Umstead 2008 Race Report

Short version: I had a very good race. 28 hours 44 minutes.
Longer version: I was not very enthusiatic about this race. I was undertrained for it. My long run for it (as I joked) was my DNF at 80 miles at Rocky Racoon 100  in early February. Since then, I had gotten a 18 mile, a 50K, and a 26.4 mile in as long runs.  I just wasn’t feeling all that confident, and  didn’t want another DNF at the 100 mile distance.
The Umstead Endurance Run is both a 50 mile and 100 mile race though. You can always drop down to the 50 mile distance (or drop anywhere after 50 and will still get credit for the 50 mile race) which is both good and bad. Good, in that you get something to show for your efforts; bad in that there is the temptation to stop.Race day was not very cool and muggy. We had been expecting big storms for the race, and it was nice to start out without rain. We were off, in the dark, out for the airport spur out and back. I ran into Debbie, whom I had met in West Virginia on the North Fork Mountain Run. Debbie was attempting her first 100 miler, and I tried to give her some advice (such that it is from my 1 successful 100 miler). I got out of the Aid Station at mile 6.9 ahead of her, but would continue to see her just slightly behind me for quite a while.The Umstead Race is 8 loops of the 12.5 mile trail. This trail is a 10 foot wide bike trail, of crushed limestone. With all the rain that the area had recently, we would not get the limestone grit into our shoes like last year.I really went into this race with no goals other to finish.  Last year ignorance was bliss. I was trying to do the same thing this year. But ignore race strategy as I could, one fact seeped through: you really needed to get through the first 50 miles in under 13 hours to give yourself a fair shot at finishing.  I did remember I got through the first 50 miles in 2007 in less than 13 hours.  I did well on the first 50 miles.  I hit Loop one in less than three hours, loop 2 and 3 in almost dead on 3 hours, and hit 50 miles in 12.31 hours. I was really having a good run. I was a bit warm, but I am usually overheated. It was only about 70 degrees, and a light drizzle began about 1 pm, but I was still hot. BUT I was eating and drinking. And smiling. I was greeting everyone with a big hello and smile, and when people asked me how I was, I said “great!” because I was. I don’t know whether it’s the endorphins, or what, but I had gone to my happy place, and was just enjoying being out on the trails, in the woods. Nothing was hurting. None of my normal aches and pains had come to life. I was hungry, I was able to eat, and the body functions were all working properly-life is good!
The wheels started to fall off a bit in Loop 5. I was expecting my pacer, Jason, who lived in the area, after the basketball game, which I figured would be midnight or so. I picked up my music for this loop, and that helped for awhile. But then the rain increased and fog moved in! It was so disorienting. After running loops on the same trail (and the year before) all of a sudden I couldn’t tell where I was. I stopped for water, at an unmanned water stop, and as I continued on, I thought I was gotten off on a side trail and somehow missed the AS where they would log me in. (Just another function of brain deadness around mile 68 or so).

Serge Arbona, the winner of the race, went blasting by me in this loop, running up the hills.

His pacer, Tom, lightless, caught up to me. His light had died. Serge had gotten wind that a female was only 6 or 7 minutes behind him, and took off and dropped poor Tom! I gave Tom my spare light and he then paced me in for a few miles. Then I dropped Tom also, as he stopped to chat with another runner, so Serge and I have something in common now, we’ve both dropped the same pacer.

I start the next loop, and my pacer Jason calls me before I hit the AS#2. He’s on his way to the park.Woohoo!! We exchange several phone calls as I keep stalling him. Uh, it’s going to be at least one hour before I get to mile 11 on this loop. I think he’s a bit puzzled, as it’s only 5 miles or so, but I tell him not to even start out to meet me for another hour.

In fact, I stall him off even more as I stagger through AS#2 and on. We meet up around mile 11 of the loop, and then both of us head back into the HQ to start loop 7.

I heart Jason! I would not have finished this race without him. He had never paced anyone before, and actually, we’d never met before. He was a fan of our podcast, and had volunteered to pace for me. I told him the pacing would be fine, he was there to baby sit me, make sure I ate and drank, ran the tangents, and kept a forward motion. I put the music away when Jason arrived, and we managed to talk and slog our way forward.
Loop 7 was pretty much as I thought it would be. It sucked. I was still being my mainly positive person out there on the trails though. It helped having someone to chat with, and to keep moving forward. I seemed to be doing better with the caffeine,  although any sort of food was now kind of getting rather sickening. But I was still stuffing something into my mouth, because I was running a bit on the calorie deficit side. But still, it was better than the year before, but I think I now know what to kind of expect.

Of course, it was darkest before the dawn. It was cold, we were plodding along, but looking at my watch showed I was going to hit the last cut off (8am) well ahead of where I was a year ago. I asked Jason if he would like to do the last loop with me and he said yes!

Woohoo!!! Much encouraged, we got into the HQ to fuel up for the last loop. We dropped lights off because the sky was lightening up. The sun wasn’t coming up, because now there was a nice light downpour. It was cold. Good thing I’m hot blooded, because I am still in a short sleeved shirt and shorts. It seems like alot of southerners run this, because there were folks bundled up like a blizzard was occurring.

Forward motion. Forward motion. I was getting just oh so tired. I was not getting much in me in the way of calories at this point. I did grab an energy drink at AS#2 (the only time I used the energy drink) and it seemed to help a bit.

Where I set a goal

We’re at mile 10’ish. On the final loop. I look at my watch and see it’s 10am. “I could do this sub 29” I say out loud, and then start running (such that it is) down the long downhill at this point. I get to the bottom of the downhill, out of breath, already regretting telling Jason of this goal, cuz now I gotta do it darn it!!
Last time up this hill. Pass the unmanned water stop. Five inclines to the turn off to the HQ. Blech. Look at watch. Keep going.

Then begin to wonder at watch. I never synched it with “official race time”. What if it’s off? That would suck to come in at 29.01 when my watch says under 29.

Oh well. We go on. We get to mile 12. 1/2 mile to go. I think Jason asked if I was excited here. Not sure if I replied. With about a 1/4 of a mile to go, I told him “hey I need to tell you something personal about me”. “I tend to faint after these events. But’s it okay. I’ll go lay down and put my feet up.” Poor Jason! Just what he wanted to hear!!
We start down the last downhill. There are two cars attempting to leave the park. Nope, no way I will give them the right of way. They don’t move and congratulate me as I move by!

Down through the mud, and then the final climb to the timing tent and the finish!
Woohoo! A sub 29 hour finish!!

Jason and I



I just had a very good race. I had people tell me how good I looked all day; well, it was because I felt good. I was happy to be there (once it all started!) and having a good time.
The second fifty was not as fun as the first fifty. But having a pacer really really helped. In fact, just knowing that Jason was going to be there later in the night really negated any thoughts of stopping-but I wasn’t having those either.

I’m glad I got this 100 mile finish under my belt buckle. 100 miles aren’t fun, but I am going to go for it at Mohican again. This has helped buck up my confidence a bunch, and I am going to do both train and lose weight between now and June for that race!

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