Friday, August 26, 2011

Vermont 100, leg two of the Grand Slam

Probably about time I wrote this since the sharp memories are fading a little.

The Vermont 100 is the second leg of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning.  This race started back in 1988 and is one of the oldest 100’s in the country.  The unique thing about this race is that you get to share the course with horses competing in their own 100 mile event.

Post Western States

I spent the three weeks in between Western and Vermont resting up, doing a little running, but that’s about it.  Oh, I did go swim some laps a couple of times.  I didn’t run at all after Western until the Thursday after the race.  This was intentional.  So Thursday I went out for a short few miles and felt pretty good.  I took Friday off and then did one of my favorite summer runs on Saturday, up Ben Lomond Peak.  I went with a bunch of friends and we couldn’t believe the amount of snow still on the mountain.  We crossed several snowfields, saw a good-sized rattlesnake (had to take pictures), and the rest of them made their way to the top.  Since it was nothing but a big snow cone for the last 1500’, I elected to not go up.  I could see myself falling and sliding all the way down, getting injured and not being able to complete the slam.  Instead, while they went up, I did a short out and back at 8500’ just to add a few miles.  All in all, a good time.  The next week I did three runs of around 8.5 miles with a day off in between.  The week before Vermont I shortened the distances further and didn’t run at all from Wednesday on.  By the time I got to Vermont, I felt pretty well rested and ready to go.  Knowing that this race would be a little easier and faster (hopefully) than Western, I made it my goal to try and go sub 24.  If I did, this would be my first sub 24 100 in a several years.


So three weeks after running Western States I found myself on a plane to Boston.  The plan was to fly there, rent a car and drive to White River, NH to my hotel.  The flight was uneventful, the drive was uneventful.  I checked into my hotel Thursday evening, checked into the race Friday morning, then went to play tourist for a bit.  I did a short little hike around the Quechee gorge and met another slammer (Tammie Massie) out doing the same thing.  I went back to the race for the dinner and met up with Larry Adams, the guy who would pace me for the last 30 miles.  Had a good dinner, went back to my hotel and went to bed.  As usual, not a good night’s sleep, but oh well.

Game on

So I get up at 2:30am on race day.  Vermont is one of those races that starts at a horrid time of day, 4am.  Why can’t they start at a decent time like 8am?  I managed to get out to the race HQ in plenty of time, mill around, then take off at 4am with almost 300 other runners.  Ugh!

The initial few miles were primarily downhill, so I was able to take it easy, warm us and get a rhythm going before anything hard came along.  These first few miles seemed to fly by.  I felt great, my pace was good, I had no issues at all.  By around the 10 mile point, we could hear the first of the horses coming down the road behind us.  As we were trotting along, theses three horses just seemed to float down the road.  I was amazed at these animals.  They were gorgeous and in superb shape.  You could tell that they wanted to be out there running.  They made my  horses look rather fat and out of shape.  All day long we had the opportunity to watch these awesome animals perform.

Most of the day was pretty uneventful.  The weather was pretty decent, it warmed up to around 80-83, with low humidity by northeast standards.  The aid stations were plentiful and well stocked.  The scenery was what you would expect running through rural Vermont, beautiful.  The views from the hills were gorgeous.

Short course description.  76 miles of gravel road, 22 miles of trail, 2 miles of pavement, none of it flat.  We were either going up or going down.  Very, very rolling.

My only issues during the day were a somewhat upset stomach between 50-60 miles.  For some reason I couldn’t get it to go away.  Still, I managed to hit the halfway point at 9:30, for one of my fastest 50 mile times, and hit the 100K point at about 12:15, one of my fastest times for that distance as well.  The legs felt good.  The first time I went through the Camp 10 Bear aid station (47.2 miles), my weight was down about 8-9 pounds (5%).  You get pulled from the race if your weight drops more than 7%.  This got me a warning to take a break and drink and eat.  I took off anyway, but it scared me enough to make sure that I drank plenty and ate plenty for the next 20 miles, knowing that they would weigh me again when I came back through at 70 miles.  When I got back to Camp 10 Bear at 70.1 miles, my weight had come back up and I was only down three pounds.  No problem now.  At Camp 10 Bear I picked up Larry Adams, my pacer for the rest of the night.  He lives out here in Utah but was back in NY on business and drove up just to pace me.  What a nice guy.  Anyway, by now I had started to chafe, and this always slows me down.  Still, Larry kept me on track and on a good pace through the night.  Night running is always kind of cool during a race, you’re in your own little world, occasionally see other runners or an aid station, but time seems to slow way down.  The night was just as uneventful as the day.  I was still on pace to break 24 hours as long as I stayed focused on the job at hand.  Larry kept me focused and before I knew it, we had passed the last aid station and only had 2.3 miles to go.  Home free.  For the last mile or so, we could hear the commotion at the finish line.  We weren’t getting closer just yet, but going kind of parallel to it.  Finally, over the last ridge, down through the woods, and there it was.  I finished.  My final time was 23:27:31.  I had gone under my goal of 24 hours.  It’s always a good thing if you can finish a 100 mile race before the sun comes up.


This race went pretty well.  I felt much stronger than I did going into Western States, even though I had run a 100 just three weeks prior.  I felt really good except for some very minor stomach issues and the chafing for the last 30 miles.  I’m convinced that had the chafing not been an issue, I could have finished under 23 hours, it slowed me down that much.  My race was uneventful, and that’s how I like it.  Afterwards, Larry and I went back to his hotel slept for a few hours, then went back out to the race HQ for the awards ceremony and BBQ.  I got my second belt buckle (you don’t get a buckle from Vermont unless you go under 24 hours) of the summer, and felt pretty good about the rest of the races coming up.

I was a little worried about the flight home.  Sitting in a cramped, pressurized aluminum pipe for four hours after running 100 miles I thought would be painful, but it wasn’t too bad.  I even managed to sleep for a couple hours.

By the numbers

Time – 23:27:31

Placing – 78th out of 297 starters, 10th in my age group (50-59).  Much better than my performance at Western.  There’s some fast old farts out there.

Shoes – I wore my Hoka Mafate’s the entire time.  With all of the packed gravel roads, these things saved my feet.  I didn’t need any technical trail shoes.

Calories burned – 12,500

Calories eaten – 6,000.  I got pretty tired of the 1st Endurance Liquid Shot after about 60 miles.  I still ate the stuff, but started eating more aid station fare, ramen noodles, chicken noodle soup, etc.

Next up, Leadville 100 on August 20th.  This one kind of worries me due to the altitude and the 30 hour time limit.