The 2011 Umstead 100-miler, in which I took the 50-mile finish, was one of the more interesting races I have ever run.
|Pre-race hanging out|
For the first 4 hours, I was running a 100-miler. Then, at about 20 miles in, I decided that I would not make it to 100. After nearlt dropping at mile 25, I convinced myself at mile 28 that I would not drop but go the last 22 miles and "Take the 50." Then, at about mile 38, I experienced a remarkable recovery which I used to both come from behind the 8-ball to attain a Personal Record at the 50 mile distance and at the same time consciously and intentionally sabotage any possibility that I could last 100 miles.
Lap 1 (12.5 miles in 2:46), "Wow, look at everyone running away." Started like any other ultra for me. The first lap was uneventful. Spent a few miles with Meredith and Ethel and enjoyed the sunrise. Pre-dawn darkness seemed to have an unusually negative effect on me. Not much else to say.
|Lap 1. Photo by Tammy Massie.|
|Lap 2. Photo by Ginette Portera|
I don't remember much more of this lap, except that many people passed me. By the numbers, this was my slowest lap by over a half-hour! At the end of it, I knew that I was about 30 minutes behind my PR pace for 50 miles. I told my wife I was stopping at 50. She agreed that it was probably a good idea to save myself for Miwok on May 7th, which is my primary "A" race this spring.
|Smiling because I'm about to finish lap 4. Photo by Tammie Massie.|
Do I regret not doing 100?
Unlike previous 100-mile attempts, this time the answer is an emphatic "no." I pretty damned happy with how I did, the main reason being I simply was not in the mood to be out all night - I had no desire to continue. this is in contrast to previous 100s where I was gung-ho about the night. This time, I was perfectly content with the idea of finishing before the sun went down and taking a PR in a shorter-than-planned race.
And that's why this race is so interesting to me. In the past I've always been overwhelmed by the pain and suffering, which caused me to drop, which in turn resulted in regret. That would have been the case had I dropped at 25. But this time I stopped at a point where I felt good and strong and in a positive mood. This has never been the case.
I am bothered that I still have yet to finish a traditional 100-mile race, but not as much as you'd expect. There will be other 100s I can run - including, of course, next year's Umstead.
On the Umstead 50
I started this post by saying that a nice thing about Umstead is that they'll gladly award you a 50 finish if you go that far. I will conclude by criticizing the policy. Despite my no-regret perspective on the 50 finish, having a 50-mile option that you can take mid-race makes it far too easy to quit, thus making a 100-mile finish more difficult. Rather than allowing people to choose the 50 mid-race, my suggestion would be to require participants to declare that they're in for just 50 before the race starts. While this would most likely have resulted in a DNF for me personally (even though I might have declared myself for the 50 before the race had the option been available), it probably would have given me a little more drive to continue past 50.