3rd woman, 22nd overall, 19:20:27, 306 starters
The Vermont 100 Endurance Run was a new challenge for me. Not because of the distance, since I have run 100 miles in one day before, but because of the large amount of road running involved. I am a trail runner; the more rugged and gnarly the terrain, the better I perform.
Regardless, VT is our favorite state, and I wanted to try a new challenge. So, after not getting selected in the Hardrock 100 lottery, I signed up for VT100, but it was a little too late. I ended up on the wait list……number 74. Geez! I was skeptical that I would get off the list, but as time went on, I got closer, and two weeks before the race, I was in! I trained all along as if I was already registered, so I was ready!
The race venue was spectacular! We set up our tents in a field at Silver Hill Meadow in West Windsor, Vermont next to about 75 other tents. There was horse rider/handler camping nearby as well, and just past the hundred or so horse trailers, there were two large white tents for registration and dining. VT100 is an equine race at the same time. We all share the dirt roads and trails together.
Morning came quickly. The race start was at 4am, so I climbed out of my tent at 3:15am after waking up multiple times in anticipation. The sky was sprinkled with stars and the air had a chill to it. I got dressed, used the bathroom and drank a bottle of Vega. Scott, Danny Roy (Scott’s first cousin and my pacer), and I headed to the start line. What was really cool was that Danny brother, Jon “swung” by on his way back to Maine from Ft. Dix in New Jersey, just to say hello and wish us good luck.
It was a bit chilly at the start, but I stripped down to my tank and shorts. I chose to wear a pair of Hoka’s hoping that the added cushion would decrease the amount of stress on my quads. The first 22.5 miles passed quickly. Amy Lane got ahead right away but I was focused on running a steady, even race, so I didn’t go with her.
I met a nice guy named Nate from New Hampshire and we talked about snowboarding for a while and then I ran with a girl from Colorado named Cat. I got ahead of both of my new friends and noticed my intestines did not feel right. I searched for a good spot to duck into the woods but decided to wait until the first handler station at 22.5 miles.
When I came into Pretty House Aid Station, I told Scott that I needed to use the bathroom. The port-o-potty was in use and I did not want to wait. I continued on and stopped in the woods around the corner. I felt a little better but that did not relieve my intestinal distress completely.
I was still running strong though and hoped it would go away. Around this time, the sun broke through the clouds and it began to heat up. Eventually Kathleen Cusick and Larisa Dannis caught up and they got ahead of me. I realized I wasn’t far behind in the next aid station at Stage Rd., because a few minutes after I left and the trail went uphill, both Kathleen and Larisa were behind me again.
I was making faster aid station stops than the other runners. I ran with Kathleen for a few miles across lots of fields with beautiful views. I took one more bathroom pit stop and felt much better. The intestine issues were now gone for good. Another issue had been brewing though….blisters. I knew I had one growing on my left big toe and another on my right heal. I chose to ignore them. As the miles went on, my feet became increasingly numb. I decided I would wait to do anything about it.
Once we got back on dirt roads, I began to struggle a bit. I was drinking and eating well, but it was starting to feel like not enough. I was getting a few hunger pangs. I began to debate whether to eat real food. I was only consuming Hammer Gel and Perpetuem. I got into Camp 10 Bear, the 47.2 mile aid station with my Ultraspire hydration pack drained and my energy low.
At weigh in, the scale showed that I had lost 2 pounds. The med staff warned me that my margin of error was very small and told me to focus on eating and drinking more. My feet were starting to hurt, and I had the urge to change my socks, so I switched to a new pair, but kept my shoes. I restocked and ate some watermelon. Off I went, but when the course changed to a steep uphill, I reverted back to walking.
Donna Utakis found me here. We stayed together for a short while but her uphill hiking skills are exceptional and she eventually pulled away. Now I really focused on breathing, eating and drinking. My energy level started to turn around but not before I got to see Kelly Wilson. She caught up to me and we ran together for a mile or so and I got into a groove and was finally able to motor on. I had slipped back to 6th place, but left the Tracer Brook Aid Station before Kelly, so I moved back to 5th.
I worked on making back the time I lost during my low stretch, and actually started catching a few people. I breezed through the next handler aid station where I later realized I passed Donna and Larisa and then eventually cruised on through Margaritaville, mile 62.5 where Amy made a long stop. I was back in 2nd place!
Now back at Camp 10 Bear at mile 71.5, I weighed in a pound up from my 1st med check and was very upbeat. I ate more watermelon, changed my socks and got out quickly. Now I had a partner. Danny, Scott’s cousin, volunteered to pace me for the last 28.5 miles. It was nice to have someone to run with. Sometimes a song gets stuck in your head and keeps going around and around. With a pacer, there is at the very least, more interesting things to listen to and at the best, the reason why you completed the race.
At some point during this section of the race my heel blister popped and then dirt got in to the wound. I felt the grit on my exposed skin. The rest of my feet felt fine at this point. I didn’t want to change shoes or socks. I just wanted to clean out the blister and put a bandage on it. This is what we did the next time we saw Scott at the Spirit of 76 Aid Station. It felt much better. My quads were my bigger issue now. With all the dirt road pounding, they were really beat up. I kept up the best pace I could but I could tell I was really slowing.
At about 84 miles, I heard a hearty hello from behind. It was Amy! She had come back from her low spot and looked great. She seemed to think she was in first now. I did not see how that could be but anything could happen! I thought Kathleen was still up front, and with a commanding lead. I tried to rally but could not match Amy’s pace. I was also starting to have a hard time eating my energy food. It was beginning to make me gag.
I told Danny that at the next aid station I needed to switch to plain water. I was done with Perpetuem and gels. So at Bill’ s, mile 88.6 I was feeling pretty bad. I started getting a bit emotional. I ate some roasted potatoes and bananas and drank ginger ale. My stomach felt a little better now and I got a hold of myself. Scott confirmed that Kathleen had come through the aid station about a half-hour before I did, and Amy arrived about ten minutes before I did.
It was time to turn the lights on. Darkness fell quickly. I kept moving, always thinking that my energy level would improve or that Kathleen and Amy might slow. Neither happened but I never dropped down to a hobble although at times I had a hard time running in a straight line. I ran straight through Polly’s, the last aid station with 3.9 miles to go, not stopping. I continued to run as much as possible, watching my goal time slip away.
The finish line was nearing and I was ready to be done, so I put the hammer down (which meant running a 12 minute mile instead of a 14 minute mile!). I passed a few more men. Yippee! Soon I saw the milk jugs filled with glow sticks lining the trail. I ran harder and could see the neon Finish Line sign in sight. I pushed across the line in 19 hours 20 minutes 27 seconds. Done! Third woman. 22nd overall.
I took off my shoes to check out my blisters. Holy cow. I had one of the ugliest blisters I had ever seen on my left big toe. Everyone at the finish line was admiring it. I wiped down at the post race tent and tried to eat some real food before heading to bed at midnight. Runners would continue to roll in until 10am the next day!
The Vermont 100 was an incredible adventure. I was nervous about running so much dirt roads knowing that my strengths lie in tricky trails, but I feel happy with my performance and believe I ran the best race I possibly could have considering all the challenges. I saw a lot of friends and made some new ones. Even if I don’t race it again, I will definitely be back to crew, pace or volunteer some day!
Scott’s Race Report Blog Posts and Photos: