Rugged Individualist. Certified USA Triathlon Coach & NASM Personal Trainer, Men's Self Improvement Coach. President of Go Farther Sports. National Ranked Triathlete & 100 Mile Grand Slam Ultrarunner, 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

The Perfect Race - Vermont 100 Race Report - Part 1

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” - Sven-Göran Eriksson

It Started with the Failure in Leadville

   This whole crazy thing started in Leadville!

   The Leadville 100, one of the toughest courses I've ever done, is the course that eats its young. And it certainly ate me alive last August, as I was struggling up Hope Pass, which is a steep 2500 foot incline from miles 40-45 of the race. The top of this course is well over 12,000 feet from sea level, so there is essentially no oxygen here.

    I missed the cutoff time at mile 45, near the top of the pass, and had to go back the way I came and drop out.

    I could have easily blamed the altitude and moved on, but I didn't. Although there are ways to lessen the effect of altitude on performance, altitude cannot really something I can control in training.

    Instead, I blamed it on a factor in which I could control. My weight.

    You see, I tipped the scale there at around 205+ pounds. To be carrying that extra weight in an oxygen deprived environment over 100 miles is definitely a detriment to performance, and the race definitely called me out on it.

My Triathlon Training Thesis

    So I quickly came up with a plan. And a thesis of sorts. My background, and therefore my strength, was in triathlon. I used to eat triathlon, drink triathlon, piss triathlon, and vomit triathlon in the 1990s and I was a success at it. I was regularly making the age group podiums with triathlons.

     So what if I was to go BACK to my STRENGTH and start triathlon training again? What if the swimming and biking actually help get me through a 100 mile ultramarathon? Would it work?

    The past couple of years I was primarily doing ultra training, namely, lots of miles of running (80-100 miles per week on several weeks), with only a smattering of swimming and cycling.

   Changing to triathlon training would cut back on my weekly running volume, but up my swimming and biking to competitive levels. I would even compete in several triathlons before embarking on the 100 mile ultramarathon. I might as well, right? If I'm training for triathlons, I might as well do it up in triathlons!

   So instead of a steady diet of 80+ mile running weeks, with a smattering of cycling and swimming, I actually cut down the running volume significantly to only 2 weeks above 60+ miles. And fill that void with lots of cycling and swimming. It was a very risky proposition, but one I was to undertake.

   But which 100 miler to pick. Leadville was out because it is expensive to go back out there for an experiment that might or might not work. I might as well pick one that is closer to home.

   And the one that I completed in 2010, the Vermont 100.

   My time two years ago in the Vermont 100 was 28 hours and 9 minutes. I was also 200 pounds back then and was still doing the ultramarathon training thing that year also, so it's a PERFECT race to use and compare results.

   Ah, Vermont, how I struggled up against your hills! How emotionally fried I was at the finish line...

...and how I was about to go through the same emotional roller coaster again. Yikes! The physical pain is one thing, but I am very fearful when my mind starts to go. So here we go again!

Execution of the Thesis -  A Successful Triathlon Plan

   Once I pitched it to members of the Staten Island Athletic Club, 3 club members decided to actually help crew me for the race. Amy L., Rob L., and Nancy C., who regularly runs in the Greenbelt's trails with me on group runs, graciously stepped forward to handle the details of crewing for me at Vermont.

 Amy and her husband Rob, 2/3rds of my fabulous crew.

   The training went very well right from the outset. I lost more than 15 pounds, coming down to a lean 182 pounds at my lowest point. I regularly went underneath 180 pounds after some long training sessions as well. My swimming and cycling got stronger as well, and my speed, which as non-existent for almost a decade, came back with a vengeance!

   My Cold Feat 10K time in February was surprisingly perfect! A month later, I killed the hilly Indian Trails 15k course in a little over 62 minutes.

   Triathlons? I was definitely seeing some good things there also. A 2:18 for the Red Bank Olympic Distance Triathlon, placing myself close to the top of my age group. And the Tupper Lake Tinman 70.3 was the icing on the cake, finishing a little over 5 hours (5:04).

   So here I was, in proven triathlon shape. And how will that affect me in a 100 mile ultra race?

   This was an interesting development. Whereas I was regularly pushing more than 80 miles per week in the previous years, my highest running mileage this year was only 60 miles, and that was done only twice this year.

   I usually use some statistics to determine predicted times at races. I regularly use them on the athletes I coach. And it has come through for me this year as well.

Prediction of the 100 Mile Ultra? Statistics Would Fail Here

   The problem is, statistics don't work at all in long 100 mile ultramarathons. The variability is too large to get a good range of predicted times with decent confidence.

   So I went with my gut instincts. Which told me I had an "outside shot" at going under 24 hours. And most of that was pure optimism. I figure I would be wrestling with that 24 hour time throughout the whole race.

   I sure wanted that sub-24 hour buckle though, so I stuck to a slightly aggressive strategy that would maybe get me under that time.

   And what was that? I would start the race at a 12 minute per mile pace. If you do the calculations, that would actually be a 20 hour pace. Yes, that was the risk I was taking!

   But that would also give me a 4 hour cushion in case I was forced to slow down in the latter stages of the race. Hopefully it would be enough to step over the finish line in under 24 hours.

   Up Next - The Beginning of the Race

Official Race Report - Vermont 100 - Part 2

Part 2 - The Race Begins   

   Fast forward to the day before the race. I had a good taper that week. Of course, this was triathlon training, so the taper also involved trips to the pool and on my bike.

   The day before the race, Amy, Rob, and Nancy picked me up, and we drove over to Vermont. Despite some hiccups with traffic, we got there in time for the weigh-in and the Preparation Meeting that was to follow.

   The weigh-in was mandatory. In this race, there are 3 places where I would have to weigh in. This is so they can monitor how much weight I lost and decide whether I was fit to go on or not. Generally, any weight that was 5% below the baseline weight was cause for concern, and the doctors there can stop you until they feel you have enough fluids to go again. Anything below 7%, and they can take you out of the race.

   My baseline weight was measured at 189. Which is about right. The taper would give me more water weight, plus the clothes I had on would add to the weight also.

   I was exactly 15 pounds less than baseline weight 2 years ago at this same race. Excellent!

   After the meeting, we retreated to our hotel rooms and started organizing my stuff so that Rob can easily fetch them when I ask for the stuff. Three primary bags were needed, my shoe bag (4 pairs of shoes, plus a pair of sandals), my primary bag (with all my running shirts, shorts, and socks, as well as nutrition, and my overnight bad (with long-sleeve clothes, gloves, and hats I might need).

Race Day

   We had no problems waking up. We got to the start line area at around 3:15AM, around 45 minutes before the start of the race. Anticipating the long day ahead, I told my crew to eat and sleep whenever possible, and to make sure I do not stay at any aid stations for more than 3 minutes. Lingering at aid stations would tend to stiffen up my legs. As long as I walk away from the aid stations, my legs are always moving, and they will not stiffen up.

Got that? Stiff legs are a bad thing! Legs that aren't stiff are good!

With about 5 minutes to go, the runners started assembling themselves at the start line. After saying my goodbyes to the group, I eagerly awaited the countdown and the horn signalling the start of the race.

The Start of the Race to Pretty House (22.5 miles)

Starting an epic long distance race is usually a feeling out process, a process that includes establishing a very tolerable pace as well as making sure all the moving parts on the body are loose and comfortable.

There is also pace to consider, and was hoping to establish a 12 minute per mile pace in the early part of the race.

After about a mile on the road, we moved onto a rocky double-track trail. With only our lights illuminating the way, I was being extra careful here not to twist my ankle in this very early part of the race. The trails were runnable, but rocks were strategically paced at places where we stepped.

I made sure not to step there.

After a while, we finally emerged onto a road where running was a bit more comfortable. Don't get me wrong, I love trails, but this whole "run on the trails before dawn and twist the ankle in the first 5 miles of a 100 mile race" thingie was not in my best interest.

So the roads were my best friend until daylight broke.

Still, I was a little curious how my pace was. I felt I was dead on, but the only way to know was when I hit that first unmanned aid station at Densmore Hill (7.0 miles).

As I was closing in at the aid station, I was constantly looking at my watch. A true 12 minutes per mile pace would put me at Densmore at 1 hour and 24 minutes.

I got there at 1:20:18. Slightly ahead of schedule, but the pace was definitely acceptable. Relieved, I grabbed some water at the aid station and quickly kept going.

The course had to be slightly changed this year because the bridge we usually go over has been closed, so they had to reroute the course through downtown Woodstock and catch the roads north of there. That would add an extra half mile to the course. To compensate, the organizers took away a section of Blood Hill at the end of the course to keep it at 100 miles.

The section of the course from Densmore into Woodstock was slightly downhill and not technical at all. I knew I was running well ahead of the 12 min/mile pace I wanted to establish, but allowed a faster pace due to the nice downhill section. I met one of the more established ultrarunners at this point and she told me that she was being crewed by none other than the current president of the Raritan Valley Road Runners (LS) and one of the better runners in that club (DA). I was surprised, but was hoping to see them along the route. It's been some time since I've seen them, so it would nice to say hi to them.

Coming into Woodstock, I met my crew on one of the corners of the small town. After hugs and kisses, I gave them my headlamp and continued on northward toward the Taftsville Bridge Aid Station (15.4 miles). The course was paved road at this point. After a while on the road, we finally arrived at the aid station. Checking my time, I knew I was well ahead of pace (2:09:08, or 11:14 min/mile pace).

Woodstock - Mile 14

Knowing the time, I went ahead and stood at the aid station for about 2-3 minutes to make sure I had enough to eat and drink. I started running again after I made sure I was well nourished and hydrated.

It was basically a gentle uphill on dirt roads toward Pretty House. I was in a very jovial mood and feeling great at that point. I also getting mentally ready to prepare for the first real mountain of the course, the Sound of Music Hill. In 2010, I remember this as a real tough slog.

Coming into Pretty House (22.5), I was still in a jovial mood and was joking with the spectators at the side of the road. Jokes like, "I thought I signed up for a 5k race today", and "What? No finish line?", helped keep the positive vibes going.

Checking my pace: 2:49:11, a 10:59 min/mile pace. Very fast! But very comfortable. It's good to know that  I had some extra time for when the hills start after this aid station.

I also met my crew here. It is, of course, the first handler station of the course.

Told my crew that I was feeling quite golden, and don't need much right now. Rob asked me about changing my shirt and I promised him that I will change my shirt at the next handler station at mile 30. He agreed.

Starting off, I knew the Sound of Music Hill was looming. Will it change my mood?...

Continued in Part 3

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 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...

Official Race Report - Vermont 100 - Part 4

 Vermont 100 Race Report - The End of The Race

Camp 10 Bear Inbound to Spirit of 76 (62.5 miles - 77.4 miles)

Nancy and I wee ready to face the toughest part of the course. We started to run out of Camp 10 Bear, across the road, and onto Heartbreak Hill.

Nope, it's not the Heartbreak Hill in the Boston Marathon. Believe me, if the Heartbreak Hill here replaced the usual one in the Boston Marathon, half the people would drop out of the marathon.

The hill is a single-track section that goes straight up the mountain.Fortunately, I still had the legs to power-walk up this hill, and sooner than I thought I got to to the top of the hill and onto the road at the ridge of the mountain.

That was just the beginning of this tough section; the road still steadily climbed upward, forcing me to walk more than run. I let Nancy know that it was best of me to be either abreast of me or slightly behind. I didn't want her "pulling" me along; it felt like that when she was ahead of me, so she easily complied and pulled back.

The discomfort that I had having a pacer quickly dissipated when Nancy basically mimicked the same things I did. When I ran, she ran, when I walked, she walked. It settled me down nicely when I knew I was still in total control of my pace.

And it was great to have someone to talk to also. The endless miles tend to wear on people, and to actually talk to people definitely lifted my spirits.

After the uphill, we then got into the single-track part of this difficult section. This roller-coaster section is definitely hard on the legs, with the steep downhills killing the legs as fast as the steep uphills. There were no flat sections here anywhere.

This was the first real uncomfortable part of this race. Trying to manage my quads without the jarring was impossible here, so I took this section very gingerly.

Then there were the horses.

It's one thing to endure these jarring ups and downs. It's quite another to do this with a horse either behind you or ahead of you. Whether it is to pass a horse or to be passed by a horse, it makes for a major disruption in my rhythm, and at this late stage of the race, it was very difficult for me to tolerate it.

But, I was still moving; hoping that the "perpetual forward motion" got us through this section as fast as possible.

And it did. We finally emerged on the road and approached the  Seabrook Aid Station (75.1 miles).

After a quick stop at that aid station, the road was much easier than the single track, and it was a gentle downhill. I basically ran the whole section to the Spirit of 76 Aid Station (77.4 miles).

When I arrived there, Rob and Amy were there with our headlamps. I was tiring but was still in good spirits.

I checked my time again and saw that I arrived there in 15:33:31. That would be a 12:04 min/mile pace. It took me over 77 miles before I finally slowed to under a 12 minute mile pace, so I was still in great shape! I can put the crazy thoughts about a midnight finish aside and concentrate on my current pace. I would be awfully pleased with a 22 hour pace since I would finish before the ugly sleep deprived hours beginning at 2AM.

Spirit of 76 to Bills (77.4 - 89 miles)

It was still daylight at the Spirit of 76 Aid Station when I left. I liked it a lot.

But we still needed the headlamps. We won't be seeing Amy or Rob until Bill's at mile 89, and it would definitely be completely dark by then.

This was the "make or break" portion of the trek. I was slowing, but Bill's was the immediate goal here because Bill's marks only 11 miles to go before the finish line, and I can definitely will myself through those last 11 miles.

But first I had to get through the doldrums here.

We first took a wrong exit out of Spirit of 76, but quickly retraced our steps, found the right turn, and got back on course.

This section was a nice change from the ups and downs out of Camp 10 Bear. It was basically a dirt road, going mostly downhill. The sunlight was finally waning at this point, and it was finally starting to get dark.

Still, by the time we got to Goodman's (81.4 miles), we still haven't used our lights yet. The overall pace there was 12:10 min/mile pace. I was still running, but was slowing quite a bit.

Once after Goodman's it was dark enough to turn on the headlamps.

After a little bit of uphill running, we arrived at the Cow Shed Aid Station (84.0 miles). Race time was 17:11:11, or a 12:17 min/mile pace. I was tired, but still in good spirits.

And I was still running the level sections and the downhills.

After Cow Shed, we had a long, 5 mile stretch to Bill's.

I realized that 5 miles in this part of the race basically sucked. But I dealt with it with resignation and actually started to run part of the stretch.

Was was nice was that I actually ran the next 3 miles of the course, since it was downhill. That made this stretch a lot easier to tolerate.

The bad news was the last 2 miles were completely uphill.

Nancy was doing great. She was very strong after she herself did around 17 miles. I told her that she had 2 more miles to go and she shrugged. She turned out to be a great endurance runner.

She'll be modest about it, but she can't deny it. :-)

Back to the uphill. It was endless. I was walking a major part of it at this point. With my temper getting a bit short, I was muttering under my breath, "where the fuck is Bill's?" I kept repeating that "mantra" over and over until after what felt like an eternity, we turned a right towards Bill's Shed.

I arrived there at 18:27 in the race, or around 10:30PM. In 2010, I arrived at Bill's at 3:51 in the morning. That's over a 5 hour difference between the races! My pace was still a not-to-shabby 12:27 min/mile pace. I was ticking off about 15min/mile pace right now, and I know that if I kept that pace, I'd be WELL below 24 hours.

I'm definitely happy with that pace!

The last weigh-in was perfect, only 4 pounds lost. I was cleared to the finish!

Rob had a long sleeve shirt for me, but I was still fine with the short sleeve; in fact, the long sleeve would probably overheat me.

Nancy was finished with her job. She did great!

It was Amy's turn to take me the last 11 miles to the finish. And I know like Nancy, she would do a great job.

 Bills to Polly's (89 miles to 96.1 miles)

Coming out of Bill's, I told Amy the same instructions as I told Nancy, to just mimic everything I do, and everything will be fine. The first stretch out of Bill's is a perilous single-track, and mostly walked it until we hit the road about 1 mile later.

Even though this was mostly road, there were a lot of uphills at this stretch.

The hills come fast and furious the last 30 miles of this race and everyone needs to be mentally prepared for them.

A quick calculation finds that if I keep the pace at 15 min/mile, that would put me at the finish at a little over 21 hours and would avoid running during the "witching hours" of 2AM-4AM, a worthy goal. My running form was out the window, but it was still much faster than walking, so I ran most of the level to downhill sections.

Keating's (92.4 miles) was a great little aid station between Bill's and the next handler station at Polly's, so I got my mix of water and Gatorade and kept moving.

We had a bit of difficult single track to navigate in the middle of the night, but it was short, as we got onto the road in short time. I was still holding to 15 min/mile pace.

Night running is really a unique experience, especially when glowsticks mark the course. It has this eerie, surreal feeling to it. These are usually unique to 100 mile ultras; great stuff to witness when I'm a part of it.

Amy and I arrived at Polly's (95.9). Race time was 20:19:36. Well, so much for the midnight finish! Still, the pace was 12:43 min/mile pace and a 15 minute mile pace would put me close to 21.5 hours, an excellent time!

I told the crew that I was OK for the last 4 miles, then told Amy, "let's get to that finish line". One of the volunteers at Polly's asked jokingly, "you don't really want to finish, right?".

I looked her in the eye and said, "OH YES I DO".

We headed out for the last 4 miles of the course, with the sub 24 hour belt buckle well within my reach.

Polly's to Finish Line (96.1 - 100 miles)

From Polly's to Sargent's was perhaps the longest 2.2 miles I've ever witnessed.

Knowing that I'm still doing 15 in/mile pace, I should have seen the aid station after 35 minutes.

No aid station.

Amy points to something lighted in the distance. Was it an aid station?

No, it was a bucket of water for the horses to drink from.

I jokingly told Amy that I was ready to dunk my head into that water. She told me not to do that.

Still, I was a bit pissed. After 4 more minutes of walking, we finally arrived at Sargent's (98.1 miles).

Amy told me to go ahead as she got the water. I ambled up the single-track hill. Amy quickly came up to me and gave me the water.

At this point I got a head of steam. I was determined to finish. Amy kept silent as I was powering up the single track hill to the road.

The road made a turn, then went uphill again. I muttered to Amy, "enough of these hills", and picked up the pace even more.

Within a few minutes, after we turned onto single track, we got to the "1 mile to go" marker". I was still walking briskly up the hills.

With a half mile to go, we came upon water jugs with the glowsticks inside them. I knew we were approaching the finish line. After another minute, I can hear the cheers.

I picked up the pace even more, with Amy cheering me on.

The last turn had us finally approaching the finish line. Pumped up my arm in celebration. I stopped the clock at 21 hours, 24 minutes, and 21 seconds! It was undoubtedly my best race ever!

A little blurry, but this was moments after I crossed the finish line in 21:24:21.

Official Race Report - Vermont 100 - Part 5

Vermont 100 - Part 5 - Post Race

Finishing at under 24 hours was the original goal. Finishing a little after 21 hours was something I never expected.

Yet, here I was, finishing before 1:30AM. I could actually get a several hours of decent sleep in!

The overall pace was 12:50 min/mile. I slowed down in the last 25 miles, but not that much. And I was still running at the end.

What was more amazing was that I never really had a "rough patch" in the race. Sure there were moments of discomfort, but nothing very threatening. In a 100 mile race, that is usually unheard of.

I was so convinced that we were going to "run through the night" that I didn't reserve that extra night at the hotel. With some impromptu decisions, we decided to rent at the Hampton Inn that night to clean up, get some sleep and come to the post-race ceremony as refreshed as possible.

After my crew gingerly placed me into the car, we drove over to the hotel where the desire to sleep came over me like a ton of bricks.

Of course, checking the time, it was after 2AM. The "witching hours" have arrived. Thankfully, my race was over.

We quickly got into the hotel room, vomited the last contents of Gatorade in the bowl, and showered up as best I can. With sleep dominating was wasn't an easy thing to do. But once showered, I quickly got into bed and sleep.

After getting semi-decent nap in, we finally got down to the Awards Ceremony where I got my belt buckle. I wound up in 53rd place overall out of over 300 starters.

My time of 21:24:21 turned out to be over a 6.5 hour PR for me in this race. How many athletes you know can say that? :-)

Sitting down at the awards ceremony afterwards. Nancy and Pete

 Nancy and Pete flashing sub-24 hour buckle at finish line.

Flash the brass Pete!

My crew that got me to the finish line quickly. Thank you all!

Awww, isn't that sweet...