Thursday, November 30, 2017

2017 (55th Annual) JFK 50 Mile: Redemption

I've started JFK 50 Mile in Boonsboro, Maryland five times, but it hasn't been a story of champagne and roses each time. For the past couple years, I've dropped from JFK with back issues. I was determined to not let that happen this year. Determination paid off with a win in 6:27. I now hold two of the top four women's times on the course (three in the top ten).

JFK Finish Line.
Photo by George Banker

The resolution to not having a repeat of the past couple years meant I needed to figure out what was continually not allowing me to train properly. Long story short, allergies abound, I've been figuring out the solution. This year has allowed me to train like myself again and I've been happy to see my training coming together each month.

After recovering from Western States 100 Mile, Ian put together my training for JFK. My usual response at first was "this isn't hard enough" but I quickly changed my tune. Ian always has a grand plan and I knew he'd get me to the starting line healthy, fit and not burned out. He also knew I needed to start out reasonably since I've struggled in the recent past to hit training paces, and to train in general. He made training more challenging when the time was appropriate and his plan worked fabulously.

I used a few local races in my build-up as well:

Machine Solutions 10k - 1st
Big Brothers Big Sisters Half Marathon - 1st
AZ Trail North Rim Marathon - 1st, 2nd overall
Jerome Hill Climb - 1st
Flagstaff Marathon - 1st overall, CR
Soulstice Mountain Trail Run (long course) - 1st


I felt the first step to not repeating the past couple years was to get fitness back, but not to leave any stone unturned, I diligently got back into my strength work starting with once per week, then moving to two times per week with Dr AJ Gregg. AJ has almost moved me beyond my fear of box jumps....almost. This was the most solid I've felt in a while so I was excited but still hesitant.

Race day. You never know who's going to show up to JFK. As Ian put it, there's always a ringer. This year saw two well-known ultra runners, Jackie Merritt and Sabrina Little, on the starting line. No matter who is there though, I always feel you have to run your own race. I wasn't exactly sure how my race was going to play out on the day, but I just had to trust I had prepared as best I could. By the time we reached the Appalachian Trail, I found myself in the lead. I am usually comfortable running in the lead, but I was also battling some self-doubt for obvious reasons. I shared some early miles with Anthony Kunkle before he moved on and I figured that was not a bad place to be in. We saw an amazing sunrise, but "red sky in morning, sailors warning." I knew bad weather was on its way, it was just a question of when. I came through the first aid station at Gathland in 19th place overall.

Once I exchanged bottles with my parents and Mema at the base of Weverton Cliffs, I hit the C&O canal. I was cautious of pushing too soon, so I just tried to settle into a rhythm behind the lead bicycle. My motto quickly became "relax and no fear." At this point, the rain was starting but it was light and we had some protection from the tree-lined canal.

There were a lot of lonely miles on the canal, but the aid stations and volunteers were a nice break in the repetitiveness of the canal. I saw my family again at Antietam (mile 27) and restocked my nutrition. It was a good sign that I still felt controlled and my low back was holding steady, phew. I was still trying to remain relaxed but got in a few quick miles with another fellow runner after leaving Antietam. This surprisingly felt better than the slower miles and had I been more confident, I probably should have tried to stick in that pace range. No regrets though.

I clocked off another ~11 miles and met my crew at 38 Special. At this point, the weather was really starting to take a turn. Once I got onto the road for the last 8.5 miles, the rain was coming down hard and the temperatures were dropping. Freezing rain was reported but I think I was getting too cold/wet to notice the difference. There were more quiet miles on the road with the exception of the lead bike and a police escort. With ~5.5 miles to go, Mike Wardian made a come back and went by. It was nice to have him to key off of for those final few miles and made the miles click off relatively quickly. Ultimately, I was able to break into the top ten overall. I'm always amazed by the attrition over the second half of this race, but having experienced it myself, I feel for the runners who experience it.


Celebrating finisher's medals with Michael Wardian.
Photo by Andy Mason

Coming down the finish chute.
Photo by Ray Jackson Jr. 

I was excited to hear fellow Flagstaff resident Eric Senseman achieved his long time goal of winning JFK. Eric also ran a commanding race from start to finish and continued to build his lead the whole way. Here's an article by Andy Mason of the Herald-Mail documenting the event: https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/sports/senseman-joins-jfk-s-elite-with-victory/article_8f4a0646-ccd3-11e7-ab99-a3af51c94721.html

More coverage by Jamil in episode 68 of Mountain Outhouse News.

My fueling was a huge improvement this race. No stomach issues and I was able to fuel regularly, on schedule all the way to the finish line. It took some interesting experimentation this fall, but basically a rice milk concoction and Mexican Coke were my staples from start to finish.

At the awards ceremony we had a special guest handing out awards. Army Specialist Grant Long, whose younger brother was running the race, was present to assist Mike Spinnler. Long made a miraculous recovery after his crew's Blackhawk went down during a training exercise earlier this year.

Army Specialist Grant Long with Race Director Mike Spinnler


Women's 2017 Podium


Men's 2017 Podium


JFK always has numerous inspiring people and stories. Just attend the Legends Dinner and you'll see a lot of history in one room. This year, George Banker, who has always been a presence at JFK since I started running here, underwent heart surgery this summer and has already made his return to running and plans to line up for his 8th JFK next year. Read more about his story here.

Also of note this year, Ian and I became the official coaches of JFK. It was great to see a handful of athletes finish their first 50 miler. We're looking forward to helping more runners in the future meet their goals at America's oldest ultra marathon.


Special Thank You's:

  • Ian Torrence (Training and Support)
  • Mom, Dad and Mema (Crew and Support)
  • Mike Spinnler (JFK Race Director)
  • Dr AJ Gregg of Hypo2 Chiropractic
  • Shea Tinder of Tinder Touch Massage
  • Nathan Hydration
  • Squirrels Nut Butter
  • Dr Cully of Woodstock Chiropractic 
  • Team Run Flagstaff Pro


This should become tradition to capture a photo each year with Ray Jackson Jr's always-smiling girls.
It helps two of us share a name!


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2017 Western States 100 Mile

Lining up for a Golden Ticket opportunity was not my main motivator in running Sean O Brien 100k, but once I secured a Golden Ticket I had to a decision to make. Initially, I didn't feel ready to take another stab at Western but ultimately I would take the ticket.

Thanks Ian for making your hundredth trip back to WS!

Training has gone so much better this year which is very exciting and also a relief. For the first time since 2012, I've been able to touch on triple digit mileage weeks. I was still conservative with certain aspects of my build-up but not having to adjust training for injury or fatigue was a great feeling. I knew I was in a respectable position in terms of preparation heading into June but I was still wasn't mentally ready to go in guns blazing. Let's call it cautious optimism for my approach.

Oh yes, and we got married too! May 20th, 2017.


Travel to Western States

Before we arrived in Tahoe City for Western States, we made the trek to Big Horn 100 Mile in Wyoming. Everyone said Western brought tough conditions with a 67.2% finish rate (4th toughest year) but Big Horn posted a whopping 40% drop rate this year. Of 437 starters, only 175 would reach the finish line mainly due to low evening temperatures, pouring rain and loads of mud. Add in that crew access is minimal and you have the makings for a long night. When you consider that there are less starters at WS than Big Horn, that makes the Big Horn stat even more astounding. Before conditions deteriorated though, it was fun to chat with Nikki Kimball and Johanna Blanchard at the first aid station while we waited for our runners to arrive.

Not to be outdone by the race excitement, we also had to schedule an emergency visit with the Ford mechanic for our F150 that had not been properly reassembled by a different mechanic before we left. Note: having the steering column bolted down fully is a must for safety and drivability! Luckily, we were able to secure a rental car last minute in Sheridan to having during the race and they were able to fix the truck in time for us to hit the road again.

Even though Ian's race didn't go to plan, we got to see a lot of awesome scenery along the way.

Sheridan, WY rainbow. Our home base the week of Big Horn.


Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah

A stormy day in Grand Teton National Park

Grand Tetons: Colter Bay single track running

Yellowstone National Park: The start of truck woes but at least we got to see a few geysers
in between storms.

Camping in the Ruby Mountains on the way to Reno to pick up my Dad who
flew in from Virginia to help dog-sit and crew. 


Race Day


Dad and I before the start. Can you tell it's 4:45 a.m.?

With the heavy snowfall this winter, that meant we had to navigate snow on the course from Squaw to a little past Red Star Ridge. I enjoy mud and water, but I'm not a natural on the snow and find my self outside my comfort zone. On the climb out of Squaw before we hit the snow line, I got to meet Nathan's Maggie Guterl in person which was a lot of fun. I then quickly found myself behind Amy Sproston. Amy is so consistent at this race that I figured this was not a bad place to be. My goal for the snow section was to not get overly frustrated since that will kill your race quicker than anything. I thought I managed myself well and was able to keep up my fueling throughout. A few us quickly found that sliding down on our butts was the best way to make time. There was a good reminder to not blindly follow the line of runners in front of you. A couple times, the train would start to derail before someone realized they were off course. Course marking was getting knocked over which meant you really had to look ahead.  Luckily, I was able to stay on route for the most part.


Escarpment...snow...
Photo Credit: Paul Nelson

Photo Credit: Swiss Ultra Trail

Goal two was to really focus on maintaining decent form on the non-snowy downhill sections so as to not destroy my quads. That's been an issue for me in the past and I didn't wish to have a repeat. At Red Star, I grabbed my first drop bag and moved along. Coming into Duncan Canyon, I was still doing okay and felt I was managing everything well.


Bradley helping the volunteers ice me down at Duncan Canyon.
Photo Credit: Tonya Perme

Coming into Robinson Flat, so far so good. I had been starting to make up ground on some other runners, still running well within myself. I found my crew, Ian and Chris Rennaker (Dad was on dog duty), and went ahead and decided to sit down and change shoes and socks. I typically don't have too many issues with my feet but there was a lot of sand and grit inside my socks so we figured it wasn't a bad idea to make the switch.


Robinson Flat: First time in chair changing shoes with Ian's help.
Photo Credit: Chris Rennaker

I had not seen the road route leaving Robinson but it may have been my favorite section...the exception being the nausea. I still can't pin point what triggered the intense nausea that hit coming out of Robinson Flat. I wasn't overheating (training in 100+ degrees will help with that), I was eating, drinking and taking sodium. There is a possibility I was over fueling up to that point and the body was rebelling a bit or I was indeed starting to dehydrate even though I still felt okay. I slowed my effort down even more and tried to keep taking in the calories but as it turns out, the nausea would continue to come and go the remainder of the race but never to the point of making me stop completely. My hands were also starting to get puffy so in my attempt to problem solve, I upped my sodium intake to no avail. The plus was I got to chat for a few minutes with John Andersen who owns Crozet Running, a small town I know well from my college days in Charlottesville.


Leaving Robinson, bottle of exploding soda in hand (the norm!), literally
minutes before I started feeling off.
Photo Credit: SweetMImages

Coming into Dusty Corners, I wasn't completely discouraged yet. I saw Bradley again, told him what was going on but that I was working through it. I doused with ice water and kept on moving.

From there the fight to quell the nausea continued. I came into Last Chance, grabbed my drop bag, topped off water, iced down and took come ginger chews and along I went.

Here's where the quads really started to rebel. In hindsight, I needed to do a lot more downhill conditioning but I was well-aware of that potentially being an issue going into the race. After being injured after my first WS with IT band and having cranky quads again this year, I think it's fair to say I really have to focus on conditioning my quads better in the future.

Western States becomes a very frustrating race when you're unable to efficiently make time down hill.  Uphills and flats, yes please!

On top of this, I had slowed down my caloric intake so which came first the chicken or the egg? Did I set my quads back early because I wasn't eating much or were my quads going to fatigue in the canyons no matter what?

After making my way through the canyons, I finally dragged myself into Michigan Bluff. I sat in the chair for longer than is advised (which I'd do from then on every time I saw my crew). We changed shoes and socks for the second time because my other shoes were giving me hot spots on my forefeet. Changing shoes is not something I've really ever had to consider doing before so this was a new one for me. I really didn't want to leave Michigan Bluff but Ian says "you know the drill" to which I replied "no, I don't." Ian clarifies, "you have to make it to Foresthill." Oh yes, that drill. So off I went to Foresthill.

My crew was lucky they missed my breakdown in Volcano Canyon. After my legs giving out about the third time going downhill to the creek and sliding onto by bottom, I lost it. I continued to move forward but not without some glorious tears. I'd only let a few more out when Ian and I left Foresthill but otherwise that was the end of that drama.

Once I got to Foresthill, I was determined to be done but Rennaker encouraged me to continue and said we had nothing else to do tonight. My Dad and Ian of course just let me stew in my chair and make my own decision. Ian had his pacer bib on and was ready to go, so after eating a couple cookies,drinking more soda, and gathering headlamps, eventually I stood up. Once I finally got moving again, we told my Dad and Renn to wait at Cal Street in case it was indeed a no-go situation but we continued on and Ian began the trudge into the night with me.


Drive to Auburn or run to Auburn? Bumming at Foresthill.
Photo Credit: Ian Torrence

I had some decent sections throughout the next several miles on Cal Street, albeit still not amazing. Ian may disagree but I thought my mood and energy levels really weren't doing too poorly especially considering I was still a little nauseous (came and went in waves) and wasn't eating much. I will say I recall saying a lot of those downhills were"stupid" though, in particular elevator shaft.


Cal Street Running
Photo Credit: Ian Torrence


Dardanelles Aid Station. Potatoes and fruit were the go to.
Photo Credit: Ian Torrence

Once we finally made it to the river, the lights looked surreal. It was a highlight of this section that Chris Thornley of Flagstaff and Squirrels Nut Butter was the one to raft us across the river. Climbing out onto the steep, sandy riverbank was interesting though but it ended up not being as bad as it looked.

Arriving at Green Gate, I picked up my new pacer Eric Senseman. I was a little nervous about this because Ian's the only person who had ever paced me before. I know Eric well but would he get frustrated if I couldn't navigate the downhills? Would my mood turn sour and he'd have to deal with it? Ultimately, I feel it worked out well. He was always patient with my downhill crawl and we were able to carry on varying conversations in the wee morning hours. He even helped me take off my nasty sock and shoe, likely standing in poison oak, when I exclaimed that something felt like it was stinging my toe. Later on post-race, I realized it was a blister that was on the inside of each pinky toe. We arrived into Quarry Rocks Aid Station where we chatted with Hal Koerner and the other costumed volunteers who were really trying to get us to take as much watermelon as we possibly could. Too bad Ian wasn't there because I know he would have wanted some (not!).

Upon arriving at Pointed Rocks, there was the prospect of the sunrise coming soon. We switched out pacers again and Ian took me in the rest of the way. After what felt like a million runners passed me on the downhill going into No Hands, from No Hands to the finish we didn't see another runner. It was eerily quiet post-sunrise and a very calm finish.

I hadn't planned on seeing another sunrise or being on course for 25.5 hours but at least there were neat photos from it.

No Hands Bridge. Ian had plenty of time to take photo ops while pacing. And who wears a jacket
at Western States after going through triple digit temps?


Leaving Robie Point. And Robie Point is not actually the top of the climb...
Photo Credit: Ian Torrence

Finish!
Photo Credit: Ian Torrence


The infamous Larry Gassan post-race photo op


What your feet look like after 25+ hours being soaking wet even with two shoe and sock changes.
I also came away with several shiny new blisters.

A special thanks to my Dad who not only crewed but was on dog-sitting duty and made sure Bee & Sycamore were well tended to over the course of the race. They liked having their own personal attendee šŸ˜Š. We know Sycamore only tolerates a few people so thankfully she likes him and he knows how she ticks. Bee of course loves my Dad so she was easy! My Mom had to channel her nervous energy from long-distance. She knows firsthand what the WS experience is like.

Also a special thank you to Ian for going through yet another Western States and another sleep deprived 100 miler. I guess this is what happens when both of you are ultra runners! Many more to come...

Thanks to Renn and Senseman for taking the load off Ian and my Dad and for being supportive the entire way. Thank you to Bradley Fenner for also jumping in spur of the moment at Duncan and Dusty Corners to make sure I had everything I needed.

The sleep-deprived support team that got me to the finish line:
Eric Senseman, Ian, my Dad, and Chris Rennaker. I couldn't have done without you all!
I thought it was appropriate we took this photo in front of the cross country building.




Sunday, May 29, 2016

2016 Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile

The Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile put on by the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club takes place in the George Washington National Forest, which also happens to be where I grew up.  The course has gone through changes over the years but at one point in time, the race started and finished a mere half mile from our house.  This year, I finally hit the button and registered for the lottery for the 22nd edition of MMT.  Lo and behold I made it in.  This year there were still runners on the waitlist so I was lucky to get in my first time entering the lottery.  

You get bonus mileage with a course total of 103.7 miles. Some of my Strava segments of the course: 

I haven’t considered myself a natural 100-miler and I also don’t consider myself a naturally strong technical runner.  This was the perfect race for me then!  It was hard to quell my competitive nature, but I knew my best approach to having an enjoyable day was to put competition aside and focus instead on taking my time and making sure I was staying on top of my nutrition.  Ian also recommended I take walk breaks downhill (run 5 minutes, walk 30 steps) to preserve my quads since this has been an issue for me in the past.

While training had gone well this year, races had not.  This threw another doubt into my head.  Combine this with the fact that labwork before and after Lake Sonoma 50 Mile showed something wasn’t right (chronic sinus infection?), I confirmed to myself that a relaxed approach was the best approach. 

We did our usual and took a family road trip to the east coast, first stopping in New York to see Ian's family and then to New Hampshire/Massachusetts for Wapack and Back 50 Mile.  Ian’s race report here: http://iantorrence.blogspot.com/2016/05/toughest-50-mile-zane-grey-vs-wapack.html.  After Wapack, we headed down to Virginia just in time for Mother's Day.  

Race week was spent making flourless peanut butter cookies and rice krispie treats, formulating my fueling plan, and organizing aid station stops for my crew.  I needed to rely on my crew for almost all of my race day nutrition, so I wanted to have everything as organized as possible for them. 

Thanks to Meredith Terranova for brainstorming some awesome fueling alternatives (cookies and rice krispies).  They worked wonderfully!

By the end of 27 hours, I consumed almost all of a batch of cookies and over two-packs of cane sugar soda, not including my other sources of fuel.  The goal was to take in more solid food than I usually do.
Fueling plan (*Note Meredith did not review this, so she may have changed things drastically!)




 






On Friday, my parents, Ian and I made the trek out to the start line about 30 minutes down Fort Valley for check-in and the pre-race meeting.  Then it was back home for a quick dinner and to catch a few hours of sleep.   We had to be up at 2 a.m. for a 4 a.m. race start. 

Race Check-In.

4 a.m.: Go time!  The first four miles are on road before hitting the single track and taking on Short Mountain.  Short Mountain is no joke and immediately the slogan “Massanutten Rocks” came to fruition.  The race was still bunched together and I reminded myself to be patient through here.  A) I didn’t need to fall in the dark and; B) it was a long way to go.  Eventual race winner and 8-time finisher, Kathleen Cusick came rolling by early and I could tell she wasn’t messing around that day.  I was already focusing on putting the calories in but I think I did a bit much because my stomach started to get wonky an hour in.  I’m sure my crew of Mom, Dad, Mema and Ian (plus Super Bee and Sycamore) were excited to hear me whining about this at the first stop, Edinburg Gap. 

Edinburgh Gap Aid Station
Photo by Paul EncarnaciĆ³n

Following, I break down the course based on when I saw my crew.  There were plenty of other aid stations between these listed.  

Edinburg Gap (Mile 12.1) to Elizabeth Furnace (Mile 33.3): I slowed down even more and let my stomach settle.  By Woodstock Tower aid station (Mile 20.3), I was feeling good again and started making time on the ridgeline.  This was a very nice section of trail.  After leaving Powell’s Fort aid station (Mile 25.8), we started into sections of the course familiar to me.  We started a gentle uphill on a gravel road, which I've run many times, and my left IT band started aching.  I became even more diligent walk/run breaks on all the downhills.  Going into Elizabeth Furnace, my knee was getting worse.

Had to say hi to the dog leaving Powell's Fort.
Photo by Paul EncarnaciĆ³n


Entering Powell's Fort
Photo by Paul EncarnaciĆ³n



















Elizabeth Furnace
Photo by Tim Toogood


Elizabeth Furnace (Mile 33.3) to Shawl Gap (Mile 38):  I quickly saw my crew at Elizabeth Furnace and made the climb back up to the ridge.  Then it was down Shawl Gap, a very well known section for me, also known as "the bus hill."  After a few miles, Shawl Gap comes out on Panhandle Road.  Memories of tall grass and chiggers on the last 1/4 mile of the trail are never forgotten.  The race goes right on Panhandle, but I joked I was going to go left and be back home in less than a mile and a half…or was I joking?

Shawl Gap Aid Station

One of my favorite photos from the day!  My parents, Ian, Grandad and
good neighbors, John and Nancy, were all there to show there support.
Mema is standing just outside the photo.

Shawl Gap (Mile 38) to Habron Gap (Mile 54): I saw my crew again at Shawl Gap, along with my Grandad and our good neighbors John and Nancy.  I left the aid station and turned onto Panhandle Road, the road I’ve been running since middle school and have logged countless miles on.  It was both nice and frustrating to be on familiar ground…frustrating in the way that I felt like I should be making better time on this 3-mile road section even if it is ridiculously hilly.  At Veach Gap aid station (mile 41.1) we were back on the trail and set in for a 2-mile climb back up to the ridge.  The pity party was building but once I got going on the ridge, I felt okay.  We also got hit with a big thunderstorm.   It got chilly but I was fine with the rain, at least until I stopped moving later on. 

The ultimate low point was going down the purple trail to the aptly named Indian Grave aid station (mile 50).  Lots of runners passed on the 4-mile stretch of road between Indian Grave and Habron Gap.  Once I got to Habron Gap and my crew, I was convinced I was done. 


This is what the pity party surrounding an aching knee looks like.
The rain from earlier also caught up to me and the shaking started.


Habron Gap (Mile 54) to Camp Roosevelt (Mile 63.9): After a long pity party of sitting in a chair, freezing and getting my IT band rubbed out by my Dad (thanks Dad!), Ian and I walked over to the trail and I contemplated further whether I wanted to go on.  I can say that I didn’t want to continue, but I took the first step up the next climb.  I’m glad I did!  This ended up being one of the best sections of the day.  My IT band was looser and I could run.  I also spent a few miles chatting with last year's runner-up, Amy Rusiecki, which was a lot of fun and good distraction.  Everyone was surprised to see me at Camp Roosevelt in a timely fashion.  Here, Ian joined me for the long haul to the finish line. 


Camp Roosevelt (Mile 63.9) to Gap Creek I (Mile 69.6): I continued to feel okay and we were covering ground.  The most notable aspect of this section was that we were basically running in a creek bed there was so much water flowing down the trail.   We arrived into Gap Creek I just as the sun was setting.  Perfect timing!  We donned our head lamps and moved on. 

Gap Creek I (Mile 69.6) to Visitor Center (Mile 78.1): Leaving Gap Creek was one of the rockier sections of the course after you climbed Jawbone Gap Trail.  Other than Short Mountain, up until now the ridge lines had been fairly smooth.  Not this one!  We were still making time but the terrain definitely slowed us a bit.  The road coming into the Visitor Center was nice to see even if I couldn't run too quickly down it.  At the Visitor Center, my crew loaded me up again.  It was getting chilly now so a few minutes by the fire were key. 

Visitor Center (Mile 78.1) to Picnic Area (Mile 87.9): Infamous Bird Knob takes place on this section.  Ian had run this section a few days prior, so having someone who knew the route and could tell me what was up ahead kept this section from being too daunting. Otherwise, I can see how many runners would have a difficult time with this section at night.  It's quiet and you don't see many other people, if any.  The tater tots and strawberries were awesome at the Bird Knob aid station!  

A section of Bird Knob Trail
Photo credit: https://virginiatrails.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/rocky-uphill.jpg


Picnic Area (Mile 87.9) to Gap Creek II (Mile 96.8): Everything was still moving right along when we left our crew at the picnic area (while at this aid station, 2nd place woman got ahead of me)...then we hit Scothorn Gap.  This was the never-ending, backsliding climb that I started to have another break down on.  Like most of the course, this was a very wet section of trail.  Where the heck was the top!?  It was only a 1.5 mile, but it felt like 5.  Once we crested, I lost more time on the downhill section into Gap Creek II.  My IT bands weren't having it. 

A classic George Washington National Forest sign.  


Gap Creek II (Mile 96.8) to the Finish (Mile 103.7):  I was tired at Gap Creek II and frustrated I couldn't move quicker, but overall I was still okay.  We were so close to the finish line now, 7 miles to go, and I knew the sun would be rising soon.  We saw our crew one last time, sat by the fire for a few minutes and went back out to take on Jawbone Gap Trail climb one more time.  Once again coming down off the ridge, I was barely making forward progress.  The road was a welcome sight, but it was also the longest 5k ever when you're slogging.  Not to make it too easy, there was one more small climb on the dirt on the backside of the camp.  I think it was a mountain!  Across the bridge to the finish and through the field, we were there!

Thank you again to my crew: Mom, Dad, and Mema.  And to my fiancĆ©, Ian, for doing double duty of crewing and pacing.  I couldn't have and wouldn't have wanted to do it without you all!  Also a thank you to Dr. AJ Gregg for working with me to get my body stronger since my last 100 mile attempt.  Things weren't perfect but it was a vast improvement.

Finish line area on Sunday morning


Done!

Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile belt buckle

We might both be a little delirious

With RD Kevin Sayers

Another shot from the day
Photo by Paul EncarnaciĆ³n