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2013 Vermont 100K Race Report

I signed up for the Vermont 100K way back in late January when it seemed winter weather wouldn’t preclude springtime hill-training at Wachusett. The decision to sign-up was made during a rare date night for Mr. P and me; we had arranged a group baby-sitting situation so we could enjoy copious amounts of raw fish at the local sushi joint. Perhaps it was the saki: Mr. P demanded that I sign-up for the VT 100K and promised me that he’d be my pacer if we could arrange childcare for Little Boy. (Grandparents to the rescue! My mother and step-father were available and willing to come to Vermont to take care of Little Boy while Mr. P paced me from miles 39.5 to 62.1. Ironically, I believe the VT 100K was our first ‘date night’ since the sushi.)

Then, February exploded with snow and in spring I was skiing Wachusett instead of running up the mountain road. May and June were so busy that I just never had the time to do long runs on hills; I did finish the now-infamous inaugural TARC 50 miler, yet though the mud was plentiful, the elevation was minimal… so, I felt under-prepared for the Vermont 100K, with its 8000+ feet of elevation gain on relentless Vermont hills!

Still, I was committed. Last Friday, we headed up to Vermont for the late-afternoon registration and pre-race meeting. As I mentioned, my mom and step-father came all the way from PA to help us; by a great stroke of luck, we randomly happened upon each other on the remote Vermont dirt road near the big white tents. I received my bib and had my medical check, where they took my weight (135.0, which seemed low) and blood pressure (120 over 60, which seemed high) as baselines to check against as the race progressed. Then, we sat through the highly-entertaining pre-race meeting, where we were advised on how the course was marked, how to run simultaneously with horses, and how not to poop on someone’s lawn. Although, honestly, if you need advice about that…

The best thing about 100K is that it started at 9am, allowing me to sleep in and eat a leisurely breakfast. Instead of camping at the finish line with the 100-milers (who started at 4am), we camped at nearby Mt Ascuntey State Park under a lean-to. We were awoken around midnight by a tremendous thunderstorm; this cooled off the humidity a bit, but put me on edge. Still, I managed to go back to sleep and woke up at 7am for a bit of coffee and blueberry bread. We made our way to the starting line to meet the rest of my family/crew.

Applying pre-race sunscreen

Minutes before the start

Welcome 100 Milers, but apparently not 62.1 Milers

The race started suddenly, without a lot of fanfare (only about 50 runners were doing the 100K, compared to the 300 runners in the 100 miler). I settled into a leisurely middle-of-the-pack jog as the field made its way up and down the gentle hills of the dirt road. Not going to work too hard! I did pass a few people in the first couple of miles, but by the time we reached the first aid station at mile 6, everyone was spread out and settled (until the first 100-miler roared passed us, making us feel rather pathetic).

Around then I started talking with two guys who knew each other from a previous ultra. We swapped stories and chatted easily, passing the early miles quickly. At Camp 10 Bear (the most populous aid station and a medical check, as all runners go there twice and most pick up pacers there), I was weighed: 137.8. “Only I could run 10 miles and gain three pounds,” I quipped to the medical staff as I headed off to eat some watermelon. Though the day was warm and humid, a nice breeze was keeping me surprisingly cool. I took off running with one of the guys I was talking to before (the other one was trying to call his wife via the spotty cell coverage). We wound up running the next 2 hours together. The conversation combined with the spectacular New England scenery had me feeling pretty good!

It looked like this for 30 miles

In the distance, just another VT hill

We soon separated when he stopped for a bathroom break. I caught up to a woman around my age from the Boston suburbs. My guess is she started too fast, as her pace and feet were dragging, but I decided that slowing down around mile 20 was probably good for me too. Together, we headed to Margaritaville, where my crew and Little Boy awaited!

Mile 23-ish

So happy to see my family!

They brought me a chocolate bar, which I nibbled on (I think Little Boy ate more than I did!) I was still able to eat solid food at that point, so I ate some turkey sandwich and ginger candy. Seeing them was such a boast and I charged out of Margaritaville at a blistering 12 minute mile pace 😉

I wouldn’t be seeing them for another 17 miles, when Mr. P would join me as my pacer. I spent those 17 miles all by my lonesome, as the pack had spread pretty thin by then. Occasionally a 100-miler elite would pass me. The people at the aid stations were pretty fantastic, but I tried not to stay too long. I leap-frogged with another woman around mile 30; she would pass me on the downhills and I’d climb past her on the uphills. We made it back to Camp 10 Bear at around the same time, and right when it started to rain pretty hard. I was weighed in — this time, I was down to 132, still within an acceptable range, but I decided to drink more. Camp 10 Bear was a zoo, with pacers waiting for their runners and everyone crowding under the tents to stay dry. I drank some soda and picked at some fruit. I really should have tried to eat more but my stomach was starting a quiet rebellion.

On the steep climb out of Camp 10 Bear, I passed the other woman for the last time and continued my solitary jog. I was passed by a few 100 milers (including the lead woman, who looked downright jaunty) and passed a 100K guy who blew out his quads and was going downhill backwards (“Too many ultras,” he told me.) I felt pretty good except for the slight queasiness in my stomach and tiredness in my hips.

I passed a photographer in a grassy field, who called to me “Don’t worry, your hair still looks great!”

“Yeah, but is my mascara running?” Ha ha ha.

I was close to the Spirit of ’76 aid station (mile 39.5) and again jubilant to see my family/crew and start running with Mr. P. What a boast! Together, Mr. P and I ran out of the aid station. The excitement kept me going for a few miles, but soon the relentless hills and the realization that I had 20 more miles started to really “get” me. I concentrated on following Mr. P, who ran about ten feet in front of me. His “pacer” style was perfect; he kept me moving without pushing me too hard. At the pre-race meeting, they mentioned the pros and cons of letting family members pace you (versus the race arranging you with volunteers/strangers) but in our case, it worked out really well. Mr. P and I have hiked and skiied countless hours together and he has always been very sensitive to my slower pace; running the last 22 miles of the VT 100K was no different.

Following Mr. P into the sunset

Around sunset is also when the horses began to pass us — a few at first, then as darkness fell, a lot. What a kick to see!


We reached Bill’s aid station (mile 51) soon after complete sunset. It was another medical check. This time, my weight was back exactly at 135.0, which seemed okay since I was weighed pre-pee break. I still felt pretty… cohesive. Mr. P ate A LOT of food, which I envied him for, although my nausea would dissipate after drinking some beef broth. We took off from Bill’s, following the glow sticks lighting the way on the roads and the trails. Thanks to Mr. P, I didn’t have to think about where to go — I just followed his feet.

From miles 52 to 55, I was re-energized. My stomach and legs felt good and I was really attacking the hills. I just wanted to be done. Then, Mr. P said “Only 10k to go!” For some reason, this just killed me. I was thinking how most people go out and run 10K and that’s more than enough for them. And here I am, doing this crazy 100K race that involves the time and energy of so many people, and I just wanted to stop running but I couldn’t. 10k to go.

More 100-milers passed us, including the second-female, who was wayyy too chipper. The hills just wouldn’t stop. Even when we reached the last mile, there was a steep hill. What sadists. It’s bad enough to do that to someone who just ran 61 miles, but think about the person on mile 99!

I crossed the finish line feeling brutalized and oh-so grateful to be able to stop running. There were a fair amount of people at the finish line, cheering loudly, and Mr. P tried to shake my hand but I planted a quick kiss on his lips. A woman gave me a medal and I staggered over to the tent near the finish line, looking for water. Instead it was the results. Look at that… I finished fourth girl. Yes, 15 hours, 12 minutes… I pushed myself so hard in the last 10 miles so I wouldn’t be passed, but it turned out the next women was nearly 2 hours behind me, and the third woman was about an hour ahead of me. So I finished solidly as fourth girl. Yet again! Fourth girl seems to be my destiny!

We finally found water and food (I choked down the nastiest grilled cheese ever and some fruit that had started to turn) and then drove back to the campground. Coin-operated shower at 1am… in bed at 1:30am. Ahhhh. Four hours of blissful sleep then my digestive system woke me up at 5:30am, begging for the bathroom. I hadn’t really slept long enough to really set off the DOMS, but oh, I could feel something in my legs. I let Mr. P sleep in until about 8:00am, when my hunger for calories could not longer be ignored. We packed up the tent and headed over to the general store for some eggs and toast, then went to my mother’s hotel to check on Little Boy. From there, we headed over to the finish line to pick up my trophy: 100K in under 20 hours, it says (I imagine that sorta peeves the winner, who finished under 10 hours).


What an experience! Thanks to everyone for helping me attain this milestone of dubious sanity!

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