Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and the VT 100 Mile Endurance Race


Let's get right into The Bad and The Ugly to get it over with.  I've been dealing with some foot issues for a while and Tuesday night was my test night to see if I could run the VT 100 on July 16th.  Aliza was all set to run with me prior to the weekly 5k trail race at Catamount Family Outdoor Center to see if I was race worthy.  We ran some on trails and then hit the hard pack roads.  I think we ran 6 or 7 miles at a good clip.  I thought I was able to hold my own and prove that I was ok.  Aliza thought not with my gait totally off from the usual.  Still I wasn't convinced so for my own sake, I wanted to race the 5k trail race to prove I was able to run 100 miles.  Well, after a mile or less, the pain kicked in and I was fading fast.  Even on the uphill which I always look forward to I was being passed by others. On the twisty turny single track I was in pain on every corner.  The only bright star was that I was so cautious on every turn that I slowed down while others excellerated only to wipe out in the mud like Todd.  In the end, it was the slowest I ever ran this course and I was in pain.  Immediately following the race I sat in my truck, foot in the beer cooler while I sucked down an ice cold Bud as I knew I couldn't run the VT 100.  That was the bad and the ugly.

Some good during the week, I finally completed the exam for the USATF Level 1 Coaching.  I took the class in March or April and finally had time to sit down and take the test.  I scored a 96%.  Besides being able to coach for endurance running, I can coach for throwing a javelin or for the pole vault event.  I always thought the pole vault would be fun, hmmm.  Any way, for the rest of the week I ran a minimal amount and biked a lot. Thursday night Joe Cararra and I cranked out a 43 miler bike ride in the hills of Hinesburg, Huntington and Richmond folowed up by dinner, beer and tequila. 

Friday was the check in for the VT 100, something I would normally be looking forward to, but not this year as I would have to declare my DNS status.  I arrived late in the afternoon and got in line to check in.  Many runners came up to me and wished me a good race, not knowing my foot status.  When I got my race packet I pulled out my number and attempted to give it up to Deb, declaring my DNS.  I had a really, really hard time letting go of my race number.  Deb even told me I could hold on to it until the morning if I decided to race but I knew better.  Sure, after some tequila I could put on the shoes and shorts and be ready to run at 4:00 AM.  So after a few give and take backs, I finally gave up my number to Deb so I could not race in the morning.  Afterwards I went out for an easy run, then a mountain bike ride on some great single track to make room for dinner.  After dinner I chatted with some of the racers and then hung with Nate Sanel for some pre-race rituals.  We enjoyed some Patron's Tequila (Thanks Nate) and had a good look at his new made shoe which he was to run in on Saturday.  Soon it was time for bed so I retired in the F-150 camper for the evening.

Jack and Nate.  Pre-race training

Saturday, 3:30 AM.  I was woken up by the loudspeaker of Julia Hutchinson.  30 minutes to go to the start.  I rolled out of bed and off to the start.  It seemed kind of odd, no running for me and no official crew or pacing, so why was I there?  What purpose?  I met up with some familiar faces and wished them the best.  4:00 AM they were off.  I felt sort of lost, thinking now what???  For now I knew it was time to go back to bed, which I did.

5:45 AM time to get up.  I heated up some hot water while I prepared for the day and then had some tea to get myself going towards Pretty House, the first aid station at mile 21.  Still not knowing my role I figured I would just help out as needed.  As the lead pack came in, Mike Arnstein was part of this group.  I knew Mike was solo and had no crew so I found his drop bag and helped him to get on his way.  Bob Ayers was not far behind and I cheered him on as he went through.  Serena came in for a shoe change and was in great shape, not too fast, not too slow.  Mike Oliva, also solo, came through so I found his bag to help him through.  Nate arrive shortly thereafter, not looking good.  Hopefully his hard training will kick in soon???  So it went, I had plenty to do throughout the day.  Helping Mike and Mike as trail bitch and giving support to Bob, Serena and Nate as well as many others. 

Serena doing a quick shoe change at Pretty House.

Same at the Stage Road Aid station but had to also help out the aid station replenish squad comprosed of 2 elders.  They parked their pickup directly in front of the aid station so it would be a challenge for any runner to come through.  I jumped in the back of the pickup and handed supplies out to speed up the process.  Shortly thereafter, Joe Carrara and I were having our own tailgate party, cooking up pancakes with VT maple syrup watching runners and horses coming in.

Next up, Camp Ten Bear, mile 47.  The Lead runners were coming in including Mike Arnstein and Leigh Schmitt.  I grabbed Mike's drop bag to help out and off he went.  Bob Ayers wasn't too far off either.  Then, there was a large gap.  At this time I found some other friends who just arrived to cheer, maybe pace and also go for a morning run. 

Jen, Bob and Jack

Glen Redpath, Theresa Ridgway, Meghan Arbogast and Aliza La Pierre.  Talk about royalty, this was the best of the best of the Ultrarunning world!  The sad part of it was that this was my dream team to help me race this VT 100.  Ugh... my crew and pacer not to happen this year, or ever like this.  Oh well, might as well enjoy the company and the great day.  We all decided to go for a nice run in the woods while it was quiet at the race so I taped up my foot and off we went.  We headed out from the course mile 70 and beyond.  Theresa and I were both having foot issues so we only ran about 2 miles out before we turned back while the others continued on for some time.

Meghan, Jack and Aliza.
Camp Ten Bear is always a busy place with a lot going on as it's the aid station for mile 47 and 70.

Mile Silverman (VT 50 RD) and Jack
There was a lot of hanging out and I drove Ron back to the Silver Meadow so he could prepare for his night of pacing and then returned back to Camp Ten Bear.  We watched the leaders coming in at mile 70, some in good shape, others fading fast or dropping out.  I continued to help for Mike and Mike.  Mike Arnstein at mile 70 said, "I'm either going to win this race or blow up".  He was looking good and was chasing the leaders at this point.  Bob Ayers was looking good and relaxed,  Serena was on a mission to conquor and wouldn't even slow down for food so hurt foot and all, I had to sprint to catch her before she was off in the woods with some solid food for her to eat.  Mike Weigand and Nate Sanel came in pretty close to each other at mile 70.  Nate had blister issues so the meds were attending to him and causing him some serious pain, but all for the better.  Mike was looking rather green.  We sat him down in a chair and soon therafter the puking began.  It was going to take a huge effort to keep him going so Team Mike was formed.  Joe Carrara was the crew but we recruited Theresa Ridgway to pace with Mike to get him to Westwinds where I would take over until Polly's where Joe would take over for the final stretch.  After about a half hour of wretching, Mike was ready to go, sort of.  Good thing he had Theresa to follow to take his mind off things for the 7 mile stretch.  Joe and I headed over to Westwinds to wait for Mike.  Meanwhile, Nate showed up feeling good and revived.

Nate ready to go at mile 77.

He was in and out in no time.  But it took Mike 2 1/2 hours to do the 7 miles.  When he arrived we got some food in him as he was still a bit weak and off I went with him at about 8:45 PM.  We had about 20 miles to go until Joe took over.  The moon was rising and the temps were comfortable and it wasn't raining so all in all a good night.  Good but long.  In the end it took us  6 1/2 hours to cover 20 miles doing the run/shuffle.  And there were many stops along the way to continually empty out Mikes stomach.  He christened Queen Victoria Rd.  He visited the woods later on and hit every port-o-let on the way.  We found a new diet for Mike, something that would stay down, it was the combo of gummy bears, chocolate chip cookies and Coke.   And he started running again, so fast that Joe mis-calculated his time and wasn't ready for us at Polly's.  At that time, it looked like Mike had a chance of getting in under 24 hours so we couldn't wait and we were in and out at Polly's.  Half a mile down, Mike had to empty his stomach again and then we were off and running.  Another half mile and headlights were coming at us, it was Joe ready to take over.  I was extremely happy as my feet were rather sore at that point.  Joe drove up the road to get himself ready and as Mike approached Joe took over.  I gladly took Joe's car and headed over to the finish with Theresa. 

Mike finally made it, a huge accomplishment!  And Team Mike celebrated the victorious day.

Jack, Theresa, Mike and Joe at the finish.
So all in all, I had a great weekend helping out and meeting some new faces and keeping up with running clients whom I coach. Serena kicked butt in the end and won for the women.  Bob Ayers ran strong throughout and took 5th for the men.  Nate after he fixed his feet from nagging blisters ran a strong second half.   Mike Arnestein ended up victorious and set a new course record with his win.  I ended up being on my feet way more than if I ran the race.  So be it.  If you can't race, you may as well help out and enjoy the day... and night :)

1 comment:

mike said...

Good, bad, and ugly prettymuch describes my run at VT100 but I couldn't have done it without your help Jack - thanks so much!

Mike W.