Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Umstead 100 by Beth and Larry

Based on what we had heard, we thought the hardest thing about Umstead would be successfully navigating the entry process. Wrong!!

Umstead is in eastern North Carolina and consists of eight 12.5 mile loops on a crushed granite path. We selected it because the smoothness of the trail wouldn't affect Larry's tendency to get double vision at night. We had heard that the course was much easier than Rocky Racoon, which we recently ran too. The 8000 ft. elevation gain over the course of the race came in a few climbs each loop that were much longer and steeper than those at RR, but certainly do not compare to the mountain 100s that we are used to. They tricked you into wanting to run them, which caught up to us as the loops added up.

Beth's goal was first to break 24 hours and maybe even set a PR while Larry's goal was more ambitious, wanting to see his first sub 20 hour finish. The weather cooperated as we started in the dark and low 40s. The sun popped out during the afternoon, but didn't exceed the low 60s.

Despite the recent rains, the trail was dry and hard packed and in many places felt no different than pavement. We both wore our Wildcats and didn't change shoes or Drymax socks the entire race. (thanks LaSportiva and Drymax!) Neither of us had a single blister.

Beth missed her goal of setting a PR, her lap splits were fairly close and she ran her fastest 100 in 3 years, finishing in 23:27.

In order to reach my goal, I had hoped to run the first 50 between 8 and 8.5 hours. That came and went without a hitch. The wheels began to fall off soon after. I didn't think I had gone out too fast, as I felt comfortable the first 50. Maybe it was the lack of a good taper or just too many races recently. At the end of the 5th loop, a sub 20 still looked possible, but by 75 miles that dream was long gone. The quads and hip flexors simply stopped working and I have to attribute it to the constant running with no real uphill walking breaks. The remaining 25 miles morphed into a sufferfest as it took 8 hours cover the distance. Not only did I not break 20 hours, but that 14 hour last 50 miles also prevented me from setting a PR, finishing in 22:19. I was very disappointed, but hopefully a lesson to be learned on other future "easy" 100 mile courses. Perhaps taking a lesson from my wife's steady pacing would be in order!