After breaking the head of my fibula in May and then my recent hamstring tear, I was doubtful that I could finish the Vermont 100. My crew was so excited to go though and we had worked so hard on preparation that I decided to get to the start line and run as far as I could. As usual I wore a ridiculous costume and decked my crew out so that we could find each other in the crowds. They surprised me by wearing hilarious quack T-shirts too.
Like last year, the campground and race area was absolutely beautiful. The runners, race horses, crew, pacers and volunteers set up the day before and we all anxiously hang out until show time.
We got to hear about the amazing things that Vermont Adaptive is doing with the funds that we raised. Thank you so much to all who donated! One guy named Kyle who had lost his vision actually ran the whole 100 miles this year with running guides. It was the first ultra with a special division for athletes with disabilities.
My day went off to a rough start. I got up at 2:45 a.m. to take a bucket bath in my tent. I kept the flashlight off so I didn’t disturb anyone who was trying to sleep later. (race check in is 3-3:45 a.m.) I kept feeling something slippery in the bucket when I splashed my face and armpits so I grabbed my light to see what it was.
I am not sure which of us was more traumatized, me or the bug!!! After that I worked my way down with my crew and friends and we got ready for the start of the race. Once we started running I realized that I accidentally put used batteries in my light and it went dead in a matter of minutes! The start of the course is on trail so I had to click in with other runners and try to see where their lights were shining. Luckily it is only about an hour and a half before sun up. But still!!! What a rookie mistake.
I could not believe how amazing my crew was. It was exactly like a NASCAR pit stop. They were waiting for me at all of the manned aid stations and they rinsed me down, put on sun screen, gave me fuel, changed my socks and shoes and kept me feeling positive. Whenever things got tough I just thought about making it to the next drop spot to see them.
The Vermont 100 course is hard. There isn’t really any flat and easy stuff along the way. It is all very steep ups and downs. Because the race is both people and horses you come across trail sections that are very muddy and trampled. The dirt sections were also very hard and unforgiving this year. The rain had washed the sand out leaving a lot of hard rock for running surface. So the combination of wet feet, steep terrain and hard surface completely destroyed my feet. I have never changed shoes in an ultra before but this time I did twice. I was yelling that my shoes belonged in the garbage but was thankful that my crew didn’t take me literally when they returned them to me after the race. I actually used a bunch of the stuff that was in my crew bag. I always pack for every scenario but usually don’t need much. This year was an exception. I changed clothes as well. Sara and Jill made a make shift curtain so I could put on dry shirt and sports bra. My underwear looked liked they exploded after they went through the washing machine after I got home..I think they got a DNF (Did not finish) I was in a world of hurt by mile 58 but knew that if I could make it to mile 70, I would pick up my pacers and they would help me get through the rest.
I saw a lot of carnage this year. People were throwing up, or laying on the side of the road writhing in pain. I always checked to see if they had someone with them but then tried to keep moving and stay positive. This race is no joke, we got heavy lectures before the start about medical checks and how they insisted we crossed the finish line with our feet, brains and kidneys intact. That is why training, fueling and self awareness are crucial to this sport. My fuel and hydration were on spot. I felt completely revived when Kevin jumped in to pace me at mile 70. I had slowed down but still had plenty of energy left. Just having a friend there made all of the pain and fatigue go away for a while. Ryan jumped in to pace me for the next leg and he was wearing these ridiculous shorts that made everyone laugh.
They were both so patient with me as things started to go south. I was getting tired from the run and sleep deprivation. I hallucinated a bear (it was actually a mud puddle) I accidentally sat down in a porto potty and then almost couldn’t get up again so I was in there moaning and groaning and making terrible noises that must have raised some eyebrows. At some point I forgot how to run and my pacers had to treat me like a toddler and say “one two three go!” And I would look at their feet and try to copy what they were doing. I would say, “Am I doing it?”
I couldn’t believe it but I got the hiccups again!!! Almost the same exact place on the course as last year. Luckily they didn’t last long and once they cleared I was at mile 95. I told my crew in advance to not talk numbers but I knew that the sun wasn’t rising so I saw a PR in sight. (Personal record) There is no such thing as fast at mile 95 but I told my pacer that it was time to drop the hammer and I did my best to push hard on that last stretch. I crossed the finish line in 24 hours and 15 minutes. That is two hours faster than last year! I was so thrilled! The race director came out to congratulate me in person which was very cool because she is one of my running heroes.
I can’t possibly thank everyone who helped me along this journey but you all know who you are. I could not have done this alone. I am hoping for a quick recovery and after a rest period I will start preparing for the next adventure. The Ghost Train 100 miler in October. Official race photos are not up yet so I will share next time. Also, they forgot to list me in the results but that should be updated soon. Thanks for following my adventure!