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2018 Races…TBD!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Paid For 30 Hours, And I Got My Money's Worth!

"The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running." ~Author unknown


I went, I saw, I conquered. Where does one start with this kind of a race report? This was pretty huge for me, and there was a lot that happened that I don't want to leave out here, but I'm going to do my best to share as much as I can without putting you to sleep too much with all the text :) For starters, here was the dominant view of the weekend (at this point, it was sunrise on Saturday morning, as Geof drove to meet me at mile 21):
This was my first attempt, and subsequent finish, at the 100 mile distance and it was everything I hoped it would be, nothing I feared it could be, and had all the makings of an experience I will never forget. Geof volunteered to crew and pace me and we flew out of O'Hare early Thursday morning and landed in Burlington, Vermont that afternoon, picked up our car, and went right to the bed and breakfast we would stay at that night, and again on Sunday night after the race.

After dropping our stuff in our room, we went for a stroll up Main Street to Church Street (the big strip in downtown Burlington) to grab some food, and ended up at Boloco Burrito, yum!
After food, some more strolling, and more pictures, we stopped off at the Ski Rack, across the street from the B&B, to grab some race stuff for me and splurge on the Patagonia shirts they had on sale which we were both looking to stock up on for winter running, perfecto! A flash thunderstorm hit and we dashed across the street to clean up and head to dinner at the Vermont Pub & Brewery before hitting the hay.

Friday, we got up when we woke up (no alarm!) and were out the door by 10:30. We had a little more than a 2 hour drive down to Windsor, VT, where race HQ were. I would have to submit to a little health check and then attend a runner-crew pre-race meeting, so we needed to be there before 3:45.
The "R" and "E" in RICE :)
Damon Lease weighing me

Geof got my first ever "jumper photo"...last time I can get air like that for a few weeks!
I think the tent goes up first, then you lay in it dear :)

Now it was time to put up the tent, organize the car so everything would be in order and ready for race day. I finally got to meet Serena Wilcox while we pitched the tent; she recognized my pearls and introduced herself. She would later take 3rd woman in her first 100-miler, rock on Serena! Talk about a chick with great energy and enthusiasm! Tent city:

Next up we had the pre-race meeting, and then dinner, which was awesome! We found Jeremy, Vermont Mike, Jeff L., Jamie, Stephen and Kelly, chatted for a bit, then headed into the meeting.Jeremy and I sharing deep thoughts...

By the time dinner wrapped up and we headed back to the tent, I was spent! Pam walked up as we strolled to the tent and we chatted a little, it was so great to finally meet you, Pam!!! Once we were settled in the tent, it began to rain, and rain, and rain, and rain...you get the idea. Oh well, at least I sleep well when I can hear the pitter patter of the rain :) I slept on and off, but was very comfortable (thanks to the sleeping pad Jim O'Brien lent me! Thanks, Jim!!) and felt pretty good rolling out of the tent around 2:30 a.m. At the car, I suited up, finishing up with the most important part of my running outfit:
The pearls!!

In the pee pee line right before the start...boy did I need to go!

At 4:00 a.m., we were off!!! I handed Geof my 1/4 eaten bagel and kissed him goodbye, "see you in 21 miles!" And into the dark we headed. I've never run in the dark, except for some well lit running along the lakefront path at night, so this was very new to me...and totally exciting! I was in the very back of the pack, right where I wanted to be, and I caught up to Pam and Susan, whom I would spent some of the thirties and most of the forties running with. What great company they were! After the first uphill, I moved ahead a little bit and found myself alone for a short stretch. Eventually I caught up with Seth and Donny. I stuck with these guys into the early daylight hours and really enjoyed their company. I had 'met' Seth at Pineland Farms this year, and we soon realized this and caught up on stuff, talked to Donny about his races, laughed, and encouraged each other. A great pair of dudes! Somewhere before mile 15, Taftsville, I got separated from them, and I ran past a guy on an uphill who looked up and said, "Paige? Pepper shorts?" I stopped and turned and said it was me, and he introduced himself as Dave Souza, and that he was a fan of my blog, sweet! I felt like a celebrity this weekend, as this happened more than a dozen times throughout the race. Dave looked great, and he was a lifesaver when he gave me a couple of S!Caps when I realized I had forgotten to put mine in my vest (and forgot to grab extra Perpetuem! Woops!). Thank you so much Dave!

At Taftsville, Seth and I met up again and then he left me in the dust as he left the AS faster than me. We wouldn't run together again until it was dark once more, hopefully I was as much a help to him mentally as he was to me. It makes a big difference having someone else there when it's dark and cold.

Speaking of which, I knew I was really going to appreciate having Geof there with me, but I had no idea how MUCH a difference it was going to make for me. He changed the game for me and I will always remember that :) Knowing he was going to be at certain aid stations put new life into my legs each time, and I was able to run it in at times when I thought I didn't have anything left. Looking forward to seeing him smile and reassure me that everything was going well made a world of difference. I now know what Jeremy was feeling when he said that Becca got him through the Maine Marathon last fall, qualifying for Boston...I thought he was just being cheesy, but now I totally get it :) I spent a lot of time at the handler aid stations, changing socks every time, tending to some blister issues a couple of times, drinking a Starbucks Doubleshot followed by an Ensure, filling up my bottles (one with water, one with Perpetuem), grabbing more Clif Shot Bloks and gels, changing my shirt once, swapping out my handheld for my headlamp, grabbing batteries, jacket, Moebens, changing my shoes once (from my Cascadias to my Glycerin road shoes), etc. But I think that the time I spent at these stations was much needed; I'm not sure I would have fared so well if I hadn't taken the time I did each time, so I don't regret it at all. I brushed my teeth twice (mile 47-Camp 10 Bear, and mile 88-Bill's), and was really glad I changed into my road shoes at mile 47...the gravel sections were dominating and were much like running on pavement, so the extra cushion was much appreciated! I also am really glad I bought the Eddie Bauer jacket I had along...it's water resistant, wind proof, lots of pockets, reflective, and had removable sleeves so it could be just a vest (which is how I wore it most of the time). It was the second best piece of clothing I wore all day, aside from my Atayne shirts of course!
Tammy, just before Pretty House...someone who takes more pictures than Geof and I combined, and what a fantastic chick!! Her energy and spirit (as Geof would say) were unmatched and I really enjoyed running with her. Congrats on your finish, Tammy, you looked beautiful in all your pink glory!

At Tracer Brook (~mile 57) we decided that Geof would not meet me at Margaritaville (mile 62) so that he could get back to base camp and catch the shuttle bus back to Camp 10 Bear (mile 70) to begin pacing me when I arrived. Thus, I needed to go ahead and get ready for the night, and we through some extra items in two last minute drop bags (one for Camp 10 Bear, and one for Bills) that he would drop off on his way back to base camp. These bags were lifesavers! Though I probably should have swapped the 10 Bear bag for the Bills bag, a little poor planning on my part, but nothing major...I just forgot fresh shorts and an Ensure in the Bills bag. I grabbed my flashlight, figuring it wouldn't be that dark when I got back to 10 Bear (which it was!), my kickass EB jacket, Moebens and the rest of the Perpetuem, Bloks and Bandaids for my feet. Off I went!
Leaving Tracer Brook

I'm not gonna lie, I was sad I wasn't going to see Geof at Margaritaville, but it turned out to be fine; it would have been a waste of time for both, and he'd have risked being late to 10 Bear if he met me at Margaritaville. I ran in, grabbed some ginger ale, a cup of ramen noodles, used the potty and was out pretty darn quickly. A quick note: I never spent more than two minutes (if that) at any of the aid stations that Geof wasn't at, which was the vast majority of the 29 aid stations. This saved me lots of time, and sanity :) I refilled my bottles each time, ate watermelon, and used the bathroom if there was one. That's it. I also stuck very tightly to the food I was carrying...Perpetuem in one bottle, water in the other, 2 Clif Shot Bloks or 1 Gu per hour, 1 S!Cap every 45 minutes...and only had watermelon, soup and ginger ale at the stations. I wasn't craving much of anything I didn' t already have on me. Plus, Geof had us pretty well stocked at the major stations with the Starbucks Doubleshot and Ensure.

Camp 10 Bear came at the perfect time. I had run with Seth and Karsten for a couple of hours, and they helped get me through the initial dark hours. Seth was behind me a ways, and Karsten in front as a lot of it was downhill and Karsten kicked ass on the downs! Just knowing they were there made me feel safer :) At 10 Bear, Damon weighed me again...
I was no up a total of 6 pounds from my pre-race weight, so Damon asked me to back of the liquids a bit. My hands were puffy and my feet felt puffy in my shoes. My gaiters were pinching the extensors on my shins so I knew my ankles were swelling a bit, too. Geof was all set to go, and after I changed my socks again, and futzed with my blisters once more, we were off! I was in a pretty good spot, and considerably better than how I felt during miles 40-47 (the lowest of lows during the race for me). I wasn't particularly tired, but my legs were sore and I was shuffling more than running by now.
I had periods where I felt I would burst into tears, but I held it back. I had short bouts of nausea, but nothing major. I think the ginger ale at each aid station helped hold this back a lot, and I also kept forcing myself to keep eating and drinking on schedule so that I never fell back on this. It was tough! Just before getting into Bills at mile 88, Geof gave me a Vanilla Bean Gu that I was squirting under my tongue and chasing with water so that I wouldn't have to taste it. I wanted to throw it up, but I knew I'd feel better with it in my stomach...and I did :) Finally the sun was coming up and while I didn't have the huge emotional lift that everyone talks about when the sun rises in these races, I did feel a sense of relief...and happy that I could take off my headlamp that was starting to sit uncomfortably on my head no matter how many times I adjusted it!
The miles and the hours were beginning to wear on me by mile 90. I hadn't really considered quitting at any point, just seriously considered sitting down and taking a nap, or bursting into tears, or screaming. After a few "F*ck this hill," a "f*ck you Weinberg" (under my breath, for good measure, though I absolutley adore Andy and his race that introduced me to gnarly hills!), "I'll punch this hill in the face," and a couple of childish foot stomps, I felt better. And, at mile 92, as requested by fellow CHUG, Torey Jones, I "struck a Paige" for the camera :) I garnered a few giggles and woops from the AS volunteers for this one :)
We caught up to these people somewhere after mile 92 and kept with them more or less until the end. These last 8 miles were painful, slow, and incredibly emotionally challenging. The tears came out a couple of times, but were silent and quick. But by 95, I couldn't cover it anymore and they just poured. I was now officially mentally stripped bare...I'd come so far, let go of any remaining insecurities, peed publically, talked about every taboo topic under sun with complete strangers, learned first hand what "fire in the hole" meant, ran until I could numb the pain in my feet from the blisters, mis-fired and peed on my own damn leg more than once, swore off running a few times, then amended it and just swore off trail running, then decided that was silly and I actually was enjoying every second it all...and I was bawling. Geof grabbed my arm to stop me and he wrapped me in the safest and most secure feeling hug. It was exactly what I needed at that very moment. I'm not sure how long we stood there like that, me crying and he just listening, but it felt like a beautiful eternity. When we let go, I felt reenergized, I wanted to just get it done and I didn't care how much it hurt anymore. I didn't care how many people passed me, or how far back in the pack I was, none of that mattered, as it was officially just me and the trail. And I was about to b*tchslap that trail!!
Chris Martin appeared from thin air and told me I had a half mile to go, and I suddenly had new life in my legs and I was no longer doing the 'ultra shuffle', I was now RUNNING! I was going to finish! Geof ran ahead with just a few hundred yards to go so that he could get a picture of me crossing the finish line. I ran down the hill, and back up the other side to the line (hoping that I wouln't fall!), and was welcomed to a very loud cheering section, shouting my name and congratulating me. I could NOT have been happier.

I did it.
My first 100 mile endurance run, 29:23:41. And, not a single fall :)
Photo courtesy of Steve Pero

I can't even begin to describe what this whole experience has meant to me, from start to finish, including the weeks leading up to the VT100, when I suddenly switched from the 100k to the 100M...Joe Judd, Patty Duffy, Mike Hall - you all are on my shit list for convincing me this was a good idea...and being TOTALLY RIGHT! Thank you for knowing that I am a sucker for things like 'fate', 'dares', smack talk, and doing things others don't think possible. A huge thank you to Julia Hutchinson for answering all my questions via e-mail...I asked A LOT of questions and she was always helpful and got back to me quicly. Thank you to Damon Lease for offering up his entire day to help me out; in the end we didn't work together as Geof was able to do it all, but I truly appreciate your willingness to help out a newbie ultrarunner that you'd never even met. Your enthusiasm for the sport is infectious, thank you Damon, and thank you for telling me to back off on the liquids when you did, I was a balloon! Thank you to Jeremy for just being Jeremy. Thank you to everyone along the course who was encouraging and made me feel like a million bucks: Cherrie from New York, Charles from Brooklyn, Pam Dolan, Susan, Dave Souza, Seth and Fran, Karsten, Steve Pero, Tammy, Anna and Rob, some other older rockin' dudes I never got the names of who made me laugh a lot, Walt from NC, all the volunteers and medical staff who helped me in more ways than one, Jamie Anderson for sharing that gorgeous smile of his at dinner and at the finish line, Stephen and Kelly Wells for their well wishes and words of encouragement, Serena Wilcox for her intense energy that she carried with her all weekend (rock on!), Jeff L. for holding seats for Geof and I at breakfast, the dude who lanced my blisters at the finish line medical tent, to all my CHUGs who sent messages and wonderful kind words to me the entire weekend via Geof, to everyone who encouraged and supported me in this insane adventure, to Larry and Andrea Dunmore, Brenda, Grandma Dunmore, Kyle King and all the rest of the Iowa Kings and Dunmores that were sending kind words my way through Geof all weekend, too. Congratulations to everyone, especially all the other first-timers, and to Mike for finishing up his first hundred in a blazing time of 22:25! What a rockstar :)

But most of all I want to say thank you to Geof for being there when I needed it most, and when I didn't know I needed it. He put up with my whining, my crying spell, my cursing of the hills, my stink, my gross feet, my lack of shame as the miles wore on. He took care of me better than I can recall ever being taken care of...he was a constant smile, endless support, optimistic ("You're gonna rock this course!") voice, a great pair of legs to stare at for 30 miles, my rock, my cheerleader when I had nothing positive left to say or think for myself, my nutritionist, my doctor, my fashion consultant :), my suitcase holder, my Burger King, and my #1. I'm the luckiest gal in the world! I couldn't have done it without you, G!
And now the recovery begins. I'm already checking out races for my next 100 :) The experience of a lifetime and the start of a new chapter.

Geof took a ton of pictures, and I got a few on the course, so check out my Picasa for the rest of the goods: http://picasaweb.google.com/susanpaige1/Vermont100#

Crash, out.


cherie said...

Wasn't that a fun race? I'm the girl who talked to you during the meeting.

My ankle is completely blown up and scary. Blah. I can't wait until I get to run again!

You can see my race report on my blog, if you're so inclined.

Until the next race...

:) Cherie

fugawee said...

Wow Paige,you DID IT!
100 Miles!
Congrats Big Time!
This fellow CHUG
will attempt his first 100 next year,
prepare to have your brain picked.
For now,have a good recovery.
Wow... :)

Nick B said...

AWESOME report, Paige! Emotion sure does pour out in those final 10 miles, eh?! Huge congratulations to you and recover well. I think we all swear off running/trails at some point but end up coming full circle by the finish line.

Thanks again for sharing,

Nick in Ohio

Michael said...

Ah, I knew you could do it :) Lovely race report, better performance. NOW - retire the Chili's...they were on loan :) I'm very, very proud of you and so happy to be a good friend.

Way to make that trail your biotch!


JojaJogger said...

Wow! I can't even stay awake for 29 hours, much less stay on my feet, keep them moving, deal with blisters, and run in the dark. Excellent job, and great race report.

Jerry Davison said...

I think you should sell strands of pearls on Etsy.com and call them Ultrapearls by Paige. They work! Congratulations.

Kelly Gaines said...

WOW, Paige! Congrats on your first 100! I am so amazed at your tenacity, it is so inspiring. I LOVED reading your report and seeing all of the pictures!

I hope your recovery is going well!


Runner Tammy said...


Congratulations on an AWESOME RACE!!!! You looked great out there.

I hope your recovery is going smoothly and you are getting excited about next years VT100 (right???).


Steve Pero said...

Congrats, Paige....job well done. It was nice to somewhat share the trail during the evening hours :-)

Nice to finally meet you,
Steve P.

Unknown said...

Congratulations on the first of many 100 mile finishes. I enjoyed your report; however, I hope you shall soon realize that it is the world that is insane, not those of us who do things like this. You are young and have many good years ahead of you. Happy that you have such a great partner in Geof.

Jason said...

You did it! Really enjoyed reading about your first 100 that you will remember forever. Very prould of you from way down in South Carolina.

David Ray said...

Paige!! Awesome job on the race *and* the report. Those chili peppers look a lot better on you than Mike, I must say. :) You definitely handled this one. And that's encouraging for those of us still thinking about attempting such a thing. Kudos to Geoff for crewing!

ed said...

Congrats! I had no doubt you would be successful!!! I most thoroughly enjoyed your race account & pix too -- GREAT!

Anonymous said...

that was incredible!!! And you looked fantastic. Yeah Paige, sign up for Lean Horse!!!


Irish Cream said...

Wow. I am speechless. I am just SO amazed with the way you persevered. Girl, you are so ridiculously strong, it just blows my mind! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing the details of your first 100-miler with us--your race report was superb! It kinda makes me want to test out the waters of ultra-running myself! Kinda . . .

CONGRATS AGAIN!! You are truly an inspiration!

Hope you are recovering well!! :)

Anonymous said...

*snif!* that made me teary, and now I want to go look for a first 100-miler even though I'm not running my first 50 until October. Congratulations!!

Anonymous said...

Smiling from ear to ear here...

You've been blessed to have Geoff by your side through something like that, even though I'm sure you could have finished it by yourself. But it's so much sweeter to have someone to share the experience. :)

Ain't it fun peeing yourself?


AJ Johnson said...


Again, congrats on finishing your first 100. Also great report, I guess I should start on mine.

AJ Johnson
Ocean View, NJ

Run Home Pam said...

Great report, Paige. It was lovely meeting you out on the trail. Hope to share more miles in the future!! You rocked out there!

bigRahn said...

Way to go!

Jeremy said...

Congratulations Paige. Sorry we did not get to see you finish, but next time you get our crewing services!

You make me proud and represent Atayne like no other!

Paige said...

A BIG, HUGE thank you to everyone, and thank you for reading my long ass report! What an incredible experience, and I wouldn't have been half as successful in VT without the support of my awesome readers, and the people I've met along the trail, seriously!

The chili pepper shorts will return for more trail time at some point, have no fear, but the pearls are here to stay :) I'm starting to think they have magical powers, lol!

Adriana said...

I loved the read of your first 100 miles race. So freaking awesome. I'm read-preparing (for now) myself for WF100, which it's going to be my first 100. Not sure if I'll make it through yet, but heck, I'll give it a chance. :) But I gotta say this: I love your blog. It's crazy that you've finished so many 100 milers since this one...

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