Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011 vermont 100 endurance run: race report

it's hard to believe my third vermont 100 miler is in the books. up until late last week i was still on the fence about running because i hadn't gotten in the training mileage. my longest training run had been just 19 miles, and my longest run had been 35 miles at the b.u.s. 6 hour run in early april. in between those two markers were a couple of marathons and 50k's. not what i'd consider an ideal training plan for a 100 miler. and, more importantly, i hadn't lined up a pacer.

be that as it may, things came together when hugo and i decided to split a room at the yankee village motel. i sent in an email request for a pacer to the race organizers. and, on friday afternoon, i car pooled up to west windsor with emmy, chip, and lucimar. under trained or not, i'd get through the first 50 miles (47 actually), and tthan see how things looked from there. as fate had it, i stuck it out for the second 50 :D

apologies for the long winded introduction - but i'd be less than honest if i didn't mention how ambivalent (fearful) i was going in to this one.

pre-race check in:

emmy, chip, lucimar and i got to check in about 3:30 - and there were plenty of familiar faces. hugo and hiroshi were just in front of me on the weigh-in/medical line. when the scale registered 180 pounds i realized it was a mistake (+5) immediately - but the number stuck. it would come back to haunt me the next day. the rest of the afternoon was divided into socializing, drop bags, the pre-race briefing.

after the briefing, i learned that i hadn't been assigned a pacer. there were other runners in the same boat - emmy and betsy, in particular. but john, the pacer coordinator, told us not to worry. he'd have pacers for us by the time we got to camp 10 bear (the second time around, mile 70). this development didn't really sink in because i was still unsure i'd reach mile 70 - much less power on beyond it!

race morning:

set the alarm for 2:30 - the plan was to leave for silver meadow at 3. at just before 3, tammy knocked on my door - i was the last one dawdling! emmy was already in the car and betsy was in her car, waiting to follow us. we got to silver meadow by 3:30 - plenty of time for the 4 a.m. start. we had great weather - and dry conditions this time around. i took a small flashlight, but didn't bother with my headlamp.

by the time we were halfway up desmore hill, to the first aid station at mile 7, the it was light enough to turn off the flashlight. the first 21 miles - to the pretty house aid station - were productive. my split at 21.1 miles was 4:18:12. the next 9 miles - to the stage road aid station at 30.1 miles would include the climb up and down sound of music hill! in between, my marathon split was 5:38:30.

i reached the stage road aid station in 6:30:12 - and changed my shirt for a second time. then on to suicide six just down the road. my next drop bag was at camp 10 bear - mile 47. by this time the sun was out in force and the temperature had climbed into the 80's. during this stretch of 15+ miles, my only objective was to get from aid station to aid station. the most pleasant surprise, food-wise, came at lillian's (mile 43.5) where little cups were filled with good & plenty! that licorice candy as magic!


at camp 10 bear (47 miles) the scale showed that i had dropped 8 pounds! not only was i drinking an entire 22 ounce bottle of water between aid stations, but i topped it off with food and other fluids (coke and ice tea) at the aid stations! my 5% sit down number was 9 pounds and i was still one pound shy. i wasn't in the mood to sit down there and ingest food/water until my weight increased. as it worked out, i sat down to change my shirt (again), dig out my headlamp and flashlight, and eat!

my appetite had returned with a vengeance and i ate two sausage & pepper sandwiches! ironically, while i needed to gain weight - emmy was in the opposite position. at her weigh-in, she had gained weight and the medical staff was concerned that her body may have started shutting down! it was more likely that she had taken too many s caps and was retaining water weight. as it turned out, when we returned to 10 bear later that day, i had gained back a few pound (up to 176) - and emmy lost weight. so it was all good.

this middle stretch - the loop out and back to 10 bear - was challenging because it included "agony hill" (which i thought was fun) and the 2 mile climb out of tracer brook (my least favorite part of the entire course - and i consistently run out of expletives to describe it). but it also includes margaritaville - probably my favorite aid station on the course. where else can you get a margarita (or corona) and cheeseburger! it was my longest stop - 13 minutes! - where i had a margarita, two cheeseburgers, and a cup of ramen noodles in broth.

my 100k split - leaving margaritaville - was just over 16 hours (16:04). the eight miles back to camp 10 bear would be broken up by a stop at brown school house (a/k/a the grateful dead aid station) at mile 65.1. just before brown school house it got dark enough to start using the flashlight. but with a full moon that night, i would never wind up putting on my headlamp! i got back to camp 10 bear in 18:41:36 - my pace had slowed significantly over this last stretch.

the final 30 miles:

fatigue had caught up with me on the return to 10 bear. at this point i had been running w/emmy and we both agreed to push on from 10 bear (exorcising any thoughts of calling it quits there). as mentioned, we both passed the weigh-in on the second go round. but the surprise waiting there (or not, as in this case) - john had no pacers available! by the time we were ready to head out (deciding to team up w/tammy and her pacer) - one pacer did become available. we were set to have him pace both of us - instead, he was assigned to a solo runner. emmy and i would pace each other until spirit of 76 (westwinds).

on the way to spirit of 76 (mile 77) the strangest thing happened. on the steep descent on the switchbacks leading to seabrook (mile 74.7) a moth flew into emmy's ear! she let out a scream and was hopping all across the trail trying to dislodge it! at first i couldn't make out what she was saying/what had happened. despite our best efforts, the moth crawled deep into the ear canal and we couldn't get it out. no one at the next two aid stations could get it out - so she became resigned to running the remaining miles w/it stuck there!

on the positive side, when we arrived spirit of 76, john had two pacers available for us! with 23 miles to go, and fatigue overtaking me, i really needed one. dave, a member of the shenipsit striders, agreed to pace me. within a few miles - where i alternated between sleepwalking and incoherent gibberish - he diagnosised my problem as bonking, not fatigue. the last solid food i'd eaten was almost 6 hours earlier, at margaritaville! he gave me a 12 oz. bottle of gatorade to drink - and it did the trick.

since i was in no mood to eat solid food, his plan was to keep me ingesting simple sugars and caffeine. it was one bottle of coke after another during the night - and it worked! after goodman's (mile 81), i finally got a second wind - and it stuck. we alternated running and walking during this stretch, trying to keep the pace between 17-18 minutes a mile. we reached bill's (mile 88.6) in just over 25 hours (25:04). i had 5 hours to cover the remaining 11.2 miles - very doable!

at bill's i left my windbreaker (which i never wore), my headlamp (which i never used), and my remaining gear (flashlight, gu's, glide) in the drop bag. all would carry to the finish is my handheld and my camera in the fanny pack. we had a couple of major climbs to deal with, but the end was finally in sight! it took another 3 hours and 40 minutes to cover the remaining miles - but it was sweet to cross the finish line again! given my pre-race training concerns, this was a big accomplishment for me :D


emmy, chip, fran, and tammy were all at the finish line when i got there. tristan gave me a beer to celebrate (many thanks, tristan!). then i insisted emmy go to the medical tent and get the moth taken out of her ear! at first one of the technicians didn't think they could do it because it was too invasive a procedure. he suggested that she go to the emergency room to have it removed! luckily, a second ems technician decided to try and flush it out with saline solution. it was a success!

as for me, aside from a pair of swollen feet, i didn't seem any worse for the wear! in a first, i didn't have any chafing, or blisters. while it would be a couple of days before i'd walk normally again, i was a happy camper!

here are my race photos.

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