2010 Umstead 100

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The 2010 Umstead 100 was mentally brutal. It was not as painful as I expected, and less painful than my previous 23:50 finish at Umstead. My problem was keeping up the pace against the mounting fatigue. The cumulative damage to the muscles and the depletion of resources requires a steadily increasing effort to maintain the same pace. The mind rebels against this type of damage by imposing a mounting emotional cost as it battles to protect the body against permanent harm. Training teaches your mind to balance the current damage against the perceived distance that remains, and can give a good sense of impending doom. So while I had some reserves left for the first 75 miles, I knew that I was right on the edge of what I could keep up without a catastrophic slowdown. The result was a surprisingly persistent feeling of fatigue and despair. I've had this emotional low before many times in races, but never for so long. Overall, I'm very pleased with the result, hitting my goal of sub-16. My time for the first 50 miles beats my previous 50 Mile PR (9:20) by 1:36, and even my second 50 miles beats it by 38 minutes.

1 The Numbers

These are unofficial at the time of writing - the final results will be posted on http://www.umstead100.org

Time 15:58 (Unofficial)
Pace 9:35
Place 6th Overall, 5th Male
First 50 7:44
Second 50 8:42
Ratio of first to second 1:1.25 (average slowdown ratio 1:1.3)

2 What went well

  • My wife Lynn acted as an amazing crew. She had just what I needed waiting at the main aid station, allowing me to be in and out in a few seconds. It's easy to burn a lot of time at Aid Stations and I could not have made my time goal without her!
  • The Taper went very well. My training has been tough enough that I was glad of a little break. I paced the Tobacco Road Marathon the Sunday before at 4:00 pace, which was good preparation.
  • Doing lots of Downhill Intervals protected my quads from the descent and helped me keep up a fast pace when possible.
  • Even though the daytime high was only 58, I could feel the difference the heat and sun made. The extra Heat Acclimation Training helped prepare me. Even so, I felt much better when the sun went down.
  • Drinking a carbohydrate/Protein mix may have helped with the muscle damage, though it's hard to be sure.
  • My Modified Nike Free Shoes worked very well. I did get one nasty blister on my heel from a misstep, but I don't think I would have done better in any of my other Shoes.
  • I reduced my Walking Breaks to a bare minimum. I took a couple on the longer hills that are runnable, keeping the breaks to just 30 seconds or so. I also walked the hills which are generally too steep for me to run them effectively (I can't run up them as fast as I can walk up them).
  • I think that pacing the 4 hour group at the Tobacco Road Marathon the Sunday before helped me pace at Umstead. It reminded my body just what 9:00 pace felt like, so I was able to lock into that perceived pace for the first couple of laps. I would say that It 9:00 on the flat feels a lot like 9:30 pace at Umstead ;}
  • Umstead is an amazingly well organized race, with great Aid Stations and even better aid station staff. The aid station staff seems to be all ulltrarunners or have had a lot of experience looking after ultrarunners, so they are not only willing to help, they know what to offer and how to provide it.
  • Seeing the winner of the race finished in an unbelievable 13:23, setting a new course record by over an hour and stunning everyone.
  • Meeting some good friends again, including Fred, Susan, DC, Jim P and Guido. Guido was looking after the kitchen overnight and did a great job.

3 What went badly

  • At the target pace, eating was a big problem. I was running hard enough for food to cause nausea, and I did not have any slack to slow down. I was therefore trying to balance hunger and nausea against each other. My digestive system never became seriously upset with me, as I erred on the side of hunger, but it did mean that fuel depletion was a concern. In the race I got through about a gallon of Gatorade/Protein mix, and less than a dozen cookies.
  • My last lap was in the dark, and I was having problems seeing the trail. I thought the problem was my light was not bright enough, as other runners lights seemed to blind me. My eyes were irritated, but I assume that was just a little sweat at the time. It was only after I finished and went into the main aid station that I realized I must have a lot of grit in my contact lenses, as my vision was horribly blurred. I think this was from following cars on a short section of the trail where they kicked up a lot of dust. I'm not sure what I can do about that, as I was wearing Sunglasses (clear at night) for the whole time.

4 Vital Statistics

Distance 100 Miles
Format 8 loops of 12.5 miles
Marathons 3.8
Pace 9:35 (Equivalent to 4:11 marathon pace)
Ascent/Descent 8000/8000 (Boston Marathon 1100/1560 (x3.8 = 4180/5928)
Average Gradient 3%

5 Split Times

The first laps was understandably a little faster than the others. The 5th and 6th were the warmest, which impacted time. The 7th and 8th were 'end game scenario', AKA 'death or glory', where you let go and go far closer to the point of failure than is possible earlier in the race.

Loop 1 1:53
Loop 2 1:55
Loop 3 1:57
Loop 4 1:58
Loop 5 2:03
Loop 6 2:05
Loop 7 1:59
Loop 8 2:00