A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Official Race Report Vermont 100 - Part 3

Vermont 100 Race Report - Part 3 - Middle of the Race

Gotta love the scenery in Vermont!

From Pretty House to Stage Road (22.5 to 30.5)

Leaving Pretty House, we made a right turn onto a dirt road and started to make way up a gentle section of the course. I was maintaining good form here. Once we got onto a dead-end road and onto a single track trail, the hills were decidedly a bit steeper. We were also intermingled with a couple of horses at this point, so we had to pause to make some of the horses go past. The problem is, the horses tend to sometimes go slower up the hill than runners, so I found out at more than one time in this section that I had to signal to the riders that I was passing through. On single track trail, communication and courtesy was critical, and I'm glad runners and riders had a good understanding of each other here.

Still, the hill didn't feel that bad! I was still awaiting a steeper section when we finally emerged onto the top of the Sound of Music Hill! I was amazed that I ran this section at an 11:30 min/mile pace!

That started a bit of a spark in my head...am I witnessing a great race in the making here?

That hill was bad 2 years ago, and I bounded up it like it was nothing this year. Wow, what a difference!

The other, darker side of my brain piped up, "shhhh, we still have 75 miles of the race left, I'll have none of this 'great race' crap right now!"

And that was the end of it.

The downhill sections here were quite steep, so the horses were careful here. So I had to pass them and fly down the other side of the hill. There was a little bit of confusion with a group as to where the plates were sending us, but I told the group of runners there that I spotted a plate here and I'm going down this road. Some runners up ahead took the wrong turn, so we shouted at them to come back before making the final descent into the next aid station.

Coming onto Stage Road (30.5 miles), I was still having a great time and making jokes. I found my crew smiling and waiting for me right in front, with a fresh shirt in hand. I quickly changed my shirt to a fresh one and noted my pace...

5:51:46. That's 11:32 pace. Still under 12 minutes per mile, and after a major hill! No problem there!



I then stop for about 2-3 minutes while I ate at the aid station. This was the first aid station that I really filled up on cantaloupes, watermelon, and bananas. I also took a couple of salt pills for goo measure, waved goodbye to the crew, and ran off.



Stage Road to Camp 10 Bear Outbound (30.5 - 47.6 miles)

Remembering so well that there was a series of smaller but very steep hills here, and how I struggled up them, I was a little cautious about this section.

Right off of the Stage Road Aid station was one of the steep hills, a nasty single-track section off the road. Approaching the section, I was pleasantly surprised at how strong my legs were taking this hill. I passed about 3 people climbing up the hill. Getting to the top, that little spark went off again...

"You took that hill easily, this is definitely going to be a great race!".

The Dark Side quickly piped, "shut up! We still have most of the race left; still a chance to become a drooling idiot in the latter part of the race."

The spark died down again.

The next series of hills I took in stride. I was feeling unbeatable at this point. Coming off of the trail and onto Route 12 (after the small aid station there), a red car stopped suddenly. Out popped a head I definitely recognized, "Pete!!!".

It was LS, the president of RVRR. "You're doing great, keep it up". I told her I was feeling great and was looking forward to seeing them at the Camp 10 Bear Aid Station.

Coming into Camp 10 Bear (mile 47.6) was a breeze. I couldn't believe how refreshed I was getting into the first mandatory weight check. I met LS and DA as well as my crew. They offered me some watermelon, but I refused. I didn't want to take their runner's stuff. Plus, I had my own crew that was taking care of me.


Once I arrived, I eagerly awaited the results of the first weigh-in.

Three pounds lost. Excellent! Cleared for the next section of race!

And the time at this point? 9:07, still at 11:29 min/mile pace. Wow, still under 12! I would have thought I would be going over that pace at this point and hoping I stay fast enough to go under 24 hours. Obviously, this was way faster than 24 hours! Still, I'm going with it now, since I felt great!

Note: Looking at my 2010 charts and the charts for this race, I arrived at Camp 10 Bear over one hour and 40 minutes faster than in 2010. This was significant!

Camp 10 Bear Outbound to Tracer Brook (47.6 - 57.4 miles)

One of my lasting memories in the 2010 was the doomed struggle up Agony Hill. I was actually on the very verge of crying getting up that nasty hill in 2010.

And now, I face Agony Hill again.

Coming out of Camp 10 Bear, after a bit of a stretch of easy asphalt road, the course turns right and up one of the steepest hills of the course. Mostly dirt road and single track trail, this hill turned my legs into butter in 2010.

Anticipating that section, I was physically and mentally preparing myself for Agony Hill. And when the turn up the hill came...

...I walked up it like a trooper. Passed a number of people going up this section, and I walked up this thing very strongly. I just kept my head town, one foot in front of the other, and never let up the pace until I was there at the top! The spark in me was revitalized again.

"Half way there! And done with Agony Hill. Can we maybe consider THIS the making of a great race?"

Dark side,"OK, I admit, we might be on to something here, but I wouldn't celebrate yet. You still have Prospect Hill and Heartbreak Hill, let alone that eerie night running thing, so keep it down!"

So the spark died down again.

Arrived at Pinky's (mile 51.0) in good time. Even with Agony Hill included my pace was 11:33 min/mile pace. My God I'm running fast!

Pinky's was also indelibly etched in my mind there in 2010. That was the time I asked for a lot of turkey to eat, then had to fight off sleep the next 5 miles due to the tryptophan in the turkey. I easily avoided the turkey this time and continued on my fruit diet was well as some salt pills to keep everything in equilibrium.

At this point all the way to Tracer Brook, I passed a significant number of people in various stages of distress. Amazingly, I was still feeling quite strong; I was still waiting for the moment I was ready to crash and burn myself.

That moment still wasn't coming.

Coming in toward Tracer Brook (57.4 miles), I was still feeling great. Prospect Hill was next, and I was ready for it.


Time check...11:02:05...still an 11:32 min/mile pace. Holy crap that's still fast.

Tracer Brook to Margaritaville (57.4 to 62.5 miles)

This small section goes basically up and over Prospect Hill. This was another trouble spot in 2010.

Coming out of Tracer Brook, I started to take his hill aggressively, running the gentle slopes of the hill until I got to the steeper sections, then I would walk it. I found out that I was actually running up this hill more this year than in 2010! The last steep section of the hill before the top was no problem at all, I power-walked up it to get to the unmanned aid station at the top. After grabbing some water, the downhill section was a treat! I got to Margaritaville (62.5 miles) in great shape.

The crew had another dry shirt for me, and I quickly donned it. Everything else was great. My feet were golden, I had no cramps whatsoever, and I was fully alert. I told Nancy to get ready for her pacer duties, since it's only 8 miles away.

Time check? 12:12:24. This is an 11:43 min/mile pace. Still under 12 min/mile pace. As a reminder, finishing this course at a 12 minute/mile pace would put me at 20 hours, not 24 hours. With the race starting at 4AM, 20 hours would place me at the finish at midnight!

I quickly dismissed finishing at the Midnight Pace. I didn't want to pressure myself further. I'm having a great race now. No need to rock the boat.

Margaritaville to Camp 10 Bear Inbound (62.5 miles - 70.5 miles)

The course after Margaritaville was a bit uphill for the first 3 miles, but was gentle enough to run a significant portion of this section. Again I was passing a lot of distressed people. Getting to Brown School House Aid Station (65.5 miles) marked the end of the uphill section, and the start of a significant downhill toward Camp 10 bear.

This 5 mile downhill stretch is steep in places, and the jarring of my tiring quads was the last thing I want to feel at this point. Even with the steep downhills, I was still running beautifully at this point. Once at the bottom, I made that left turn up the hill towards Camp 10 Bear. I noted some huge differences since 2010.

1) It was still daylight. It was dusk when I arrived here in 2010. (I arrived over 3 hours faster than in 2010).

2) There were still a couple of people going outbound from Camp 10 Bear.

3) I was still feeling great.

4) I was in the midst of a potentially epic race.

5) They had grilled bacon and cheese sandwiches. Mmmm, bacon!

Arriving at Camp 10 bear, I had my second weigh-in of the race. Still only 3 pounds lost, the medical staff cleared me for the next part of the course.

Nancy was ready to pace me the next 19 miles. There was a little concern in the back of my head about having a pacer right now when I was having a great race. Would it change the dynamic of the race? Would I have to take a different mental approach to having a pacer now? Will it change my great luck I'm having so far?

Sorry Nancy. :-)

Next up, the toughest part of the course, with Heartbreak Hill in the lead...

Continued in Part 4...

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