Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Vermont 100

I signed up for VT100 in December so this race has been a long time coming, I knew I trained hard for it and was ready. Typically I went to crossfit three times a week, ran three times during the week and had at least one long run every weekend. I ran a couple 50ks, marathons and a 50 miler this spring and had the race prep down.

My parents flew out before the race- they have run ultras for years and have countless 100's under their belt- I knew they would be the perfect crew!!! We got into Woodstock a couple days before to hang out and tour VT a bit. Had a great time with the parents around town. We checked into the race Friday morning to weigh in and get blood pressure checked- everything looked good! We spent the rest of the day hanging out and napping before the race briefing at 4pm.

Everyone's drop bags for the race

Tent city

I camped at the starting line with many other runners Friday night, that way I can roll out of bed and walk to the start.  I tried going to bed in the tent around 8:30 but couldn't get much sleep. The biggest thunderstorm I've ever witnessed went on Friday night from about 10pm-2am. BRIGHT lightning and LOUD thunder kept me up most of the night. Finally it was 3am and I could get up and get the race started. I got my things together, and headed to the start for some coffee and meet up with everyone. I surprisingly wasn't nervous- I just felt so excitement for what I was about to partake in! I don't remember a race that I haven't been nervous!!! We were about to toe the starting line and all of a sudden there were beautiful fireworks from the nearby hills!! What a perfect way to start the day!!!

I started at a slow pace, and then tried to go even slower- I knew I had a long day a head of me. I met several women in the beginning and had a great time chatting and getting to know my fellow runners. Met several that were back to avenge their DNFs from past years. About 5 hours in I made it to Pretty House at mi 22 where I met my parents and Thomas for the first time. It was so nice to see them! I knew then that I was so lucky to have people to look forward to for each handler aid station. I knew that would help me get through the race. 

Everyone helping :)

More climbs

 More sock changes

Beautiful Vermont views

Only 73 to go :)

I just keep running, chatting, enjoying the scenery and the miles went pretty quickly. I tried to maintain my eating and drinking, knowing that I wouldn't want to later on. I met so many great people and really enjoyed the company of everyone. There were lots of hills- mostly shortish hills, downhills, flat, repeat. Soon I was in Camp 10 Bear at 47 miles- almost half way! I remember seeing that after this aid station there was a big climb! AGH! And boy were they right!!

Soon we saw a 50 mile sign, I knew the rest of the way would be uncharted territory for me... I have never run more that 50 miles, or more than 12 hours so I was anxious to see how my body (and mind!!) would be for the rest of the race. The second half of the race was similar to the first, except hills were much longer!!! Long climbs up, long climbs down, then short flat sections. This really started to tear down my quads and feet. There was a long hill, about 2 miles and it really got me down, then all of a sudden I saw my dad, Thomas, and Phil! YAY! An aid station! (Seven Sees I believe, mi 59) That helped a ton, and by the time I left the aid station I was happy and smiling :)

More ups, downs and again, I got to a low spot by the time I got to Camp 10 Bear at mile 70- all I could think was, "I am starting to be sore, how the hell am I going to do another 30 miles!??!" (especially because everyone had been saying the last 30 is the hardest- how could it get any harder?!?!) Thank goodness my dad picked me up here. At the aid station, I basically flew past my crew because I was so mad/sad/tired/sore and in such a bad place mentally. At the next aid station I had to apologize because I knew they were out there waiting for hours and I just blew them off. With my dad, time went a bit faster, but I was really starting to hurt- quads and soles of the feet the worst. And I felt like the hills were just getting steeper and longer!! Or maybe that was because I had been running for 17 hours already...


Still happy at mile 62, heading into the night...

The last 30 miles were a blur of silent (and some non-silent) curses, moaning/groaning, with a bit of chatting thrown in once a while when I could get the energy to say anything. My dad was great- always talking and keeping me upbeat, telling me I was doing great and pushing me to always keep moving. At one point I looked at my watch and couldn't believe I had actually been out there running for 20 hours already!! WOW!!! And then I realized I still had several more to go... oh jeez! By the time I hit Bills, mi 89 around 23 hours in, I just wanted to be done. I weighed in 6 lbs heavier than when I started and the medical staff looked concerned, but they let me go. I ended up leaving before Thomas and my dad. I just started walking and told them to catch up- I was on a mission to finish!! I knew by that point that I WAS going to finish and it was just a matter of how much pain and how much time it would take to get me there. I knew if I kept moving I would make it. They were both great pushing me and telling me how awesome I was doing. Finally we passed Pollys, the last manned aid station! Only 4 more miles! I wanted to get under 27 hours so bad, I had an hour and a half to do 4 miles so I PUSHED it!! I tried to run as far as possible, then walk, then run again (it was more of a shuffle, def not a run!!) We saw sunrise coming up over the mountains at one point- it was beautiful! I wanted to stay and watch but knew I had a goal :) 

FINALLY the finish line!!!!!!!! I made it across at 26:38! Under my original goal of 28hrs. Wow, I was hurting, tired and so emotionally drained. It was the hardest race of my life, but probably the most rewarding. I could not have done it without my awesome parents and boyfriend helping me for the past 8 months and pushing me along during the race.

FINISH LINE!!... with a bit of a run :)

Best pacers a girl could ask for

Still doing ok in the medical tent-- don't worry, just icing my knee

The race was wonderful, beautiful views, not much technical trail, great aid stations (although they ran out of water at a couple of the beginning unmanned aid stations), great runners and volunteers and an overall great day! I'm already starting to forget the bad and just remember the good. Now I need to find a new goal, will it be another 100?? Probably....

Pineland Farms 50mile

Pineland Farms 50m has been on my "to-do" list of races in New England, I've heard from several runners it's a fun event. I needed a 50m before VT so I signed up! It ended up being about a 4 1/2 hr drive, not horrible!

I checked the weather about 100 times before race day- it kept chaning from rain to no rain, to rain, to no rain! I packed my car with about everything I thought I would need-whether there was rain OR no rain! On my drive up, it was pouring the entire way! I finally got in mid afternoon and picked up my packet, by the time I walked back to my car I was drenched. No way did I want to sit at my campsite the rest of the day/evening. So I googled the closest Starbucks, which was about 45 minutes away. I ended up in Freeport, ME which is an adorable little town! Full of outlets!!! And not normal outlet shops- but North Face! Patagonia! LL Bean! It was an outdoorsy, outlet haven!!! By then the rain had dwindled so I was able to walk around a bit and enjoy the cute town. For dinner, I had to get the Maine specialty- lobster roll and a hard cider, YUM! On my way back to the campground, it started raining again, I decided to just sleep in the car- didn't feel like putting up a tent in the rain and then putting it away in the rain :(

Freeport ME in the rain

Morning of the race, it was... Raining, of course. Stayed in my car as long as possible to try and stay a bit dry. Finally made it out to the Start line.... and got drenched. After a few words from the RD, we were off!

I have never seen so much mud before! And I've even done a couple Tough Mudders! This was relentless mud, and for the majority of the loops. Each loop was about 16 miles, I would guess about 10 miles was in constant mud- thick, "get your foot stuck", slippery mud. It definitely slowed everyone down. And through each loop- it just got worse.

I ended up running with quite a few people- met a few guys that had run VT100 a few times, so I drilled them with my many 100 miler questions I had about the race. It seemed like quite a few of the runners I was around were also using this race as a training race for a 100 miler. Kind of made me think that I was on track with my training :) The loops were pretty, part in the woods on cross country ski trails that looped along- you could almost always see someone on another part of their loop across the way. The other half of the loop was out in the open in the fields- again, you could almost always see someone ahead or behind you.

I left a drop bag (my first time with drop bags!) at the start/finish which I saw three times, but I never ended up stopping- always felt like a waste of time. I did use my new Ultraspire Hydration pack, it was a small 1 L bladder that I ended up filling a few times, but my shoulders never hurt as they do with my larger pack! It has quite a few pockets on the front- kept stashing food from aid stations in there :) I did realize my new favorite aid station food- PICKLES!! It was an amazing salty, watery food! Besides the mud, the race went well- felt strong the entire time, and really tried pushing it so I could finish under 10 hours. I realized in the last 5 miles or so that I would make it under 10 and tried to keep picking up the pace. I finished in 9:46! I was very pleased with my time, given the muddy conditions. Not sure if I will go back next year- three loops is plenty of times to see the same course! BUT it was a great race, very organized and great volunteers/RD. Overall, great race!!

Muddy!!! Ruined my favorite Lululemon tights :(

Won my Age Group! Bottle of syrup

I was HUNGRY after the race!!