Sunday, May 20, 2012

MASSANUTTEN MOUNTAIN TRAILS 100 MILE RUN 2012 Race Report

May 12, 2012

....or in short the MMT 100 (aka toe breaker 100).  Not really sure why I decided to run this race except for the fact that I didn't make the lottery pick for Western States again or Hardrock so Bob Ayers and I decided to enter the MMT 100 and both of us got in.  For me a new race, for Bob another try to better his previous record.  Road Trip!


Training for an early season 100 miler is usually a challenge.  That means running many miles throughout the winter.  Luckily in VT this year we had no winter so it was not such a big issue due to frigid running conditions.  Then the mental aspect, am I ready to run 100 miles in early May?  I did a 100K in January, a 50 mile in February, a 50K in April and many other long runs throughout in preparation.  I also did my usual 500 in 30 during peak training time.  That's 500 miles in 30 days concluding 3 weeks before race day.  To make it more of a challenge were a few races thrown in so the final week of those 30 days was 135 miles.  I remember those last few miles of the 135 mile week doing mile long hill repeats ready to start walking when I bumped into Norm Larson just heading out for a Sunday Run.  Norm is one of the fastest in the country for marathon and below distances for us 50 year olds.  So with Norm there, I was forced to move my butt a bit faster up this mile long hill and then another mile or two until I was done for the week.  Afterwards I hit a 90 minute session of bikram yoga in 105 degrees which totally kicked my butt.  I was so wiped out that I went home and took a nap.  Yes, I was finally tired out but not hurt, there's that fine line.  I never know if this training plan is totally insane or if this is what it takes to keep up with he young-ins.   (And I have yet to try this on any of my running clients).  Only time would tell if this was good...or not.

Taper time prior to MMT 100.  Week one didn't go so well, I still logged near 90 miles.  I guess that is tapering after 135 miles.  The following week ended with what was supposed to be an easy 20 mile run a week before MMT.  The easy 20 mile run started out with good intentions but I got in a funk and decided to run uphill for 11 miles on the Long Trail and then 11 miles downhill which turned into a 6 hour adventure tracking moose poop and running through snow and of course with only 20 ounces of fluid and 2 GU gels.  Not the usual idea of tapering the week before a 100 mile race.  But got her done in any event.  Now it was race week.  Time to prepare for race day.

I still hadn't done much research on the MMT race so finally looked into the course a bit.  Yes it looked hilly and rocky.  I quickly looked at the splits and came up with sort of a game plan, to be implemented later in the week, which meant the night before the race.  To be determined!  Shoes, I was waiting for the new Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel Trail II's which arrived Tuesday afternoon and looked sweet!

Bob and I starting our adventure driving down Thursday afternoon for a 2 day journey to break up the 10 hour trip.  First leg getting us to northern PA.  We went down in the F-150 and made it to somewhere near Elk Mtn. in PA.  Bob noticed an official camping sign so we headed in that direction.  A few miles off the beaten path and we arrived at the Shady Rest Campground.  Bob was in heaven as the owner was a hunter.  He and Bob would've chatted all night long about deer and turkey hunting but it was getting dark so I figured it was time to set up camp.  For me, park the F-150 hotel, for Bob, setting up the tent.  The temps were already dropping with the sun setting.  Bob quickly set up the tent as I sat back and enjoyed a little R and R with a fresh Bud.
Bob enjoying a cold one.
Bob and I had a pre-pre race dinner and then it was time for bed as temps were dropping even more.  The plan was to sleep until at least sunrise, have some breakfast and get on the road for another 5 hours of driving.  The night proved to be a challenge.  I neglected to bring the down comforter and Bob forgot the warmer sleeping bag.  By dawn, there was frost on the ground.  Throughout the night we both had a time with the cold.  For me, luckily I brought a down jacket and wore that to stay warm.  Once the core was warm enough, I was de-layering in the night.  Bob remained in the fetal position to keep warm and was wishing Jen was there to keep him warm.  No he didn't admit that but I could tell.  Come morning the owner of the campground came by to show Bob his prize turkey from that morning's hunt.  I could sense that Bob was a bit jealous and wished he could have been out there too.  Shortly afterwards, we both enjoyed the hot showers and hit the road for another 5 hours.

Finally in Fort Valley, VA.  We arrived at the start finish area/campsite and set ourselves up.  For me, the F-150 hotel was ready to go.  For Bob, a few extra minutes setting up his tent.  Before long it was time for the race briefing.  Bob had already set up his drop bags and was ready to go.  For me, I still hadn't really thought it out.  I had all kinds of provision with me but it was a matter of figuring out what and where during the race.  I finally ran out of time with half thought out drop bags and we went over for the race briefing.

Start/Finish of the MMT 100
At the briefing I reconnected with ultra legend and friend Todd Walker.  As a veteran of this course and winner in 2008, Todd offered some great MMT advice.  RD Kevin Sayers gave a quick briefing along with tips and minor course descriptions to help us get through the course along with a few guest speakers.  After the briefing dinner began.  Trying to get myself organized I bypassed dinner for the moment to focus and finish up with my drop bags.  In all, I put together 3 drop bags that would hopfully get me through the race with adequate supplies and extras just in case.  I dropped off my bags at the tent and then enjoyed some great vegetarian pasta dishes along with desserts, my favorite.  With all the traveling and preparations, I still needed to get a run in so after woofing down the pasta, Bob and I went out for an easy run around the start and finish of the course.  We were both sucking wind with bellies full of pasta but we got'r done.  Shortly thereafter it was getting dark and time to retire for the evening with a plan to get up at 3:00 AM for the 4:00 AM start.

3:00 AM time to get up!  I was sleeping so good, I hate to get up in the middle of the night.  Temps were in the low 40's, chilly but not too bad.  I got myself dressed including arm warmers and gloves, had a banana, half a bagel with peanut butter and Bob had the hot water boiling for my hot cup of tea.  Finally it was time to head over to the start.  One last trip to the port-o-let and I was ready to go.  The start was actually quite reasonable without the occasional 5k race pace fast start.  Right off we had a 4 mile gradual uphill on the road before we hit the trail uphills.  I was running close to the front with Bob, Todd, Jason Lantz, Nick Pedatella and some others.  Finally off the road we hit the rocky trails and yes, they were rocky and up we went.

Rocky Trails
Nick was blazing the path with myself right behind.  And directly behind me the trail was lined up with others shining their headlamps to see the way over the rocks.  The trail seemed to go uphill forever, a familiar pattern that I would discover later on.  At one point Dan Barger took the lead and blasted by all of us and out of sight.  I was content running in a pack with Nick and Jason for quite a while.  Jason and I have spent many miles together and in 2009 ran much of the VT 100 together and some of the Leadville 100 in 2010.  Nick was at UTMB last year and I never had the chance to meet him there so this was a treat to run and chat with Nick.  Funny thing, Nick is about the age of my daughter.  Still, on the trail, age doesn't matter and we are all equal and just out there running.  The three of us came into Edinburg Gap at mile 12 and quickly out.  I was using a pack with a hydration bag to get me to mile 20 so I didn't require any stopping to refuel but I did remove the gloves and arm warmers as the temps were rising.  After another climb, there was really nice runnable terrain.  Before long, we passed by Dan Barger standing on the side of the trail.  Not sure what was going on but it didn't look good.  Nick was slightly ahead with Jason and myself following along.  For a second I lost concentration and next thing I was flying through the air.  I did a massive tuck and roll on the side of the trail  I could hear Jason yelling back to see if I was ok.  Best thing to do is to keep moving or it will hurt more.  The legs were fine but my elbow and hand hurt.  No need to stop.  A few miles later I noticed blood all over my hand and traced it back to my finger which had a large gash in it.  Over time the blood thickened enough so I glued back the hunk of skin that was flopping around.  No big deal.  At mile 20, Woodstock Aid Station the three of us arrived together again.  I had a drop bag and got rid of my hydration pack and shirt and picked up my waist pack.  I quickly filled up with water to add to my GU Brew drink mix, grabbed my GU gels and electrolyte pills and was ready to head out when one of the volunteers stopped me to pick off some ticks from my legs.  I'm glad they were watching.
Deer Tick


The next section had some excellent single track and no major climbs that I recall.  At mile 26 we pulled into Powell's Fort with Nick in the lead, Jason next and myself not far behind.  At that point I realized I screwed up with my drink mixes.  I didn't have another drop bag until mile 41 and was forced to drink straight water instead of the much needed GU Brew with electrolytes and extra sodium.  I picked off some more ticks and then headed out.  There was a good climb out of Powell's and then down to Elizabeth Furnace at mile 33.  Still with no drink mix, I had to continue with water only.  They had Gatorade but it doesn't usually agree with my stomach.  Luckily I had enough electrolyte pills to keep me going.  Nick was slightly ahead at this point but Jason and I were still running together.  Out of Elizabeth Furnace was another climb and then downhill to Shawl Gap.  Again more straight water for me.  I was concerned on how this might affect me later in the race, especially since the temps were heating up.  After a short road section Jason and I arrived at Veach Gap, mile 41.
Jack and Jason at Veach Gap.

I had a drop bag at Veach and was finally able to refuel with my GU Brew drink with 2 x's the sodium, grab some more GU gels and grab an extra hand held bottle as there were some long sections coming up without aid stations.  One treat at the aid station that I discovered, popsicles.  They were incredible!  I also grabbed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and off I went for the next major climb out.  Nick was about 4 minutes ahead and Jason was in and out of the aid station so I was on my own heading up the next climb.  It was also 9 miles to the next aid station and the heat was starting to kick in.  The climb out seemed to go on forever and somewhere along the way, Adam Lint passed by looking strong.  I was starting to get twinges in my legs from cramps so I had to back off a bit.  On a steep downhill section my calf cramped and totally seized up which stopped me dead.  Not good!  I tried to get another electrolyte pill down but then the gag re-flux kicked in and I almost puked.  Finally out of desperation I opened up the electrolyte capsule and poured it on my tongue.  The taste was disgusting and it almost made me puke but I held it in.  Finally after a long downhill I arrived at Indian Grave.  After that it was 4 miles of mostly uneventful road to get to the next aid station, Habron Gap.  From there it was another big climb out and would be another 2 hours plus before the next aid station.  This section was probably the low point for me.  I filled up one bottle with water and the other with Gatorade hoping to replenish some of the lost electrolytes.  Soon I rediscovered my memories of Gatorade.  It tasted like an old band aid and had me on the fence of puking.  Little by little I would rotate between the water and the Gatorade as I knew I needed more than water.  Along this section I also developed a sour stomach to the gels so I couldn't get any calories in except at the aid stations.  James Blandford passed by looking strong.  He was running scared of this section as he had DNF'd just after this section last year so he was on a mission to keep on moving, which he did.
More Rocks

Camp Roosevelt was the next aid station at mile 64.  I ate some food, replenished the water and off I went.  Another big climb out and then downhill.  After almost 6 miles it was the Gap Creek Aid Station.  I did have a drop bag there so I could finally replenish my bottles with some GU Brew.  The best thing here again were the popsicles.  A different variety from the previous popsicle station and I think I had three along with some noodles as I was a bit dizzy and knew I needed food.  At this point I also grabbed the provisions for running at night.  I put on a shirt, grabbed my headlamp and prepared for another climb as I headed out.  Once on top of the ridge it was a really nice run for miles.  There were some great views looking out and the temps were starting to drop.  I was feeling better with good drink and food in the belly and only 30 or so miles to go.  The end of this section had a rather steep road downhill which ended at the Visitor Center aid station, mile 78.  I fueled up with real food, and did manage to have one GU Brew tab so I replenished one bottle with water, the other with the GU Fizz.

Munching on some food at the Visitor Center
Out on the Stonewall Jackson historic trail for a bit then up, up and up to Bird Knob, mile 81.6.  Along this section I managed to pass by Adam Lint who was having some difficulties.  After Bird Knob it was a slight down hill then up, down, up and down to the Picnic Area, mile 88.  I don't remember much here as it was now dark.  I do know I was back to straight water again but was able to swallow an electrolyte pill again which was good as cramping twinges in the thighs were starting to occur.  From here it would be another 2 hours until the next aid station.  Next up, Gap Creek, mile 96.8.  I had a drop bag here as it was the same aid station as mile 70 but figured it was only about 4 miles to the finish.  I grabbed a quick snack, replenished my water supply and off I went for the next climb.  I knew how long this climb was as it was a repeat of earlier but then at the top I would go straight and head to the finish.  At the top of the ridge there was a pie plate showing mile 98, how sweet I thought, only 3 miles to go.  It was just after midnight.  Well those "3" miles turned out to be the longest 3 miles I've ever run.  I was probably a good 2 plus miles of rolling downhill on technical rocky terrain.  Finally I popped out on the road.  I remembered they talked about how we run downhill on the road.  I didn't see any arrows on the road showing direction and was a little confused so I headed down the road.  I figured it could only be a mile or so but after a mile, 2 miles, maybe 3 miles I was getting concerned.  Did I go in the right direction?  Am I running downhill or am I running uphill?  In the middle of the night after 100 plus miles the mind starts to look at things differently.  I followed the mailbox numbers on the few scattered homes and realized the numbers where increasing, not good.  Ever once in a while I would see a reflective marking but was I going in the right direction.  I started thinking about going back to where I came out of the woods and looking at my watch, I certainly had more that covered the 3 miles.  Finally out of desperation, I asked the gods above for a sign.  No sooner, I came around the corner and saw the turnoff for the finish all lit up.  Nice!!!  It still took a bit of time to meander to the finish but I knew the end was near.  I crossed the finish line and was done at just past 1:00 in the morning.

At the finish I sat down and a volunteer brought me some coke to sip on.  One sip and I stood right up looking for a place to puke.  The stomach said not now to food or drink and was ready to purge.  A volunteer brought over a 33 gallon barrel and I grabbed both sides.  I felt like fellow ultra runner Joe Kulak from the classic North Face ads.  I asked the volunteers if they wanted to get a picture of me but they didn't seem as excited as I was.  After the stomach calmed down, I sat back down and wanted to see Bob come in and figured he was right behind me.  Kevin Sayers then informed me that Bob had dropped after Camp Roosevelt at mile 64.  I went over to the tent to check up on Bob hoping that this wasn't a repeat of 2 years ago which put Bob in the hospital with a broken toe.  Luckily Bob was in the the tent.  Apparently a cold kicked in half way through which really bothered his breathing so he did the smart thing and bailed.  He'll be back!

Solo Division Award

In the end, I came in fourth place overall with a time of 21:07:36.  I won my age group and set a new age group record by over 3 hours.
But the best was I won the Solo Division formerly called the "Jackson Division",(no crew, no pacer, no headphones).  I renamed it the "I Don't Need No Stinkin Help" Award.  A personal victory for me :)



Overall Winner of MMT 100 Jason Lantz (center)
Jason managed to run strong throughout and passed Nick.  He took the overall win and finished in a time of 19:33:18.  Nick was second with a time of 20:19:10.  Third went to James Blandford with a time of 20:31:12.  For the women, Eva Pastalkova defended her title with a time of 22:01:54 and won the women's solo division.



Summary:  For me I screwed up with my nutrition.  If I only had planned it out better I would have realized that just a couple more aid station drop bags with fluids would have helped.  Still, in any 100 you have highs and lows and as such I had to make adjustments.  My legs felt great throughout the race so the high mileage training did help.  Also for the last 2 months I've been going to bikram yoga which definitely helped me get through the heat.  The rocks seemed no different than the trails I run on in the Green and White Mountains so a fun course.  Overall I was pleased.  The success of a race for me is more about how I feel at the end and how much I enjoyed the run rather than the overall placement.   So far, recovery has been going well.

Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel Trail II
The Gear:  The Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel Trail II's were the perfect shoe for the conditions.  I was a little nervous heading into a 100 miler with a new shoe and no break in miles.  But I was totally impressed with this shoe.  Basically took it out of the box and ran 100 miles in total comfort.  No blisters at all and plenty of cush to absorb the rocky terrain and still at a reasonably light weight.  And superb traction on the rocks.

I also wore the Pearl Izumi Fly shorts in total comfort and the short sleeve tech shirt early morning and late night.

The DryMax Socks once again did the job.  For this race I chose the lightweight hiker for a little bit more cushion to absorb the rocks.  And again, total comfort and no blisters :)

When I was on board, I drank the GU Brew.  Early on it was the Orange flavor with some liquid calories and electrolytes.  For the mid day heat it was the GU Brew with 2x's the sodium.  And the surprise was the refreshing taste of the GU Brew electrolyte tablets.  The GU gels as usual for some additional calories until the stomach went sour.

The Headsweats Super Duty Race Cap with the extra wide COOLMAX sweatband was perfect for the warm conditions.

Once night set in I tried out a new lighting system by Light & Motion.  I used the Solite.  With three settings I was able to work the rechargeable battery to the max.  For slower climbing the low setting was great.  For most downhills I went to the medium setting.  And for the most technical I turned up to high with 150 lumens.

One final note, it was a long ride back home.  I started off the drive and within 30 minutes I was tired. I broke out a 5 hour energy drink.  I got this at a race last year but have been afraid to drink it.  I thought this would help.  First off, the taste was horrible and with an already sour stomach, it took about 15 minutes to finish this.  I had a short spell of I think I'm awake and then a major crash occurred.  I was toast and Bob had to take over so I could sleep.  Thankfully Bob did most of the driving to get us home with some great stories.




Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.





5 comments:

fruktoed said...

Great job, Jack. Congrats! Very useful report as I'm getting ready for my first 100 (VT).

Denis

Mike L. said...

Jack, you're no pitch man for 5 hr energy drinks! mike

ps what's your next long trail race?

Jack Pilla said...

I guess I'm not the poster child for the 5 hr energy drink:)

Next up, Finger Lakes 50 then Tahoe Rim 100 !!

107 Reader said...

Amazing story. Inspiring. Thanks for posting.

The Mt. Tam 50k is in August. Come on out. No Cal is spectacular in the summer.

Anonymous said...

happy father's day.