Apr 5, 2010

Race Report: Umstead 100-mile Endurance Run, 2010

My twitter log actually provides a decent race report.

Awake. Dressed. Getting ready to leave hotel. Race starts in 93 minutes. #Umstead100 4:25 AM Mar 27th

The morning was uneventful. We got there and hung out in the headquarters building, until it was time to start. I ran the first lap with Meredith Murphy, who not only helped the lap to go by lightning-fast, but also is a wonderful source of ultrarunning wisdom and a great companion.

7 miles down, 93 to go. #umstead100 7:38 AM Mar 27th

Umstead consists of 8 laps of a 12.5mile course, with an aid station a little more than halfway through. I had a minor logistical problem at the very start when I realized that I had sent both of my water bottles to the mid-loop aid station - the result being that I had to run the first 7 miles without a water bottle. It wasn't a big deal, I could hardly get dehydrated, especially in the cool of the morning and the slow pace.

Got my bottle!

Lap 1 in 2:45, on my planned pace, to the second. 7 laps to go. #umstead100 8:51 AM Mar 27th

I had planned that I was going to run the first 50 in 12 hours, which would give me plenty of time to run the second 50 in 18. In order to accomplish that, I figured I'd have to average 3 hour laps for the first four laps. So I figured out that a first lap time of 2:45 would be sufficiently conservative and get me to my goal ok. There was no problem there.

Lap 2 done in 3:00. Revising my 50 mile split goal to 12:30. Felt I was putting too much pressure on too early to do it in 12. #umstead100 12:02 PM Mar 27th

So at this point I had done 25 miles in 2:45. My best time for the marathon (26.2) was 2:42. That seemed very conservative ahead of time, but on the day I felt I was pushing a little hard in the first 25 if I wanted to finish the next 75. However, it was already too late and my early-race enthusiasm would prove to be problematic later on.

Mile 35. Things are starting to get ... Interesting. #umstead100 2:45 PM Mar 27th

I was predictably tired. Also, the shoes I had started giving me problems after the marathon point or so, where the toebox angles too hard on the outside. After a decent amount of foot swelling, the pinky toe starts to rub against the outside causing a painful situation. Fortunately, my tried-and-true trail runners were in my drop bag, and I was able to change and have a pain-free pinky the rest of the race.

Meredith, nursed her daughter at the end of every lap, caught my while I was changing my shoes and we did the "sawtooth" section of the course together. Meredith is fast! I stayed with her for about 4 miles but let her go ahead after that.

Meredith in the foreground, bottom of the course's nastiest hill in the background.

On lap 4. Feeling good as long as I go slow.. #umstead100 3:30 PM Mar 27th

After hammering out lap 3 with Meredith, I decided that I would go very slow in lap 4 to try to recover. Notably, I walked the entire sawtooth section. Unfortunately, going slow did not seem to delay the onset of real fatigue.

Good news: 30 minute PR on my 50 mile split. Bad news: I feel like death. Went out too fast. #umstead100 7:38 PM Mar 27th

Lap 4 was pretty tiring, and I really started to feel the result of those first two laps. The first two laps were done in about 5:45 - The second two had taken me closer to 7:30. The race was slipping away and I knew it. Everyone I talked to seemed to be at least a lap ahead of me and that demoralized me. When I got into the aid station and saw Alex and Joe for the first time, I really wanted to drop right there and go back to the hotel with them - and I almost did. After a couple of tylenols, however, good sense prevailed and as the sun was setting I went out on lap 5.

Out on lap 5. Almost dropped. #umstead100 8:08 PM Mar 27th

Proving the adage, "It never always gets worse", the first half of lap 5 went very well and I had no problems until about 5 or 6 miles in.

Really tired at mile 56, way too early to be this tired. #umstead100 9:48 PM Mar 27th

... and by "tired", I meant "sleepy." This was very odd to me.

Apparently I was staggering around the trail. Getting caffeinated but the clock is ticking relentlessly. #umstead100 10:16 PM Mar 27th

Just had a redline. Waiting for it to kick in. I think I'm behind the cutoff now though. #umstead100 10:29 PM Mar 27th

When I finally got to that aid station I was relieved to get a hold of a Redline. Redline is a hyper-caffeinated energy drink that could knock an elephant out of a coma. After slamming it, I sat there in the aid station, next to a space heater, for about 20 minutes as the cutoff passed. I had stopped caring. I knew I would stop caring, and in retrospect, sitting in aid stations, not slow pace, would be the self-sabotaging that caused me to fall behind..

When I got out of the aid station, I happened upon Ray Krolewicz, a lap ahead of me and very tired. RayK is a bit of a legend in ultrarunning circles, eccentric and fun to be around, he can claim a sub-14 hour 100 mile finish from when he was in his prime. Tonight, he was just out there having fun despite his fatigue and I had the pleasure of walking with him for an hour or two through the sawtooth section.

Tapping out. 2 hrs behind cutoff at last lap's pace. Hard to get back out there when I can't finish. Got 100k and a PR at 50M. #umstead100

But when I did finally get to the main aid station, I was already well behind the cutoff. The previous lap, which had taken 4.5 hours, caused me to do an ungodly amount of math in my head, and I had decided ahead of time that I couldn't finish in time. And that was a fact. I did not *want* to go back out, and when you combine that with the fact that there's nothing really to go back out for, throwing in the towel becomes very easy.

Alex and Joe really enjoyed their time at Umstead, and the race really is one of the best I've ever run. The combination of top-notch organization with laid-back attitude is hard to come by, and Umstead is a great find on that front. Before the race was over, Alex had already decided that she wanted to come back next year, and I think I'll be there myself.

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