Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Breakneck Point Trail Marathon Race Report

So last weekend I ran my first race of the season at the Breakneck Point Trail "Marathon", I put it in quotes because the race was about 29 miles long with about 10,000 feet of elevation gain and loss.

I went into this race in full fear mode wondering why I chose such a difficult race to start the season and wondering if I was up for the challenge.  Looking at the finish times from the previous two runnings of this race didn't help, the winner finished in 5+ hours and tough runners I know finished in the 8-9 hour range. So I went into this expecting it to be a long day, more like a 50 mile race than a marathon.

The course did not disappoint either, it was a long, beautiful, challenging day of big climbs and rocky, technical descents. One of the craziest moments for sure was the climb up Breakneck Ridge, which involved straight up rock climbing. I have experience rock climbing, but there were times when I was afraid I might lose my grip and fall to my untimely death on this damn course.  There was literally one climb I refused to attempt and took the extra time to detour around the side and find a more sane way to ascend.

 But the big pay off though was the view from the top and a bagpiper playing tunes for us.

Breakneck Ridge, trail running, ultrarunning, run, trail, marathon, Red Newt Racing, Trail Whippass

It was interesting to run such a tough race, probably the toughest I've ever run and see how my body and my mind would respond.

I gotta say, it wasn't that much different to running a less difficult race. I struggled with the same mind games, but with experience I knew to take it a little bit at a time, try to stay in the moment I was in and just keep moving forward however slow that might be.

Breakneck Ridge, trail running, ultrarunning, run, trail, marathon, Red Newt Racing, Trail Whippass

There were definitely times when I felt discourage at the bottom of yet another impossibly steep hill, but I would just put my head down and take it one step at a time, slowly picking my way up little by little.

Breakneck Ridge, trail running, ultrarunning, run, trail, marathon, Red Newt Racing, Trail Whippass

In the end I didn't do too bad, thankfully at about mile 20 or 22 the brutal climbing ended and we got to run along a ridge line for a couple of miles and then end with a 3 mile descent back into the start/finish area.

Breakneck Ridge, trail running, ultrarunning, run, trail, marathon, Red Newt Racing, Trail Whippass, waterfall
All during the race I was meeting new ultrarunners from the area and connecting with old friends which was great. I even met two guys that had run the Eastern States 100 and got to talk to them about what to expect with that one.

All and all it was a beautiful, tough, fun race and I will definitely be back to do it again next Spring. I finished the race in 8:48, feeling strong, which means next year I'm gonna have to push it even harder and see if I can beat that time.  It was fun to hang out at the Start/Finish area afterwards on the sunny lawn eating pizza and catching up with new and old friends.

Breakneck Ridge, trail running, ultrarunning, run, trail, marathon, Red Newt Racing, Trail Whippass

Saturday, January 28, 2017

2017 Is Going to Be a Big Year

ultramarathon, running, run, vegan, NY, uptown, North Face Endurance Challenge NY, trail, trail running

So I've got a big year planned for 2017.  So far I am signed up for the Breakneck Point Trail marathon in April, the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler NY in May, Cayuga Trails 50 miler in June and the big scary monster on the hill this year is the Eastern States 100 in August.

ultramarathon, running, run, vegan, NY, uptown, Breakneck Point trail marathon, trail, trail running
Breakneck Point Trail marathon

ultramarathon, running, run, vegan, NY, uptown, North Face Endurance Challenge NY, trail, trail running
North Face Endurance Challenge NY

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Cayuga Trail 50

ultramarathon, running, run, vegan, NY, uptown, Eastern States 100, trail, trail running

So far I have run 16 ultramarathons and have a perfect record of 0 DNFs (Did Not Finish), but this year it is going to be a challenge to keep this perfect record.  I feel confident in my ability to finish Breakneck Point, North Face and Cayuga, but Eastern States is going to be a real challenge.  It is a 100 mile race with 20,000 feet of climbing and 20,000 feet of descent, that's 5000 feet more than climbing from the base of Mount Everest to it's summit, and running back down, while running a total distance of 100 miles.  Now you are not dealing with the effects of high altitude, but still that's alot!

ultramarathon, running, run, vegan, NY, uptown, Eastern States 100, trail, trail running
Elevation profile for the Eastern States 100

Also, there is a pit of writhing snakes about 2 miles from the finish line that you have to pass before you can finish the race and I am deathly afraid of snakes.

ultramarathon, running, run, vegan, NY, uptown, Eastern States 100, trail, trail running, snakes
The snake pit!

ultramarathon, running, run, vegan, NY, uptown, Eastern States 100, trail, trail running

So needless to say if I want one of these belt buckles I have a lot of training to do.  I am focusing on climbing, running specific strength training and healing up the injuries to my ankle/IT band/hip all caused by spraining my ankle in the first mile of 31 mile race and then running 30 miles on it to finish the race. 

Training started in earnest on Monday, Jan 23, but I ran 13 miles the day before, so this means I will be running 8 days in a row for a total of 63 miles before I take a day off, almost 3 times as much as my weekly averages the last month or two and I can feel it.

ultramarathon, running, run, vegan, NY, uptown, Long Path, trail, trail running

The challenge of preparing for Eastern States 100 has really lit a spark in me and got me excited about another season of ultramarathons which is what this sport is all about for me, preparing for and attempting to do things with my body that seem nearly impossible.  It's what motivates me to wake up 3 hours before I have to on a cold dark morning to get in my mileage before work and what keeps me on the right track with my plant-filled vegan diet.

With all that is going on in the world, of which I am dealing with in other areas in my life, it is nice to have something outside of that keeps me excited about life and curious about the future.

Paine to Pain and the pains that followed

So it's officially Fall and I am back out there running again, signing up for races and scoping out races for 2017.

Two weeks ago I ran the Paine to Pain Trail Half marathon in New Rochelle, NY, one of my favorite races from 2015.  It was pushing it, but I didn't want to miss out on a fun local low key race some 20 minutes from my house where I knew I would run into friends and get to spend a couple hours pushing it on the trails.

Since the Vermont 100 in mid-July I have been trying to take it easy and build back slowly.  I attempted to take 4 full weeks off with no running at all, but while I was at the beach with my family I couldn't resist getting in a few short runs in on the beach, so I made it 3 weeks, pretty good.

After that I enjoyed a couple of months of running easy when I felt like it, but slowly building up the mileage to potential run a half marathon in mid September.  All went well, I started do hip strengthening exercises suggested by my friend/pacer and professional trainer Maria Campos to heal up from the IT band issues that reared their ugly heads at Vermont in July.

I feel like they really helped and made it possible for me to build up to running  a 10 miler on the Long Path a couple weeks before my race without any pain.

During the race, I pushed it hard, well for my fitness level, running an average of 8:30 minute miles for the entire race, which means I spent the first 4 miles running sub-8 minute miles, then slowed down at bit in the middle and then picked it up again for the last three miles.

I was good for the first 3 miles, but right around mile 4 I started feeling a little tenderness on the outside of my left knee and a bit of tightness in my left hip.  This continued but did not get any worse for the rest of the race and I was able to push it really hard when I hit the track for the last 300 meters of the race.

When I stopped running and my muscles started tightening up though I was not a happy camper.  My knee started really hurting which really bummed me out, mainly because it let me know I was not done with this IT band issue and all the plans and dreams I was starting to conjure up about what I might do next would have to wait.

I was thinking about running the Yonkers Half Marathon in mid October and then the Black Rock 25K trail race in November, but I think I'll have to miss out on Yonkers this month and focus on getting strong and healing up for the Black Rock trail race.

I am continuing to do hip strengthening exercises and build up my mileage slowly.  I will also start doing hill training, since the Black Rock race covers 10 summits and about 3000 feet of elevation in the course of 15 miles.  I think both strengthening my legs for the uphills, but also for the downhills will be important.

Friday, July 22, 2016

My Race Report for the Vermont 100 Endurance Race 2016

So I did it again, I ran the Vermont 100 Endurance Run, but this year was nothing like last years race, somehow it was even harder.

But let me start the story at the beginning...

In April I ran a training race after several months of training for this years Vermont 100, it was the NJ Ultrafest on Saturday, April 2nd a day that would end up affecting the trajectory of the rest of my training and ultimately the race I had in Vermont in mid-July.

NJ ultrafest, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, NJ trail series
Greetings from NJ Ultrafest
What happened?  Well after a long hiatus from ultraracing I was very excited to run this race and about a mile into the race I sprained my ankle harder than I ever had in my life.  It hurt like hell and I could not walk normally for the rest of the day, so what do I do, I run the additional 30 miles on it so that I don't get a DNF (did not finish).  Duh!  It felt good to power through and finish the race, but it was not too smart now that I look back on it.  Actually everybody thought it was dumb but me and honestly I don't regret it for one minute which maybe just shows how crazy I am.

NJ ultrafest, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, NJ trail series
NJ ultrafest, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, NJ trail series, Trail Whippass
Met some fellow Trail Whippass before the race

This race was followed by a confusing couple of months for training and resting and getting work done at my massage therapist (Jim Puder, the best damn massage therapist out there), who did some absolutely miracle work on me.  He had me standing on my tip toes two days after the injury which still to this point is almost inconceivable.

The biggest part of all this for me is constantly being surprised at what the human body can do and how it reacts to different stimuli.

So next was the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler at Bear Mountain State Park, NY on April 30th.

I went into this race feeling like I had recovered from the ankle sprain, trained enough and eager to see if I could beat my previous time on the course.  Boy was I wrong about almost all of these things.

North Face Endurance Challenge, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, Bear Mountain, rattlesnake
The giant rattlesnake I saw towards the end.

I ended up running well for the first half as I remember it, but then getting ITB (knee pain) in my right knee and running in real pain to finish this race.  Apparently, I was running funny trying to favor my left ankle thus causing the right knee to start hurting.  But again, I finished the race.  I did not run faster than the previous year, but honestly I was happy to just finish the damn thing.

It is a beautiful race and I just love it, but it is a tough race that just chews you up and makes your pay for every mile you take.

North Face Endurance Challenge, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, Bear Mountain

North Face Endurance Challenge, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, Bear Mountain
One of my favorite finish photo ever!

 So now things looked like they were getting worse, multiplying, one injury leading to another.  So I figured it was time to bring in an expert to help me sort this out and get fixed up before my second attempt at the Vermont 100.  So I went to Finishline Physical therapy and worked with a PT there that was very versed in running who help me get the flexibility, strength and proprioception back in my left ankle so that I could run without pain and continue training for Vermont.  So every week I went to see Jason and every day I did my PT stretches and strength exercises as well as running 5 days a week and hitting the gym for strength training 2 of those days.

Finishline Physical Therapy, NormaTec, recovery boots
These are my new best friends

After 2 1/2 months of this I was trained up and ready to run Vermont.  Again my A goal was to finish the race in under 24 hrs with my B goal being to finish.

Vermont 100, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, hundo, 100 miler
All the gear I took with me.

The day started off strong and I ran the first 30 miles in 6 hours, on track for my sub-24hr goal and even made it through mile 50 in 12 hrs.  Mostly these miles were run pain free though I did have to change out of the Altra Lone Peaks 2.5  I started in because my Achilles tendons were hurting at mile 30 (I do not thing I was fully transitioned to running in zero drop shoes.) (nerd alert).  But other than that I felt like the ankle was behaving and everything else felt normal.

Vermont 100, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, hundo, 100 miler
Between seeing my crew at mile 58.5 and mile 69.4 things took a turn for the worse, my left knee started hurting, my right knee started hurting too, but less so ITB (knee) pain, I started getting tired and I must have been low on calories (otherwise put I had not been eating enough) because my mood tanked.  During this time period I cursed myself for signing up for this race vowing never to run another 100 mile race, then as I ran I took the vow further deciding never to run another ultra, and by the time I saw my crew at the mile 70 aid station I had decided I would never run again after this damn race!

At the mile 70 aid station, I got to see my crew again, I ran into a new friend whose name escapes me at this point that is a massage therapist, a good friend to have during a 100 mile race!  I cried to him about my knees and he fixed me up something good.  Working on both of my quads and IT bands and had me feeling much better.

Vermont 100, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, hundo, 100 miler

So I left that aid station (mile 70) with my pacer Maria Campos feeling much better about life and ready to bang out the next 30 miles of this race come hell or high water, and that is pretty much what it took.

We starting off alternating between running and hiking and making decent time, catching up on life, laughing about my decision to never run again and talking about how are lives have been going over last year since we spent a full night running the same course a year prior.

Starting off this section it seemed like I was going to be able to run/walk it in, but within the first 10 miles we realized I could not run even a step without my right knee hurting, so Maria, thinking much more clearly at this point, decided we should just hike the rest of the distance (22 miles) so that I don't risk the knee injury getting worse and causing me not to be able to finish.  So that's what we did and let me tell you this was not an exciting prospect at the time.  I remember some very quite miles after this decision was made, another mental low point for me.  I just kept thinking how awful it sounded to have to walk up and down mountains for the next 7/8 hrs in the middle of the night to finish this damn race.

At one point Maria made me some makeshift trekking poles to take some of the weight off my knees so literally every step I was planting those poles and trying to take the weight off my knees to ease my pain.  Walking down hill was the worse, I was trying everything, going down sideways to the left, sideways to the right, backwards seem to be the best, with Maria holding my arm so I didn't trip over anything behind/in front of me.

Vermont 100, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, hundo, 100 miler

Maria knew I was in a salty mood and didn't want to make it worse so she did not risk really saying anything just to be safe.  It makes me laugh now and we laughed about it after the race was over, but at the time it was absolute misery.

And as if things couldn't get worse it started pouring rain, you know like one of those summer storms.  It was so intense I was sure it wouldn't last long, boy was I wrong.  the intense rain lasted for like 2 hours, Maria and I were soaked to the bone and my teeth were starting to chatter.  But instead of making things worse, it actually made me feel better, I mean it was at the point of complete absurdity at this point I just had to laugh.  We both did and started talking again.

Luckily we both had a full change of clothes waiting for us with Miraim Weiskind (my absolutely amazing pacer who drove around all day and night meeting me at aid stations and give me food and whatever else I needed).  So we met Miriam at the mile 88 aid station Bill's barn and changed our clothes, ate a little aid station food (bananas, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, coffee) and put on trash bags over our new dry clothes and raincoats in hopes of avoiding hypothermia in the next 12 miles.

It pretty much rained all the way until about an hour before I finished, but dressed in my fancy trash bag poncho I was warm and relatively dry.

Vermont 100, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, hundo, 100 miler
I love this damn sign

My mood was up and down for the last 12 miles which took about 4 hours to complete.  I remember walking every step with more and more knee pain as the night went on.  What I went through was absolutely ridiculous looking back on it, but I was determined to finish and this it what it took to get it done.

Vermont 100, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, hundo, 100 miler
Finally done

So in the end I was able to finish in 29:36:30, 249th place out of 256 finishers, terrible results no matter how you slice it, but honestly I have never been prouder of finishing anything in my life.  The amount of grit it took to finish this thing before the 30 hour cut off with all the things that came up challenged me in a way life seldom does.

Honestly, I would have loved to finish this race in under 24 hours and tell you all about how my all my training and hard work paid off in the end, but that is not the story of this race.

The story of this race is how I fought long and hard and didn't give up no matter what, a lesson I will hopefully take into the rest of my life...

Vermont 100, ultramarathon, ultrarunning, run, running, hundo, 100 miler
This says it all

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Looking back at the end of 2015 and ahead to 2016

Well the Uptown Vegan is at it again.

I don't know how it happened, but I haven't written anything here since finishing my first 100 miler, the Vermont 100 in July of 2015.

So what have I been up to since then, I took a month off to rest and recover after Vermont, a whole month of no running of any kind!  It was actually tough because I love running, but I think it was just what my body needed.  I also used that time and energy to get a bunch of artwork done and reconnect with my family, two things that had suffered a little neglect as my training miles went higher and higher into the stratosphere training for my first hundred miler.

So after resting for a month I took the fall easy, only training for the NYC marathon, no more ultras for 2015 just to be safe and also as mentioned before to reinvest my energy in my family and my art practice.

Trail Whippass, Paine to Pain, trail half marathon, half marathon, trail running, running

It was fun actually and I ended up running a trail half marathon with my wife in October, her first race at that distance, and a fun local race I've always wanted to check out.  I knew a bunch of people there and it was really fun to reconnect with other trail lovers after a two hour run instead of being in a near crisis state after a ultra.

Shout out to the Brooklyn Trail Runners who were there en masse holding it down for the 5 boroughs.

All smiles coming across the line

Trail Whippass, Paine to Pain, trail half marathon, half marathon, trail running, running

I also wanted to mention the backpacking trip I took in October with my son to celebrate his 13th birthday.  We are not religious people and so don't have any traditions around turning 13, like his friends who are all having bar mitzvah's this year, so I thought it would be cool to celebrate him becoming a man in a way that made sense to who we are.  My son and I both love being out in the woods, camping and exploring, so a father/son weekend in the woods just made perfect sense.  It was his first time officially backpacking trip (hiking into the woods with all your gear and camping in the back country) so he was a little nervous, but he ended up having a great time.  

Harriman State Park, backpacking, hiking
Me and Rhys at Harriman State Park
So 2015 is the year I finally got to run the New York City marathon, the race that inspired me to start running long distances.  I gotta say, it did not disappoint.  We had beautiful weather, there were tons of people out to cheer us on and it was just a beautiful fun experience.  And somehow even with 50,000 runners and twice that many spectators I ran into a bunch of people I knew, both running the race and friends out cheering on the crowd. 

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Waiting to board the Staten Island Ferry
At some point early on I decided that instead of putting my head down and trying  to crush a PR, I would instead run hard but also try to enjoy the day, giving high fives, waving to kids, hugging friends and just soaking the whole thing in.  After all, it is a tough race to get into and that may be the only time I will ever get to do it. 

The result was something short of a PR, but a ton of fun.

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So, it's 2016 now and my dance card is filling up fast.  So far I have registered for the North Face Endurance Challenge Bear Mountain on April 30, the Brooklyn Half, May 21st and the main event of my year the Vermont 100 on July 16-17.  I am also considering the Cayuga Trail 50 miler in Ithaca, NY.  It looks like a beautiful/tough race and fits well into the run up for Vermont.   I am sure I will run something like a 50K or 40 miler in March or early April and either Cayuga or something else in June.

In the meantime I am running trails and doing strength training in the gym, slowing building up my mileage and core strength so I can be ready for my races and stay injury free in 2016.

Trail Whippass, trail running, the Long Path, palisades, training, running, run, ultramarathon
Look who I ran into on the Long Path

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Vermont 100 Race Report

Since the day I signed up for the Vermont 100 in early January it has been something I have been thinking about every single day, wondering what it was going to be like, could I do it, would it hurt, what kind of psychological experiences would I go through.  Honestly, one of the biggest reasons I signed up to do the race was to answer the question "What is it like to run 100 miles?"

As you know I trained hard for this race, running 6 days a week and going to the gym twice a week for additional strength training, doing speedwork, hill repeats, running in the heat, the cold, the rain, running when I wanted to and more importantly running when I didn't want to.

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race

I did my homework, I read everything I could find about how to prepare for a 100 mile race, I read other peoples race reports on their experience running the Vermont 100 and other 100 mile races.  I spent alot of time listening to the Ultrarunner Podcast and Trail Runner Nation gleaning as much as I could from the pros of the sport and trying things out on my long run.  And finally on Saturday, July 18th the day was finally here.

We drove up to Vermont on Friday, the day before the race for the weigh in, pre-race briefing and pre-race dinner and the place was just buzzing with energy.  350 nervous, excited runners, plenty of first timers and veterans alike preocuppied with the adventure that lay ahead.

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My wife Erin and Maria my pacer at the pre-race dinner

I met with my crew chief/stage mother Kat Bermudez and crew/pacer Maria Campos and we went over our game plan for the next day.  My nutrition plan was to use Tailwind (a nutrition product you mix in your water bottles that contains all the carbs and electrolytes you need) all day in addition to snacking on real food at the aid stations and so my crew was going to be mixing up bottles of Tailwind and handing them off to me at the crew aid stations in addition to checking on me and making sure I am OK. 

As per the rules of the race I was to run solo until mile 70, at which point Maria would join me and keep me company as I ran through the night from mile 70-100.  Maria ran this race as her first 100 miler last year, so she knew the course very well and knew what I would be going through at different times.  And, turns out that Maria is also a trainer and knows alot about proper running form and efficiency, we'll get to that in a minute though.

So after the pre-race dinner Erin and I drove to our hotel for a little r&r and an early night to bed.  The race was to start at 4am on Saturday which meant I had to get up at 2am on Saturday morning, though some people would call that Friday night.

Anyway, because I couldn't sleep on Thursday night, tossing and turning dreaming about the weeks race, I was very tired Friday night and actually went to bed around 9:30pm and slept until my alarm woke me up at 2am.  Before I left the hotel I did a 10 minute guided meditation using my Headspace app to get my mind ready and then Erin and I fumbled around getting ready and found our way back to the start line around 3:15am, just in time for me to eat a bagel and have a little coffee before the race started.
Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race

So at 4am the race started and off we went into the woods.  The first several miles were very relaxed, everybody was talking and catching up and talking about our plans for the day, catching up on how the last couple weeks of training went, things like that.  For a while I ran with my buddy Chipp Winston and Ayako Yamazaki, fellow Trail Whippass team members and people I had run the Goat Butt 50K three weeks ago.  Both of them are super fast runners and so I knew this would be a brief visit before they both disappeared into the early morning darkness.  One thing I learned from all my research is that it is very important to run your own race in a 100 miler, meaning do not be foolish and try to keep up with your fast friends in the first couple miles of the day.  So I let my friends go and ran at my own fairly conservative pace, a pace I felt like I could maintain all day long. 

Its funny to say it, but the first 21 miles went by pretty uneventfully, I was just cruising along running comfortably and enjoying the Vermont scenery.  At mile 21 I saw my crew for the first time which was actually a really nice boost.  I was feeling ok, but it was definitely nice to see some familiar faces.  It was a brief pit stop, just got new bottles, changed my shirt, dropped off my headlamp and raincoat and back out on the trail. 

It's hard to remember all the ups and downs of the day, but I do remember before seeing my crew the first time going through a bit of a mental down, just feeling like boy this is going to be a long day and getting a little overwhelmed by it.  I remember seeing my crew and them being so positive and light-hearted about the whole thing and that being a nice counterpoint to the pressure I was feeling.

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race, Trail Whippass
This is me running into Pretty Horse Aid station at mile 21.3

So after a quick visit with my crew and a few snacks at the aid station mainly watermelon and bananas I was back out on the road for another 10 miles before I would see my crew again at the Stage Rd aid station.  As I would advised it is best not to think about running 100 miles and counting down the miles from 100, but to break the race into smaller chunks, like running from one aid station to the next and not think about the whole project.  So that's what I did, I put down my head and did my best to get to the mile 30 aid station in the time my pacer told me I needed to get there in order to stay on a sub-24hr pace. 

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race
A brief rest in the chair

I don't remember much about that aid station stop other than Maria telling me to pick up the pace if I want to finish in sub 24 hrs and her giving me a time goal to get to the next aid station in which I would see my crew which was Camp 10 Bear at mile 47.  I think the time she told me to get there was between 2:30-3:30pm.  I got there around 3pm. 

This section between mile 30-47 was a tough one for me.  I started having minor stomach issues from all the watermelon I was eating (I won't get into the gory details of how I know it was the watermelon) and also my time goal was actually really stressing me out and ruining the experience for me.  I was spending too much time thinking about the end results of coming in under 24 hours and getting a belt buckle and not enough time being in the moment and enjoying the experience as it was unfolding.  But it was a beautiful course with so many different types of scenery that though I struggled I was constantly being pulled into the moment by the beauty of our surroundings and also by meeting runners out on the trail and talking to them as we ran along.

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race

We ran through country roads, trails with running streams, meadows covered in fog, covered bridges and up and down so many mountains.  I have never done so much climbing in my life and surpisingly so much walking/power hiking.  I knew there were going to be alot of hills and that my best strategy was going to be to power hike up them and then run the downhills and flat sections, but I don't know that I realized that maybe half if not more than half of my day was going to be spent walking.  This is not something I trained for and something that I have always struggled with, so I know I lost alot of time out on the course walking too slow. 

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race
Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race, covered bridge

At Camp 10 Bear I saw my crew again, got weighed in for the first time and got to see my wife.  I was actually 3 lbs down at my first weigh in, which meant I was probably a bit dehydrated and needed to start drinking more. 

It was great to see my wife even if briefly, I was a little down, but I definitely felt like I needed to hide it from her so she would spend the rest of the day worry about me, maybe it was good because those feelings went away pretty quickly as well. 

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race
mile 47 Camp 10 Bear
So after visiting with my wife, getting new bottles and eating a bit of food I headed out for more. It had been cloudy and cool all day and during this stretch the sun finally came out to pay us a visit.  It was hot and I felt it, but nothing like it would have been if the sun had been out at noon, that's when I realized that we had been incredibly lucky with the cool mild weather and that it was making things alot easier for us.

This was a tough stretch from mile 47-58 with it's stomach issues, morale issues, but luckily no muscle pain or other physical distress.  Its about at this point that I realized how much a stomach issue was bringing me down emotionally.  If my stomach was upset I just really got down on myself, I guess the fear was that the rest of the days was goign to be like this and that I was going to be miserable forever.  But weirdly I had an amazing uplift a few hours later after eating a banana covered in peanut butter giving to me by the nice people at an aid station.  It sounded like way too much to eat on an upset stomach, but it actually was the miracle cure to my discomfort.  Who the hell know's why, maybe I was actually just hungry.

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race, volunteers
This is how you finish a 100 mile race, with the help of crew, pacers and volunteers!

I saw my crew again at mile 58.5 at the famous Margaritaville aid station, weighed in 2 lbs over weight somehow, and had the best dry no condiment veggie burger of my life.  I realized I was off pace for a sub-24 hour finished and was actually relieved.  I headed out of that aid station with a new lease on life, feeling good and not at all how I would have expected at this point in the day.

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race
The view leaving the Margaritaville aid station around mile 60

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race, cows
happy Vermont cows

At this point I have run more miles than I have ever run in my life, my previous longest race being 50 miles, and I don't want to say I didn't feel it and I didn't struggle physically to continue, but honestly it wasn't nearly as bad as I would have expected.  It definitely helped that I had been conservative earlier in the day, maybe too conservative in retrospect.

Now the run from mile 58.5-70 when I was to meet up with my pacer and start my long journey through the night was a varied stretch of running with great highs and incredible lows I remember at one point popping out of the woods to see an amazing view of the Vermont hills and valleys and saying to myself this moment is one of my best ever running experiences.  I knew it was a moment and that it would pass, but I was intent on living in that moment for as long as I could.

But soon the moment passed  and the sun set and I was once again running through the night with nothing but my headlamp to light the way.  And then it rained, hard.  Somewhere in there I developed a pain on the top of my foot that would get worse and worse as the race continued, so when I hit the mile 70 aid station I changed my shoes hoping that would fix the problem, I also changed my shirt.  I spent a little time in the chair resting up, gearing up for the night, got new bottles and food and off we went my pacer and I to finish this thing up one way or another.

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race

Now the run through the night was very challenging, probably the hardest part of the race for me, mainly the hours of 1-5am when it was very dark and I was very tired, physically yes, but mainly I just wanted to sleep, just lay right there in the middle of the road take a little nap.  As I ran down the road with my pacer Maria I would take these really long blinks, not sleeping while I was running, but just resting my eyes a little bit as I fantasized about sleeping in a nice warm bed.  No I don't know how I would have fared without my pacer at this point, especially as we passed other runners giving into this urge, one woman literally sleeping right there on the road.  It looked ridiculous, but secretly I was jealous.
Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race
This is at Bill's Barn aid station, mile 88.  Can you see the carnage behind me?  Very scary stuff!

But Maria and I powered on through the night, Maria giving me pointers on how to maintain my form, how to run downhill on exhausted legs, how to power hike efficiently and helping me eleviate the fatigue I was finally starting to feel in my lower back from being on my feet for 24+ hours at this point. 

Eventually the sun rose again and as a fellow runner had told me my energy level began to rise.  We were clicking off the final miles faster and faster as the new day dawned and I could fathom the idea that this thing was almost over.

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race
Maria very nicely pushing me into the finish

At mile 95 I saw my crew/stage mother Kat for the last time with only 5 miles to go, had a little coffee and a bite to eat, new bottles of Tailwind and we were off to finish this race.  Now it makes no sense at all, but I know that I ran that last 5 mile stretch faster than I had run any other 5 mile stretch in the last 8 hour period, which makes absolutely no logical sense.

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race

Before I knew it we ran into a sign that said mile 99, 1 mile to go!  What a relief!  at this point we stopped to take photos and took photos of another runner and his pacer before running it in.  As some point shortly after that one of the runners with us said, "hey if we run we could finish this thing in just under 28 hours" and for some reason this sounded really exciting to me and I took off!  I don't have splits for that last mile, but judging by the amount of time that passed I think I did it in about 8.5 minutes, way faster than any other mile that day and some of it was uphill!  I gotta say it was really fun and I don't know where the energy came from, but it was not difficult at all. 

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race

I ran it all the way to the finish line knowing it was going to be a matter of seconds for me to break 28 hours and when I hit the finish line the clock said 28:00:04, I had missed it by 5 hundreds of a second.  My official time is recorded as 28:01:04 a second longer than what I witnessed, which actually really annoys me, but who's going to quibble over a second in a one hundred mile race (me I guess).

It was an amazing beautiful experience and one I cannot wait to do again, whether it be another Vermont 100 or something out west I have definitely caught the bug.  The I want to run a 100 mile race every year for the rest of my life bug, don't worry it's a very rare bug and I am not sure if it's contagious.

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race

Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race
The Dream Team
Vermont 100, ultramarathonn, run, ultrarun, Vermont, race
Me and my wife basking in the glow of that beautiful finish line sign