Vermont is a beautiful country, with its rolling hills and lush gardens, fields, pastures, and horses, horses and more horses. Themar (my crew chief) and I drove about an hour and half from Manchester Airport, NH and eventually found our way to Smoke Rise Farm in South Woodstock, Vermont, way, way, and way out in the ďcountry."
This was my first time running two 100-mile races in one year. My first one was Rocky Raccoon in February (20:38:38), and this will be my second for the year and fifth 100-mile race all together. I had plenty of hot weather training and time to rest up. I heard that a couple of years ago the temperature in Vermont got up in the 90's and the dropout rate was around 75%. So, I didn't mind running in Washington, D.C. with the hundred degree temps, which seemed like a necessity, all in the master plan.
I weighed in at 143 lbs, had my blood pressure taken and answered a couple of health questions. The race director briefed us on the particulars of the run set for 4 am the next morning, directions for the runners, crews/handlers, and aid station workers, also thanks went out to all the volunteers who made VT100 possible. We then sat down for a good carbohydrate supper and dessert. I bought some raffle tickets, gators, a bottle of Succeed and some running shorts with lots of pockets in them.
We then set out for the Econo Lodge in Mendon, VT, which I had booked on the Internet thinking it was only 15 to 20 minutes away. An hour and 15 minutes later we found it, checked it, then after squaring away our gear, I discovered that my Camelbak needed something for the early am (since they most likely wouldn't have anything except water at the start). 10-15 miles later we found an open quick market, bought my Gatorade, and some salty nuts for breakfast. Got in bed around 10 pm and tossed and turned until who knows when until the wake-up call at exactly 2am. I had about an hour of sleep, feeling like crap (not crapping). Dumped two 30 some oz of Gatorade into my 70oz Camelbak, good enough for a start. We left by 2:45 and got back to the farm in less than an hour, checked in and were ready to rock and roll. Greeted a lot of familiar faces, Prasad Gerard (we have been teammates for the past couple of JFK 50 milers), and also wished Michelle Burr good luck today.
Started out on a short flat stretch of a road and then climbed up a muddy hill. My stomach was churning and by 4:20 am, I found myself in the woods with diarrhea (what a way to start) and some sort of stomach flu. I did take one Succeed pill before the start. Back on the trail, stomach is achy, passing couple of "unmanned" aid stations, grabbed couple of fig bars at the 3rd one. The sun came out a little after 5 am and by 5:30 am, didn't need a light anymore. I stashed it in the back pocket of my "Rogue Camelbak" and I knew the first time Iíd see Themar was at mile 18, and wouldnít have to get weighed until around mile 40. My stomach was going up and down, so I limited my intake of foods to bananas, fig bars, M&Mís, nuts and a glass of Coke. Before long Ian Torrence and I coasted into Pomfret, our first crew station. Themar said they didnít have any PowerAde or Gatorade, but something that was similar, so I said go ahead and dump it in the bladder. Another couple of miles down the road, I meet Themar at mile 27.7. He told me that I had been drinking Exceed, which I had very negative experiences with in the past, so I had him dump the rest so I could stick with water, freshened up my cramped thighs with Icy Hot, grabbed Ĺ a banana and some salty potato chips. I seem to be handling it a bit better now, pass an aid station or so, since I was not taking the Succeed like your supposed to (one to two every hour) Iíve taken only about 4 since the start, so swallowed couple more along with a couple of Advil's. This is when it really got to me in the next couple of miles getting close to mile 35, I started throwing up, four times to be exact.
In these Ultraís you have your ups and downs, and I was on the verge of dropping out and calling it a day. I hoped that this was as low as I would get today, right now Iím thinking, if I can just get to mile 50, I will reassess. Maybe cleaning out my stomach was what I needed, and getting Gingerale when available definitely helped out. When I finished the first time around Camp Bear (mile 44.2) there were a lot of cheering fans and I stepped on the scale at 142 (only a pound down). Themar made a stop and picked up some more Gatorade and we mixed it half and half with water, which seemed to work. My head wasnít too clear but I passed the halfway mark around 9 to 9 Ĺ hours, and never thought about stopping again.
Iíve never been a big fan of taking the Succeed pills, but as I talked to others along the route, they said that many who have taken these pills have stomach problem also, hmmm, needless to say, that was the last one I took, at least for todayÖmaybe forever.
I started with Montrail Vitesse shoes for the first half, and changed to an older pair of Montrail that work better on roads. I was running with a friend, Jim Campiformio from Connecticut who was on his third VT100, and he didnít bother with trail shoes at all, since 75% of the run was on jeep trails and dirt roads.
We caught up on our family history and at that point we were happy to pull and pace each other along. We made it around the loop and back to Camp Bear which was 22 miles, I was not keeping too close to the time but I believe we made it around in about 4 to 4 Ĺ hours. Another weight in at 144 lbs, drinking plenty of liquids was my key to keeping the weight up, I didnít think I could handle any more food. Made sure Themar stuck my flashlight in the pack just in case it became dark before Iíd see him again at mile 83. Still waiting for my high to occur today, or hell, Iíll settle just for a medium, anything out of the basement would feel great. In and out of aid stations (manned and unmanned), eating a bit more now and hanging in there.
I got to mile 83 around 8:30 pm, just dark enough for a flashlight, I felt it was time to get some clean socks and trade my shoes for my marathon shoes, Brooks Radius. With only 17 miles to go, they felt light enough but not too comfortable. The next time Iíd see Themar again would be at mile 90 and it didnít come soon enough. The blister on the bottom of my foot (about the size of a 50 cent piece) was painful enough walking up hills and torture trying to jog down, so I changed back into my Montrail for the final ten miles in. Guess this was coming all day mostly on the hard packed dirt roads, and not enough cushioning in the trail shoes. Refueled and got a cup of noodle soup, just what I needed at the time.
Running on an open cut is not pleasant, hobbling along and running much less, got to mile 96 and the final time Iíd see Themar until the finish. This is a heck of a way to finish, going up hill for it seemed like 3 miles before the final decent to the finish at the barn. Didnít think Iíd make it under 22 hours for a while, but came in at 21:47:18 and I was happy with that.
We got back to the hotel, popped all my blisters, showered and crawled into bed around 4amÖup at 10 to make the award ceremony back at the farm, didnít think I could quite walk or not, but once I got my shoes on, I was able to waddle around like a duck. After a great brunch, which consisted of half a grilled chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs and pasta salad, I was stuffed.
The winner Hans Put of New York was in a world of his own, at an 8 minute per mile pace, he finished in 14 hours, 19 minutes and 36 seconds, unbelievable.
Today this seems like the hardest 100 that I have done, or pretty close to it. I looked at the elevation chart when we checked in and my heart dropped into my socks (the entire 100 miles looked like the stock market the last two months, over and over again). I couldnít believe it, this couldnít be the same race that I heard was very run-able. With this you were either running/walking up or going down the hills, good grief (14 to 15,000 feet up and the same down). What happened to the good old flat lands like Texas?? I don't exactly want to remember parts of this run, but if I ever come back, hill training will have to be the name of the game. My quads and shins are killing me, and Iíll be on a steady diet of Advil for the next couple of days if not weeks in recovery. Itís been three days since the race and my toes are getting their color and feeling back now. My only savior is the cruise weíll be on for the first five days of August (my wife and I have our 30th wedding anniversary).
My Camelback worked great (a fatherís day present from my daughter Andrea) except for several cuts on my back, due to the skimpy tank top I wore. Never had a problem in weight, since I was constantly drinking, I almost got a side-stitch from drinking too much. The aid stations were so close youíd think you were running a marathon (35) most of them unmanned. The volunteers were so pleasant and helpful and made the day much more enjoyable even though it was not my most memorable of days.
Lessons learned, I still need night run training, the right kind of shoes, and I can do a 19-hour VT100. There were horse races that started at different times, both 50 and 100 mile; the first horse didnít pass me until mile 30. When I ran past a farm in the next couple of miles the horses were resting, three or four more miles and the same horse pasted me again, just trotting along, didnít make a difference if it was up hill or down. I probably saw 15 to 20 horses all day, on the hard ground it was easy to see their tracks, and keep on track, but up in the grass (some time the grass was over three feet high) and in muddy sections it was a little more difficult to run over the horse tracks (indentations) and horse shoes really tore up the trail.
I want to thank my crew chief (Themar) for the great support and keeping me on track all day, even though I was down at times, he always picked me up and knew just what to say. Also to my supportive training partners, my wonderful wife Aleka and friend Pat, and great children that keep me on the go. Of course love goes to my mother, who called on Sunday to see how and when I finished. (when I was running the race, she lit so many candles that she thought she was going to light the whole church on fire).
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