Monday, April 2, 2012

my first 100 mile race: UMSTEAD 100 mile 2012

where to begin? I guess at the beginning. THE BEGINNING.

Let me say first off, I can't even BELIEVE I registered, trained and ran a 100 mile race. Still at this point, it seems surreal; but here I am fat feet, blisters itching, eating like a horse and typing this out. It was REAL. It HAPPENED.
I deep down I always felt wanted to run  this type of race, but I was in denial for the longest time. would call 100 mile races "excessive", "crazy" and the people who ran them sadists and masochists.  but as I delved deeper and deeper into trail running and after having several 50 milers under my belt--like a moth to a flame I gravitated towards this formidable and daunting distance.  I knew I would eventually mature (somewhat) as an ultrarunner to where I would be able to run ( to finish)  , and the thoughts of having a 100 mile race buckle, well that in itself seemed very cool and amazing.  I feel just the general epicness in the accomplishment had a big draw for me. 

 So after hellgate 100k  training/race/recovery this past december,  I shifted gears, and I trained for a 100 miler. I ran alot, ate alot, I worked out hard, it was time consuming and alot of work.  More so than preparation from any of my past races. I trained with joyful enthusiasm because I didn't want to go in unprepared. I wanted to be STURDY and READY. My "coach" and good friend, Eric Grossman, ( who is a very accomplished ultrarunner in his own rite) helped me with my workouts and he made sure I was ready for this task. 

I'll flash forward.  UMSTEAD START. I'll break it all down into the loops breifly.

loop 1: MAN, post 100 miler taper, it felt SO GOOD to just be able to run!! I really struggled in reigning it in. I would try to go slow and be SO comfortable where it felt like a jog. I wasn't wearing a garmin, and then I'd figure out by mile markers on the course I was running 9 min pace. oops. too fast!  but then I would walk my walk breaks. YAY! time to run again. I decided to walk even on the first loop because there wasn't any point in me going nuts and running hard, then walking the last 30 miles. so I walked early. but I think I was so jazzed to be turned loose running and where umstead is all forest service road, I was just enjoying being out there, thankful for the rain. I ran alot with my friend,  Rick Grey this loop. I ate a gel every thirty min, and  had ultra ( an electrolyte drink)  in my hand held and then when I came in the end of this loop, I  drank an ensure.

loop 2-- ran this loop again with Rick,  its still raining. I'm  still feeling like I'm being super conservative and  the pace felt easy. It was warm ( high 60's) at that point it was 63F at the start of the race,  and it felt humid. I was sweating and salty even if it was raining, so I ate some nuun tabs, continued eating gel every 30-45 min or so. I met up with ronda  this lap, and got to run with her a couple miles. It was so great to get to meet her, such a cool and sweet person! and she has wonderful fashion sense!! and when I came in drank an ensure got another handheld of ultra and headed out.

loop3- Rick pressed on, he was feeling good and I was leery of going faster than what I was because I was starting to feel a little icky. and didn't want to blow my chances of finishing or suffering tons at the end because I went crazy at the beginning. The rain stopped and it was starting to get hot ( and very humid!) WELL, I think the ensure was a mistake because on loop 3 , I had MAJOR GI issues and I had to stop 4 times. yuck. not fun.
I came into headquarters to start on loop 4-- a little freaked out. I got imodium from brock and tammy grey kept telling me I was running great and to calm down ( but yeah, i was SCARED.. I felt dehyrdated.. it was getting hot, I wasn't taking calories in) THIS COULD BE IT for me. BUT I dismissed any thoughts of me getting worse, stoically took my imodium (:P ) and got another hand held of ultra ( no ensure) and pressed onward!

loop 4-- I had SO much fun this loop. my tummy settled but then I started getting blisters.. I stopped at the AS for about 20 min and  sweet Dorothy Hunter helped me lance the blisters and tape them up THEN things REALLY started turning around for me and I really started feeling good!! REALLY GOOD!!! it became way more FUN. I really realized: WOW. Im really doing this!! all the hard work, training, blood, sweat, tears coming to fruition.   What was more, was I was really loving the experience and the journey and really tried to focus solely on the loop I was on, nothing else, I was going to forget about the past loops i ran that morning, not worry about the future loops I had ahead of me, just be there happy on the loop I was on.  man, it felt ROCKIN. SO much of this race is mental. Having a positive outlook/perception of events is half the battle.   I rolled back into headquarters to see my best buddy beth on the road and I was SOO happy to see her.

I was at the 50 mile mark at 9 hrs something.. like 9:12 and I didn't even really feel that taxed at all. it made me wonder, hmm it would be FUN to run a runnable 50 sometime just to see what I could crank out because I was loving cranking out those miles. and I had stopped SO much and taken so much time at AS, I really wonder what it would be like to just go all out for a 50.

loop 5: GUY, my running buddy who is a sophomore at Virginia Tech,  jumped in to start pacing me lap 5.. and I think I did get a little too wild on loop 4, because I did get a little low energy wise for a little starting out, but then he made me eat half a gel every mile. By the end of loop 5. I was at mile 60 and it was 12 hrs and i was feeling good, but then tummy problems started again, and sadly, blister problems started again. my pinky toenail kinda ripped off on mile 10 of this loop.

So I worked on my blisters the best i could.  I really was ignorant about this subject and never had any problems with blisters prior. I guess the trail surface ( hard packed granite) was reeking havoc on my feet in addition to the fact of the morning rain. I was blistering on blisters and the duck tape was blistering/burning my skin. YEOW! BUT not to be the type to DNF because I was screwing up my pedicure, I pressed ONWARD. 

loop 6: back out with GUY, it was cooling off and starting to feel good temperature wise and getting dark we decided to try to reach mile 7 by 1:45 and we did with plenty of time to spare, then I decided I didn't want a head lamp and just ran by the light of guy's. Guy did such a great job pacing me. reminding me to eat and drink. :) making me run when i felt lazy:) So thankful he and beth drove down to help me! true friends are such a rarity and I feel I have so many in the ultrarunning community. 

loop 7: out with beth! we both had headlamps and really enjoyed just running and hiking and I still was feeling pretty okay, but knew I was slowing down. beth did great making me eat and drink etc. I was just excited for beth to see the course, but lamented it was dark and she didn't see it during the day about mile 5 of this loop, ( mile 82?) we saw a copperhead in the middle of the road! YIKES!! We yelled back to the runners behind us so they wouldn't step on it, as we pressed on we could hear the runners behind us yell "THANKS!!" because we had warned them about the snake. 

loop8: It was  midnight. As soon as we went out, all hell broke loose:  it came a BIG thunderstorm. lightening, pouring rain.. my feet were wet and getting worse. I looked and blood was running down the back of both shoes where they were rubbing, and I had HUGE open sores on both achilles. That is just great!! in addition to my feet. awesome. it turned from bad to worse, I didn't want to stop at the AS to get help for my heels and blisters, but they kept getting worse. I just wanted to finish at this point,  and I knew stopping would take like 20 min at the least.  I just wanted it to be over at that point because I knew I was SO close.  It was killing me to have clicked off those laps earlier so easily,  and to feel like I was crawling on this one-- this LAST lap.  Also it was bothering  me because my muscles felt fine, my joints felt fine, my blisters where just making running with any normalcy impossible. We stopped and the temperature was dropping after the rain ceased.  I had no extra clothes+I was walking so slow= beth and I got VERY cold. Teeth chattering cold.
 It took awhile to get dr-ed up and man, it was a strange experience. I think because I was on mile 95 of my first 100.   Everyone coming into the med tent looked really banged up and their eyes so hallow. I wondered to myself, do I look that scary?! We got some soup to drink on our way out, and I was shaking for the cold,  so bad I was I spilling my soup.. my legs were so stiff, I could barely walk, but after stopping and guzzling chicken and rice soup, then walking...after a couple min I warmed up and we took a turn into the trees and out of an exposed area/ out of the wind and it felt much, much better.  each step was just excruciating. I started timing miles. 20 min pace. awesome. I knew it would be way into 22 hrs before I finished. :(
my finish at 22:23 was anti- climatic to say the least. I was so happy to just be finished. I didn't want to sit down, I just wanted my sub 24 buckle. and to go take a shower! :) I was SO happy that I didn't quit ( even though that race really hurt and many things didn't go as planned)  I was proud that I was flexible and tried to solve my problems as they arose during the race and the end result of staying focused ( and tenacious)  is that I accomplished my goal. So many lessons I've learned with running are so completely applicable for the journey of LIFE.

 I was in the car on the way to the hotel when beth texted me " you just ran 100 freaking miles!" -- I don't know if it's still sunk in yet. happy to get back I showered, laid down exhausted and laid awake ALL morning. couldn't sleep and didn't sleep until 9pm april 1st.

post run reflection:
ensure was a bad idea. it totally worked at MMTR 50 miler, but fouled me out for umstead.
gels and juice plus gummies worked great though.

I am completely ignorant when it comes to blister care. I really need to study up on that because that really messed up my race. However,  I'm really super happy to have ran what i did, WHEN I did. and I really felt "race-ready" as far as my fitness. I'm elated to have a sub 24 buckle.
super thankful and humbled by the support of my family ( thanks brock for being the best race crew ever!) and friends ( guy, beth for pacing-- running with rick, bill gentry, bob) all the other cool friends I made at umstead. I'm still so overwhelmed by my FB page. I truly am blessed with so many great friends ( love yall!) it really meant so much to me during my low points to know that I had so many people thinking positive thoughts, and praying for me. :)

now, I'm contemplating my next step post recovery. I really *may* not 100% sure yet, run promise land 50k for funsies. I missed terrapin and I think it would be fun to see everyone. but FOR SURE my first race back is highlands sky 40 in june. :) and yes, I've signed up for my second 100 mile race. GRINDSTONE 100, oct 5th in swoope, Va. 

Really looking forward to training and running in the mtns all summer in preparation for these events!! happy trails, yall! :) 


Helen said...

You are truly amazing and I'm totally in awe of you. Congratulations! Hope to see you at PL!

Bob Clouston said...

Too bad about the blisters, you had a great race going, and even with the rough final lap you still ran 100 miles in under a day! So happy for you! Were you wearing gaiters? That crushed stone gets into shoes so easily, wonder if that was it. I'm hoping I can drive down to Promise Land to watch, so even if you don't run, maybe come on up and hang out at Apple Orchard and the finish.

elis said...

great great job!
your report inspires me!

Casseday said...

Congratulations Jenny! What a great experience. You'll run better and faster 100's, but none will be quite as special and unique as the first one.
I'd say you've heard of the book Fixing Your Feet by John Vonhof. It's a great book for learning about foot care.
Enjoy the well-deserved recovery and again, congratulations!!!

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Well done, Girlfriend. So glad you were able to get through despite the feet breakdown. Sounds like the good times still outweighed the bad. That's a good thing.

nctrailrunner said...

You did super Jenn, just as I knew you would. I could tell you were staying out there ahead of me more when I no longer saw you, but was still seeing Rick in the early 3 miles of the course where we can see each other. It is a sweet buckle. I don't know about you, but I will only be there as a volunteer/pacer, again, next year. (And my wife wanted that in writing!) I will look for you at Cheat Mtn again this summer.

nctrailrunner said...

You did super Jenn, just as I knew you would. I could tell you were staying out there ahead of me more when I no longer saw you, but was still seeing Rick in the early 3 miles of the course where we can see each other. It is a sweet buckle. I don't know about you, but I will only be there as a volunteer/pacer, again, next year. (And my wife wanted that in writing!) I will look for you at Cheat Mtn again this summer.

Christian said...

Whoa! what a journey Jenny! Congrats again, way to go to tough it out! Enjoy resting and indulging. Hope to see you at PL.

run4daysbill said...

So. proud. of. you. :)

Sophie Speidel said...

Ya, blisters. I got 'em at my first 100 at MMT and again at WS. At MMT it was because of those darn rocks. At WS it was the deadly combo of wet feet, fine Sierra Nevada silt, and dehydration that led to brutal blisters. It is amazing when something we never had issues with previously come up in unexpected in ultras...and the fun (!) and the challenge is how we deal with them. Congrats again on finishing your first 100! It will, no doubt, serve you well in every race from here on out...and of course in life as well :-)

Triple F said...

Sub-24 BUCKLE Baby! Wow! So cool! Wish I had been there but I was in Kingsport . . . so strange! VERY proud of you! Congratulations!

J Dub said...

Great race report, I also had blisters for the first time during my first Grindstone last year...One thing that has helped me run through the humid Newport News summer has been Aquaphor. Awesome job pushing through!

Sabrina Moran said...

Such a great report, and I love that you're smiling in your pictures. Congratulations! 100 is such a feat.