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Umstead 100

March 28, 2015

Raleigh, NC

25:29 finish time, 
11th race of 100 miles or more, 
25 state with a marathon or longer race

Why do we do this?  And keep doing this?

To get to the edge or brink of who we are
Cheryl Staid, came to my high school recently and gave a talk for our students.  She talked about writing and the process a writer goes through when coming up with a story.  Many of the questions from students were about her hike.  She told us her book Wild was not about the epic hike she did on the PCT but instead the journey about self that she took and how you have to get to a state of 'extreme'  or to the 'brink' to truly experience what you are made of and come to terms with yourself.  Each of us running Umstead had this experience.  Bob hammered through in a little over 18 hours to a new PR by over two hours.  Betsy paced herself well to a hour plus PR and finish time under 26 hours.  She originally thought she might not even finish under cutoff because of low training mileage due to kicking breast cancer's ass.  Matt ran 6 and one half loops extremely well and was on pace to sub 20 and then struggled through the last little bit to finish well in under 21 a new PR for him.  I lost track of my fueling strategy after 18 hours (where are those gels?) and struggled through to the end in 25:29. A good time considering at one point I thought 28 hours would be just fine.  All these numbers are not really what is important as the experiences we had getting to the finish line.  Running 100s brings us to the edge of ourselves in order to examine who we are and what we are made of.  This is why we run 100s.

Meeting great people and the hospitality 
Betsy's sister Robin and her husband Bill hosted us.  The house we stayed in was incredible. Betsy's sister Robin lives in Chapel Hill about 30 minutes from the race.  It was perfect. The house had lots of rooms and a cool log cabin feel with art from Alaska on every wall.  Robin set us up, even with chocolate on the pillow. Talk about spoiled, will I ever be able to go to another ultra without this kind of support.  Special support and meeting great people… this is why we run 100s.

We want all the food
Robin put snacks out in front of us and it was crazy how fast we devoured the cheese, salsa, hummus and crackers. She couldn't cut the cheese and open up the crackers fast enough for us.  We had breakfast, snacks, lunch, snacks, dinner and snacks.  Her husband Bill treated us to a real North Carolina meal with real Bbq, no tomato products in sight.  We want all the food… this is why we run 100s.

Ramiro, best first time pacer ever
Ramiro volunteered to pace along with many other people, so many people that some did not get to pace as there were not enough runners needing a pacer.  He had only ran a few marathons and ran cross country in high school and wanted to find out what running a 100 miles was all about and who did this kind of thing. He decided to experience this by pacing one of these people… me.  There were so many volunteers that he had to wait three hours to finally get asked.  On my 7th loop in the dark after midnight in the woods of North Carolina I became a little nervous being all by myself.  If you have read previous race reports you know I have an active imagination.  Some people call these hallucinations. I would scrape my foot and it sounded like someone was following me. I would turn around and no one was there.   I started to see things  and couldn't remember to do what I needed to stay on track.  I didn't eat much on that 7th loop and was worried about bonking, stopping because of lack of energy.   My focus was lost due to lack of sleep and being out there for a long time.  And just where were those gels?  I just wanted to make sure I finished so I asked for a pacer for my last lap.  Poor Ramiro, he saw me at my worst, dry heaving any time I ate something, bonking from lack of nutrition, burping, farting and whining… the usual at 88 miles in.  I told him not to do this, run 100 miles, 50 miles is enough, running all day and all night and seeing the second sun rise… is not worth it.  He was the best first time pacer ever because he knew how to support and picked up things quickly.  He made me eat and helped with whatever I asked… like I can't talk right now as I am concentrating on not puking. 100s are fun.

Betsy cough puke
It was predicted to be in the low 20s overnight and only got into the low 30s so it wasn't that cold, but it was cold.  The cold air does a number on your lungs and on a dirt trail you also breathe in some dust. So at the end you are hacking and coughing quite well.  As we arrived back at Betsy's sister's house, Betsy couldn't get out of the car without first losing her breakfast, I suppose hacking up breakfast is better than hacking up a lung… this is why we do 100s.

Matt fancy pants and our gaiters
Betsy has learned to sew, she made a dress and everyone complimented her on this.  She made all of us gaitors to keep the rocks and grit out of shoes.  These are the fanciest gaitors I own, made out of loud disco rainbow material.  Of course when she was making the gaiters, Matt loved the material and asked if she could make him some shorts.  These were the fanciest shorts on the course and everyone knew who Matt was.  We were quite the team from Seattle.  This is why we do 100s.

We can talk about running for hours and days and in fact run for hours… and days.
It seems each time I run one of these races I learn something.  I had a great time going early on, but paid for it later as I seem to always go out too fast.  Someday I will learn, I must pace myself early on.  This is why we do these 100s over and over again, even though we cuss ourselves out for signing up and ask ourselves why we are doing this in those last few miles.

Meeting people is part of the experience.  
I met Amy, she was running and raising money for amputee blade runners.  Her fund raising would help three amputees get blade runner prosthetics so they could run.  She is quite a driven person and I could tell she had what it takes to finish a 100.  She DNFed her first attempt at 70 miles and this time brought four pacers to help her ensure a finish.  We shared our life stories in the first 30 miles.  People thought we were good friends when they came upon us and when they heard we had just met were amazed… that's how runners roll… She finished even though she went through a real rough patch or two or three.  When you are feeling great, it will pass.  When you are feeling awful, it will pass, you just have to keep going and know that nothing lasts for ever… that is why we run 100s.

Race reports help me remember the great experience
Talk about running for hours, we can't believe Matt didn't see the mile markers.  So many funnies and experiences during the race, what worked, what didn't, what we will do next time, what we will not, the hallucinations or what we thought we saw.  During this race I realized that gels and coca cola (and a little regular food after six hours in) really work for me and I should have stuck with it.  When I switched to food only my stomach revolted.  This kind of learning something new is what it is all about… that is why we run 100s.

Try out Bob's fancy pants
Bob is a runner who is from California.  He was always at local Seattle races so I didn't realize he wasn't from Seattle until this trip.  He got new recovery compression boots.  He was like a kid in a candy shop.  Afterwards we all got to try them and they made our legs feel wonderful, so did the hot tub, the nap and generally having our legs proped up..  This was my first 100 without a single blister on my toes or feet, success.  Changed socks and cleaned and re-glided my feet every 25 miles, worked like a dream… that is why we run 100s to experience excruciating pain, and know that we get to stop at some point.

Umstead knows how to put on one hell of a race with great support. 
They have thought of everything.  Even the course is set up to walk up hill after aid stations so you can eat.  Personalized hats and shirts with the course map on the back,
they have extra clothes for cold runners, lots of volunteer pacers, special products in the bathrooms, people at aid stations who can tape feet, even if you don't need it,  any foods you want, even if you don't want food, warming fire, cots, first aid, mile markers, even if Matt didn't see them, lots of water and snack stations, great buckles, the triangle represents the North Carolina research group, they have truly thought of everything.  I highly recommend this race for first timers and even for experienced runners.  Great runnable course with some nice hills that use different muscles.  
This is why we run 100s.

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