Saturday, August 19, 2017

Finally a Sub-24!

Where do I begin? This race was a tough one. Finishing a 100 miler under "24 hours" was stuck in my head for months and I was determined to make it - or die trying (well not really, but you know).  The months leading up to the race all I could remember about  my past VT100 races were the good things - the great crews I've had in the past, the fun I've had, the great weather, the smile that I've (almost) always been able to keep throughout the races. To say the least, I was EXCITED about the race. VT100 is my absolute FAVORITE race and I was so stoked to toe the line again.

Friday (day before the race):

We arrived to the very wet field of Silver Hill and set up our tent. Before long it was misty/raining- this was the beginning to my nerves/anxiety. Soon my crew ladies arrived which helped calm my nerves but I was still pretty anxious about the next day. They've never been to an ultra, let alone a 100 and I couldn't wait to share this experience with them. We attended the pre-race meeting and dinner, celebrated Thomas and Alison's birthdays and went to bed! Of course it rained all night - which I tried to take as a good sign since it rained the two other times I ran this race!

Saturday / RACE DAY!!! :

After a 2:30 AM wake up it was Go Time! The race started uneventfully and I ran with several familiar faces! Started out with Kolby and Catherine, a couple from Albany - for their first 100!! Then moved along to run with Miles from CT - great to see an old running friend!

Once I was on my own I tried to get into a comfortable pace - but as I went along I realized I was probably running faster than I should, but it still felt so good, so I kept up the pace. After a few hours I started to feel a little "off". One of the tough things about running/racing is you never know when you're going to have a bad day. And I was slowly realizing this might be one of my "bad/off" days. I tried to think happy thoughts, all the while following my nutrition plan - eating every 45 minutes and staying well hydrated. After a few hours my stomach decided my nutrition plan was going to go out the window. Goodbye gels!!! The only thing my stomach could handle was real food - and very little of it. Uh oh!

I arrived at Pretty House (mile 21 ish) a little over 30 minutes ahead of schedule - I was trying not to panic that I was starting out to fast. The phrase "24 Hours" replaying in my head over and over - it was beginning to be my mantra for the day.  Even though I was already feeling the nausea I tried to keep a smile on my face for the first time I saw my crew. I was able to eat pancakes and pickles (they were both amazing) and was on my way again.

My favorite part of this race is the "Sound of Music Hill" and I was so happy to have one of the race photographers capture this special moment - THIS is how I want to remember this day (and not all the nausea and pain!)

I continued this way for the majority of the day - nauseous but trying to keep down aid station food and Tailwind -  I knew once I stopped eating the day would go downhill FAST! I kept hitting aid stations well before my schedule so that kept me in good spirits, I knew I was on pace for my goal - (24 hours, obvi) :). Around mile 50 I was starting to notice my uphill legs were fatiguing. I was able to run all the flats and downhills but I could tell I was getting slower walking the up's.

Seeing my amazing "Sole Sisters" at every crew aid station made my day. Every time I saw them they had the biggest smiles and were ready with everything that I  could have needed. Even though they had never been to a 100 they were quick learners! I was typically running by myself throughout the day so it was nice to be able to chat with them as I quickly made my way through the AS's.

Since I was so far ahead of schedule I was able to pick up Katlin at mile 70 in the daylight! Whoop whoop! It was such a relief to run with Katlin, I had been alone most of the day and was definitely feeling lonely. I was still experiencing a lot of nausea so I wasn't the most fun to be around but she did great keeping me entertained for the tough, technical/steep sections after Camp 10 Bear (which I always dread!!!). By this time both my ankles were starting to really bother me - occasionally making me stop and stretch.

We hit Sprit of 76 (mile 77) with a TINY bit of daylight left - I'd never seen this aid station in the light so this was a welcome surprise where I definitely needed the mood lift. It was Alison's turn to pace and she was in for a treat - me complaining most of the time :) She kept me sane for the continual ups and downs and we slowly made our way to Bills at mile 89 where Katlin picked me up again. Poor Katlin was getting me at my worst - and the hardest sections. More uphills!! My climbing legs were completely shot at this point so it was slow going. Katlin kept telling me how far ahead of schedule I was and that I WILL be finishing under 24 hours! At this point we were so close that I knew I was going to hit the goal I had been working towards for months. Finally we made it to mile 95 and I didn't even stop at the aid station. Alison ran me in the rest of the way - no rest for the weary. She didn't let me stop or walk hardly at all and because of that I finished in 23:26. WAY sooner than I would have by myself!!! I was able to finish with an almost 2 hour PR because of these awesome ladies - they have pushed and motivated me not only during the race but the months leading up to it. They also had to put up with my bitching and grumpiness the last several hours of the race, so for putting up with me and helping me finish this race with a sub - 24 hour finish - THANK YOU Sole Sisters!!!!

Since Thomas finished well before me (20:15), he was able to fit in a nap but then graciously got up to watch me finish a few hours later. I think I surprised him more than anyone that I was able to squeeze in under 24 hours. After I finished we both hobbled our way to the tent and quickly fell asleep!

This race will always be a special one for me - it was my first 100 and I don't think it will be my last. I love running with the horses,  love meeting all the amazing runners and love the gorgeous trails/views along the way. VT 100 - even though it hurts and can be terrible, I will keep coming back for you!!!

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