Thursday, July 24, 2008

2008 Vermont 100 Race Report

Pre Race
Friday night I arrived at the registration and medical check-in with Mark. I weighed in at 168 lbs. and then sat for the blood pressure and heart rate check. As this guy is measuring and noting my accelerated heart rate, he says to me with a concerned look “Are you nervous?” (That would be the first of some memorable quotes of the weekend.) UUmm… shouldn’t I be? Now I was really nervous. Was I the only one who was nervous?

I saw and met Emmy and Frank. That was cool, since I only knew them through blogland up to this point.

We then headed off to carboload at the 1815 House, not far from Bailey’s Mills B&B where we were staying. Heading to dinner and staying at the B&B were 15 of us: Shannon and my kids, Mark, Amy and their kids, Bruce (Mark’s pacer), Aime and their kids, and Keith and Kourtney. Dinner was awesome, except that Ciara got an insect bite of some sort and had a big welt. We’d have to keep an eye on that…

Friday night dinner (Mark, Amy, Shan, Me)

The Race
Mark and I worked up a detailed plan which would have us finish in 22:40. That would give an hour and 20 minutes cushion to hopefully slide in under 24 hours. Things started out great and it was awesome for the race to finally be underway at 4:00 AM. Weee… look at me I’m running 100 miles! Wooo hoooo!! Mark and I had a steady pace going and covered the first 7 mile section in 1:13:52. There were plenty of hills where we conserved by power walking. But as the race went on the power walking wasn’t much of a break as the hills were demanding.

We kept things going and rolled into Pretty House at 7:42 AM, which was 43 minutes ahead of our projected 8:25 arrival. As a result Mark’s crew (Bruce) wasn’t there yet. I saw my crew, Keith and Jana, and they sprayed on some lotion and grabbed me some fluids/gels and endurolytes. Originally Mark and I weren’t going to have a crew. It only developed as a way to give our pacers something to do while they waited for us to get to mile 70. I’m glad we ended up with some crew support because they were a big help. And my crew rocked!!! The first 21.1 miles was pretty smooth and uneventful. However, I was concerned that we were going a little too fast.

We pressed on and continued to get even more ahead of our plan. The last I checked, we were 1 ½ hours ahead of our schedule.

Some VT scenery

Coming into Stage Rd.

Typical aid station

Not too far after Stage Rd. Mark and I split up. I eased back on the pace as Mark was able to maintain. Over the next 17 miles I gave most of the bonus time back and arrived at Camp 10 Bear on schedule, just before 2:00 PM.

Just before Camp 10 Bear I felt a bug on my leg and looked down and it was big, mean looking and had wings. I swatted it, but didn’t quite knock him away. I think I just pissed it off and it retaliated with a hefty sting. Ouch.

At Camp 10 Bear aid station (mile 47) I weighed in and was down 10 lbs. 6% of my body weight!! I was drinking over a bottle an hour (~ 25 oz./hr.) I was peeing regularly. So I felt my hydration was ok. But apparently not. But to my surprise, no one said anything that I couldn’t continue. So I met up with my crew, changed my socks, ate some food and downed some fluids. It was awesome to see my family and friends. It was definitely a boost!

Heading into Camp 10 Bear (Mile 47)

Weight check at Camp 10 Bear. Uh oh. I lost 10 lbs. since the start.

Alex was having fun making faces while his Daddy was dying

The crew took care of me!

I headed out of 10 Bear and had a pretty good pace. I felt like it was a new race. The road was flat and I was moving good. All of the sudden the course took a sharp right straight up a long killer hill. I started up the hill and it felt like somebody ran me over with a truck. I got dizzy and could hardly breathe. My chest felt compressed. Whoa, did things come to a halt quickly! Suddenly I couldn’t manage another step up the hill. I had to sit down on the side of the trail to try and catch my breath. People passed me and asked if I was ok. It was bad enough to be sitting there, but to then have to say “I’m ok” to everyone passing by was annoying. I eventually mustered up enough energy to continue another third of the way up the hill, but then had to rest a second time. After about 15 minutes of catching my breath, I continued on and made it to Pinky’s station at mile 51.

Vulture circling overhead noticing that I'm wounded prey

I sat in a chair and had hit rock bottom. Man did I feel like crap!! A volunteer working at the station came up to me and said “You should drop.” (That’s the second memorable quote.) I guess I didn’t look to good. But I was pissed that he said that. How about a little encouragement? The guy then continued, “I can give you lots of advantages to dropping now.” I didn’t have enough energy to communicate with him, and it’s probably good that I didn’t. I rationalized that I just needed to sit for a few minutes to gather myself. His words annoyed me and even though I thought he may be right, I wasn’t going to drop there at his station. I’ll do it at the next one if I need to…
I continued on, but wasn’t moving too well. I fueled up at Birmingham’s (mile 54) and a downpour occurred. Sweet! It felt great! It cooled me down and allowed me to pick it up and make it to Tracerbrook.
The Tracerbrook aid station (mile 57) provided me with another boost, because Keith was there and he once again provided some much needed encouragement. Also, I saw Anthony and introduced myself. He also had some positive words. Talking with Keith and Anthony really helped to get me out of my funk. So I moved on and convinced myself that all I needed to do was focus on doing another half marathon and get back to Camp 10 Bear. And then I’d have Keith to pace me in the final 30 miles. That endeavor ended up being a little more challenging than I anticipated.
The long climb up Prospect Hill and then to Margaritaville and then to mile 65 was brutal. It really wore me down. I had to really focus on staying positive and moving forward. Along that stretch I heard memorable quote #3 of the race. A frustrated runner slammed his fist down and exclaimed “My f#*cking balls are going to chafe off!!” I felt bad but it was too funny.
After mile 65 I had a lift in energy because I was excited to see my family and friends soon as I passed by Baileys Mills B&B which was a mile before Camp 10 Bear. That’s where we stayed for the weekend and my family was going to be there as I approached 10 Bear for the 2nd time. Unfortunately I ran a little faster than I could handle and on stretch of downhill rugged jeep road I caught my foot on a rock and did my famous superman through the air crash and burn. Luckily I landed in some soft dirt but it knocked the wind from my sails a bit.
I made it to the B&B (only about ½ hour later than planned) only to find my family not there. I looked down the driveway to the B&B and everyone was at the house. I waved at them and they all came running down the driveway. Everyone except Shannon and my kids. What?? I was told they had to take Ciara to the ER for her bite, as it had gotten much worse. Oh man!!! I was ensured that she was ok and they were coming back with her antibiotic. Ok, that’s a little better. As I continued on to 10 Bear, Shannon was driving towards me to the B&B. Cool! She stops and rolls down the window and while crying says “This has been an awful day!!!” (That would be memorable quote #4) If it’s any consolation mine hasn’t been much better! She proceeds to tell me Ciara won’t take her antibiotic and asks me to help. So she rolls down the back window and I tried to feed Ciara her meds. I can only imagine what Ciara was thinking with sweaty, dirty, half dead Daddy coming through the window with a syringe of medicine!! Needless to say she wouldn’t take it from me either. Even in the middle of a 100 mile race, parenting doesn’t stop!!
I finally made it to Camp 10 Bear around 8:15 PM and met up with Keith. I was tired but at that point knew I could finish. Only 30 miles through the night to go! I sucked wind on the climb out of Camp 10 Bear. I struggled with catching my breath and was starting to feel nauseous. I told Keith I would have to trudge a bit until I felt better. Pretty soon though I was able to alternate in some bursts. I was also contending with frequent burning sensations to pee. And my pee was brownish. Not exactly pleasant. But I remembered Steve telling me he had that happen to him in his last 100 so I figured I could deal.
When I made it to West Winds station I was happy to see and talk with Jeff L, who I met last year at the VT 100 while pacing. We talked about the unfortunate cancellation of Western States which deprived him of his first 100 mile shot. He provided some encouragement and off Keith and I went.
At mile 83 I saw Anthony again who was now pacing his buddy Wayne who was passed out by a fire. It looked comfortable idea... but I continued on. The visibility was tough in some sections with the fog. It rendered the headlamps useless much of the time. On the rough trail sections through the woods it was cautious and very slow going.
After hitting Seargant’s station at mile 97.7 I had a surge of energy to just get the race done. I passed a few guys in the final miles. With a mile to go I was determined to finish strong. I covered it in 10 minutes and raised my hands and smiled as I crossed the finish line. 100 miles. 25 hours 19 minutes later. Done. It felt good. It was worth it.
It was long. It was difficult. I almost died. I can’t wait to do it again…

Me crossing the finish

Me and my pacer Keith

Showing off the boring plaque

(There were 266 competitors. 158 people made it to the finish line. I finished in 78th place. Check here for complete Results)

A huge thanks to Keith M. for pacing!! It was like he was a pro! Thanks also to Keith V. for shuttling us back and foe B&B to the start/finish!

Mark amazingly finished right on plan in 22:34. Incredible! Congrats!! And our friend Steve kicked some major butt and finished in 7th place with a blazing, mind boggling time of 18:29! Congrats to you Steve!! Your goal is to train me to get that time next year! Got it?

With Mark and Steve

P.S. Check out some awesome pics Frank took on the course.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ciara the Patient

After emergency room visits in two different states, two nights in the children’s hospital, several different antibiotics and Ciara’s pediatrician saying “In my 20 years of practicing, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Ciara is doing much better! The meds given to her at the Hartford Children’s hospital did their thing and the infection has subsided. She came home today and can now walk. Phew!! The most likely cause was a spider bite which caused cellulitis. The only way to try and determine if it was in fact a spider bite, would be to dig into the wound to get a culture. We opted not to torture Ciara with that process. The original fear in Hartford was that it was a mrsa staph infection, which is difficult to treat. But that was eventually ruled out. Ciara was a trooper the whole time. She made the best of it and became friends with the entire staff on her floor!

The hospital is not a bad place to be after running 100 miles

The cellulitis and swollen foot

Having fun in the hospital Getting a ride in a wagon

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vermont 100

Holy crap! It was tough. But I finished. At some point I'll post some pics and a report. Right now my focus is with Ciara. She's currently at the hospital fighting a spider bite infection. Sucks!! My poor little sweatheart!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run

The training is done. Now its time to run...

Good luck to everyone running the race this weekend! Extra good luck to: Mark, Steve, Emmy, Frank and a couple of pacers: Keith, Bruce and Anthony!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Run In Norway

I was on a business trip in Oslo, Norway this past week. Thursday afternoon, I was able to get out for a great run around the city. I covered about 15 miles and took in many sights of the city. My run was a bit adventurous, as it included some Royal pomp and circumstance, a tense moment at the US embassy and a celebrity sighting. The weather was perfect and many Norwegians were on holiday, so the city was bustling and everyone was outdoors enjoying the sunshine. There’s plenty of daylight this time of year as it doesn’t get dark until 11 PM and the sun comes up around 3 AM!

Here are some pics I took on my run:

Johans Gate – A pedestrian area with street performers, shops and bars that leads up to the Royal Palace…

The Royal Palace – As I ran by, a parade and ceremony of some sort was taking place...

Vigeland Sculpture Park – A cool park with flower gardens and stone sculptures...

Me and the kids



As I was running past the backside of the US Embassy, the gate to the compound was opening up to let out a vehicle. It was bad timing, as my rapid movement down the sidewalk was perceived by the guard as activity that was not appreciated. The guard quickly turned his and his automatic weapon’s attention toward me and yelled something in Norwegian while waving me out of the gate area. I don’t think he said ”Hey, nice pace.” I continued on, getting my self out of harms way and was thankful that I didn’t get shot by my own embassy...

Nobel Peace Center - Kind of ironic I almost got shot and then ran by the Nobel Peace Center...

Oslo Harbor – Many outdoor seating restaurants and bars with loads of people hanging out enjoying views of the water and boats...

Akershus Fortress - A place with more great views of the harbor...

Oslo Opera House – I ran several laps up and around the Opera House. It’s pretty cool. It’s a big concrete structure that people can hangout and walk up and enjoy views of the city and harbor...

As I was finishing up the run, I saw a crowd of people around the entrance to a hotel. Curious, I stopped to check it out and apparently Bruce Springsteen was in town for a concert. His band was leaving the hotel and the folks were trying to get a glimpse. I saw Steven Van Zandt…

And Max Weinberg...

I ended the easy paced run, which was perfect for a taper period, back at my hotel...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Another day in the woods

Bruce sent me some cool pics from a recent hike to another swamp...

I found another swamp and if you look real close in the upper left hand corner of this shot, you will see two large nests.

Two nests in one tree like a blue heron condo.

A dragonfly landed nearby while I was shooting the birds.

As the direction of light changed, I was able to get some silhouette shots.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Statue of Liberty

After the Yankee game last week, we stayed overnight at Shannon's aunt's place in Hoboken. On the 4th of July we took a ferry over to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Lots of fun!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Yanks Game

On the eve of July 4th I took the family down to Yankee Stadium to see the first game of a series against the rival Red Sox. Even though the Yanks lost we had a great time visiting monument park, watching the game under the lights, eating cotton candy and ice cream, seeing Alex and Ciara's names on the scoreboard and cheering for the pinstripes.