Running in a painting
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Holy Moly....Rolly Poly!
Running in a painting
Time: 21:36 or 12:57 per mile
Ascent: 17,060 (of rolling wonderland - my altimeter has been within 200 feet of WS100, Wasatch 100M and others)
Place: 29th overall, 4th woman, 1st masters
Arriving in Boston on Thursday evening and having Bill pick us up at the airport for our 2.5 hour drive to Vermont was perfect. It was pouring rain in Boston and looked like Portland in the middle of February but the humidity was very noticeable as temperatures were near 70 degrees. Traffic was really bad so we decided to stop and eat dinner and let the cars fan out so in true New England style we went for seafood. I can't remember the name of the restaurant but they were running a special on Lobster! Bill and Micheal could not resist the Cheap Lobster Twins. Each lobster had to weigh 1.5 - 2.0 pounds and they both dug in, bibs and all. We arrived in Vermont at the Ascutney Ski Resort and checked in. We rented a large condo so all 5 of us would fit and therefore we had an entire building to ourselves. It was sort of creepy at first and reminded us of the The Shining with Jack Nicolas. The hallways were narrow and empty and we were the only ones around. Micheal started repeating "redrum, redrum" and we all laughed and got scared at the same time....the fun had begun.
Friday morning I had to go for a shake down run and Stacey, Micheal and Bill found the highest peak around and a trail leading to the top and headed out to for their run. Steve just hung out at the condo as I ran a loop with some pick ups. It had been raining in Vermont for about a week making the ground and air very moist but the mild cloud cover kept the temperatures tolerable. I ran about 3 miles and came back sweating like crazy but with all the heat training I have done it wasn't bothersome. As my crew was out stomping around the Vermont hills I prepared all my race bags and crew cards. My goals for Vermont were simple.....finish and save myself for Leadville. I knew I had a good shot at 24 hours based on everything I had heard about the course and prepared a pace chart for 22:18 based on the topo for the race and how fast I thought I could run/walk the climbs, cruise the downhills and flats. Even though I had a pace chart of 22:18 I was prepared to just finish. Due to this "take it easy and have fun" approach to the race my race preparations were pretty easy and not stressful. The race meeting and weigh in was at 4 p.m. so when my crew arrived home we showered and headed to the field. I brought my own scale to Vermont so I could closely monitor my weight along with the mandatory race weighs. The horses were getting their vet checks done at the same time so When I was done we headed over and watched the horses, it was awesome to see these big athletes and their handlers get prepared for their day on the trail. The race meeting started and the first thing the director says is the course had been officially measured and was 2.5 miles short so they added a loop to make up the distance, yipppeeeee ;).
Running in a painting
I slept like a rock going to bed at 6 p.m. and waking at 2:15. The weather for the day was gonna be good, not to hot and there was a slight breeze which forced some air circulation. It was chilly at the field in the morning so I was thinking I might need a long sleeve shirt but I am glad I resisted the temptation. The 4 a.m. start is great because it forced me to start really slow and get nice and warmed up. My glasses kept fogging up so I would have to walk and get them to clear. This went on for about an hour then they finally stopped. We were on a two track old road for about 2.5 miles from the start then we took a turn onto a gravel road. The sun was up and flashlights were gone by this time. Everyone was running fast! I am used to mountain ultras where you walk right from the start because you are usually climbing some 2000+ peak but here we were cruising along a gravel road that cars can drive on. I started asking anyone with ascent if they had run this race before and got as much information as I could about the upcoming terrain. As we continued on various gravel roads that rolled along the countryside it became clear to me this was going to be the terrain for the bulk of the race. I know the website says dirt roads and trail but my idea of a dirt road is a 2 track road that motor vehicles do not travel. This was not that! This was Lief Ericson all the way with some larger bumps, all runnable if you have trained for that. By mile 21 I was 30 minutes ahead of schedule, not good. With everyone, including myself, running relatively fast I made the decision to start taking walk breaks to conserve my body. I had no idea what this kind of terrain was going to do to me over the long haul. Since everything was runnable and there were no natural walk points I decided to run 10 minutes and walk 1 minute and see how that went. If I came upon a hill that was big I would walk/run the hill as it wasn't steep enough to make the walk more efficient. I watched my heart rate and made sure I stayed below 155 which is 75% of max and high 3A for me. This is a good easy pace for my fitness. This method worked well and kept my mind busy. The views of Vermont are green and pretty but it was sort of like running into a painting.....the views didn't change. Beautiful homes with immaculate yards, big green pastures with hills in the background. One thing I noticed immediately is how patriotic the state was with American flags displayed everywhere and that was really neat to see. Not many flags are waved around Portland so it was up lifting. The houses were all old New England style and so beautifully maintained with lovely flower gardens and signs that read "maple syrup for sale" were everywhere, a real slice of Americana.
By mile 37 the horses have passed us a couple of times and that was another highlight of Vermont 100M. I enjoyed sharing the trail with big beautiful athletes. They inspired me and put into perspective what we are doing. You could hear the click, click of their hoofs and the power of their breathing as they approached. It gave me chills every time they came by because it was such a treat to see them gallop effortlessly. With their mandatory holds for vet checks and rest I would see the horses many times and in fact #103 and I were running the same pace :). As we continued on the roads the variation in terrain got much better, the hills got longer and the descents steeper which gave me good walk breaks so I no longer had to play the run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute game. In addition we had crossed some trail sections but they were very short. The trails were not single track, they were two track rough slashes through woods or fields so they were not fast but a nice break for the legs and a change from the hard surface of the gravel roads.
By mile 47 at Camp 10 Bear I was about 45 minutes ahead of my 22:18 pace chart and was not pushing myself at all. My weight was spot on every time I saw my crew and my fueling was going perfectly. My crew was having their share of fun checking out all the sights near by. They ate a brew pubs, went to a farmers market,bought ice cream and on and on. They were all dressed in their Rooster shirts so you couldn't miss them. I know they were excited about how much ahead of schedule I was and how calm and relaxed I appeared so I kept having to remind them we are not racing :). At this point I think I was 3rd woman and first masters but I had no big ideas of finishing that way. At this aid station I sat down and ate some food and had my legs cooled down with ice cold towels, I think all this took about 3 minutes. It was going to be easy going and steady from hear on out. I think my crew might have been getting bored, I needed to shake things up!
After camp 10 Bear (mile 47) we actually had some good climbs on the gravel roads, they weren't steep but long and mostly walk/run for me. I could feel my legs a bit by this point and my hamstrings were feeling all the running. Nothing bad but I took that as an opportunity to work on stride management. I would shorten my stride, then lengthen it, use my arms more, land lightly on my feet, make sure my hips were square and I was standing upright. All of this passed the time nicely and I now have a really good idea of how to run :). I got to spend a lot time making stride adjustments. I played "running school" for about 65 miles! The runners were pretty spread out after mile 30 and they were not big talkers so it was a quiet day out on the trail so all games kept me busy.
At mile 70 I picked up Micheal for pacing and it was nice be 1 hour ahead of plan and so light out. We thought we could make it mile 85 before we would need to turn on our lights so that was really cool to be so far along so early, that 4 a.m. start is a good idea. Micheal wore a clean bib from the Lobster feed as a cape for his pacing duty, it made me laugh my head off and others on the course thought he was a nut. My legs were more sore now and I wanted to make sure I didn't do anything that caused a long recovery so we walked and ran along chatting and laughing. I said, "welcome to my painting, Micheal". I think the hard gravel roads can take their toll on your body and if I was pushing it I don't know how I would have felt but as it was I was in good shape both body and mind. I was happy with how I had managed myself and wanted to keep it that way. Of all the 100's I have done I can't remember feeling this good at mile 70 so that alone was enough to make this a great day. I had a few moments of glory with Micheal where I would get the urge to run hard and we did but then I would get the urge to just trot along and talk and so we did that too. I was still 3rd woman at this point. We finally had to pull out lights at about mile 84. I continued to fuel well eating noodles, gels, bars, bananas, G2O and had absolutely no problems eating and drinking. Our run was pretty uneventful and I was so happy to have company!
At mile 88 I picked up Stacey for journey home. Here at Polly's they weighed me for the last time, I sat and ate some more food, drank a Red Bull and we left. This section had the most amount of trail on the course. The road sections were all uphill and the trails were flat and rolling so I would have to say this was the hardest part of the course. The trail sections were chewed up due to the wet ground and all the horses so the footing was bad. I was fine with just walking along and finishing. Stacey never pushed me and I self propelled as we talked about Leadville and how well the day had gone. A few people would approach and either hang with us or pass and that was just fine with me. I was a satisfied customer and I guess I keep bringing this up because it's a new approach. Generally I want to give a 100 big effort but with 2 more to go and not having done so many close together I wanted to keep it all in check.
On the last stretch a freight train approached, it was what would be girl number #3. She came flying by Stacey with about 2 miles to go and I had no intention of even putting up a fight. I was happy to see someone so fresh and kicking butt. I was excited to be done and very pleased with my time, my body and the 1st female masters finish. Going into Vermont I had low expectations for myself and was prepared for lots of blisters, some chafing, heat issues but I got none of the above. My legs were sore but I guess they should be, not sore enough to keep me from taking a spin today which I have done. My post race fueling was awesome and I think that will help me recover a bit quicker along with having a text book fueling day during the race. My feet and legs were a bit swollen after our travel home yesterday but Stacey massaged them and today they are normal. My feet held up great with zero blisters and no lost toe nails. My energy seems to be good too, a bit scary but I think I should have run a little harder but I will spend more at Leadville. My crew was amazing as usual, they took care of me, made me laugh and they even cleaned up all my yucky stuff. I had a great time in Vermont and really soaked up the day, it couldn't have gone better. Thanks to all of you that send me such nice emails encouraging me.