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2007 Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run Race Report


By hagrin - Posted on 02 April 2007

Here's my humble recap of my first attempt at 100 miles.

Pre-Race
I drove solo from Long Island, NY for 8 hours on early Friday morning to head towards Raleigh, North Carolina for my first attempt at a 100 miler. However, I had injured my ankle about a month ago which really limited my running to about 20 miles a week, but I continued to do 2-4 hours of elliptical work so I was in good cardio shape, just not good runner's shape. Needless to say, I was a little worried about how my ankle would hold up especially when dealing with the downhills which seemed to hurt the most during my training sessions. I didn't stay at the park (although I paid for a cabin) and decided to make the Comfort Suite on US-1 my home for the night (great hotel btw). When I come back next year, I plan on flying into the Raleigh Airport instead of driving to make things a little easier.

Actual Race
Loop #1
I met up with Jesse Leitner (who finished 11th in the 100 and PRd a 50 time too - congrats!) at the Comfort Suite and we headed over to the race site together. While it was cold the previous night and we were expecting temps in the 30s-40s when the race started, I was surprised to find myself perspiring while warming up in just a tee shirt and shorts (i.e. not a good sign - I'm 5'11", 185 - not exactly the prototypical long-distance runners body). We had heard in the pre-race meeting that most runners go without a flashlight at the beginning, but I decided I definitely needed one after trying to navigate back towards my car before the race (I highly recommend a light if you plan on running alone in that first hour). The race started and I went out at a very comfortable sub-10 minute pace and found myself in the top 25 or 30 I think. At around mile 3, I found myself running with one other runner - Jesse! (odd how I had never met him before and now I was running with him). We kept a very comfortable pace even talking a bit while running as we cruised into the first manned aid-station (right before the 7 mile marker). This was easily my favorite aid station in any race with all the volunteers being extremely helpful (more on that later), but it also signified the hardest part of the course was upcoming. For anyone running this race, miles 7-10 are the hardest in the loop with the steepest, longest hills on the course. Even though I felt good, I started to walk these uphills as everyone cautioned me to make sure to take the uphills easy so I was able to walk easily up the hills and most of the runners behind me followed suit. By mile 10, I started to purposefully slow myself down some as I was on sub 2 hour pace for the loop so a few runners including Jesse passed me. I entered the Start/Finish at around 2 hours exactly and felt great - no perspiring, no heavy breathing, heart rate low, no cramps, no blisters and my ankle feeling great (in fact, I hadn't thought about it once until Jesse actually asked how my ankle was doing).

Loop #2
This loop was pretty uneventful, but again I decided that since my goal was to just finish the 100 in any time (dream goal was sub 22 hours, realistic goal was 24 hours), I decided to slow myself down again and run an even slower pace - especially with how the heat was starting to turn itself up. I ran pretty much by myself the entire time, took my time at all the aid stations to drink plenty (I didn't carry water since this course has water every 2.5 miles and it seemed pointless to me, who didn't really care about my finishing time, to carry water unnecessarily). I ended up finishing this loop in about 2.5 hours - still really good pace, no complaints, no blisters, no cramps, ankle holding up well.

Loop #3
Here comes the heat. By this time, it's about 10:30 and I won't finish this loop until 13:40 or so and while the time is extremely unimpressive, it was more a personal decision to slow down as much as possible while not getting demoralized that runners were passing me (it's hard to go in with a goal of racing against the course and then not being affected by your competitiveness when runners pass you). Everything was working well for me, but by the time I got to the manned aid station at mile 32, a few volunteers noted to me that there were dried white sweat streaks down my face and my hat had a white ring around the top of it. I spent 5 minutes eating pretzels and one of the volunteers gave me a paper towel ice bag to put under my hat and on the back of my neck to cool off some. As I left this aid station, I decided to walk as much as possible because I sweat a lot and it would be smarter to save myself for the cooler hours and not fight a losing battle keeping myself hydrated and fueled properly. I finished this loop without incident, albeit very slowly and headed out for the 4th loop after calling home to let them know I was feeling great. In fact, I think I even said "I call you in about 7.5-8 hours after I finish another 3 loops". Yeah, oops.

Loop #4
Now, I believe the temps are up to 80 degrees and this is easily 30 degrees warmer than any temp I have run in for 7 months. Even still, I was feeling great - no cramps, no blisters and the heat was bad, but not to the point where I was sweating badly so I decided that when permitted I would continue to run to make sure I didn't get tight and to find shade as much as possible. In my effort to find shade, I would run on the edges of the trail where the trail is a little softer. At around mile 41, I stepped in a soft spot, twisted my ankle and it was all downhill from there. I came into the manned aid station slightly lipping and I took my time, ibuprofen and debated what I should do. I figured I would continue to move forward, hope that the aspirin would kick in and try and run the flats and slight upgrades (oddly, the downhills hurt my ankle a lot more so walking the downhills was my only option). The last 5.5 miles of this loop were sheer torture. I didn't see any runners during this time except who I assume was the female leader Jamie and when I saw her coming up from behind, I decided to try and run some which was a huge error on my part. I started to overcompensate for my ankle and the rest of my body didn't like that much at all. I ended up limping the last 2.5 miles into the Start/Finish and was faced with the following decision -

50 miles completed in 10:30ish.
Could I walk 50 miles in 19:30 hours?

I definitely could if I wasn't injured - heck, I could probably walk it in a lot less than 19 hours. However, faced with the tasks of having to drive home alone 8 hours and then recovering from an additional 50 hours on a bum ankle, I decided to drop at 50. Although I was so pissed I couldn't go on that I skipped the aid station and a volunteer actually chased me into the cabin to ask if I wanted anything (the volunteers were so amazing, I didn't know people that nice actually existed), in retrospect it was the right decision as 2 days later my right ankle is so tender I can barely touch it no less walk around.

I ended up finishing 33rd of 107 50 mile finishers in a time around 10:25ish - slower than I would have liked, but I was happy considering what I went through for the last 8 miles.

What I would do Differently?
Next year, when I come back I plan on -
1) Flying down to the Raleigh Airport - the driving was way too much to do solo.
2) Bring thicker shoes - I ran with North Face Arnuva 50s which kept my feet in great condition, but the miles directly in and out of the Start/Finish are ripe with rocks that bruised my feet through the thinner bottoms. I almost switched to my XCRs, but decided that they weren't broken in enough and that the risk of blisters was too great.
3) Basketball Taping the ankle - I play a lot of basketball and I should have taped the ankle in much the same way I do for basketball to prevent rolling it. I was worried that running 100 miles with it taped would be a bad idea, but maybe it would have slowed me down even more while offering me protection.

Thanks goes out to everyone involved in pulling off this race - it's highly organized, the trail is amazingly easy to follow (only in one spot did I see runners stop and get confused which was right by mile 4 or 5 where you could either correctly go left uphill or right downhill and there were pink signs down both directions), the aid stations were incredible and everyone was super friendly. I'll be back next year without a doubt.