Official race time:27 hours 33 minutes.
Race day was nice and cool. It had been stormy and windy on Friday, but the weather forecast was spot on for the race and everything was in place. In fact, everything was in place for this entire race for me. I truly had a great race.
I had my goals for the race: hit the 50 mile mark in 12 hours. Finish around 28 hours.
First loop is the most fun.Most of us went out fast, invigorated by the cool weather and seeing old friends. There is an out and back, called the airport spur, where you see everyone ahead of you. Lots of laughter and greetings as you see folks you may not have seen in months or since last year.
As I approached the Aid Station at mile 6.9, I glanced at my watch. One of my goals was a fast in and out of AS.Folks have pointed out to me that I waste time in AS. That was something I wanted to improve upon. Fill up of the water bottle, quick glance over the food, eat a banana part, grab a PB bagel piece and out! 1 minute! Woohoo!
First few loops uneventful, I ran them in around three hours. I did notice when I did make another stop at AS to apply more sunscreen and grab a hamburger-seven minutes there-whee! Does AS time go by faster or what?
It was warming up, and for a “Yankee” a bit on the warm side. I was really hoping it wouldn’t get all that warm out, not like the high 70’s like in 2007. I was managing my drinking and eating well. I discovered soup at both AS and I switched to that-easier and quick to get the calories into the stomach. I did supplement that on the loops with whatever I had in my waist bag-ClifBlock shots, jelly beans, Pay Day bars.
Going through loop 4 was fun. We were going to hit the 50 mile mark, where some runner’s races were finished and the rest of us were just beginning the countdown. I spent some time running with both a Jim and a Jimmie through here, but I ran my own race. When someone slowed down or sped up, I just kept going.
Heading into the AS for the 50 mile, I had many things to do. Drop off the visor and camera, pick up the headlamp, swap drug bags, pick up the Garmin. I was very happy to see Gombu, Bob Combs, the president of NEO Trails Club, running toward me. He told me Moose was 36 minutes in front of me. He said he’d run into the HQ AS and help me before he caught up with Moose out on the trail. So that helped cut down some time, especially with him dogging me as I downed more soup.
Bob stayed with me on the airport spur, catching me up on the Barkley. A lucky coincidence, my pacer, Steve Leopard, was just parking his bike at the turnaround-I didn’t even have to call my pacer, he just majically showed up! Bob, Steve, and I ran for a bit together, then Bob split off to rejoin the Moose. Bob said he thought I might be able to catch the Moose by the end of the race.
Steve was my original pacer on my newby 100 Umstead, and he commented that I had improved. In fact, he’d been out earlier on his mountain bike looking for me, and wasn’t able to find me until he parked by the HQ and just waited. This is a pic Steve snapped of Tammy and myself. Tammy and I have pretty close to the same pace, and ran a bunch of this race together.
It was really great to have Steve with me. We were able to catch up with each other’s lives. Steve has been doing Crossfit and it’s really helped increase his strength and subsequently his running has benefited from this also. Steve paced me in for this loop. Mile 56.9 AS pic.
A great feature at Umstead is the pacer desk. They man a station at HQ where you can enquire if there is anyone to go out on a loop with you. Some of the local running clubs volunteer for this, and then there are the ‘volunteer pacers’. I picked up Dan, who was fired up to get out and run, since his runner had dropped from the race for medical reasons. Dan was an excellent pacer; an Ironman and exercise enthusiast, he made this loop almost effortless. In fact, I didn’t even notice we had walked up the long hill where you make the turnoff to Grayland Trail-now that’s some good pacing!!
Becky was my next new friend, she was from Atlanta, and her friend had also dropped from the race, and she just wanted to get a few miles in. She was also a veteran runner and knew some of the same people I did, and entertained me with stories about running in the Atlanta area. She got me through that long night loop. I continued to eat and drink and caffeinate and actually started to look at my watch. I knew I wanted to be in the HQ AS by six am to have time to do make my 10 am goal. I was using the Garmin to keep my pace going, I would continue to glance at it to keep myself honest.
One area I had worked on over the winter, on the treadmill, was improving my walking pace. I had my pace down to around a 14 minute mile on the tread, which was great for me. Now, I know I wasn’t doing a 14 minute out there, but I would try to keep it as quick as possible. It was a very focused walk, as many people would comment to me later. I would pass runners on the hill by just having a better walk going uphill.
I got into the HQ AS after 5 am. Becky went ahead to see if there was another pacer available, and there was, Donna! I got some more soup and was ready to head on out. This was the last lap. I was almost to the point of thinking to myself I was having the race of my short running career but held off. 12.5 miles is still a long way to go. Donna asked me if I had my splits worked out and I laughed, and said I just run. But I did tell her I had my Garmin to help keep the race. Somewhere along the way I did tell her I wanted to run in before 10am.
This was actually the coldest part of the day. It may have been in the forties. I had actually put a short sleeve shirt on 12 miles earlier, and I had thought of adding my gloves. But my hands were just cold and uncomfortable, just like a run at home in the wintertime.
Oh, I haven’t mentioned my blisters yet! Right after I left the AS on lap four, I felt the blister which had formed on my right heel callus burst. Boy that hurt. And I was only about 100 feet out of the AS. But I was not turning around, the idea was to go forward. So I stuffed some lambswool around it, and was able to run. I told myself I would duct tape it at the next AS, but the pain had really dulled, so since it really didn’t hurt any more I wasn’t going to touch it.
Even though I had taped my feet, I could feel blisters form on the balls of my feet, right up by my toes. I always get these. And since I had already taped my feet, what else could I do? I just ran on. I could feel them pop; they did hurt, but nowhere near as bad as 2007. (more on the blisters in the next post.)
Donna and I got to AS # 2 for the very last time, drank some soup and coffee, thanked everyone and started off. For some odd reason, I thought I only had 3 miles to go, so I was a bit startled when Donna said “mile 7, only five left”! Gah. Well, I had been up for 24 hours plus at this time. The Garmin also died around here, so I packed it into the drop bag and continued on.
Now I was really looking at the watch. A sub 28 was definitely, unless something bad happened, in the works. I mentioned to Donna finally that my dream goal was a sub 28. I started to calculate at a 20 minute mile, always getting to the next mile before 20 minutes. We passed one guy. We chicked two more.We passed another runner on his phone. We spotted Kat ahead of us, whom I thought was behind me. Kat started to move faster. I wanted to catch Kat but she did have a good lead on me.
We turned on the gravel road to HQ. Kat was running ahead of me (I was walking briskly.) This made me smile,to see Kat staying ahead.
I ran down the bumpy gravelly hill. I hit the incline going to the finish. I even ran up that (well, it felt like running to me!!!!) I finished just behind Kat, and an offiical 27 hours 33 minutes!!!!