STRAVA Summary

Friday, August 3, 2012

Vermont 100, or at least part of it.

So its taken me a while to get around to writing about my adventure at the Vermont 100. I’ve been mulling about for the past two weeks as to what went wrong, what I should have done, what I did wrong etc. and I think I’ve got it straight in my head now, not that its going to help my ego and the fact that I crashed out miserably, but I know there are things I should done differently and that at least means there is hope to get it done. Probably what hurts more right now is that it two races in a row that I have DNF’d at now. Granted at the Niagara 100k I was thinking that I would be saving my Vermont 100 race by quitting when I did.

We headed off on Thursday morning in Joan’s Tribute, packed to the gills with everything and then some, and that was before we picked up Catherine. Luckily we had bought the roof top carrier as that saved us. Rick and Joan would share the driving as we headed off and on our way to stay Thursday night just outside of Saratoga Springs, NY. Very nice area and the town itself is just oozing wealth. A nice meal and off to bed to get ready for the two and a half our ride to Springhill Meadow, not far from South Woodstock, VT. A few stops on the way to pick up a few necessities and we were at Race/camp/start/finish/expo/dinner tent at about 1:30 p.m. After setting up the tents we wondered over to the registration, first order of business was to by merchandise, hoodie - check , done. I was little wary of buying a sweatshirt as this meant that I had to finish the race and I wasn’t confidant that it was a given. But I said to hell with that and bought one anyway. Next was our bib pick up and then the medical. Yes, medical.

The first time I would have to do this for a race. I was a little concerned about blood pressure as I tend to get a little nervous around doctors and it is usually elevated higher than normal. But mine was not bad in this day 135/75. Off to get weighed next and the scale hit 172.2 lbs. Not bad fully clothed and with no running the past week. And that was that. Back to the camp to finish organizing and unpacking, getting the gear ready for the next day’s race.

We met up with Andrea, another Ontario runner from Hamilton who runs with the Burlington Runners. She had the neatest tent, just open it and voila it was set up. A few tent pegs and the fly to put on and it was ready.
Not long after we met our other neighbours, who happened to be from Montreal Kate and Gary, although Gary didn’t sound like he was from there. Turned out he was originally from London etc. and him and Joan hit it off from there, with Joan’s huge knowledge of that part Britain, having lived in the area for a few years. I prefer the north!! People aren’t as up tight and stuck up. Cockney wankers!!! Hahahaha.
We went off to the pre race meeting and dinner at about 4 pm , took a few pictures group shots of some of the other GTA folks we knew and then went into the meeting and ate.

Lots of food, more than anyone could eat, but we to run a hundred miles the next day, so fueling is important, as I found out the next day, the hard way.

We headed back to the tents and by 10 I think most of were asleep, maybe not soundly, but resting at least. I think I was awake before the alarms all started going off at around 3 am. I got dressed had my pre race shake and loaded up my gear, headlamp, shoes,…
Off to the starting area we all trudged. Headlamps everywhere all heading in the same direction, the dining tent. It was a cool morning and the forecast looked favourable with highs only in the mid to high 80’s. Much better than it could be in Vermont at this time of the year and definitely cooler than Burning River last year. Everyone huddled in the tent, some drinking coffee, some eating bagels or there pre race food of choice. I was ready and just watched while Joan and Rickymac took in the sights and took pictures. They would be my life line for the next 24 plus hours as my crew and later as my pacers. Catherine was just using drop bags and a pacer who she had met here last year, who came down from Nova Scotia.
Soon we were at the start and at 4 the horn went off and so did we.

The first kilometere is all down hill along the road we came in on, but it soon turns up hill and then into the bush for the first trail section. I was feeling good and trying to hold myself back as much as possible. Once we hit the trail I found my first small issue, I wore a headlamp which was bright enough, but it wasn’t easy to see the unevenness of the ground below, that’s why some runners use handheld lights and I probably should have brought one too. First lesson learned, not a biggy but worth noting. As long as I ran in a group it was fine, but when I was by myself it was a bit more difficult. Most of the trail was a bit of single track /double track or old forest road. But with in a couple of kilometers we were back on the road. So far so good, although I was probably going a little faster than I needed too. When we turned left on to Densmore Hill Rd we hit our first “hill”. Light was starting to filter through the trees a bit as dawn started to break, but it was still dark. We were only about 8k into the race. The first hill was a prelude of what was to come, it felt lie it just kept on going up and up and up. I walked the majority of it, as did most of the others I ran with. Other’s passed me as they ran the hills, but I was trying to save myself. I was drinking regularly as it was still rather humid and started my S Caps on the half hour every hour. I would eat some Isalean bar segments each hour (another mistake, not enough food). A lot of what transpired between here and coming into South Woodstock is a bit of a blur now, I do remember wanting to go to the bathroom, but there were no outhouses around or at the early aid stations. I was starting to look for trees and leaves that may help me out, but eventually we came to an unmanned aid station at 11 miles with a porta-potty… and a line up. It didn’t matter at this point. Ken Moon was also in line in front of me. After a delay of about 10 minutes I was back off and running again. From here there was a long downhill stretch into the town of South Woodstock and then a right turn over a bridge and not long after we were leaving the town.
I forgot to mention earlier the horses. The race is run in conjunction with a 100 mile horse race too, which starts 1 hour after the foot race. I can’t remember when the first horses passed me, but I believe it was just prior to my bathroom break. The horses have to follow a strict schedule of rest stops and feeding for the horses, so we would pass them back and forth quite regularly.

At just past 22 miles we came into the pretty house aid station and our first meet up with our crews. Joan and Rick were getting everything I needed which was just a shake and a refill of my hydration pack. It was just past 8am and the sun was up, it was getting warmer now. Here was another mistake, I was definitely sweating a lot and I hadn’t stepped up the use of my S caps. I should have gone to one every 30 minutes at this point. I am a heavy sweater and I found that It worked well at BR100 to increase the use if I’m sweating lots and it is hot and humid. I was taking them every 15 minutes at BR100.
I left Pretty house downhill and on the dirt road which led to a paved section for half a kilometre, then another dirt road before heading back into the bush,. It would be only about 8 miles to reach the next crew station, but I was feeling that this was not going to be a picnic already. The next climb was brutal and I was walking a lot, I would run the downhills and the flats, but mostly walk the uphills. This climb was easily the hardest yet. Although it was a mix of up and down it was still a climb to the top of a “mountain”. When I finally go to the top, it was a meadow and the view was amazing. You could see in all directions for miles and miles. From here it was downhill almost all the way down to the Stage Road aid station and my crew. The first part of the downhill though was difficult to run as it was steep and grass, and the grass was long enough to give e the feeling that I could twist my ankle very easily if I wasn’t carefull. I was already starting walk on some of the downhills as fatigue was setting in to some of my quad muscles. I came into the aid station and needed to sit for a minute or two.

I changed my shoes at this point, refueled, had another bathroom break and then off I went. At this point I was feeling the first feelings of doubt, it wasn’t helped with the next climb, which was straight up and over a large ridge. At the top I was suffering and from this point I don’t have a lot of memories of what transpired. I remember running on a main road where the traffic was backed up, because of us and having one minvan with Ontario plates, ask me how far do I have go yet? I looked at my garmin and replied “only 100k”. Holy crap, not even close to half way yet. We crossed a covered bridge and came to another aid station. I was in and out quick and started running with “Wooly”, a guy that everyone seemed to know, I think he said he was from New Hampshire. We ran, walked together for quite a while. At this point I was having trouble with the shoes I had changed into, the insole on the right foot was continually riding up the back of the shoes to the point where it was sticking out of the back of the shoe. I had to stop 4 times to take it off and readjust. Eventually I said to hell with it.and ran with it the way it was. The next hill was on a dirt road and it just went on for about a couple of kilometers, never going down, always up. Wooly would run a ahead, but I would always catch up to him. At least until we got to the top. The other side was a blur too, I remember coming to an unmanned aid station by a field and was told by someone there that there were no more up hills until Camp Ten Bear aid station, as I looked at runners ahead of me climbing another “incline”. My quads were in pain at this point and I was sweating an incredible amount. Eventually I came down the hill into Camp Ten Bear after struggling to run downhill in severe pain. This was the first medical station on the course and the first requirement was a weigh in. 163 lbs!!! I had lost 9lbs in the first 47 miles, unbelievable. You are allowed up to a 7% weight loss and I was at 6%. The medical folks told me that I needed to sit down, take in some food and gain some weight back before heading back out. I was more than willing to take my time. Apparently when I came into the station I was as white as a ghost too. I had a a shake and some other food, lots to drink, but the cramping in my legs was incessant. I couldn’t do anything with out my legs cramping. I have never had the muscles in the front of my shins hurt, but today they were extremely painful. After About 20 minutes in the aid station I thought, its time to get going again and started getting ready. That’s when I saw Catherine come in. looking as fresh as a daisy. Good for her, but it was hurting my ego to know she was passing me. I went out a head of her, knowing fine well that she would catch me at some point. As it turned out it wasn’t long. At this point I also came across Desiree Cowie, who I hoping to see at some point this weekend, but didn’t expect to see her on the course. We chatted for a bit before a I ran ahead.

The next hill did me in completely. Again it was straight up on trail and the heat was starting to get to me. I was sweating so much it just didn’t seem natural. I more or less staggered up the hill and at one point I felt faint. I got to the top and then hit the flat finally, soon after Catherine passed me again and I thought I would try and run… I made one step and everything cramped at once. I couldn’t move and almost passed out trying to stretch it out. But everything was cramping, not just one muscle. At this point I realized my day was done. Desiree caught up to me and asked if I needed anything. I told her no, just tell them at the next aid station I am dropping. The cramping finally subsided and I was able to “walk” to the next aid station and tell them I was done. It as difficult to do, but I knew that running wasn’t going to be possible. Another runner who cam e in tried to tell me not as I would get it back, but I knew differently on this day. The damage had been done earlier. 51.6 miles done, and I was done.

I got a ride back to Tracer Brook aid station where Joan and Rick were and they looked shocked to see me and obviously disappointed. It wasn’t my day.

We hung around Tracer Brook at saw as many of the people we know as possible, Ken, Catherine, Desiree, Kate and Gary. We cheered them all. Kate and Gary asked Rick if he’d be interested in pacing them as their pacer had to back out and since he wouldn’t be pacing me anymore. He agreed and would meet them at Camp Ten Bear on there way back.
We spent the rest of the evening/night following our runners around from aid station to aid station and helping out wherever we could. It was hard to stay awake but we did at least until Catherine finished at 24 hours and 21 minutes. We missed Ken finishing in 22 hours…

So what went wrong?

The obvious was the lack of fuelling and electrolytes. I don’t know what I was thinking to not eat enough, but… the electrolytes I should have figured out at some point, but didn’t. Also I don’t think the training has been the best this year. Too many events instead of concentrating on getting in a lot of long solo training runs like a I did last year. Injuries haven’t helped and my confidence hasn’t been the best with poor results in some of the events that I have run in, i.e. Niagara. Some times you just have to live and learn.

Next year!


chris mcpeake said...

Sounds like it was a real tough one Keith. I feel your pain man. Dont be to hard on yourself it happens to all of us (except those real genetic freaks at the elite level).

Just use it as a learning experience ( I had a tonne of those last year HA).

What do you have coming up next?

cya out there on the trails.

KeithRunsUltras said...

Thanks Chris. I was thinking of you and your experiences last year when I was writing this up. I know what i've done wrong and what I need to do to.
Next up? Well, I was thinking of doing the 50 miler at Haliburton, but I will see how things go over the next few weeks. I am going to Cleveland to do the North Coast 24 hour at the end of september. That will my first timed event.
Good luck in Leadville.