Saturday, January 1, 2011

1, 2, 2, 3, ....5? (or perhaps even 6?): The start of my Across the Years Race Report

The sequence 1, 2, 2, 3 (and hopefully 5 or 6) is not a fibinocci sequence. But it does have special meaning to me. It is the number of 100 milers I have run each year since my first 100, Umstead 100 in 2007.

This past week I ran the Across the Years 48 hours race completing 113.4 miles with just over 1 minute to spare. My last mile split was under 10 min/mi and my last lap was in an 8:31 min/mile pace. I had so much energy building during the last hour and so many runners and spectators were cheering me on, I just had to eek out every last bit of this experience.

In fact about 7:30 a.m. (1.5 hours before my finish). I had my last bathroom break, put on blue sparkeley (my fanny pack) and started jogging at a faster clip. Early in the day after my final rest/nap I had been averaging 6-10 minute laps but I knew I had a bit of energy left. I decided I wanted to break 110 miles so I needed to stay focussed and be consistent. Little did I know I would exceed my goal and expectations.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

After nearly being unable to participate in the race, I was able to use my back up plan including a pretty expensive business class ticket bought within a few days of the flight. Luckily this flight went off without any issues. After picking up my rental car, I headed to Chompies and Yogurtini in Phoenix, my two favorite eateries. I picked up a bagel sandwich and then headed up Hayden Butte for a small walk to stretch my legs. I then went to Yogurtini for the meal of champions...a bunch of flavors of yogurt and lots of toppings. It was yummy and I was set for my race.

After checking in at the Host Hotel, the Best Western I was lucky enough to meet Jamie Honeycut who is super sweet and an awesome runner. I knew of her from facebook and observed she had an Arkansas traveler 100 miler shirt. After setting up my stuff, I headed to the race site, Nardini Manor for my volunteer shift. I was working the registration desk with Jim O'Neill and Sue Norwood. Jim and Sue are so nice and I have been really lucky to cross paths numerous times at many races. And this time I got to spend some quality time catching up. Registration was lots of fun and I was able to put my mathematical skills/education to use re-arranging bags in numerical order. It was lots of fun. But all to soon it was time to go head to the hotel to sleep.

A bunch of alarms woke me up about 6:30 so I could get ready. Once I was dressed I headed to the breakfast buffet and was lucky enough to sit with Jamie H. We chatted about the upcoming race as well as about running in general. Jamie H was doing the 48 hour race that started the next day but was going to come out to the race to watch and cheer on runners. Our table was next to Deborah Horne who was also running the 48 hour. Sadly the topic of conversation was dominated by the weather. It was not looking good particularly for the first day.

Across the years is a set of several races run simultaneously or concurrently. There is a 72 hour race that starts on Dec 29, two 48 hour races: one starting on Dec. 29 and one starting on Dec 30 and finally three 24 hour races starting on Dec 29, Dec 30 or Dec 31rst. Those of us who ran on Dec 29th ended up running in "Phoenix's WORST WEATHER IN 10 YEARS!!". It was epic. There was rain, wind and over the night a severe thunderstorm.

After finishing my meal, I checked out and went to the race site. Getting out of my car I saw my friends Jamie & David Donaldson who were running the 24 hour race starting the 29th. Jamie ended up coming in 1rst overall and David ran nearly 80 miles. We chatted very briefly but they still had to check in.

Pretty soon it was time for the race to start. My car was parked about 50 feet from the course ready to serve as my home base and of course there was a well stocked aid station runners saw every 500 meters! Every 2 hours the course would turn around and you would get to see other runners. It was odd to see runners head on after following them for many hours. And since we had our names on our bibs on our back sometimes the only way to recognize someone was through their gaiters or outfit. And because of the terrible weather outfits were changing faster than an awards show host!

My outfit did change a bit but my base layers remained the same throughout the race. My lucky pink Tammy tank, a maroon Tammy long sleeve, my pink marathon girl skirt and a pair of black pants. My shoes & gaiters were changed at mile 100 but they stayed pink themed. And my hat varied from a visor with flowers, a thermal hat with hawaiian flowers and finally my cat hat (which ultimately caused quite a stir).

The competitor list was posted well before the race, so I knew I would be running with many friends over the course of my 48 hours. On the first day I would be running with: Karsten S., Phil R., the Donaldson's, Lynn N., Deb H., and so many other from various ultra's including VT100, JJ100, Umstead 100, the race around the lake, Rocky Raccoon 50. On the second day I would be joined by Maryann R., Phil M., and many others I knew from many ultra's. It was going to be a massive reunion and of course I was going to meet lots of new friends!!

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