Thursday, April 5, 2012

Umstead 100- "Just a run in the park"

The trip down to North Carolina was a success!  It was great to see my parents and both Owen and I had a run that exceeded our expectations.  Umstead 100 takes place in a lovely state park and consists of 8 12.5 mile loops.  The nice thing about the loop course is that you get to see so many runners out there.  The runners and volunteers were very friendly, I met quite a few people out there and had mini-conversations.  There are 2 out-and-backs in a row so I was able to see lots of people from the front, not just from the back.  I got to see Mike Morton fly by me a few times on his way to breaking the CR with a smoking 13:11! I had just read the article on him in Ultrarunner Mag and it was awesome to see him tear it up.  I also got to see Ronda out there, another PNW face who also tore up the course!  The course is designed for first time 100 miler runners and as a result there was lots of camaraderie out there.

Umstead for me was the product of learned lessons from past failures.  It was my 5th completed 100 miler of 6 attempts.  My first 100 miler was Cascade Crest in 2009 and it was a good run for me.  I wasn't sure what worked and what didn't as I had nothing to compare it to.  Next up was Pac Rim 24 hour and I was insanely untrained to run a flat 24 hour loop course on gravel.  It beat me up and spit me out.  Then came Cascade Crest again and a DNF.  I had so many problems that day and didn't think I could get past them and so I dropped.  I regretted it even if Owen told me I did the right thing like 1 million times.  I hated the feeling of DNF-ing and did not want that to happen again.  Then came Pine to Palm 100 just 3 weeks later and I projectile vomited my way through the remaining 35 miles and hobbled to the finish.  A finish, but with problems that needed to be addressed.  Last year was Big Horn 100 and that too came with lots of throwing up and another poor performance.  That takes me to Umstead.  Thanks to a nutrition talk held at the Balanced Athlete by Justin Angle, I learned that what I was doing from a nutritional standpoint was, shall we say, counter-productive.   I was pretty discouraged from the past few 100's and thought I'd try some new tactics I learned from Justin.

On Friday before the race started, Owen, my dad and I went to registration to pick up our packets.  We were getting pretty excited!  It seemed pretty warm and that might play a factor especially since we trained in the freezing rain and snow for months on end.  I hadn't trained without gloves, hat, rain jacket since last YEAR!

I asked my dad to be my pacer, but he said no....

This section was part of the out and back that leads to the main aid station and most importantly, the finish line

Race morning we arrived and set up out little aid station for ourselves.  I had some extra clothes, headlamp and 48 power gels, one to eat every 30 minutes for 24 hours.  I figured I would break the 24 hour mark if all went well, but based on my past experiences, I could not feel 100% confident in that.  The gun went off, (literally) and off we went.  My plan was to start out slow, 10 min/mile pace and hold as close to that as I could for as many loops as possible.  I mainly wanted to stay consistent and not have my loop times be erratic.  Owen and I started out together and our plan was to run our own race and if we were together for parts, that would be a bonus.  How lucky are we to be a very similar pace!  The loops was spaced well.  The first 6.5 miles to the 2nd aid station had some rolling hills, most of which I ran or had some sort of combination of running paces and walking paces and then the second half of the loop as some steeper hills that I walked mostly and stretched my legs.  The 1st loop went well, we came in about a 2:07 or so.  My legs were not feeling super but I didn't feel it was b/c of the pace, just more of a not-really-feeling-warmed-up or ????. The second loop was similar and by the 3rd loop I felt I had a pretty good rhythm going.  I came in at the half way mark at about 8:48 to my surprise.  Owen and I were still running together for the most part.  He would get ahead, then I would get ahead, but pretty much we were running pretty solid and together.
(photo by Ben Dillon)
Although we don't look happy, we were!

We headed out for loop 5 and it was HOT!  The great thing about these loops is the there were 4 opportunities to get water.  I was drinking about 4 bottles a loop and every other loop I was filling my bottle half way with Pedialyte.  I was pouring water on the back of my neck and sucking down the water before I hit the next water stop. I was looking at my watch at this point and **trying** to do the math when we came in for loop 5 and headed out for 6.  Owen and I were at 11:10.  I thought, wow!  If we do each of the remaining loops at 3 hours a piece we would break 20 hours!  Then I kept second guessing my math because I had "100 mile head" going on.  Loop 6 went well, it was cooling off and I could tell I was chaffed in many many places.  We headed out for loop 7 and this is where we separated.  Owen gave me a "you got get it" and off I went.  Loop 7 was my slowest loop at a 2:37, I think.  As I headed out for the last loop, I looked at my watch and thought, whoa, if I hunker down, I can break 19 hours.  So off I went.  The nice thing about headlamps and rolling hills is that it's hard to tell it's a rolling hill in the dark.  Mentally that makes it easier to run them.  As I was approaching the last aid station, about mile 94-ish, I was looking at the sky because there were beams of light coming from it.  Is that lightening?  Yup, it was huge lightening, the kind that lights up the whole sky.  then the thunder began and I thought, I think I'm going to finish this off in a downpour.  They were giving out garbage bags to wear at the last aid station but I just checked in, grabbed some melon and headed out.  Within a few minutes there was a full on downpour with lightening and thunder.  This took my mind away from the final 5 miles.  As I headed into the last stretch I kept looking at my watch and was pushing it as hard as I could.  The 8th loop was actually 8 minutes faster than the 7th.  What???  I crossed the line in 18:45!  I could not believe it.  The volunteers were so great, they gave me a chair and a belt buckle with my splits for each loop.
I sat there and talked to some folks, I have no idea what I said, but everyone was so friendly.  Owen came through about a half hour later with a 19:18!  We were both blown away.  We though if we were having an epic day, we had a chance at getting in under 20 hours, but we were thinking more like 20-22 hours.  So we were both beyond pleased.  A big shout out to local Shannon Johnstone who killed it for her first 100 miler breaking 22 hours!

After Owen and were finished, we made it to my parents house and b-lined for the shower.  Holy cow, I was so chaffed that that shower was not even enjoyable.  I layed down and within minutes fell asleep.  When we got up the next morning, I hadn't realized that my parents had made a sign for us.
How sweet is that!  We were wrecked and my parents made us a huge breakfast with waffles, eggs and bacon.  I was hoping to not be so tired the remaining of the visit with them, but I was...they took great care of us with delicious meals in between naps.  Thank you Mom and Dad!

Umstead was a great experience in a lot of ways.  I met some new people, saw some old ones.  The race is very well put on.  What was significant to me was I felt as though I really learned from past mistakes and put my "failures" to good use.  At the time it didn't always feel that way, but being unsuccessful at achieving goals generally fuels my fire once I get over the disappointment.  I know I have much more to learn but for now, I"ll just sit back, recover and think about that next week.


Rooster said...

Congrats again Allison. You both looked So strong. It was great to share the race with you. Rest up! Wishing you the best of luck in your training for CCC.

Michael Chastain said...

Congratulations on a great performance! Can you explain more about how you changed your nutrition for this race compared to previous ones?

Olga said...

WTH happen to my comment??? Alison! Great closing back half of the race! I was watching you through internet means and the way you finished was absolutely inspiring kick!

(Mary) Shannon Johnstone said...

You are an inspiration! What a fantastic race, great report, and phenomenal PR!! You are a rock star. So glad I got to meet you and Owen. CONGRATS to you both. (and by the way, I love your blog title!)