Guest Post: Umstead 100 Miler - Pacer Race Report

Brandi paced and crewed with me at Umstead, and here's her write-up of the experience.

Umstead 100 Miler – N. Carolina - 40 miles pacing 

I was at The North Face 50 miler last fall & came upon a guy I gave an Alieve. I have a lot of interaction with people during ultras, so when he was with his sons & he thanked me afterwards, I sorta didn’t really remember him. Not because I didn’t care, but because I really care about everyone out there, especially those who may not be having their best day. Someone sent me his blog & I went to TNF50 FB page & he thanked me on there. So, basically, I helped him, he got connected with our NLUR group & I guess he was hoping I would give him another Alieve or something (foreshadowing) I didn’t, for his 100 miler cuz he asked me to pace him. 

I got there with my family & immediately see my friends Karen & Jen. Whew. Two solid women who will take care of themselves & anyone in their paths. The times I saw There are no words for a woman who runs 100 miles with the same joy, peace & tranquility as a casual bike ride. It practically frightened me. If running 100 miles for her is this easy, does she have any idea what she is capable of? Only time will tell. Seeing her on the course, at the A/S, finishing, it’s all a piece of cake for her. Eric, her fiance was out there too, always wearing colors that no doubt were manufactured just for him. A small group from Illinois, but we made lotsa noise.

I spent about half of the time Cory was out there with him. When he started, I would have his Dad give me updates. Ugh. He started off too fast. That first half marathon, darn it. And his 50 mile point, come on Cory, remember those pacing talks we had? I know what this meant. I told his Dad a couple times to tell him to slow down. He will learn on his own, that’s why he is out there. I got there before he went out for his 5th lap, “Are you here to pace me?” I was so hungry to run, but I wanted him to look foward to me jumping in, spend a loop thinking about the company he would get next time he gets here. I went out with him for a bit, we made small talk, but I was really intimidated by that dang Go Pro & wanted to get the heck away from it. So, I stopped at a place I could see Eric. I helped runners & crew members with directions (if u know me, u know how crazy this sounds), took their trash, encouraged them – every single one of them are my heros. Especially the mom with the 4 real little kids, cheering on her husband. I took her camera & got a picture of the clan. She is a true hero.

I was talking to some 20-somethings in a truck after chatting with Juli Aisters & they looked familiar. They said their dad was out there. I looked at their eyes, their perfect skin, all their “prettiness” & realized I talked to their Dad several times. Tom. He was so happy. I called them the kids in the truck. The kids that weren’t gonna pace their dad? Wtheck? I told them how insane their Dad was & how tuff it gets. One daughter then said she would go out, like, um, the last loop. Yeah, I thought so, lol! 

Why pace when you can race? Let’s face it, I didn’t earn my way there, I just got a “pacers pass.” And I’m o.k. with that. I love authentically complementing runners when they pass by. I love having tons of energy & being able to be that person who can entertain, engage, if only for a moment. When I first met Michele & Juan, I remember feeling like I didn’t want to do “these”, but I could use my “spiritual gifts” (1 Peter 4:10) of mercy, service & helps for others. I still feel that way. I have run so many ultra distances without metals, without proof, but with tons of fun, with one friend or several dozen to see the finish. I get to put miles in without any pressure & in a sense, at events/group runs like that of the ultra distance – we all pace each other. Nothing ever goes wrong for me when I am pacing because I am not there for me, just others. Once, I was doing math in my head. STOP, I said! Loops. Focus on loops. Only 3 loops.

The guy who I reminded him of some actress named Samantha was the main AS comic relief. I mean, besides all the exposed feet & falling bodies & “move aside, we have a runner coming in” people who weren’t so lucky. I loved Irish Joe. He just looked like a character, smiled like one & had an attitude we all should have. Until I “got” that attitude, I wondered what drugs these people where on to be happy during an ultra, because I would try to fake it, but it took me a while to lock it in & live it. 

The mom who didn't come to run 50 miles, she came to run 100. Wow. I wonder if she finished. The entire med team was working on her feet for about an hour. They were perplexed, never saw anything like it yet, not sure if they can fix her up & even if they did, they aren’t sure if her feet are going to hold up. As tears streamed down her face & her daughter was at her side, I wanted so bad to say the thing to her that would dry her tears. Tell her how proud I am of her & I know she worked so hard, spent countless training hours...and....and what? Will they let her go back out? I sat next to her, said some things to her with all my heart. She is a mom. She is an ultra runner. There is a kindred spirit there. 

Dr. Tom had been in NC for only 4 months, he is gonna rehab, do a 50 & qualify for Umstead & how fun would it be to be at “his” aid station next year to serve him. He fixed Cory's feet, telling me “you made me realize I can do more than just hand out coffee, now look at me, I’m a Dr.” Always making me laugh. You just never get to meet those people unless you do the work to get on course. Then there was the 2 back surgeries - can't do IM or ultras anymore, so she volunteers. She said that with a smile, but I sensed the disappointment. JT was there too, “u better get outta this aid station or I'm gonna start chargin’ u rent.” So cute.

The frog was orange & yellow. Weird. Camoflauge or something. Up ahead a little more – the snake matched the frog. I love reptiles. I admired him stood beside him looked down at his coiled body & upturned head. It was pitch dark, but yay for my headlamp. “You aren’t from around here are you? If I were you, I’d keep moving,” a couple said, “That is a copperhead, a poisonous snake.” I kept questioning them, I wanted to play with & hang out with him for longer, so I did. I had lost Cory, anyway. The last A/S, he went into the bathroom, & just before that I told him to never worry about me. If I stop to talk or whatever, keep going, I’d catch up. Plus, it gave him time to breathe & think without me there. Maybe his body was saying something, but he couldn’t hear it cuz I was there. I told myself he snuck outta the bathroom, & ran at breakneck speed, past the four people I ran past. The Haiti guy who came back, took Ambien, & showed up an hour late to the start. Oops. Duh, Brandi, call Cory. Viola. Reunited.

The song rings true, the freaks come out at night. The energy I would sometimes see made me think they better check themselves before they wreck themselves. Some guy booked past us, “It must be the french toast.” He said as he sped by. Cory & I looked at each other - there was no french toast, I said, maybe he did too, idk, but it entertained us forever. U stretch moments, thoughts, anything u can out there because one thing u have out there is time. I heard heavy breathing, cheetah like footsteps, fast, faster, pounding, “I AM RUNNING 6’s UP THE HILLS!” What? Michael was dying whenever I saw him. Cory met him earlier when he was still coherent. He was a flipping madman. He said some funny things we will never forget. I wish I had a video of his reflective gear because u wouldn’t believe what coffee & Gu can do to a guy in the middle of the night towards the end of a hundo. 

Oh yeah, then there was Cory. Booking away from me whenever I would have to revisit an AS, or when I would stop to chat with people. The guy who said he wasn’t doing good, but I can tell when people aren’t doing good. He was doing great. He was determined. “Sorry I can’t talk, but can u talk. Tell me a story.” Bam, u got it. It was pretty ideal for me. As long as I didn’t have to touch those feet that kept exposing themselves at A/S’s & on the trail. I’ve never had so much as a blister, so I just deemed myself “unhelpful” in that arena, but I could find others who could help him. Clothes, even dirty clothes, food, finding stuff, I’ll do that, just leave the feet to the pros.

There was a difference between pacers on the course & runners. Hey what’s up, how are you, singing a song, calling something out to them, whatever I did to interact kept me entertained & pacers would typically respond. “Oh u r the pacer,” I would say. Yep! Not this time. Tony from Boston responded & he started name dropping people from Chicago, I think he used to live here. Ed Kelly was one I remember. “Why are you so alert?” I asked. "Just a training run." For Bad water. Yep, that’s the kind of people you meet at 100 milers.

There was the peeved off woman in black not looking the part of a rapper at all, but blasting hip hop music while her two friends chatted & walked behind her. 

The 27 hour guy. He runs the circuit down here & doesn’t put space between his sentences, I could listen to his energy forever in the middle of the night. “I used to care about time.Now I don’t.27 hours, that’s what I do 100’s in.No one cares about your time, sheit, u just ran 100 miles.I run 100’s.Woo.Hoo!Yeehaw!Giddyup, ride ‘em cowgirl.” He must have said this 10 different ways & I coulda heard it 100 times over. I just like time to pass & interesting things to happen. Those two things, I am always certain of in an ultra. I really liked everyone’s accents. 

Have you ever ran in the dark, all night, never feeling there was an end to it, but not really caring? Feeling as if this was what it was & how it felt? I remember Karen telling me, “There is something about running all night & until the sun comes up. When it started happening, I remembered, here it is. The beautiful sky is visible again, trees you could get lost in (heck I would have if it weren’t for Cory). We ran all night. Dang. We are THAT good. 

Speaking of Cory, when he would eek out a teeny complaint, I didn’t hear it. Telling him there is nowhere else I'd rather be, this is where we were meant to be, right here right now (watching the world wake up from history ☺. I don’t remember what we even talked about for so long. Music, parenting, nutrition, idk, I think I just told him everything about me, and Logan’s Run, & my neighbor, my stepdad, idk, just anything to keep his mind on something other than how insane he was to be still out here.

Dan Peironi we met towards the end. He has done 44 ultras (I thought he said 100 milers), this was his slowest, 71 years old, biking 300 miles next weekend, we were holding him back, he wanted to start running up the hills, but liked the company. 

Oh yeah, Cory. I don’t feel like I really did anything for him. I was there, I knew he was going to have to figure everything out on his own. I COULD mule, but why? Muleing isn’t something that typically happens in an ultra, so I didn’t want to do that for him, although it was legal here. He was educated about nutrition. I felt like I could be his company. His bumper, in case he was gonna turn in the gutter. The worst thing for me is someone pushing me, annoying me, acting like they know stuff when they don’t. I wanted him to know I was there for him, that’s it. And to have a boatload of fun. Well, I could be whatever he wanted me to be, but just my luck, what I liked to do, he wanted. I was waiting. Waiting for Cory to fall apart, waiting for him to lose it, waiting for him to puke so I could tell him it was o.k., “get it out, there ya go”, like moms do. But nope. None of that. I WAS “on” I FELT “on”, I didn’t realize how “on” I was until I turned off. I turned off immediately when I saw the hill of the finish. I ducked into the woods, letting Cory & Dan finish on their own & just before I did that I heard Dan, “You go first, go ahead.” I never tire of hearing that. Someone gives up their place for you. So, I see Russ, Cory’s Dad, & the curtains close on me. I wanted to go change out of my stage clothes, shower, but wait. One more smile for the camera. In the aid station, Cory offered me a sincere hug of gratitude, said some words I don’t remember, but I had already left my mind. Now, I am tired. We hopped in the car & my eyes closed & that was that. 

umstead 100 mile endurance run



"The individual soul touches upon the world soul like a well reaches for a water table.  That which sustains the universe beyond thought and language, and that which is at the core of us and struggles for expression, is the same thing.  The finite within the infinite, the infinite within the finite."

pi patel








mother nature gives us a few freebies.  the heart flutters of a grade school crush.  the excitement of your first home run.  a first kiss.  wedding day.  your little baby napping on your chest.  

and then we got older. and we settle into routines.  and the routines can be kind of banal.  those special moments, the ones that happened once and again, amidst the endless magical discoveries of being a kid, become fewer and further between.  

can we still feel it?

it turns out that crossing the finish line after many hours and many miles on the trail can inspire a similar sense of overwhelming wonder, joy, and excitement.  it's actually not even crossing the finish line...  once you have that epic goal in mind, getting together at the starting line in the early hours before the sun comes up, being out there smiling at each other and cheering each other on at mile 42.3, or even just a normal day of training before the big day can all lead to moments of feeling really fucking good.

so, in short...  because my babies are too big to nap on my chest.

next: everything you wanted to know about ultrarunning and didn't want to ask because you don't actually want to know that much about ultrarunning.  there's a loop by loop recap of the effort, a general course review, gear list/review, nutrition recap, emotional ramblings, and a bit of french toast.

overall recap

laps 1 and 2 were great, zoning out to music and making friends on the course.  lap 3 was a living hell because i couldn't get the downhills right and it was really hurting some infrequently used muscles and tendons.  thoughts like "if this hurts this bad now i'm just not going to be able to function well enough to finish the whole thing" kept trying to make their way in.  after much focus, finally got the form right near the end of the loop, and started feeling good.  lap 4 was great.  50 miles in 10:30 or so.  brandi and fam were there, and my dad and karen and jen were there, it was great to see everyone.  at this point i knew for sure that i would finish.  lap 5 was also great, brought the gopro out, cruised.  ran most of the downhills without pain.  brandi joined me for lap 6 and we had a blast.  near the end of that lap i began to feel that i had consumed too much water and food.  it wasn't really like being nauseauted, it just didn't feel right and it was really hard to move well.  end of lap 6 led to lying on my back on the floor in the main room, staring at my eyelids, and trying to will myself back to feeling OK.  luckily this is when the night storm rolled in, so we we missed the lightning and heavy rain.  headed out for lap 7.   this is about the time when blisters and skin damage really caught up with me, leading to some unwanted slowdowns.  tom at AS#2 helped out with the feet issues, and the "not right" feeling faded, so there was some occassional running, though it was mostly slow going.  the final lap was rather relaxed.  it was hard to do much more than walk, and it was a beautiful morning, so we made the most of it. even though there were about 5 hours of really rough going, i maintained a mostly clear head and a kept positive attitude.  like: "so what if i don't feel right, of course it takes a lot of learning to really dial in the nutrition, so just enjoy being out here and it will pass."  and it did.  brandi ran the last 3 laps with me and was so helpful!  we had so much fun with each other and with the other runners.  i met so many great and inspiring peeps, and truly enjoyed every minute of the experience.


emotional ramblings


instant we

i call it "instant we" or "instant us."  you can skip the formalities and skip the small talk when you fall into stride with your fellow ultra runners, be it running a downhill or walking an uphill.  we are here.  we are life long best friends.  we help each other.  we push each other.  we pull each other.  we do it together.  we care.  we.


i saw more smiles from passing runners during those 27 hours than during the last 27 days or maybe the last 27 months of my life.  and we're in pain out there!  

great job!

imagine that for a day, everyone you pass in the hall at work says "great job today!" and they really mean it.  or that one day your kids continually remind you what a great parent you are.  or that all of your friends keep calling you up and telling you that you're a great friend and to keep it up.  that's what it is like out there with everyone encouraging each other, and it never seems to get old.  

be thankful

there was a girl with one leg running.  she looked fresh and happy and smiley every time i saw her.  she was going much faster than me.  every time i saw her i cried.

mike morton

i have a crush on mike morton.  he won, and he set the course record.  i had read and was deeply inspired by the article about him in the march issue of ultrarunning, and thought he sounded like a really great guy (set the western states course record, in '97, was injured in the navy and stopped running, and recently made a comeback).  suddenly, there he was on the same course as me!  about half way through, he passed me while i was walking up a hill.  he was running, and he looked like he was in a bit of pain.  he stopped for a second; he winced.  then, he bent this way once, bent that way once, and blasted back into stride and over the hill.  amazing.  later, he passed us at mile 96.  by the time we caught our breath, and looked down at our watches, we all knew he had a course record in sight.  fortunately we were at the top of a hill, so we could see him zig zag down hill, flowing, leaping, and bounding like a wild animal in it's natural habitat.  it was beautiful and inspiring.  


somewehere around lap 6 or so i saw a guy i ran with earlier seeming like a nearly incoherent, stumbling zombie.  a few hours later, he blasted past us going uphill.  it was amazing to see the absolute contrast in his form and demeanor.  for me, the ups and downs seemed to come in waves of gradually increasing frequency.  first it was hours of good, hours of bad, then back to good.  as the night progressed it would seem like "ok let's run for a bit" only to feel like i could never run again 15 seconds later.    

the course

the course is beautiful and quite runnable.  much of the grade is not super steep, so unlike some uphills on other courses where there is no option but to walk, you can jog up some of the hills without losing too much efficiency.  there are a few out and back sections connected to the loop, allowing you to see other runners for 5+ miles of the course.  this is great for getting to know who is out there with you, seeing where people are at, high fives, smiles, etc.  and in the middle of the night, when you've been alone on an isolated section for an hour or two, it's relieving and encouraging see the other runners and remember that we're out there together.


umstead and similar ultras are as low as $1.50 per mile, and you get all the food you can eat!  oh, and guess how much the event photos cost?

aid stations

the aid station volunteers could not have been any more helpful!  and there were so many of them...  i was never waiting for other people to clear out or a volunteer to free up.  they take and fill your water bottles, help you get your food picked out / put it in a bag if you wish, smile, joke, banter, etc.  also someone runs to grab your drop bag for you out of the storage area if you need it, gets your stuff out, does stuff with your stuff, puts it back, etc.  






lap by lap

lap 1: miles 0 - 12.5, 6:00AM-8:21AM: here goes everything

we all migrate outside. the clock ticks down.  blake fires the starting gun.  and we're off.  contrasted with a road race where everyone shoots out of the gate, it is a very peaceful start.  we adjust our packs, fine tune our headlamps, greet each other, wish each other well, at an easy jogging pace.  we move forward, the crowd thins, and we're off into the woods.

the woods are quiet. some birds chirp.  ahead of you, and behind you, there is a quiet and steady stream of headlamps and reflective gear.  slowly, trees become outlined in blue.  

time for some music.  somehow, the mp3 player decided to play this on repeat, and it was already playing as i put the headphones on.  with a bit of creative abstraction, it was quite an appropriate song to listen to and soak in the opening miles of a first hundred-miler

no time?  no time but the present.  no time like now. 

here's what the stream of headlamps looks like when captured on film.  in person it is one of the most beautiful things i've ever seen.



lap 2: miles 12.5 - 25, 8:21AM-10:46AM: steady start and good conversation

met up with some dude named jeff early on in lap two.  instant we.  he has been deployed to iraq, afghanistan, and africa multiple times.  he is still enlisted, and in his free time he goes on wilderness expeditions to help soldiers expand their survival skills.  we cruised this lap, probably just a bit too fast because it was early and we were feelin great and having a great time talking with each other.  it's kind of sad when you get back to the aid station because it's time to go your separate ways, even though you want to stay together the whole time.  at least you know you'll see each other out there again.  jeff, even though you'll never read this because you are too busy doing epic shit to spend time on a computer, thank you for your service, and thanks for hanging.



lap 3: miles 25 - 37.5, 10:46AM-1:27PM: i might not be able to finish this

this lap sucked.  chicago is mostly flat and i'm not used to running on a 10% decline for a mile+ at a time.  this began to take it's toll and i realized i really needed to focus on form and to find a way to get down the hills that was not slow and that did not hurt a lot.  by the end of the lap the form came together, only after a couple of hours of wondering if it was going to be possible

the downhill of a few hundred feet goes on for a mile+.  to me, this was harder than the uphills.

coming in from lap 3.  determined to keep form and feel better during lap 4



lap 4: miles 37.5 - 50, 1:27PM-4:19PM: feelin good!

good times.  just cruised, feelin good.  probably a bit slower than 1 and 2 but no issues and feelin good the whole way.  

during this lap and a few others i ran into eric and leah, who are also from IL.  it sure was nice to see familiar faces out there!  

ran into this kid.  he is 16 and was on the final lap of his first 50-miler!  

hills are my friend?  i'm not convinced

came in after 50 miles at 10 hours and 14 minutes, beating my previous 50 miler by a good 30+ minutes.  also, brandi and her family were there, so when i rolled in the enitire crowd was calling out my name and cheering loudly.  this feels reaaaaalllyy good!  



lap 5: miles 50 - 62.5, 4:19PM-7:33PM: into the great unknown...

when the farthest you've gone is 50 miles, everything after that is new and exciting.  what will happen?!  what is mile 60 gonna be like?  70?  80?  90?  

fueling up at AS#1, Sally's Asylum, before heading out.  I recommend the 1/2 potato 1/2 lentil soup mix, and the veggie chili was delicious too!


headed out with the gopro on lap 5.  it was a lot like lap 4.  just felt really solid and cruised along.  

met up with michael, the (self proclaimed) asshole from boston.  we had a great time chatting for at least half the loop, lamenting of repressed childhood memories.  he had started two previous hundred milers (beast of burden NY, summer and winter versions).  both times he DNF'd at mile 82, and we were both feeling solid as we wrapped up lap 5. 

us laughing about who knows what

AS#2: Tom & Jerry's Ptomaine Tavern

here's the results of wearing the gopro for a lap.  seems that my headphone cord was constantly touching it which led to a lot of clicking sounds instead of any audio.  the video is mostly sped up 20x except for stops at the aid stations, mike morton cruising past, and some old timers taking some pictures together on the course (it's probably best to play at 720p in a new window)



lap 6: miles 62.5 - 75, 7:33PM-11:42PM: a range of emotions, high to low

before heading out for this lap (i think, maybe it was the prior lap) i needed to change out of my damp clothes, and didn't feel like walking all the way to the bathroom.  what to do?  make a changing room out of a couple towels and change right there, of course!  karen and jen held up a couple of towels, and luckily i didn't fall over!

the first half of the lap was great.  brandi was there and we were having a blast.  we were saying and doing ridiculous shit with/to everyone we met.  the guy who was doing umstead just to train for badwater?  field day!  the abanoned pacer.  the guy i said had beautiful eyes?  we should probably tell him and all runners behind him to run faster because the guy in front of them has beautiful eyes.   people having fun and laughing and talking: "hey, why are you laughing, don't you know this is a hundred miler and you're supposed to be suffering"!

eventually the fun wore off because i was sufferring.  we finished up the lap.


i think it was later on in this lap that we saw michael again, and he looked like shit.  like a zombie stumbling around.  i was concerned.


the scene in the main room around lap 6 or 7

this guy was trying to sneak a peak at our nips.  the conversations that unfold after 75 miles, in the middle of the night, even while suffering, can be quite hilarious!  brandi put him to work filling up my water bottle.



lap 7: miles 75 - 87.5, 11:42PM-4:38AM: a range of emotions, low to high

thus begins lap 7.  luckily, i was down for the count, awake and waiting for the overwhelming bad feeling to go away, and outside a storm rolled in.  it was raining for some time after this. 

while sort of coming to and then chilling around getting ready to get moving, some guy came in who had finished, and he made it to the table next to us and collapsed, right next to us.  it was weird to watch.  even though the medical staff was extremely attentive and quickly took care of him, he was laid out for at least 15 minutes before starting to show signs of being ok.  

we headed out.  the first half of the loop continued to suck.  

i wanted to fall asleep.

we made it to AS#2

hanging out with tom at mile ~82.  this guy helped fix up my feet a couple of laps in a row.  why is this awesome guy staying up all night and helping fix people's feet when he could be in bed?!

this guy said we were gonna have to start paying rent if we kept hanging around as#2

somewhere after this i lost my pacer!  had my headphones on in the bathroom, and couldn't hear her looking for me.  luckily both our phones were on and had enough juice left at the time!

by the end of the loop i was finally feeling really good again!  also, michael came zooming past and was also back in action!



lap 8: miles 87.5 - 100, 4:38AM-9:49AM: let's enjoy the scenery

chilled in the room at AS#1 for a bit.  michael was there and we saw him as he was heading out.  i happily called out as he was leaving "michael... you made it past mile 82!"   he had that confident look in his eyes and we both knew he was going to make it.

as we headed out a few minutes later, one of the guys who i know came in to the room, so i was (loudly) cheering him on... his pacer gave us the "stfu, he is dropping" sign, and it was an emotional experience to try to move past this.  brandi and i felt like we could help, wanted to help, would do whatever we could, and yet i had my own thing to deal with.  also, we were cuckoo in the middle of the night and didn't realized that he was a lap behind us, so taking him out with us, even to walk the whole time, wouldn't have helped anyone much.  between watching some really fit guy collapse the lap before, and seeing a friend just about to drop, it was interesting to experience a whole other range of emotions that can come along with the ultramarathon experience.

once we were out there, i kept wanting to try to go faster (which isn't saying much, i think trying to run was slower than walking by this time).

in response to me even talking about, much less trying, going faster, brandi kept pointing out (something like) that we were in a place that we should be, at a time that we should be, and that we should just enjoy it.  even though i agreed and tried to soak it in at the time, 24 hours later while strolling in to work it really hit me: that was a special time in my life.

at one point i stopped to fix a blister (really, a blister can make you want to stop, when you're only barely walking?!), of course all passers-by checked in to see if i was ok or needed anything, just like we did when we saw people stopped or slowed earlier.

here's dan pieroni, the oldest finisher 3 years in a row.  this was his 40th ultra.  he is insane.  you can really meet some neat people out there.  how is he insane?  won a racquetball tournament on a broken ankle.  helped his brothers up a mountain in a lightning storm on a different broken ankle (making a cast of duct tape and a hiking boot).  he gets dropped of in the yukon territory for "violent" cylcing training comprising himself, a gun, a bike, whatever gear he can carry, and a button to call a helicopter in case of emergency.  three months later, someone picks him up.  3 years ago he beat prostate cancer.  he's been married 49 years and only has sex with his wife.  

it's an unwritten rule that you have to run up the hill for the last lap, so dan and i did this together.

now this is about the only time during an ultra when you feel "almost there."  to you, it may seem like when your runner is at mile 85 of 100, that they are getting close and probably think that they are are almost there, and that just isn't the case.  15 miles can be really hard.  even 5 or 3 or 1?!



the good and the bad

what went well

  • almost everything!  there's not anything that i wish i would have done to make this a better experience.  even when i felt terrible physically, in my mind i was very happy to be out there, very optimistic that i would finish, and remained hopeful that the bad feelings would pass.

what did not go well

  • dowhnills
    • i knew going in that i was not properly train to run downhills
    • onlookers would call out "don't worry you're almost to the downwhill"
  • foot issues
    • blisters
      • i thought i had this dialed in from lots of previous runs at 50, 30, and 20 miles.  24+hours in light rain and humidity changes the game.  should be easy enough to make some minor tweaks to prevent this in the future.
    • callus thing
        • there was about a 3/4 diamater inch callus thing near the front mid of both of my feet.  when the rest of your foot is moist and skin is pulling apart/etc, having this big chunk of a thing was quite a detriment.  will spend a bit more time with the ped-egg before subsequent 50+ milers
      • shoe tieing / foot sliding
        • i usually leave my shoes rather loosely tied (because i don't like the feeling when laces push against top of the foot tendons or veins).  when running steeper downhills, this leads to your foot cramming forward into the front of your shoe with every step, which lead to some mild discomfort at the time, and a toenail or two that will probably fall off within the next few weeks.  this was only an issue in the 110s, the toe box of the montrails has a bit of a different build so it's good that these shoes were there for a backup option
      • gaiters
        • somehow i didn't hit submit on my gaiter order, so i picked up whatever rei had in stock on thursday night: a pair of gaiters held on by a shoe string across the bottom of your shoe.  this doesn't work to well when your shoe is flat.  the shoe string wore out within the first lap
        • lots of tiny rocks continued to get into my shoes after this, causing hot spots and discomfort, and leading to lost time due to dumping out my shoes at each aid station and sometimes along the way
        • having good gaiters would have saved at least 30 minutes and prevented lots of unneccessary pain!
    • nutrition
      • the mile 70 wall / shutdown was terrible. i think i had just too much water and food, probably 10-20% too much.  it's hard to describe. i wasn't nauseated.  it was just... too much.  
    • accidentally applying lotion to my melted inner thighs instead of aquaphor at mile 80something.  at least this woke me up.  and set some perspective to know that the other pain could be worse.


    • lucky trippy race shirt
    • 2 x smartwool ultralight 150 NTS
    • 1 x smart wool mid weight 200 crew
    • salomon minim shell / rain jacket
    • 1 x icebreaker distance shorts, 150
    • 1 x icebreaker distance shorts, 200
    • CEP compression sleeves
    • 2 x injiji perforamce toe socks
    • 2 x smarwool toe socks
    • 1 x smart wool PhD sort of compression sock
    • ipod nano
    • duracell charger thing (for garmin and for iphone)
    • iphone
    • lifeproof iphone case (waterproof/awesome)
    • salomon hat (for cool looking rain in eyes prevention and sweat routing)
    • rei hat  (for normal looking rain in eyes prevention and sweat routing)
    • neck cooling ice pack thing (stupid)
    • neck cooling tie thing (stupid)
    • salomon xt one water pack
    • 8x 2oz rei plastic bottles (for storing pre-mixed nutrtion at AS#2 for easy mixing into water bottle)
    • size 10.5 new balance mt110
    • size 11 new balance mt110 (for foot swell/later)
    • size 11 montrail rogue fly (for later if more cushion and 10mm drop (instead of 4 on the mt's) seems necessary)
    • 2x etymotic er-4 headphones.  good thing there were two!  rain clogged up the first pair before lap 3?!
    • gopro w chest strap





    • for the stuff i brought, each lap (12.5 miles / 2.5-5 hours) i had:
      • 2x 2oz power carb (200 calories) + 1/4 serving life's basic plant protein.  the power carb is a highly refined carb that supposedly has a low insulin spike and slow(er) absorption.  they claim you can take up to 1000 calories per hour with no digestive issues.  the incremental servings of protein was from a recommendation to have some protein in "a step beyond"
      • 12x now foods organic chlorella (for vitA+C)
      • 2x satlstick 
      • 2x vega vegan DHA (from aglae)
      • 2x vega vegan vitamin E
      • a few gu roctane
      • a few gu blackberry
    • from the aid stations, it was mostly
      • 2x 1/4 size pb+j squares
      • some chips.  lays wavy (probaby bad oils?)
      • orange slice
      • banana half or quarter
      • grapes
      • melons
      • mini snickers
      • occasional gatorade
    • and special aid station treats:
      • vegetarian chili (i think mile 50?)
      • 1/2 potato, 1/2 lentil soup (i think mile 62.5?)
      • pizza (mile 88)

    garmin data

    elevation data.  the race organizers publish 8,000ft up, 8,000ft down

    weather data:


    upcoming races

    earth day 50k in CL.  this will be a fun training run/race and i want to try to go fast!

    ice age trail 50 in WI in May.

    angeles crest 100.  if i was gonna do a "shit ultrarunners say" quote then it would be that umstead was just training for ac100.  i know i can go the distance now, but ac100 is going to be a different animal.  it has more elevation change than western states, at 2x+ the up and 3x+ the down when contrasted with umstead.


    everyone who sent me a message during the run.  i feel like this borders on being "too connected" and that people might say i should be out there and experiencing the purity of the run on my own.  for me, it feels good (that's an understatement) to know that my family and friends are thinking of me.  also thanks to karen and jen for being out there to pace for others and occassionally help me out.  if karen wasn't there i think i would have headed out for every lap with only one shoe tied!

    special thanks

    ann.  i try to run at times that are convenient for the fam.  early mornings, lunch time during work, late nights.  regardless, it must be tough sometimes. "i'm going for a run, be back in ___." and who knows how long ___ might be.  running shit all over multiple rooms of the house?  usually.  talking about running?  probably too much.  

    dad.  thanks for being there and for helping me haul me and my stuff around and keep it organized.  it was such a relief to know that you that you were a phone call away and to know that you'd be there whenever i needed you and at the finish line.  

    brandi.  would i have finished this race if you weren't there?  i don't know.  would i have missed a cutoff because i had taken a nap in the rain on the side of the trail, if you weren't keeping me awake?  probably.  would it have been an absolute blast and a party to run through the night after running all day?  no way.  thanks for being there and for cheering and talking and listening and helping.

    wrapping it up

    finishing an ultramarathon of any distance feels great.  i mean, even though it might actually feel like sheer self-torture at the time, or for part of the time, feeling the happiness of knowing that you did it far outlasts the pain or suffering that can happen along the way.  and unlike the 5k, half, or big city marathon you might be eyeing as a future goal, an ultramarathon includes a very special deep sense of community.  for all but a select few, this is not a race to see who is fastest, it is a race just to see if we can do it.  together.

    maybe brandi said it best...

    "Insert your body in this picture. You will be forever changed."


    they might not get it

    "many people, even those who love you, don't understand how compelling that can be, and will try to keep you in the 'safety zone.' but fuck that. half the fun is venturing into the unknown, taking on the difficult task that yields new knowledge, doing more and testing your limits." 

    -marshall ulrich

    running mix playlist

    this is a 3 hour 180bpm (tempo synched to match my running cadence) continuous mix for long run training and to help me get through my first ultramarathon.  

    it tempo shifts (speeds up or slows down without changing pitch) and (mostly) nicely blends a lot of music that i find encouraging, ridiculous, fun, happy, or just plain badass.  some of the 120 sped up to 180bpm songs sound a bit weird, and when you're in the zone it tends to just work out and you don't notice.    

    this didn't get past second draft status before the kids were doing some kind of plate/water cup stacking game near my computer one day, so there's a couple spots i would touch up a bit, and some overall mastering would probably be benficial.  nonetheless, it's fun and upbeat as is.

    download or stream here

    track listing:

    stronger riddim (yroc intro edit) (sample)

    two fingers - fools riddim

    four tet - plastic people

    sleigh bells - run the heart

    barrington levy - here i come 

    deadelus - how low can you go (live at santos exceprt) 

    emika - drop the other

    dj Sega - tic toc

    kid606 - never underestimate the power of a holler (Vipee-pee Mix)

    why? - the hollows (yroc dance party edit) 

    dillon francis & diplo feat. maluca - que que 

    major lazer - pon de floor (drop the lime remix)

    the russian futurists - hoeing weeds sowing seeds

    deadelus - make it so (xxxchange

    actress - always human

    flylo - astral plane riddim

    micheal jackson - billie jean (yroc flylo mix)

    flying lotus - do the astral plan

    daft punk - one more time

    bmore riddim 

    lady gaga - bad romance / bmore riddim

    bmore riddim / stronger riddim / zomby - mozaik / ll cool j - mama said knock you out (yroc thing)  (here's a sample of the draft of that part)

    gui boratto - no turning back

    felix da housecat - kick drum

    rustie - throw some d's (click clack)

    kenny knotts - watch all people them dancing

    soundmurderer and sk-1 - sound boy

    lcd soundsystem - all my friends

    daft punk - harder better faster stronger

    wiz khalifa - no sleep

    tittsworth - EZ

    some acid song

    bel biv devoe - poison (tittsworth remix)

    tiger and woods - time

    deadelus - taylor made (feat milosh)

    king cannibal - xx mix excerpt

    ciara - oh (feat ludakris)

    martyn - 2472

    postal service - great heights

    e.s.g. - dance

    barrington levy - dancehall rock (yroc's too slow to dance (oops) version)

    rick ross - hustlin (sinden bmore remix)

    jackie chain - Rollin (ft Jhi Ali)(Diplo Remix)

    prefuse 73 - back in time

    lady gaga - paparazzi 

    the golden filter - solid gold

    gang gang dance - mind killer

    das racist - you outta know

    !!! - steady as the sidewalk cracks

    gold panda - snow and taxis

    tokimonsta - sa mo jung

    dj sega - real love

    mylo - drop the pressure

    lykke li - dance dance dance (buraka som sistema remix)

    daft punk - harder better faster stronger (diplo's work is nover over)

    kid606 - radio killed the video star

    lupe fiasco - i don't wanna care right now

    africa hi-tek - do u wanna fight

    dj funk riddims

    dead prez & wtf - bigger than hip hop (dubstep remix)

    nightmares on was - 70s 80s

    kid606 - smack my glitch up


    ultramarathon #1: 50 miles of wisconsin hills and prairie. lessons learned, highlights, pictures, notes, and observations

    this is an account of one of the best days of my life.  do you have kids?  if you have kids, picture the first time you held your son or daughter in your arms.  if you don't have kids, imagine one of the best days or moments of your life (and keep it in mind and tell me about sometime).  or maybe just imagine being a kid again.  that's the level of experience we're talking about here... very deep, positive, emotional, even spiritual.

    i'm writing this up for a few reasons.  the first is that this was such a beautiful and special day that i want to remember all of the details that i can forever.  the second is so that i have some notes to refer to for future runs.  the third is to share some info and howto and tips and tricks, to cover the kinds of things that people commonly ask about, and to cover the things i forget to talk about.  and finally, it's to encourage other people to get out on the trails or the sidewalks and to start putting one foot in front of the other, because you'll be surprised to see how far you can go and how much you can accomplish.

    there will hopefully be many more ultras in my future, and it seems like the first one will always be special to me.  relentlessly progressing along the course, realizing that i can do this thing, and realizing that i just did it, greatly expanded my sense of appreciation for life. 

    even though completing your first ultra takes a lot of learning, planning, time, and mileage up front, along with a strong spirit of endurance while in progress, and as much of an accomplishment as it feels like, i think in a strage way that it is easier than it seems.  it's not like a crowded road race, you have nature around you, the people are wonderful, it's expected that you'll walk a lot, you get to stop and have snacks along the way, your fellow runners are smiling and saying encouraging things to you (and you to them), you can have a chat at any time with people pacing near you, you can ask for help, you can offer help, and you run at a reasonable pace that is much slower than road race pace and therefore much easier on your body.

    this was a great first-timer course and event: very well organized, clearly marked, well-positioned and well-stocked aid stations, helpful and encouraging volunteers, the kids race and ease of access for the family, and the celebrity factor of having dean karnazes (check out his books, i've read them all and they're good) there added a bit of zip too.

    at least one of you will do this one with me next year.  who will it be?!

    Lessons learned

    • friends and family
      • despite loving you and having your best interest in mind, you can't expect that everyone will advise you of the right moves to make at the right time, or have the right thigns to say, or will even be able to relate to you in a meaningful way.  understand and be strengthened by their caring, and do your planning on your own or with other experienced runners / ultra runners.  
    • trail runners are wonderful people!
        • i've read many books about utlra running and they all talk about a spirit of comraderie.  i found this to be 100% true.  through the middle of this race, which comprises a cross country ski trail that goes /\__/\/\_/\_/\ (making it very time consuming to accumulate mileage) as well as some nice open prairie, there were some out and back stretches where we all passed each other coming and going.  almost every person i passed was all smiles and encouraging words.  during a previous road race, i once saw a group of runners kick a passed out guy out of the way to make sure they could PR.  on the trail, everyone stops, checks in, sees if you need help, gets you back on your feet, and makes you feel good about it.  (even though that thing about the guy didn't really happen, the scenes are very different).
      • respect the hills
        • do not dance down hills prior to sufficient tech trail training
          • i haven't done a lot of hills/techy trails so for the first 20 miles i was feeling great and just jumping from rock to rock or side to side on the more techy parts, or just letting gravity take me as fast as it could on the more straighforward downhills.   i stretched or pulled or strained some ligamints or tendons, which i became aware of around mile 20, and had to work around the pain for the rest of the race.  conservatively jogging down the hills seems like a good approach until more techy training happens 
        • walk up the hills
          • i've read this and expected it so it was more of a confirmation.  it works.  i'm sure the front of the pack run the whole time, and for everyone else, it's fun to run along with a small group, we all hit the base of the hill at the same time, and it's just an unspoken thing that now we all walk.  later on, it was funny when we'd get to the top and then everyone would just be waiting for one person to get movin again, and one time we all kinda stalled and finally one of us got going.  we were all thinking the same thing (someone better get us movin!)
      • not THAT much salt
        • Doesn't seem to hurt anything, or maybe it's why i felt like I wasn't drinking enough, but you could tell from my clothes and hat after that i was sweating out way too much salt.  next time, 1x saltstick per hour.
      • have some mantras queued up 
        • one foot in front of the other
        • whatever works for you, just have something ready because there will be times when you just need to or when you want to zone out and just let the time pass into nothingness (except mileage accumulation).  
      • plan out every detail
          • i got a text from ann that i saw at 2:30 that the car gps said she had 47 miles til she would arrive.  txts are slow and unreliable in the woods.  the kids race starts at 3:00.  they might miss it.  they might miss me finishing.  i am dripping sweat on my phone and have to put it away.  i can't think about it.  i have to know if they are going to get here.  etc.  even though they arrived on time, and everything worked out, it is best to reserve all mental energy for mantra repetition and positive interactions
        • there is no half way point
          • mile 25?  nah.  mile 30?  nah?  the course varies to much.  the only time i felt like some significant milestone was reached was like 49.5  i was tracking each 20% (10,20,30,40) as somethign, but it was just kind of like a fact and not something i could really play with for positive energy.
        • no sleep didn't matter
          • went to sleep at midnight and woke up at 2:30am.  as long as you sleep in the days before, everything will be fine

          highlights: (this is a lot of unique and happy memories for one compressed time period!)

          • i got bib #50!  this just seemed like a good omen.  you just can't DNF when you are bib #50 in your first 50 miler.  (it helps to line up all the psychological tricks you can for when the other side of you starts to negotiate with you)  
          • my parents were at the start.  i was gonna get a ride to a hotel or take a train to a bus and hitch or who knows what.  they offerred to drive me up (after talking me down after some travel related complications (and me being a temporarily crazed asshole)), and the plan was that they'd just be dropping me off.  once we got there they decided to stick around even though it was going to make a really tiring day for them (we left their house at 2:45am).  i was really glad we were together at the start and it was more positive energy to have stored up for when i'd need it
          • the head lamps and flaslights in the line of the 200 of us in the otherwise pitch black morning woods were so neat.  you could look up and down the trail and see it zigzagging through the woods and it just really made me feel like i was a part of something special
          • on the drive up there, i was talking to my parents about how i didn't understand why people used handheld water bottles.  some time after the second aid station, mile 11 or so, i reached back to find i had dropped one of my water bottles without knowing it.  with no idea how far back i'd have to go (up to 2 or 3 miles (the volunteers had filled it for me and handed it to me at the last station and i had it when i left)) i decided i'd drink much more at the subsequent aid stations and survive on 10.5 oz between stops.  
            • shortly after that, 3 or 4 of us were all pacing each other, so i commented to the guy just in front of me on the now obvious advantage of his handheld water bottles: "if you drop one, you know right away."  we joked a bit, he had seen the water bottle and wasn't sure that it would even be helpful to pick up, and of course right away he offerred me his water.  
            • then #51 caught up, and she joined in the convo.  she had seen my water bottle too, again just not sure "do i pick this up in case i see the person somehow, or am i then stuck carrying some thing for 38 more miles?"
          • the three of us ran together and talked for quite some time.  life stories, interests, books, hobies, etc.
            • alex is in the resreves and is an f-16 mechanic.  he's done some cool endurancy / adventure type races.  he said not long ago he a lot more than he does now, and just ran his first half last year.  he's working on a degree to become a programmer.  he usually has some burping issues around mile 25, and did on this day.  
            • #51 is a kindergarten teacher of special needs kids, and seems to waver between staying up til 2am playing darts and waking up at 3am to run 30+ miles.  she was sponsored by nike to run the hood to coast relay a few years back.  she offerred some yummy sounding treat that we were gonna share at mile 28 but when i got there i  was a bit behind them and wasn't really processing.
            • alex and i were takling about longer races like 100M and #51 says "what are you crazy? why would you ever run 100 miles?"  me: "you realize you are out here running 50 miles right?"
            • it was nice to be able to talk through some concerns.  i was worried about my calf because a week prior it tightened up and got pulled at mile 5 of a 10 mile run.  it hurt for several days and that was the last time i'd run before this started.  
            • it was also nice to know that other people find it hard too.  we talked briefly about what was ailing us, or what issues we'd been having while training.  this seemed like a risky topic because it could be too easy to begin giving undue focus to something that is not a serious issue, so i didn't want to talk about it too much.  #51 mentioned that year in and year out, something comes up and there will usually be some minor pains that come along with training.  it felt good to hear this from an experienced athlete.
            • as the sun was coming up and we were running along some beatiful praire and rolling hills, just chatting and feeling great, the three of us all doing our first 50-milers, i did my best to paraphrase kurt vonnegut's saying "if this isn't nice, i don't know what is" and the group agreed. 
            • i feel like this really set the stage and was more good vibes to store up for later.  maybe i'd still be with them later?  maybe i'd find another group?  maybe i'd zone to music.
          • at the next aid station (mile 16), #51 joked to the volunteers that she had intentionally left my water bottle behind so that i'd get dehydrated at the end and she could win.  somehow some volunteers had found my water bottle and had it ready for me.  "holy shit, that is awesome! thanks for saving the day!"  
          • at mile 21, i had some mountain dew.  it was delicious!  also at mile 21 the air temp was just right such that an unusual amount of steam was visibly eminating from me, and some of the volunteers had a laugh about it.
          • at mile 28, in the bathroom, i got to know thomas who runs charity. first i pushed his stall door open, and quickly apologized.  "no worries" he said, "how's the run going?"  i chose the open stall next to his and we spent a few minutes getting to know each other. he's a psychologist, runs a charity, and this 50 miler was a warm up for his 65 mile run the following day. he hosts a 24 hour run in the milwaukee area. again, instant best friends, even after busting into his stall. awesome peeps.
            • later i would meet thomas again.  and guess how this time?  i was blowing snot to my left and behind me when he was just about to run by and give me a thumbs up.  sorry again!  i caught up with him after the race, and of course...  "no worries"
          • while i was sitting down at the mile 35 aid station changing my socks and eating cookies, the volunteers were remarking: "do they even know what is going on?" (meaning are the runnners still cognitively functioning).  i thought that was funny.  i tried to tell them a story about one time when it was really hot and i was really in zombie mode, and the story just didn't quite come out right, probably confirming their suspicions that we didn't know what was going on.
          • after i got up from sitting down (avoid sitting down, it feels a little too good) at the bag area and headed to the food table, a guy came up and said "i guess i will take you up on that salt offer."  the funny thing was, i had never offerred him any salt, or at least i don't remember doing so (it's entirely possible that i did).  i had a bunch of extra salt so i shared 3 with him and then 3 with another guy (salt tabs to runners = crack rock to hookers).  
          • right after that, as i was ready to get moving again, another guy came in and claimed that his bag was missing from the drop.  he was stressing bigdtime.  the volunteers calmly asked what he needed and what they could get for him, and he when he asked if they had salt tabs and they said no he exclaimed "WELL THEN I'M FUCKED."  at the time i was not in a place where i could absorb any negative energy, so i put on my headphones and got moving.  in retrospect, it should have been easy enough to let him know that i had just given a bunch of salt away, and that surely one of the other runners who would be coming through soon would have excess salt.  next time i'll be able to help out in that situation.  
          • I was all alone for a couple of miles after leaving 35, and i started to worry that i was going the wrong way.   there were spots where i saw orange, and i couldn't tell if this was a repeat section.  do i wait to see someone else?  try to catch up to someone else?  turn around and confirm?  i was pretty sure i hadn't missed anythign so i just kept going.  finally saw some peeps catching up that i recognized; phew!
          • ran into a guy named brian from indiana.  his girlfried is from mt proz.  we were at mile 37 and he was doing his second 50 miler, the first one he was in got called due to weather when he was at mile 36 or so, so he had just gone farther than he ever had before, so it was another neat and positive moment
          • The volunteers were so great.  They would take your bottles from you, ask what you need, fill em up, and bring em back. "let me do that for you, you just go get some food." it seems like a small detail and it was so helpful physically and emotionally (these people care about me and are here to help me and that is nice)
          • Around mile 42, the ligament thing was getting the best of me.  a couple people came up on my left, and the convo went like this (brandi=b, cory=me):
            • b: HI!  GUESS WHAT?
              me: what?
              b:i'm going to finish my first 50 miler today!!!
              me: me too, CONGRATS!
              b: doesn't it feel great?
              me: well it would if my foot wasn't broken, and even with that, yes
              b: like medically broken?
              me: no no. just hurts! 
              b: want some aleve?
              me: yes, that would really help!
              b: here, take this aleve. it is going to make you feel great and you are going to finish strong!

              can not even describe how helpful that was!  posted a thing on the event's page and she responded...
          • at the mile 45 aid station, i was getting a bit loopy.  
            • first of all, my earbud cover thing got stuck too far in my ear.  a marine who was volunteering as part of the medical staff pulled it out with a pair of pliers.  
            • i was mumbling about how the mountain dew was the best mountain dew i'd ever had, the orange was the best orange ever, and of course when they explained that i was at mile 45 and had only 5 miles left to go, i told them that was the best news i had ever heard in my life.  
          • rolling out of that aid station and crossing a main road, a traffic volunteer guy said: "you can do it, one foot in front of the other."  i don't know why it works, but that stuff works.  it's a common mantra and is one i use a lot, and hearing him say it was another positive feeling to use to keep it together.  it's something about the connectedness and understanding and being aware of the common goal.  maybe he's a runner, maybe someone he loves is in the race.  it's good.
          • there was a guy puking at mile 40+.  yikes.  glad my digestion went well.
          • 43-47 or so was pine forest with sand (i don't know if naturally or as some sort of erosion prevention kinda thing).  it is not fun to run in sand when you have been running for 10 hours.  
          • around 47 some lady runs past while i'm walking and yells "it sure is nice to be past all of that sand back there!"  even something like that feels good at a time like that.   to know there are other people out there thinking what you're thinking and going through what you're going through.
          • i had trouble with one of the turns near mile 48.5.  i was freaking out because i was alone again it was a repeat section of the track and i couldn't tell if that was why i saw orange to the left.  it is at times like this that you realize that it must be devastating to head in the wrong direction.  when you're at mile 48, you want to be done in 2 miles, not in 4 or 5 or 6 miles if you get lost and have to turn around.  i could only see purple to the right, so i just said fuck it.  
          • finishing was beautiful.  unlike a crowded road race in chicago, where as a spectator you can barely crowd in to get a view, and the runners are separate from the crowd, it's a lot more open and relaxed.  that means that julian, jordan, and ann got to stand in the finish chute.  i could see them up there wearing their finisher medals on my final approach and i got to high five the kids just after crossing the line, a moment i had been looking forward to since i signed up for this thing.
          • a lot of friends and family sent txts or emails or posted on facebook or called during the run (glover: "how was it?" me: "dude i have 5 miles left!").  with every message i felt a wave of positivity wash over me and this did more to help me keep it together than i can describe.


          • on DNF (did not finish)
            • my impromptu trail buddies and i chatted about this around mile or 20 or so.  it seemed to me kinda like bad luck to talk about, and we did it anyway.  i felt like at that point we were 20 miles in and considering how good we were feeling there was no way it would be a possibility for the 3 of us to not make it.  we acknowledged our fear together and moved on to other topics.  i didn't think about it too much after that, and never let it become part of the negotiation (for example, if i don't feel better by mile 40, maybe it would be ok to not finish).  we saw a guy who had turned around and you really feel for the person. also heard some volunteers talking about a girl whose knee was hurting really badly and on top of that she had gone a few miles in the wrong direction.  i hope she made it!
          • gear/equipment
            • icebreaker 5" merino wool (200 wgt) shorts
            • smartwool merino wool (150 wgt) long sleeve shirt
            • vibram five fingers kso trek shoes
            • 2 x injiji mini crew socks (changed at mile 35)
            • layer of aquaphor (generic) to coat the feet before putting on socks 
            • rei wicking hat thing
            • ptzel e+lite head lamp.  easy small light that was fine for only an hour of morning run.  need real light for 100 miler
            • amphipod 2 x 10.5oz clip in water bottles.  pouch used for gels and supps 
            • amphipod strectchy belt.  pouch used for iphone, ipod, and backup cheapy mp3 player
            • body glide on inner thighs etc
            • band aids on nips.  the merino was fine on previous long runs, used bandaids just to be sure
            • safety pin, bandaids  (just in case for blisters)
            • drop bag (delivered to 21/35)
              • newton shoes, dry socks, backup shorts, backup shirt, special cookies, moleskin, aquaphor (generic), bug spray, second skin spray, backup headphones
              • only used the dry socks and cookies
            • base camp bag
              • warm clothes for after just in case, random stuff
          • music:
            • dj yroc (aka me) made a 3 hour 180bpm (tempo synched to match my running cadence) continuous mix that i listened to about 2.5 times.  it tempo shifts (speeds up or slows down without changing pitch) and (mostly) nicely blends a lot of music that i find encouraging, ridiculous, fun, happy, or just plain badass.  some of the 120 sped up to 180bpm songs sound a bit weird, and when you're in the zone it tends to just work out and you don't notice.  there's some really good transitions, yroc refixes, edits, etc.  have a listen if you want to add some stimulation to your next run.  dj mix download link + link to track listing.
            • m83's new album saved the day in the 40+ mile zone.  raconte moi une histoire is one of my favs, and i think i listed to that 20 times or so on repeat over the last miles 

          • nutrition
            • 1x g.t. dave's grape chia kombucha and 1x ginger kombucha before
            • 1x grape chia kombucha mixed into water bottles at the beginning
            • saltstick every hour
            • skipped the first aid station altogether, filled up at mile 11.
            • 2 x extreme dark chocolate squares 60-90 minutes in to get the digestive juices started
            • 6-12oz of water at each station, refilled 2x 10.5 oz water bottles.  this was not enough to have on me (good thing they found my bottle)
            • glutamine/carnatine a couple of times
            • 1 naproxen from mile 28 aid station, one from a runner at mile 42 or so
            • 4 x pbj sandiwches total, by way of 1/4s or halves
            • lots of potato chips
            • skittles
            • an orange slice or two at every stop
            • mountain dew and pepsi a couple of times (21/28/35/40)
            • 3x gu roctanes.  6x gu roctanes?  who knows?
            • some other gus, berry and vanilla
            • hilary's vegan nut chip cookies (special treat in my drop bag waiting at mile 35)
            • 10 chips ahoy
            • lots of potatoes, some with salt lick. boiled potatoes and plates of salt=yum
          • digestion
            • had to shit early in, couldn't stop on the trail to pee off to the side without having to shit every time (ugh!) and there wasn't a good bathroom setup at 11, and at 16 + 21 (?) i wanted to stick with my new buddies.  finally at mile 28 there was a good bathroom setup and my body was timed right.  i'd fallen a bit behind the friends and was taking my time.  that's the only time i peed the whole time so i think water intake was good to a bit low
          • pain and recovery
            • on a 1 to 10, i'd give the general pain level around a 5.  my left ankle, from 20-30 miles was a 5, got up to an 8, and was around 7 on average for 30-50.  it took some management and psychological discipline to not focus on it, to focus on form, and to not overcompensate
            • no blisters
            • typical muscle soreness followed on day 2, as expected.  nothing crazy though
            • had to ice the ankle issue a lot, was getting better by day 5
            • my pects were sore (presumably from holding up my arms for 11 hours)?!


            did i leave anything out?


            if you've ever thought "maybe i could do that some day" you should start now because you can.  people can do some crazy shit!   the runners in that race ranged in age from 20 to 60. 

            so take the dog for an extra walk around the block or do a 5k or a half or marathon or ultra, hop on a bike, do anything.  take the first step, get moving!  


            next, pictures

            arriving / base camp / 4:40 in the morning.


            the early morning scene

            the starting line and finish line feels much different in this kind of event than the ones at the handful of halfs or other races i've done.  unlike a half or marathon where i'm trying to PR, on this run my goals were to enjoy every minute of time on the trails and to finish.  the special moments happen out on the trail, in talking with people, in putting together and following the plan, in convincing yourself to stick with it.  so the finish line is sort of bittersweet, as it is in many ways sad to have everything come to an end


            head lamps looked neat, wish these would have turned out

            (event staff photo)


            getting lighter...


            stoppin for a pic

            a nice view

            my new buddies:

            aid station at mile 28

            the scene at mile 28

            this is (i think) brian.  his girlfriend grew up in mt proz

            thanks for the notice!

            aid station fare at mile 35 (was also mile 21)

            mile 40 aid station (event staff photo)


            things got harder after leaving the mile 35 aid station and i was OK up to the mile 40 aid station.  overall i felt surprisingly well, just some general fatigue and muscle soreness, and the problem i was having was with the left ankle ligaments that i had strained early on.  i had to really focus on my form and take every step carefully so as to not make it any worse.  i knew that if i did that, even though every step hurt, everything would work out.


            it was time for M83 to the rescue!  i don't know what the words are other than the parts where they say "carry on," and i was thinking of how julian and jordan said in the car a few days earlier that this new one is remix of the song from the skate video (lower your eyelids to die with the sun).


            couldn't deal with pictures anymore, though we ran through some lovely open fields and some soft and quiet pine forests.  

            remembered to follow the orange


            The scene back at the camp while i was around mile 45 (event staff photo).  see that ridge in the background? from way farther to the left to farther to the right, we covered on foot.


            the kids ran a 1k while i was out there, racing buzz lightyear, spongebob, elmo, and others.  they did great!  i had wanted to finish in time to see this, and even though i did not it still felt good to know that they were running while i was

            around the time they finished, and for the rest of the run, i was listening to this other M83 song on repeat, crying (happy crying, even though i was in pain) my way through the final miles

            almost there...

            10 hours and 57 minutes later

            high-fivin the kids at the finish.  hard to describe how good that felt!

            trying to hug the boys.  jordy said i was too stinky and kept running away!


            dean signing my bib!

            dean!  dean said he is working on making his legs look mine

            link to garmin data, elevation, and a google earth overview of the course

            and next up... umstead 100 in the spring

            and then hopefully western states 100 in june

            and then off to cali for angeles crest 100 in july

            and then off to the mountains again... for leadville 100 in august