Umstead 100 miler (Raleigh, NC)is 8 loops of 12.5 miles. i picked this race as had so many friends entered and it is the most popular 100 on the east coast...I was ready, as in the past year had done 5 50 mile or over runs, 10-12 50Ks and 2 60Ks! But had never run over 75 miles so it was an experiment. But with,Frank, Meredith and all of our BUS friends I had trained hard for this and we were physically ready for the challenge. So....Was a great adventure my first 100 miler was --in summary I was lucky ---I finished in 24:57, (the 9th woman overall), when 1 out of 3 people dropped out because of the continuous rain and miserable conditions ---my stomach held up, m blisters never got that bad, my calves were good, and I had runnable aches and pains. I felt mentally positive and didn't have any sleep issues. I regret not finishing with Frank , as we had trained together and hoped to do @24 hours (both without a pacer but hopefully pace each other atthe last 30 miles of loops)but we will both be back next year and have may more (as Hawaii Mike said) years to do 100s..and I have learned that it is true --expect the unexpected at 100 milers. If it was easy, more people would finish...but any distance is an accomplishment.
The race --Sat. April 5
I woke up to the sound of rain ---the weather forecast for the Umstead 100 miler was ominous, with heavy rain predicted -1 to 2 inches!!! ugh. My only goal was to follow the mantra of the 100 miles -eat before you are hungry, drink before you are thirsty, walk the hills and run the downhills, and be prepared for any kind of weather and foot problem. Oh, and at 80 miles, the race becomes mental --barring injury, the temptation to quit will be overwhelming.
I met my friend Melanie in the lobby at 4:50 ---she offered to drive me over to the start, and we put both of our drop bags in her car and were off. We parked in the dark (the rain had stopped) and she went to deposit her drop bags and I stayed in the car to put my contacts on. I then walked down to the race headquarters cabin, which was buzzing with runners --sat with Frank and Pat and organized my stuff --a huge breakfast spread was offered but i didn't eat -just coffee We grabbed our flashlights and at 6 a.m. we were off, down a dark dirt road.
Loops 1-2 (25 miles)
Frank and I started out together, and we were happy to walk the first mile and let our muscles warm up. The loop consists of an out-and -back and a big rolling loop (big hills and nice downhills -all on dirt roads) so soon we saw the leaders and other runners coming back. I never feel too well at the start of a race so hung back and pretty soon Frank was out of sight --I walked at the first sign of a hill and caught up with Barbara --we ran -walked with Mary, a 3 time Umstead finisher --I then worked hard to get in and out of the first check point to catch up with Frank --we ran the next loop together, and also hooked up with Meredith for awhile -the day was humid and overcast but so far no rain (that would come at 4 p.m. and stay through the night).
I drank gatorade, water and coke at every aid station and even though I was not hungry at all, had saltines with PB, trail mix and PB and Js ---Frank kept telling me to eat fruit! so I started eating banana slices at every station, which I think really helped. After awhile, all food looked impalatable but I made myself eat, and take pepsid-ac, like the race director recommended.
We walked up all the hills and enjoyed the views of the valleys and the wisteria and rivers.
I started to feel more comfortable and tried not to think about miles -just loops -Frank and I agreed that we would be happy to get 4 loops (50 miles) in the bank. My loops took me about 2:45, which was right on a 24 hour pace
loops 3-4 (25-50 miles)
I ran these 2 with Frank --we ran along also with Meredith and Adam (from kickrunners)-
we made it our goal to run comfortable til mile 37, where we would see Anthony and eddie at aid station 1, and we did -they cheered us up the stairs into the cabin/aid station. We both changed our socks and clothes and took so long that Anthony came running in and told us to get moving!
The weather was still overcast. I was grateful that my shoes had help up and not created blisters--I had 2 extra pairs -so didn't change them. At mile 45, we saw Frank's wife and daughter --it was Katie's birthday. By then it had started raining and was getting colder. We pulled into the 50 mile mark in 11 hours, got our headlamps and flashlights and made a quick trnaround to make up for the 1/2 hour that we had spent beforehand at the last 2 stations!
Darkness would descend at 7 p.m. so we had to be ready with warmer clothes and lights.
loops 5-6 (50-75 miles)
the next loop was mentally tough as I was starting to get tired and knew we were only halfway --I looked forward to seeing the other runners on the airport spur and looked forward to having a cheeseburger at the aid station (as it was 6 p.m!), and talked to Frank as he was getting down and complaining that his shin hurt --we thought he had shin splints from changing his shoes and from the soft terrain, so I gave him so Advil and we slowed down a touch as he was starting to hurt. We saw friends Barbara and Adamas as we were coming into 63.5 checkpoint, and that was great. The nice thing about a loop course is that everyone cheered each other on. Darkness descended as we went into the forest and it got very foggy, rainy, and black --occasionally we'd see the headlamps of other runners but it was quite dismal. Frank was in pain and when we shined the flashlight on his shin, it was totally swollen with a red patch (hemotoma) -not good.
I should have told him to stop but we took off from the mile 75 aid station and as we walked up the hill, he was in true discomfort and he decided to go get check out and I would push ahead.
Loops 7-8 (75-100 miles)
The idea of going out into the darkness by myself was not an option in my mind, although generally I do not mind running alone. This was different --it was midnight and I was mentally fatigued and wanted a partner --so pulled up alongside a lone runner and asked him if I could stay with him --he said yes, thankfully, and it turned out that he was from Alaska and was an accomplished 100 miler --his knees were bothering him so he was power-walking. I didn't mind this as I wanted to walk also --he told story after story and I stayed with him until about 1 mile from the aid station --I had caught up with meredith and anthony but she was having stomach issues and I decided to push on with Gilbert. Later I would find out that she reall y felt sick and had thrown up many times --it is a testament to her strength and training that she got through with stomach problems in a fine time of 27 hours! Lap 7 was slow, as I had walked with Gilbert, and my hips were starting to hurt from the power-hiking! Then, at mile 87.5, I was lucky to hook up with a pacer named Harlin ---a local runner, he had run the Raleigh 1/2 marathon that morning and had volunteered to pace with members of his running club --he would put in 26 miles that day as a long run, and ironically, he had been sitting next to Frank when the medical people were examining him, an heard the whole story --Harlin got me through the last loop, as without Frank i was very much alone. He talked the whole time (told me about Frank, and how Pat came to pick him up, and how he was joking and seemed OK) and I did go through a bad patch from mile 88-90 (the witching hour!!!the worst part of the race)-my feet hurt with every step, my stomach hurt, and I started not to feel so good mentally -I was lightheaded and walking the hills was hard. By the way, we were also running with a great guy named Fred who had done 1,000 100s and who also encouraged me. He kept saying 'if you are still moving forward, you are doing well.' Harlin gave me a vanilla gel and Fred gave me an aleve and water. They listened to all of my complaints and kept saying 'you are doing great'. It had been raining hard, but as we approached mile 95 and aid station 2, the heavens opened up --Harlin got my drop bag and I changed my shirt and put on a rain jacket. A runner, also on mile 95, who felt fine was sidelined there with massive blisters (he would later finish). At that point, I told Harlin that we needed to push on as fast as possible. We power-walked up the 2 big hills on the 'sawtooth' part of the loop, and then we had a nice downhill --I got very excited as I felt good all of a sudden -I started running and we both ran the last 2.5 miles without stopping -as I was cresting the hill on 12 mile 99.5), runners who were going out on their next loop were congratulating me! I turned into the last .5 mile trail and Harlin and I ran up to the finish --I almost slipped in the mud, and he kept saying 'be careful, you don't want to fall 200 years from the finish'. The clock said 24:57 and it was 7 a.m. The finish line people awarded me my choice of necklace or belt buckle...I took a few photos of us at the finish and then went in --I really felt good, with the exception of the sopping wet clothing and with having to go to the bathroom (ad the bathrooms were outside --ugh!!!). After changing, and getting some food (an omlet) I sat by the fire and talked to Meredith's friends (they were waiting for her to finish) , and talked to other runners --I started to feel stiff and tired, but it was the greatest feeling to have it overwith and to be able to hang out and see other runners finishing and coming in --Roger came in at 26 hours, and Meredith and Adam came in at 27 hours --everyone asked me if I wanted to do it again and I can honestly say yes -but I know now how difficult it is to have all the pieces of the 100 mile puzzle fall together.