very early. It is dark and cold. But luckily this year it was not wet.

After the multiple alarms went off I got down to the business of getting ready. I spent lots of time gliding before putting on my lucky outfit. While getting ready I drank my first diet Mountain Dew in 2 weeks. The caffeine hit me hard. But in a good way (well until my heart was racing in the car ride over after my 3rd diet dew and I thought I might need a trip to a hospital instead a trip to the start). Finally I was all ready and it was time for Tristan, Gilligan and I to drive to the race headquarters at the start/finish line.

Upon arriving at the park, Tristan parked the car then brought my drop bag to the main aid station so it could be driven to the second aid station. He then returned to the car just as I was finishing my last minute tasks (including attaching my bib to my fanny pack…how I forgot to do this on Friday night is beyond me. Perhaps I am becoming complacent).

We then walked to the main headquarters. I put my drop bag at the back of the lodge on a stack of benches. I get a little worried about putting stuff on tables because it is so easy to spill cups of soda, Gatorade or water and even though all my stuff is packed in Ziplocs I don’t want to risk anything getting wet or dirty.

Walking around the headquarters I was able to see my friends: Tony, Frank, Emmy, Monica, Luanne, Bill and many others. When refilling my water bottle I was able to chat with Myra, the race director’s wife for a bit. She is so sweet!

The next person I met was Jill. She was looking really good and was so enthusiastic and energetic. Each time I saw her on the course it would be like a breath of fresh air. I got a pre-race picture of us and wished her luck.

With a few minutes to go, I headed to the bathroom for a last second potty break. Now I was all set. After a quick picture with Blake who was starting to corral the runners, I headed back towards the Lodge to get in line at an appropriate place. I wanted to go out medium fast…I would define it as walk/running “with purpose”.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Umstead 100 miler: Getting to the Race Friday

With Tristan at the main race headquarters. Tristan is my chauffer. Pretty much every other task related to ultramarathoning I have had to outsource from him: pacing, crewing, cheerleading etc. But he is a good chauffer.

Tristan is really sweet though. At most of my recent ultra's he has asked my friends for e-mail messages to cheer me on. These give me lots of energy and are definitely a highlight of my race.

I think Tristan is also starting to like the pre-race dinners because he is starting to know more and more of my ultra running friends...if you ever meet him please introduce yourself.

And if you are a mountaineer or a climber, please feel free to talk at length with him. He is quite an accomplished mountaineer including summitting Mt Rainier, Mt Hood, Mt Whitney, Mt Shasta, Mt Baker, Mt. St Helens, Mt Washington, among others.
With my ultra running friend JoJoJogger. She came up to me while I was volunteering and introduced herself. Umstead was her first 50 miler and she did GREAT finishing in 11:17.

Way to go Jan!

It was really nice to meet a fellow blogger. I really love to meet others who are reading my blog and be introduced in person. It is really fun to meet others who have commented so I can put a name with a face. Of course make sure you know I take lots of pictures and might just snap one with you!

With my friend Emmy.

Emmy and I have run many, many ultra's together. We first met about 4 or 5 years ago at the 24 hour race around the lake in MA. Since then we have met up at a bunch of ultra's including: the 24 hour race around the lake in Massachussetts, VT100 and Umstead 100 as well as JFK50 miler.

Emmy is always so sweet and is really fast. She consistently runs 100 milers in about 24 hours which I find amazing.


With my friend Steve T. Steve has run many marathons and a handful of ultra's.

Both Steve and I ran the VT50, 50 km race this past Sept and if I am not mistaken he was the final male and I was the final female. It was in EPIC conditions!

Steve also drove me to the Self Transcendence Marathon around Rockland Lake NY this past August (and hopefully will drive me this Aug:-). He lives a few towns over from where my dad lives (who I was staying with during that race) and did not have to go too far out of his way to pick me up.

Steve has run several 50 milers, a bunch of 50 kms and many marathons. This was his second attempt at the 100 miler distance, although he did not finish the 100 mile, he did complete 100 km and finished the first 50 miles in a PR...go STEVE!
Here I am with my friend Vinnie. Two years ago (during the rainy year), Vinnie and I ran many miles overnight together. Vinnie is really nice, has many stories and has run 100's of ultra's including many different 100 milers.

Last year Vinnie ran Umstead in under 24 hours; however due to a trip to Cambodia in the winter including acquiring some third world issues, he had less training and was still a bit weak.

But maybe next year both Vinnie and I will have a strong day and he can show me how to run a sub 24 hour Umstead.

Getting to the Umstead 100 miler endurance run my husband and I continued our ritual of staying at his father’s house in Richmond Virginia. I also got my haircut and styled which is my pre-race ritual. Any extra bit of weight which I can eliminate is great. And who needs split ends?!


After a pleasant visit with Tristan's dad Thursday night including a nice dinner at Carraba's carbo loading, we continued our southerly drive to Raleigh Friday morning. It was quite stormy and rainy so our trip took a bit longer than expected but we finally arrived at the race headquarters. As I have done for the past 2 years, I volunteered for a few hours. This year I was lucky enough to work with Elizabeth A, Barbara and Linda D. I have worked with Elizabeth and Linda before and it was a real treat to work with both again. They both are so sweet!


While volunteering I was lucky enough to see and briefly catch up with lots of friends: Emmy, Tony, Steve, Monica, Jenny, Nathan,… and so many others.


After volunteering it was time for the pre-race briefing and dinner. Each year Umstead seems to get bigger and bigger (I think folks bring bigger crew’s) so it was very crowded in the lodge. But this was good in my opinion because I was cold so a crowded room typically is warmer. Tristan and I ultimately headed to the car so I could get a jacket. This worked out perfectly because my friends Bill and Luanne T and my friend Chito arrived right while we were walking to get an extra layer. After getting my jacket we headed back and had a very nice dinner. Then Tristan and I headed to the hotel for my last nights sleep for a day or two