Wednesday, November 12, 2014

142 MILES AT NJ ONE DAY


So long story short i ran around a one mile loop 142 times in 23 hours 57 minutes and 10 seconds.


The rest of what you are about to read is corny but honest.

So many things contributed to this...  But the main difference going into this race is I finally shut that voice up inside my head that tells me you can’t or to aim a little lower cause you aren’t good enough.

That same voice was the reason I kept bartending after college instead of getting a job in my field. I went to Pratt which is a pretty prestigious art school but I told myself I probably slipped in under the radar somehow and there is no way you are going to make it in the real art world.  So I didn’t even try.  It led me down the wrong path and 6 years ago I started picking up the pieces.  This isn’t going to be the story of my life but I'm saying this because I’m sure there are many people who can relate.  All of your family, friends, neighbors and even your newspaper delivery boy (do they still exist?) can believe in you but if you don’t then you might as well go back to bed.
YES, I KNOW ITS CORNY! SHUT UP, JEAN LUC PICARD!
An entire blog could be written praising Michele Yates's coaching and support. The whole idea of even dreaming of running close to 140 was because she told me I could.  After I ran a sub 19 hour 100 miler on trails, I started to really believe I was capable of the things she was telling me I could do.  Michele, genuinely insisted I would crush my goal of 130 something miles.  She has carefully answered  and dealt with my barrage of questions and freak outs leading up to this event. And there were many. On top of the "psychological" guidance she has given me, my athletic training has been completely overhauled. You can be fast and train for long events like this!
Look at us run fast!
A few weeks ago when I was out in Oregon, I had the privilege of meeting up with Pam Smith for a run in the charming town of Salem, Oregon. (All this is relevant I swear.  I'm not just name dropping!)  I was super pleased with myself to be bringing Pam a Trail WhippAss singlet as a birthday gift as she had recently turned 21 ;).  She one upped me and handed me a red USA jersey. Like an actual one they give you when you are one of the National Teams.  She said for inspiration. Indeed. I had told Pam my goal of running 134 miles for a spot on the team but when she referenced the goal later she had turned that number into 135.  I corrected her.   However, the whole time in the back of my mind I had this feeling that I wasn't going to be satisfied with 130s but I was too scared to claim 140.
This is where the shirt lives.
NJ TrailSeries NJ One Day. Rick and Jennifer McNulty put on great events. Anyone who has run one of their events knows this.  That’s why they have the same people return over and over again. 3 Days at the Fair and NJ One Day attract a real special kind of person.


A Canadian, an American and a Brit cross a timing mat....

Yoshiko and I drive up Friday afternoon.  It takes us forever to get there but we see 2 beautiful rainbows and eventually a giant super moon because Yay its winter and the sun sets before 5 o clock!  We eat at a diner near out hotel because after all NJ is the diner capital of the world.  I’m not hungry.  I  barely had an appetite for 2 weeks leading up to the race which is not characteristic of me ever. Carbo-loading is supposed to be fun but it was more of a chore.

I was less nervous the few days leading up to the race though. I had gotten my major freak out episode over with early in the prior week.  Even still the race was all I could think about. Visualizing it. Imagining myself running in circles. I stalked all the females that were listed as having registered.  I had read about Mary Lou Corino and knew she had many Canadian records and had pulled out 271 miles at 3 Days at the Fair this year.  So this woman knew how to gut it out.  When I found out Sky was in fact going to race after all though I knew she was my biggest competition. I was right.

Josh Finger, the Man!
Race morning was relaxed and hassle free.  So many familiar faces.  Josh Finger fresh off an awesome top ten finish at Grindstone (which Ken Tom and I helped crew and pace). Keith Straw graced us with his presence after expressing a reluctance to race... the man I had looked up to for so many years since I first heard his name when I started ultra running in 2011. He said the only reason he signed up in the first place was so he could beat me. Challenge accepted. My closest friend Yoshiko Jo who has won numerous 100s, with a distance PR of 116 miles and has proven over and over again she has the mental toughness of a Samurai. Meredith Murphy, numerous Badwater finishes and my "sort of" brother's neighbor, was running the 12 hour.  Ferdinand, who is becoming a close friend, also showed up early for his 12 hour race just to cheer me on.


I lined up next to Keith near the Canadians and decided to start with them.  I chatted with Mary Lou and Lisa VanWolde (another bad ass Canadian) and Keith.  When I told Mary Lou my goal, to my surprise she seemed to genuinely believe I could do it even though she knew nothing about me. I thought that was cool and showed real character on her part. It was also a huge comfort to have someone like her encouraging me each lap throughout the event. I will forever be grateful of the support her and Lisa showed me on the course. 


When Sky lined up in front, I knew she was going to go out fast and sure enough she began to lap me. Lap after lap. In the first 6 or 7 hours she lapped me over and over putting more and more miles between us. It was so hard to let her go but I had my plan and I knew I had to stick to it. Patience is not my strong suit but my plan was to hold steady.   I figured at the pace she was going, she was either going to have to slow down later or end up running 150 something miles and if she did that then my hat would be off to her.  I knew deep down though this race was mine. I was not going to lose it.  I have never been so sure of anything in my life. This new found confidence kept me calm. I knew to win though it was going to have to be a 140 mile day and that goal in the back of my mind had to be a reality.
Don't be fooled by her cuteness!
My first crew shift was Dylan Armanjani aka Papa WhippAss. He had crewed me at Viaduct and his smile is infectious. He snapped photos and handed me gels and water. Later on Kat, Jun and their daughter Mariska showed up. Truly a TrailL WhippAss affair. That’s why I love those guys. That’s why I am a WhippAss. Midway through the day Ryan Schannauer showed up and was there for the long haul although the plan was for him to get some sleep once Otto, Ken Tom and Christine showed up, since his other job was to drive what he called my “wrecked carcass” home.  
You so badass, Kat.
My goal was to hit 70 miles in 12 hours. The first 12 hours were uneventful and basically felt like a waiting game. Just logging miles until the real race started. Shortly after 12 hours I had covered 72 loops and was slightly ahead of my schedule.  My plan in the next 12 hours was to gradually gain laps back.  But then my low hit.  It happens.  It lasted an hour and I slowed a bit.  My feet were killing me and I felt like I couldn’t get my flow back.  Finally I decided to switch from my Saucony Kinvaras to my Hoka Bondis. I'm not a Hoka fan but they were the only shoes I had with max cushioning. I was really regretting not getting the Altra Paradigms before the race. I had the Altra Ones but was afraid they weren't enough cushioning at this point in the game even though they are my favorite road shoe. Altras are the only shoe that make my toes happy. In the Hokas my toes felt squished. But I made do.  With fresh socks, cushy shoes and some coffee around 13 hours in, I came out of my low never to return there again. At least not during this race.  

When I finally started feeling good again, I asked how many laps Sky had on me. It wasn’t important early on but now I wanted to know.  I wasn’t sure at that point how far ahead she was but my guess had been 5 or 6.  She was 5 laps ahead.  Time to make my first surge. My next milestone goal was to hit 100 at 17 hours. (I hit it around 16:46 is my guessitmate).  My plan was to take back laps gradually by speeding up for a few laps until I caught Sky then keeping that pace for one more mile after to put some distance between us so she couldn’t take back the lap.  I didn’t want to tire myself out trying to catch her all at once and risk possibly not having the strength left towards the end in case Sky came back with a strong finish. I’m not entirely sure when I finally pulled even with her, but I remember crossing the timing mat at 100 and seeing her just in front of me. Instead of noting the time I sped up and ran a quicker lap.  At this point I was only 1 or 2 laps behind and I wasn’t going to slow.  

I felt like Pacman, mindlessly gobbling up those white dots. Mile after mile.  Sky told me later that I looked "possessed". That is entirely accurate. I was possessed. That’s what months, arguably years, of being OBSSESSED with finally crushing a 24 hours event will do.  I had tunnel vision. My world was only the road in front of me and the music in my ears.  I was merely sitting in my brain in a little captain’s chair driving my body forward with levers, pedals and switches.  I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t slow down. It was impossible even if I had wanted to.  Ferdinand, an extremely supportive friend and talented runner who was running the 12 hour event, the one who said me he predicted I would run 142 and not 135, told me not to be offended but that during the race he found me "cold'.  I wasn’t offended just a little disappointed in myself.  I try to be supportive of other runners, especially on a loop course like that when you see everyone over and over no matter their speed but I was so focused, so afraid to change anything for fear of hitting another low or breaking my flow, so I just kept running, staring straight ahead. I focused on the music from my iPod shuffle and ignored the pain.  Every step had become excruciating but I couldn’t change my gait. It was working for me so I couldn’t change anything.

When I hit 110, a distance PR (my previous being 109.93), everything became a blur (moreso). I might have been even with Sky at that point, I don’t quite remember. I knew at this point I was going to make it to 140.  Disaster or no disaster I was getting there. I was lucky to this point to have had no nausea or vomiting. Food didn’t taste good but I ate anyway.  I didn’t care what it was, I just chewed and swallowed. Mindlessly shoving chips in my face and washing it down with coke.  Gels were good because I didn’t have to chew.  The only walking I had done and did the entire time was walking with my crew while they fed me bars or chips or whatever.   I kept choking trying to eat and run so I allowed myself those seconds of walking. 

Being a one mile loop also kept me super hydrated. My crew was amazing. Making sure I drank, had electrolytes and food.  The only downside was I was peeing so much and getting down to the later hours I didn’t want to waste time. The weather was in the 40s so I wasn’t afraid of dehydration this late in the game.  At one point I told Otto I had to pee but he said, “You don’t have time! You are gaining 30 seconds per lap on Sky and I don’t want you to lose it.”  “Pee on the loop.” he said.  Well the whole loop is lit and there really isn’t anywhere to go unless you're a guy.  I ran the whole loop unsatisfied with any of the bushes available to me and insisted to Otto using a real toilet would be just as fast, if not faster.  I handed Otto my gloves and ran into the bathroom which was right on the course. He told me later he was timing my pee breaks. He clocked me at 20 seconds and one time even 15 seconds.  I had it down to a science and NO! I didn’t bother washing my hands.  I just put gloves back on anyway! Don’t judge!  

At around mile 126, Otto tells me I’m first overall. WHAT??! You’re kidding me?!?! I couldn’t believe it. Never in all my day dreams and fantasies of this day did envision myself winning overall.  But really at that point none of that really mattered because I was going to reach my goal of 140 miles. Nothing was going to stop me.


Christine "crewing" for YoJo.
Somewhere around 131 miles, I got a horrible spasm in my right calf that brought me to a halt. Not now! No fucking way!  I started running. Spasm again. No panic. I’m not having spasms, my legs are fine, I told myself. I stopped to jam my thumbs into my calf and massage it out.  This happened to be right in front of Josh Finger's RV. He had called it quits early on around 60 miles after he was reduced to a shuffle and had spent the night in the RV with his family resting comfortably. He was not recovered from Grindstone. I look over and see Josh through the windshield of the RV waving at me. I wave back. Damn, he probably thinks I’m doing horribly. I ran on.  Next lap I come around and Josh had put his timing chip back on and was ready to run with me. He had gone back to the start and heard the news on how I was doing.  At this point I was pretty sure at the pace I was going I was going to hit 140 maybe 141. Josh ran with me a lap and told me we had run 9:40ish. I couldn’t believe it. It felt slow. I was sure it was 10:15ish. We ran another and another. Josh said, you got 142 easily.  My best case scenario was becoming a reality.  Ferdinand’s predictions were coming true.  Keith had told me he would put his money on the Canadians any day and he was going to lose money! 

Laps 138 to 142, chatting with Josh finally brought me back down to earth and out of my crazed state. Not being in that trance like state made those last 4 laps endless though. Either that or the fact that the end was in sight and I finally had a number to count down to.  I was relieved to finish 141 with 13 minutes left to go and that I wasn’t going to have to pull an 8 minute mile or anything.  I was also relieved there wasn’t going to be 17 minutes left because then I would have had a "143 dilemma” on my hands.


Me probably telling Josh I am never doing this again.
As we rounded the last corner I saw everyone standing at the finish and it seemed surreal. Like I wasn’t in my body. Like I was watching someone else finish this race.  I crossed with 142 miles in 23:57:10. And finally, I could stop running. I almost didn’t want to stop which is weird but I did. I wanted to cry but everyone was looking at me. My brain was trying to process this, my slow ultra brain. I was first overall followed by Sky with 136 miles and Yoshiko 3rd place female with 118 miles who I did not see stop running the entire time. Chugging forward at her steady pace like a machine.
WTF!
As I look at the results for One Day right now, I realize what an amazing group of ultras runners ran with me that day. Names like Phil McCarthy, Ryan Jones and John Fegyveresi, who I fondly refer to as Barkley guy. Yes! The man has completed the Barkley Marathons.
Barkley Guy!
But what I found most astounding is the amount of runner who reached 100 or more. Out of 77 of us, 21 went 100 or beyond. 6 women and 15 men ran 100 or more.  Combined all 77 of us ran 5,491 miles!!!!!!!!!!! Scientists, check my math! You know who you are! That includes Corey Minnick who ran 19 miles in fatigues and a giant pack with god knows how much weight and Stephanie Ruzicka who reached her goal of 82 miles in memory of her father.  I messaged her to ask her to clarify some details regarding her run and her response was so perfect I’m just going quote it 
I was running 82 miles for my father.  He died at 82 after a hard tough struggle. I ran one mile for each year he was alive in his uniform shirt (he was chief of police in FP and retired USMC.). I put his picture on a chair and kissed it every mile I did. He never got to come to any of my races but loved to see my medals. The last medal I got to show him was from ROCK and ROCK USA in DC in rehab a month before he died.   The last lap at One Day I carried him to the finish. God I miss him so very much!


We have our reasons for doing these crazy things that we do, like run in one mile loops for 24 hours or subject ourselves to the gnarliest trails possible in the worst conditions.  In this particular race, Stephanie's reason was her father. I guess I have a lot of reasons why I do this. I mean, duh because I love it but it definitely goes deeper than that. The one thing I do know is I was 100% confident I was going to succeed. It may sound cocky but I knew that was my race. Really believing that was the only reason I was able to let Sky pass me again and again.  It's why I was so vocal about my goal mileage (even though I was too afraid to say 140). It's where my mind needed to be to perform like I did.  There was no room for doubting. It's my guess that I won't be hearing from that little voice in my head that tells me I can't for while or maybe ever again.


One Day plus One Day equals TWO DAYS!
What's next? Maybe the 24 Hour World Championships in Italy in April. Nothing is in stone yet but I think I have a pretty good shot at being there. 


Ottolamming


Here are some statistics that have been brought to my attention and it might sound braggy but I get to brag. So rarely is it appropriate. Its funny how the statistics get skewed. According to my mother I was number in all of the world of all ultra runners.  Or maybe that was just according to her.  These are some stats as the stand now:

#7 Best performance by an American female in the 24 hour event of all time
#1 Performance by an American female in the past year
#4 Best performance in the world in 2014 so far, #1 on road (the other 3 were on track)

One last interesting statistic.  The top three women at NJ One Day, Yoshiko Jo (118 miles), Sky Canaves (136 miles) and myself (142 miles) are all coached by Michele Yates. All ran PRs in distance and all 3 of us PRed the 100 miler while we were at it. 


396 Miles.


THANK YOU SECTION!
Words can't express my gratitude for all the people who have supported me and helped get me through this race.  Thanks Headsweats, I really did have a headband or visor for every condition. I love the new women's thermal headband. It kept my ears warm without over heating. 

 Trailtoes, my only complaint is you didn't add Novocain to your formula. Think about it, Vince. But seriously, Trail Toes works!  Rob Goyen, you have been so supportive and I hope I made our Team TROT proud. 
Chris and Otto
 Rodney and Karen, thanks for coming out late at night and dressing in bizarre outfits for the sake of Yoshiko and I. It was definitely memorable. Dylan, for dropping everything to squeeze me into his tiny bit of free time while he adjusts to a new job and travel schedule. You make me smile.  Kat and Jun. I'm a WhippAss because of Kat and that whole sub 19 hour 100 miler was your idea!  Elena Makovskaya, so happy to see your face and thanks for answering my questions always. Ken Tom and Christine Tom, the King and Queen of ultra crewing.  How did you guys find each other? You are two peas in a pod. 
The Toms and there's Meredith too.
Otto! Otto! Otto! He was like a superman when it came to crewing. You met me at the timing mat and would be ready with numerous food items, reminded me exactly what I needed, kept track of my competition, and of course timed my pee breaks.  Tiger and Dwight, you guys supported and cheered me on, you both helped stretch me out and even massaged my butt at the end. What friends I have! I really looked forward to seeing you guys every lap.

Tiger is either stretching Sky or trying to resuscitate her.
Tommy, thanks for offering encouragement as well even though Sky and I were racing. Afterall we are one big happy running family. Zsuzanna Carlson and Helen Clark, you guys are fab! ;) I hope you know that. The McNulty's, thanks for keeping my ass in check. Without you guys, the "perfect storm" would not have been possible. 

Family affair.
 Ferdinand, thank you, thank you, thank you. You know why. Mom and Dad, (my roommates) had to put up with my stressed out meltdowns numerous times. But then again they have no choice :). Thank you for your support and offering to come out and cheer me even though I forbid you.  I get too stressed that Mom is too cold or uncomfortable at these races. I know you worry but at least you had Ken Tom and Ryan to update you. At least you will see me in Italy... hopefully. Thanks, Ryan Schannauer for handing me water and gel in that order and for driving me home and letting me train on the trails with him. You are such an expert at everything. 
Karen, Rodney, Wyatt the dog, Christine and Mr Expert.
Not to be forgotten, Yoshiko Jo, you have taught me more than you will ever know.  I will forever be in awe of your accomplishments.  We have many more races together as you will live to 120 and I to 105.  Lastly, Sky Canaves, GGGGUUURRRLLLL, YOU GAVE ME A RUN FOR ME MONEY! Not one single second of that 24 hours was boring and it was mostly due to you.  Can't wait to see what you do next....in ITALY!


Rick and Sky







Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Viaduct Trail Ultramarathon 100 - July 26, 2014

The Viaduct. A tiny fat ass ultra in the middle of nowhere (Lanesboro, PA).  Carl Albright and David Kennedy started the Viaduct in 2007.  They were the only two participants and the course was 68.63 miles long.  Then in 2008 they made it a 100 miler...

Viaduct in the morning just before the storm rolled in.

I ran this race last year as a last minute decision when the 20in24 was canceled due to extreme heat and the threat of severe thunderstorms. It was free, semi local and it was the weekend after the race I was supposed to run.  I scrambled to recruit crew and organize supplies as it was advertised as pretty much self supported.  I might add they did offer a 150 mile option which i did consider.  My goal was to run over 120 at the 24 hour so what's a few more miles right?  But since I would have had to take an extra day off and find crew (which was mandatory for this option) so I decided against it.  Naturally.
Photo by Destrie. Somewhere along the trail.

My friends and I (Annukka, Rodney, Matt and Tom) all headed to Viaduct to help me finish 100 miles in 21 hours and 30 minutes and to break the course record.  That did not happen.After my first lap, I announced I would now be aiming for a sub 20  finish and what ensued was a complete shit show. At mile 46 I went down hard on a tiny wrought iron bar sticking out of the ground while Anthony and Johanna (who had also driven up) were pacing me.  Then after finishing the 2nd lap (50 miles) and trying to stand up after changing my shoes I found I could not.  My legs stopped working.  I could not stand.  I made yet another announcement and that was that I was quitting. Annukka said no way and dragged me to my feet.   Long story short, my viaduct experience ended  with Rodney pacing me the last lap for 25 miles through the night and rain and into the morning.  Death march. We were out there so long that when we finished Annukka, Matt and Tom were not there. They had formed a search party and were out sweeping the trail for me.  My finish time was 25:50.  It wasn't the result I had hoped for but it was my first straight up trail 100. I had wanted to quit but Annukka would have beaten me. I'm glad I didn't quit because I learned a lot. Only 3 people finished that year and I was 2nd.   I also knew I was capable of way better.  And with any race I completely bomb I planned on coming back.
The never ending trail. Photo by Destrie.


One year later...

As with any 100 miler Viaduct was a goal race for me.  100 is too big to not demand my complete respect. Maybe one day I will get to that point where I can just show up and run a 100 miler but right now I prefer to be tapered and trained.  My last event was Cayuga Trails 50 miler which was a definitely a suffer fest for me.  That was 6 weeks prior. The longest amount of time between races i have had all year.  I followed the plan my coach, Michele Yates, had mapped out for me. I had some really tough speed workouts in there and some hill workouts that filled  my legs and lungs with hot lava.  I was loving the training and at the same time sort of dreaded the speed work routs. Each speed workout was like a mini ultra that I had to mentally break down into each repeat and treat it as if it was just like I was just going aid station to aid station.  These workouts had as much a mental  impact on me as a physical one. No doubt about that.
Nobu and I jumping the tree for the 2nd time.  Times 3-8 did not look like this. Photo by Caroline Thomas.

Back in February when I originally sent Michele my racing schedule, I had indicated sub 20 hours (since that is what I had spontaneously decided I would do mid race during the viaduct last year) as my goal for Viaduct but as my training went on and the races came and went I knew sub 20 was definitely obtainable.  I thought why not shoot for something ballsier?  My friend Kat solidified this decision with utmost confidence. She dubbed the effort our "mission".  Others fueled my mission with doubtful looks.  I would make my supporters proud and prove the doubters wrong.


Friday, July 25th, Rodney and I jam our stuff into his Jeep and go to pick up Michael Daiguean in East Falls. It was to be Mike's first 100 after setting many course records in various ultra distances.  His goal was 15ish hours.  This was also to be Rodney's second attempt after his Rocky Raccoon journey was cut short at 20 miles in February. He wore a boot to heal his achilles for 6 weeks after which is ironic because his facebook name is Phil E. Achilles. Now you all know who that weird Phil guy is.
Yeah that's Phil.

We somehow fit Mike's stuff in the car as well and headed up to Lanesboro, PA to camp at Luciana Park at the start finish of the Viaduct.   Last year, although I met lots of folks, I went up there only knowing my friends who came as crew.  This year I knew it was going to be like a mini family gathering. Lots of local trail running friends I have met the past year were going to be there.  We arrived around 6:30 pm and Harry Turner and his wife Victoria had already set up complete with pirate flag. It was Harry's first 100. Shortly after Mike, Rodney and I set up, my crew arrived.  Dylan Armajani and Ken Tom on the scene.

Team Trail WhipAss on a mission. Dylan and Ken!
Two of the most genuine, fun loving, amazing people you will ever meet.  I'm honored to call them friends, let alone have them give up their entire weekend for me to help me with the Mission.  But that's what we do as ultra runners.  I would do it for them and they would do it for me again.  Dylan is also the founder of the Trail WhipAss which Ken and I are both members of, so this was a WhipAss effort.
Mel, Flo and Tom getting it done.
Mel Lancet and his crew came over after they arrived to say hello as well...Tod Egry, Tom Vincet, Flo Barnes. Gayle Ross, who was there last year as well, was ready to run the Viaduct.

Gayle won the 50 miler.


Nobu had arrived as well with his sister Tomoko and his mother Junko. They were there top crew and to make sure Nobu did not die. It was his first 100.  Nobu is a strong, fast athlete but more importantly has the drive and mental toughness to do well in ultrarunning. He is a sub 3 marathoner and he is just getting started. He finished Cayuga as his first 50 which was not an easy course and he did it well under 10 hours.  

Nobu's crew, Tomoko and Junko. Whose crew is prettier mine or Nobu's? ;)
Yunus Brevik, another first timer 100 miler arrived with his daughter, as did Joey Parente fresh off of Vermont 100 in an impressive sub 23 hour finish for his first 100. He was there to pace his friends and get them through the Viaduct.  After nightfall, Destrie Cossaboom, showed up (yes that's her real name and no she is not a stripper), as well as the Fishtown Beer Runners with their tent mansion. Anthony Lo Cicero III (yes also his real name) was taking a second crack at the Viaduct along with his FBR crew Johanna Reade Goode and Lil Dave Maver, and another beer runner Jen (not baby Jesus Jen).
We should be in bed... or tent rather. Unless you are Destrie who didn't even bring a tent. ;/
 Finally, a little too late, we all went to sleep. Snug in my tent I slept for 4 hours or so.  Upon waking at 4am, I ate some cold oatmeal I brought and drank some pre brewed coffee I had put in a water bottle Thursday night.  I'm one of those people who can eat a decent breakfast and go run. For this reason, I don't usually start fueling right away.  At 4:55 am I ran over to the table to check in with David Kennedy. Then we were off into the chilly 57 degree morning in the dark.

And so it begins again...
I ran with Nobu.  I knew he was faster but he seemed to want to go my pace and I was happy to get through the beginning miles with him.  My coach told me never to let me heart rate go up too much to where conversation is not easy.  We chatted a lot the first lap and caught up to Harry who had been just ahead of us for a while.
Nobu, me and happy fun time.

Harry Turner signed up for the 50 but thought "Hey, I'll try my first 100 instead."
At the first road crossing which was 3.5 miles into the lap Nobu and I handed off our headlamps and long sleeves to Tomoko and Junko. The viaduct has only one aid station at mile 7. It is an out and back for an alleged 12.5 miles making it a 4 lap course.  I told Ken and Dylan to just wait for me at mile 11 since I wouldn't need much aid aside from water which I could get a mile 7. Nobu's mom and sis were at every road crossing. They were so cute and supportive and they helped me through the beginning half of the day just by enthusiastically cheering for us at every road crossing. It honestly amazed me throughout the weekend how well they meshed with the ultra running vibe.

They all look like they have done this before!
After lap one, My goal for the first lap was 4:15 and we did it in 4:14.   I was surprised to find my legs felt like I had run 25 miles. Usually I feel like a new person at this point. No big deal.  At Cayuga I had tapped into something that I had not before. It taught me I can go on with legs that felt worse than they did at that point. I knew I could maintain the same pace for the most part even though everything was becoming tight and painful. Ken offered me an S cap, or rather demanded I take one along with handing me fresh water bottles and Dylan brought me my tray of assorted bars and gels so I could restock my UD pack.

You look like you could use an S cap, my dear.

 Nobu and I headed out on our 2nd lap this time a little less chatty.  Still holding a steady pace. Sometimes he would stop for aid and I would keep going and he would eventually catch up. And finally, since this was not a USATF event, I could listen to MUSIC!!! I forgot how much I missed listening to music while I ran. I barely do it anymore because my speed work takes so much focus and my short tempo runs are so short I don't see the point.  In trail races in general, I don't like to wear headphones because I like to hear those behind me in case they may want to pass plus I like the quiet.  But this was only rocky rail trail.   I could run side by side Nobu and still not block the path of runners coming the other direction.

More happy fun time.
 Periodically, I would see Mike crushing it on the trail.  Every time we passed each other he was putting more and more miles between us.
Mike cruising along.
After our second turnaround when we signed the book and descended the rocky steepest hill the course, I started to feel really good. Nobu hit a low and began to fall behind. I put in my music and let it carry me through miles 38- 50 finishing the second lap in 4:34. My reward for finishing that lap, I had promised myself some coffee. I was feeling tired but was saving my 5 hour energy for my last lap.  Ken had it ready for me over ice! It was like rocket fuel.
Ken I think I love you!
The second to last lap is always the hardest for me because it's not the last lap. In this case it was the third. I figured this would be my longest lap and I would try to keep it close to 4:30 but figured it would be closer to 4:45, which it was.  The 50s were tough for me. It became harder and harder to keep my stride. Without really focusing on moving, I would slow. I could keep a decent pace if I was really concentrating.

"It hurts to a point and then it doesn't get any worse."

At some point on the way out Nobu bounded up behind me like gazelle.  He said he was feeling much better and I told him not to let me slow him down.  He went ahead. This was somewhere close to the mile 11 road crossing which was almost 100k into the race.  This is where a 100 miler always gets good!  Seeing Nobu gave me energy.  I bounced down the hill gracefully.. no just kidding. I picked my way down the hill like a drunk troll.
Drunk troll coming through.
 I yelled to Dylan and asked him to pace me for the 1.5 out and back to the turn around point. I hated this part.  It lasted what seemed like forever.  This was also the deceiving part because Carl and David in true ultra marathon race director form had purposefully made the turn around long "to make sure it was definitely 100 miles".

Ken saw I was amped up and told me to slow my roll and not to chase Nobu.  I assured him I wasn't chasing Nobu and I would stick to the plan. Up the hill I went while Dylan got ready to join me.  Less like a drunk troll and more like an injured tree fairy, I thought.  These are weird things that happen in my brain during a 100 miler. Another small goal of mine within the 100 was to run the whole thing. Aside from the very steep but short climbs, I succeeded in doing so for the most part.  Dylan was very chatty which was good because I needed the distraction. Talking was difficult though because let's face it after 62 miles words are hard. Plus, my coach told me to keep the talking to a minimum. I did tell Dylan I thought I could possibly go sub 18 at this point and he tried to redirect me to the original goal at hand...sub 19 which was "easily" within reach barring a huge disaster, a disaster Ken and Dylan were there to prevent.  (I put "easily" in quotes because in 100 nothing is easy.) I said I would focus on the original Mission but my new one would be in my mind. Back down the hill to the road crossing we went.

Dylan's impromptu pacing jaunt with me.

 Ken and Dylan would now meet me at Melrose aid station and Mile 3.5 before I ended my third lap.  I had my music in again and my spirits were lifted by Ken and Dylan's enthusiasm. With about 5 miles left in my 3rd lap I opened a fig bar and took a bite.  NOPE! They had gone from being delicious to being the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted. I spit out the bite wrapped the rest back up and stuck it in my UD vest. So be it.  No more solid food. Fine. Ill show you, body. I'll drink my calories.  So my insurance policy known as Coca Cola came into effect.

More running.
I know I was supposed to ease up and stay steady but I knew if I could maintain 10 minute miles or better I could get in to the start finish and be out on my last lap by 6:30 pm leaving my just 2:30 to finish the last lap and possibly finish under 18 hours!!  I came into the start finish feeling borderline nauseous but optimistic. It was just before 6:30pm. Dylan was ready to pace me the final miles and Ken was ready to finish this out and meet us at every road crossing. " Ken we are going to do this!" I said.  At this point, by" this"Ii meant sub 18! Kinda reminds me of Viaduct last year where I made the announcement after the first lap that I would now run 100 miles under 20 hours...  Well at least I waited 3 laps this time and at least I wasn't clear what I meant by "this".  I can say with complete confidence though, that sub 18 was NOT out of reach and in the future is absolutely attainable.  It was, however, not going to happen that day.

Pacer extrodinaire Dylan Armajani aka Papa WhipAss

Dylan and I left and ran under the Viaduct out the gravel road to Main Street where we would turn left on Jefferson and go up a paved hill before crossing the tracks to go into the trail.  It was up this hill where it all went downhill.  Feeling slightly queasy but trying to stay ahead of the game I had been chewing Gin Gins.  They seemed to have been working, placebo or not I do not know.  I was out of the kind in the blue wrapper so Dylan opened one for me in a green wrapper. It looked like a tootsie roll shape. I hate tootsie rolls.  I started to chew and after about 10 seconds I realized that was not gonna work. I tried to take it out of my mouth but it was stuck on my teeth and then I started gagging and then dry heaving.  I was determined not to let this reach disaster status.  So was Dylan. He told me focus on your goal.  You have 5:30 to complete this lap. You are good. So we ran.
#KenTomming
Meeting Ken at 3.5 road crossing, he of course asked if i was eating but I told him I could not.  Upon stopping, I began to feel like I was on a tilt O whirl. Hmm now that I type that I am not sure what a tilt o whirl is or if i have ever been on one but I imagine it would feel like how I felt trying to stand next to Ken's car. I could not tell which way was up or down.  I sat on the bumper.  Still no good.  I felt weak. I had to get going . Ken insisted I do a gel which I had just done before reaching him.  It stayed down despite being difficult to swallow.  I think we discovered at this point that potato chips were also able to be effectively swallowed without invoking my gag reflex. The sun was setting and it started to get cooler so we figured now was a good time to get me into dry clothes. I quickly changed into my dry WhipAss shirt and new shorts.  My pack was soaked and the thought of putting it back on sent shivers up my spine.  Since muling was allowed Dylan offered to carry our water so I didn't have to. I had wanted to avoid muliing all together for my own peace of mind but almost 80 miles in my priorities have changed.   Dylan filled up a bottle with coke and I may have taken a sip or two of ginger ale and we were off again to Melrose at mile 7.  Soup.  I knew Melrose had soup.  It had saved my ass last year it will save me again.
What I would have done without these guys I do not know.

On our way out to Melrose I see a guy in a yellow shirt running towards us. It was Bill Cuthbert, the course record holder, and he had been in second place to Mike all day. I had not seen Mike yet!.  Bill runs up to us and asks if I am Maggie. "Where's Mike??!?" I say.  Bill explained he came across Mike sitting on the ground at the road crossing at mile 10. He was unable to move and was just sitting on the ground. He said he was with another guy and that he had let them know at Melrose that Mike needed aid. I found out later that guy was Harry who waited with Mike until someone came to pick him up to take him back to the start.

Harry and Yunus early on.

Mile 7, Ken is waiting for us.  Dylan goes to him to restock and I go ahead to check in at the aid station and ask Vickie, the amazing Melrose Inn aid station Captain, for some soup.  This time I did walk out of the aid station while sipping the insanely hot soup.  As soon as it was finished, we were off again and I was feeling a bit better.  Road crossing at mile 10, Ken is of course waiting. Ken makes sure I'm on schedule with my S cap intake and that I am drinking water which throughout this whole thing has been pretty good.  I have never peed so regularly during an event like this.  I try another gel since that and soda are now my main calorie source. Yum, island nectar Roctane! I choke it down and grab my knees as I start dry heaving again. Finally, this time, I get a result.  Otto Lam would be proud.  Up comes what I believe to be mostly soup broth.  But I feel much better now.  I have about 15 miles to go now.  Sub 18 is totally out the window but unless I fall over on the trail and die sub 19 is in sight.  And its still light enough to see without a headlamp!

Destrie finishing her first 50 despite an injury.
Dylan and I meet Ken at mile 11 road crossing and descend down to the road  and ascend back up to the trail.  Coming down the steep hill  to the road on the loose rocks is were we finally switch on our headlamps. 200 lumens each we have.  I have the Black Diamond Icon and Dylan has the Petzl Nao.  Being able to run on the wide trail side by side we probably looked like a car coming at the other runners. It may be overkill on a non technical trail like this but I imagine this will be a complete game changer for me on a technical course.  Either way it was nice to get to test out my new lamp.

400 Lumens total ;)

Finally, I was headed down the dreaded turnaround point.  Ask anyone at the viaduct, this was everyone's least favorite part because it dragged on forever.  You ran to an orange cone next to a tiny table that had a sheet with our names on it. You wrote your split and then went back.  I signed my split for the last time and Dylan and I headed back.  Down the rocky ascent to the road, Ken announced he would meet us at every road crossing on the way back as well, including mile 10 which was only one mile away.  Up the long hill the last time and back onto the trail.  The miles begin to tick away surprisingly fast. We maintain a steady, reasonable pace and I don't feel like I'm over exerting myself like I sometimes do at any pace this late in a race.  I run past Ken at mile 10 road crossing and on to Melrose. See you at Melrose, Ken!

#moreKenTomming

More running at a  reasonable steady pace.... Ken is surprised to see Dylan and I so soon and I sign in with Vickie at Melrose, thanking them all for everything as this is my last time through.

Onward.  Dylan keeps it positive and I continue to push the negative thoughts of the endless trail out of my head.  Even tho seemingly endless, its nothing like last year which felt like walking on a treadmill.  I say my mental goodbyes to the little things along the trail,  good bye little hill and goodbye mystery poop on the trail, goodbye big puddle and little puddle and splintery wooden bridge. Then after a minor stumble and fall on the final stretch of trail somewhere close to my watching ticking 100 miles we see the street lamp!  Hooray, "civilization"!  We hit the road and cross the railroad tracks and go down the hill at Jefferson.  Every step on this paved downhill is excruciatingly wonderful. I am almost done and I am still running.  My watch had ticked over 100 miles about a mile and a half ago of which I made a mental note of an 18:13 time. The last mile we do in 8:50 or so which wasn't an all out effort but it was "comfortable" and I thought it would be nice to finish without vomiting on myself or worse.  Dylan and I make the right onto the Tannery Street gravel surface and run under the viaduct. One last right turn into Luciana park and I see the dim light of the aid station and a handful of people in chairs.  I cross the finish line!

The spike!
"Official finish time 18:34" Carl yells.  I knew what my time was because I had a watch on (whose battery lasted the whole entire time) but hearing the words aloud associated with my own performance somehow made it surreal.  In fact, it was very surreal. Someone brought me a chair and I immediately sat down.  Lots of people had stayed awake to watch me finish even though it was after 11:30 and all of them had been up since 4am at least.  Even this guy Colin who I barely knew and who had ran the 50 miler and had been done a half a day ago had waited up.  Colin Trower was one of those happy shiny people who helped me get through the day. He smiled every time we passed each other and it made me wish Yoshiko was there.  Destrie was also awake and waiting. She had limped through her final 30 miles to finish 3rd female in the 50 miler.
Destrie and Colin. 
Someone puts down another chair next to me and out of the darkness steps Nobu! Nobu! I had been so focused on my own race I had not thought about Nobu for a few miles. Which is a good thing because it means we didn't catch up to him on the trail. He had finished his first 100 miler in 17:56!  I knew he was capable of an amazing performance but this was beyond human, especially for his first one.  Watch out ultra world. Nobuyori Takeda is about to take you by storm!

Prince Nobu
Junko, Nobu's mother, begins to serve everyone delicious homemade noodles she brought but I cant eat. I sit in my chair after getting changed into warmer clothes and try to sip my Recoverite. My legs had begun to throb and radiate pain from deep inside but Ken's crew duties hadn't ended according to him.  He helped me elevate my legs and applied pressure to the points that were painful. This was a life saver!

I had to crop this picture. I just had to.
 Finally, I'm just too tired and close to 1 am I lay down to rest.  Just after this, Anthony leaves with Johanna on his last lap.  My heart quietly goes out to him as I lay in my tent. I was in his shoes last year.  It was going to be a long night for him and his pacer Johanna. I also hear Mike stir from his tent and ask Ken if he will drive him to the 10 mile mark in the morning and if Dylan would pace him for his final 10 miles. He was going to get it done!  A 2:24 marathoner who is used to setting course records, was going to just get 100 miles under his belt, course record or not.
100 mile Mike.

In the end, Mike finished with a time of 27 hours.
Johanna and Anthony bringing it in.
Yunus came in sometime late morning and Anthony brought up the rear, finishing looking strong and surprisingly dry despite the sudden thunder storm that rolled through in the morning and brought a down pour.
Dylan, pacer victorious.
 And me, I finished an entire jar of Claussen pickles throughout the morning. I lay in my tent during the rain munching the delicious treats, grateful to be dry and long done running. Ken had been so concerned about my salt cap intake the previous day, I thought I would make him proud.

Yum yum.
We said our goodbyes and with Anthony's finish the 2014 Viaduct came to an end. I thanked Carl and David for another great event and they were both happy I had finally had a good race after what happened last year.  People have asked me leading up to this "Why are you training for that event? Its just a fat ass." How much a race costs, for me, doesn't dictate how much effort I put into it. And just because this race was free doesn't mean the experience can't be as meaningful as a Badwater or a Western States. I pick and choose my goal races but like I said before this is a 100 and the way it was executed last year demanded my utmost respect and effort this year.

Some of us achieved what we came for and some of us achieved it in an unexpected way and some didn't get the result they had hoped for... But this is ultra running and we live to try again another day.



 Mission accomplished.

Here's the thank you section: Thank you infinitely, Ken and Dylan. We did this! I can go on and on about how much you guys did for me but I think you guys know.  Kat, thanks for believing in me.  Elena, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and give me some of your mental secrets on how you achieved your amazing 17:33 100 miler in Vegas. Michele, you are an amazing coach and without your help I highly doubt I would be getting this result. I don't think the idea of running a sub 19 would have even entered my head without your training guidance. Not that you put the idea there but by following your workouts I started to realize what I was capable of.  I wanted to see what would happen if I basically gave someone else the reigns in my training. I followed everything exactly as you wrote it down. I can do better tho.  Thank you, Rodney, for once again driving my stiff ass back from a 100 miler. You will get that sub 3 marathon in November!  Thanks, Nobu for getting me through the first half of viaduct and for putting in training miles with me. Mike, thanks for being an awesome guy. You continue to inspire me.  Thanks, Mom and Dad for listening to me talk about running all the time.  Thanks to Carl and David.  I hope this tradition continues for a long time. Your event is truly unique.  Thank you as always, Headsweats. Without you my face would be quite red.  And last but not least, thank you , Vincent and Trail Toes. Trails Toes saved more than just my feet this time. :)

What's next??  NJ One Day November 8th - I have unfinished business in the 24 hour event....