Friday, August 22, 2014

Eastern States 100


The Eastern States 100 (website) was held for the first time this year, right here in central Pennsylvania. Created by local race directors and runners who wanted to showcase just what we have to offer here in what is known as the PA Wilds. As soon as I heard about the planning for such an event, I was immediately on board - this was a great idea! The east coast deserves a little more attention when it comes to trail and ultra running.

So back in August of last year, I signed up for this event, knowing that it would be the hardest race I have attempted so far. Mostly single track, over 20,000' of elevation gain, combining such trails as the remote Mid-State Trail, the iconic Black Forest Trail, and others, to bring together a loop that would give runners a healthy taste of what running here is like. It may not be high altitude or remote mountain peaks, but is full of beautiful, technical singletrack through secluded forest wilderness.

I was feeling very confident coming into this race - indeed much more confident then any race I entered this year. Manitou's Revenge (race report) proved to be a great training race, and I got in multiple good training runs over the summer leading up to it. I knew I had a shot of running a fast time, but without the course having been run before - a goal time was hard to come up with. I settled for under 24 hours.

The race started at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, with another one of these oddly mild, even chilly, August days – perfect weather for a race though. I started off down the road through Little Pine State Park with nearly 200 other runners, so many of them my friends, knowing this was going to be a long day for all of us. Thankfully, this meant I had company for almost the entire first 45 miles as I ran with many of my friends, but mostly my husband, David, and our friend, Ian.

Photo: Amey Johnson
The course was already living up to its expectations – the climbs were tough and the descents equally so. A fellow runner, Jay Smithberger, asked me as we ascended an early hill, “What do you guys have against switchbacks?” Most trails just went straight up and back down the mountain. Also, the rocky, technical trail kept you paying attention, unfortunately missing out on all the great views. I got "bit" several times though - as I like to call it when a rock gets you just right.

For most of the day, I just enjoyed running with friends, taking care of myself nutritionally and ticking away the miles. My new inov-8 Race Ultra Vest made nutrition easy - I love all the small pockets, allowing me to be organized. I reserve one pocket for my bag of S-Caps, two I split for gels, and the last pocket I keep as my trash pocket. My aid stations visits were kept short, especially when my crew was involved. As I came into an aid station, I’d switch out my bottles with fresh ones my parents had already refilled. I’d restock the gel pockets, empty trash, and leave the aid usually with some form of solid food in hand.

Fueling at Ritchie Rd AS. Photo: Jeff Lister

After 40 miles or so, I found myself running alone as Ian, David and I got dispersed around an aid station. This loneliness continued for the next 20 miles. I was excited to get to Slate Run, around 61 miles, which would be when I picked up my pacer, Bryce Gavitt. At 17 years old, Bryce is fairly new to trail running, but already is making waves in central PA. Finishing in the top tier of many of our competitive races, and even winning some – Bryce is tough and keeps getting faster. This would be a new challenge for him - running 40 miles through the night with me. He was enthusiastic about the task, and I was excited to share some miles with him.

As I finally came down the road into Slate Run, I was surprised to see David running towards me. It turned out it just wasn't his day and he dropped at 51 miles. After questioning him, I knew he was okay, but I felt for him - dropping wasn't easy, but it is a fact of life in these races and sooner or later happens to everyone. Thankfully, for me, this meant I had another expert addition to my crew.

Fueling up at Slate Run. Photo: Jeff Moyer
After grabbing some pierogies and departing the aid station with Bryce, the miles went by smoothly with my new companion. I hiked uphill out of Slate Run hard to catch the runner I saw ahead of me and it turned out to be Ian and his pacer. Once on top of the mountain, Ian fell into a good pace and I followed behind, enjoying how easily the miles drifted by. Night began to fall and Bryce and I flicked on our headlamps. He helped me follow the trail in this section as he had previously scouted it and it was difficult to follow. The downhills began to be more difficult on my legs and a pain was beginning in my foot that I was trying to ignore. The descent into Blackwell was much slower then it should’ve been...

Up until this point, I was keeping slight tabs on how big of a lead I had. I was tending to stay in the 7-12 minute range. When we got to Blackwell, I learned I only had a few minute lead when I left Slate Run.  I quickly changed into dry shoes and socks, grabbed some food and Bryce and I began the climb up to Gillespie Point via the MidState Trail. A little over 4 miles to Skytop Aid Station, which would be run by David's family. The climb was long, but the downhill on the other side was worse. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with my right foot, but it was definitely starting to bother me on the downs the most. When the decline got less steep, I managed a run, which loosened my foot up. Then we were crossing a road and heading up to Skytop.

Jeff, Becky, and Pat had put a lot of time and effort into this aid station to be the best, even by driving around during the day putting up clever signs along the course, which counted down the miles to Skytop. It easily was the best aid station. After being greeted by volunteers waiting down the trail to welcome the runners, we then followed a line of Christmas lights through the woods and across the open field to where the cabin sat and the aid station awaited. Lines of volunteers cheered us through - it was almost like we weren't in the middle of nowhere.

Photo: Tania Lezak
Not feeling great after that last climb, I didn't take as much enjoyment here as I should – I tried to push the thoughts of sitting down and staying here a while from my mind as I grabbed several pierogies. I was glad to learn I was more then 20 minutes up on the next female at Blackwell; I asked Bryce if he was ready, and was cheered out into the darkness once again.

There’s always highs and lows in 100s, and I tried to remind myself this as I went through a really bad spot mentally for the next several miles. Bryce was a great pacer, he talked even though I didn’t give much response, telling me stories and encouraging me along. I moved in and out of my lows, sometimes keeping up a steady pace, but with increasing pain in my foot. I soon realized that it was the muscle or tendon that connects my leg to my foot, allowing it to flex as I go up or down hill. The extension of the foot to descend a hill was causing the most discomfort.

Rain began to fall and the 6 miles to the last aid station at 97 miles felt like an eternity. Now walking was even painful – at times I would run and it would loosen, but soon I was walking uphill over rocks and roots and just hoping the aid would come into sight. After what felt like hours, it did. I hardly spent any time there, anxious as I was to reach the finish. The downhill out of the aid station also proved to be my downfall. My foot completely locked up and I was reduced to using Bryce's shoulder as my crutch downhill. The pace was so miserably slow, the finish so close and yet so far. As I moved down and across to a short uphill, Kathleen Cusick, the female who was chasing me all day finally caught up. She passed me swiftly and headed on up the last hill. I tried moving quickly to stay with her, but I knew it had long since been over. As I crested the top and traveled across the ridge, I experienced the worst pains of my life – just walking was excruciating.

Never did I think this could happen, and I wasn't quite sure how it did. The descent into the finish at Little Pine was steep – the least ideal terrain for my foot. We moved, slowly and methodically, Bryce doing his best to guide me down the trail and encourage my progress. I tried everything – sliding down on my butt even, but the best motion turned out to be side stepping. At some point, I sent Bryce down ahead to get me a jacket, but I also because I knew my family would be worried that I wasn't there yet. David came back up with a jacket and took over aiding me into the finish. 

It took me over two hours to complete the last 3 miles of the race. Never have I been so happy to cross a finish line. 
Photo: Rick Burkett

From feeling so great for so long, I was very disappointed about being reduced to moving so slowly and losing my lead so close to the finish. It may not have been quite how I envisioned finishing this race, but I’ve learned that things rarely go as you want them to. Especially over 100 miles, a lot can happen, no matter how hard you train. I’m happy with the accomplishment and am working to recover quickly to get ready for the next adventure!

I could never run a race like this without all the support I am so lucky to receive! I was thankful my parents came out to crew me; it was their first time crewing at an event like this, and it was like they were professionals! 

Also, a big thanks to David - not only did he run 55 miles and deal with his own issues, but he stayed up all night to crew me, and even hiked up the last mountain to help me down! Running wouldn't be the same without you. 

And thanks to Bryce for being such a great pacer! He was excellent company for the last 40 miles. He made sure to remind me to eat when I had to, to keep moving when I slacked, and supported me (literally!) when I could hardly move, and most of all - he dealt with my painfully slow moving and whining. I really enjoyed your stories Bryce, and hope you can pace me sometime when I feel better and complain a little less! P.S. We need a picture! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Helpful Tips For Getting Caught in a Thunderstorm

Thunderstorms are dangerous, Mom made sure we all knew that as kids, yelling at us to come inside from playing when the clouds got dark and rumbling started in the distance. We woefully obeyed, while watching out the windows with wonder as rain fell and lightning streaked across the sky. Now as adults and trail runners - what do we do in spring/summer, when ramping up our mileage, but also when it storms most afternoons and evenings? So, I compiled this little list of tips for what to do about running in thunderstorm season.*

Timing is Everything. Afternoon thunderstorms are best. Plan your run a few hours (or less depending on how long you want to run) before the storms are predicted to begin. This can be tricky, as we all know how accurate weathermen are. Either way, it is essential to have several miles of trails to run once you get "caught" by the thunderstorm.

 The hotter and more miserable the weather when starting, the better. For my run, I chose to run roads to my trail destination, and back home via trails. Baking in the sun on the way out made the looming storm clouds that much greater, and the sounds of rain on the leaves of the overhead branches that much sweeter.

Leave electronics at home. This includes cell phones and music devices and especially everything with an "i" at the beginning. They'll get damaged and even worse, they'll distract you from the music of the rain and thunder.

Are you one of those people who HAS to run with your iPhone? Seriously? Well, to spare offense, let's just say I think you need to re-evaluate your life.

Have a Backup Plan. There might come a point in the run where you are having too much fun and the trail comes to an end. If the thunderstorm isn't done and neither are you, have a plan on what to do if you reach the end of the trail. Have sufficient knowledge of connector trails and side loops to continue the fun!

Splash in newly formed mud puddles. Would I lie to you? Trust me, it's necessary.

Dress Appropriate. Cotton kills, polyester doesn't, everyone knows this. But I would go further by saying that the less clothes the better!

Leave scaredy-dogs (sorry Reis!) and naysayers at home. They'll just ruin the fun with their over exaggeration and panicking.


*Disclaimer. While it might seem as if I have all the answers, I am not a trained professional nor do I have any knowledge regarding this matter at all. Run at your own risk!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Manitou's 2014

Its been a long time since I've blogged, so I caught up on the year in a previous blog post (link).

I was really excited for Manitou's Revenge this year! I loved the race last year (link), and just love the Catskills in general. Plus, so many friends were also running the race! Going into this race, I knew I wasn't in as good of shape as last year, especially for mountain climbing, but I also knew that there were some things I could improve on from last year. I was fairly optimistic that I could run around the same time, or better - I just needed to be smarter!

On Friday, David and I picked Becky and Jeff up in the afternoon to head to the Catskills. We picked up our packets, got a couple pizzas and headed to the Weyside Inn, the same place we stayed last year. We chatted a little with Amey, John, Jeff, and Travis, who were staying at the Inn as well, before David and I got our race essentials ready for the morning and hit the hay.

The wake up was early, but David and I are super efficient at getting ready so we get up as late as possible! We woke up at 3:30 and were heading to the start by 3:45 (we even beat early-bird John Johnson there!)

The race had to start in waves this year due to the DEC permit, so David and I started out in the first wave with our friend from central PA, Ian Grettenberger, and some familiar top runners including my fellow inov8 team member Ben Nephew, last year's second place Ryan Welts, Brian Rusieki, and last year's second female, Sheryl Wheeler. The pace started pretty fast for the 3 miles out the road, but I settled in behind the lead pack with David and Ian. By the time we hit trail, I dropped back into a pace of my own.

I found myself more alone than last year, most likely due to the wave start, but with trails and views like these, I didn't dwell on it. I love the section leading into North-South lake aid at 17 along some open rock ledges. Becky and Jeff were waiting for me at the aid, and I refreshed my water bottle, took a few gels and headed out.
Heading into North South aid station

After the long descent into Palenville aid, I grabbed some boiled potatoes and sandwiches. As I took my pack from Jeff, I asked how David was doing and if he also took his pack. The look on Jeff's face made my heart sink. I asked again, and he answered that David was lost; he didn't come through the first aid station and they didn't know where he was. I cursed. I knew exactly where he got lost, an area where I got confused, but knew to follow blue. Jeff assured me that they would find David and not to worry. I had nothing to do, but head out and up the long climb up Kaaterskill Mt. thinking of where David might be - I knew he would get back on course, but I was hoping he wouldn't be too discouraged.

The climb up Kaaterskill and over the mountain was much drier than last year, but still very muddy in areas. I also enjoy this section, and was still feeling really good. I definitely felt like I was moving faster than last year. As I descended into Platte Clove aid station, I was hoping to hear good news of David; sure enough, I saw only Amey Johnson there! This was good news to me, because I assumed that Jeff and Becky were with David. Amey told me that David and Ian were running together; I was relieved, at least they were together and had each other's company! She filled my bottles for me and asked if I wanted my handheld. I asked if she had my Platypus, which would be nice to tuck into my pack when empty, but it was with Becky and Jeff in my bag. Oh well, no big deal, I didn't think I needed it, but because I ran out of water last year early on this section, I was slightly nervous.

On top of Indian Head Mt. Photo courtesy of Mountain Peak Fitness

The Devil's Path is definitely my favorite section of the course, its absolutely amazing. There aren't trails like this in PA, or in many places. The path goes over Indian Head Mt, followed by Twin and Sugarloaf, and the trail is rugged - straight up and down over huge rocks, and roots. Its unreal. The section also went much better than last year. This year I had inov8's Race Ultra Vest, which made a huge difference. Now I had more water on me, and was able to use my hands! The cooler temperatures also made a difference. Last year, I was contemplating laying down on cool  (not "coal" David!) rocks. It went by quick, and as I was heading across Sugarloaf Mt., about to descend, I ran into Jeff running towards me! He was carrying my Platypus bottle, in case I needed it. What a sweetheart! It was nice running with Jeff for a little and hearing about the day, and how David was doing, from what they knew. He is crazy though, he ran up there, and preceded down in jeans! He kept up great though, jumping down the boulders and everything. We passed two runners on our way down, moving me into 7th place.

I grabbed a good bit of food at Mink Hollow aid station (38 miles) including some really amazing pierogies! I filled up and headed up the longest climb of the day - Plateau Mt. I felt like I ran this up really well - I used my arms a lot, and kept a really steady pace. Heading down Plateau however, I had a slight fall - not my first of the day, but definitely my worst! I stepped on an unstable rock, which tipped my ankle and made me step on a small log which spun and sent me headfirst into a tree! Thankfully, I managed to save my head, but slammed my arm into the tree. I laid there for a second, it was really painful! Couldn't stay there forever though, so I got up and headed into Silver Hollow aid station. There I grabbed some sandwiches and headed out quick. I asked how far ahead the next guy was - just for a goal - but they told me he was at least 20 minutes up... oh well - I could still race the clock!

I headed out and down across the nice large creek crossing and up the switchback towards Mt. Tremper. When I left the last aid they told me 5 miles to the next, and I was banking on this as I got closer. Hunger was making a pit in my stomach, but I really did not want a gel so I waited, and I waited, and wtf, I waited. About 6 or 7 miles in, I realized, the aid station wasn't there - I figured in my mind that they got lost, they didn't make it there in time, and they weren't gonna be there, I had to go the rest of the way without aid (not counting the aid at the bottom of the road, a mile from the finish). This took a heavy toll on my mental state, and my waiting for food took a toll. I bonked harder than I think I ever have. I thought I might pass out, I got so weak and stumbled everywhere. I took my last two gels immediately, one after the other, hoping they would kick in soon, as I tripped over pebbles and leaves. I've never felt like this running. I focused on keeping it together, hoping Mt. Tremper firetower would come into sight soon. It took so long... seriously forever. But eventually, I heard voices - the aid station was here! I grabbed some cookies and complained probably a little too much about their mislocation... (sorry!) and was on my way.

The descent started out a little difficult as my legs still felt like jelly and I didn't trust them too much. I gradually opened my stride a bit and tried to get this rocky down over with. Soon I heard Jeff yelling and him and Becky came into sight. Jeff said, "we didn't expect you for a while yet!" which was very encouraging. I hit the road and pushed out the mile to the finish.

Into the finish

I finished 7th and 1st female, about 55 minutes faster than last year. The cooler temps definitely played a part, but I am very happy about how much smarter I ran.

For the race, I wore my Trailroc 226s, which I am so impressed with after this race. I love lightweight shoes, and was quite used to how quickly most have worn out, but these shoes are amazing - they don't look they've worn at all! I used to be a big New Balance fan (101s and 1010s), but those shoes fell apart almost instantly on the trails I run on - these Trailrocs though, have definitely withstood the test - I love them even more! They also had great traction, and drained water exceptionally well.

I also wore the new Race Ultra Vest, which was perfect for this race. I'm not traditionally a pack wearer, preferring to go lightweight, with only a bottle, but I'm starting to rethink this. I hardly noticed wearing the Race Ultra, it was so light and comfortable! I love the location of the bottles, and how easy they are to access, the pockets were also very ideal for storing gels. I removed the hydration bladder, making it even lighter, and for this race I didn't miss it.

Another essential that deserves a mention is the inov8 wrag. I wore one on my wrist for this race and used it often. Whenever I hit a stream, I simply pulled it off my wrist beforehand and dunked it in as I went through. This played a large part in keeping me cool, as I moved on and wiped my face and squeezed water over my head. It also was much quicker than stopping and splashing in a stream as I have done before.

After I finished, I ate way too much good food and then went up on the hill with Becky and Jeff to wait for David. He came down before dark and did awesome - basically he was dead last at one point and ended up finishing before dark and in 28th place! He stayed amazingly strong - mentally and physically! I'm so proud.

Central PA trail runners had an awesome day!

All in all, I thank my sponsor inov8 for all the awesome gear, and mostly I thank my crew Becky and Jeff - I know it was difficult for them, with all the confusion with David, but they were awesome! It seriously means so much to me that they come out here to these races - I can't thank them enough!

Love these kids :D

After this race - I feel much better mentally. Hardly running hills in preparation and not being too much in shape, I still managed to run smart and stay strong, and that's encouraging. My legs are pretty sore this week, as is my shoulder/arm that got whacked by the tree (I've got a pretty sweet bruise though!), but I'm really excited to start training for Eastern States 100, the next race on the agenda!

Garmin Data

Race Website

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Catch Up

Seriously, where has this year gone? I can't believe my last blog post was a 2013 year in review... So Manitou's Revenge was this past weekend, and before I post my race report from there, I figured a little catch-up might be necessary for those of you who want the blanks filled in.

So much has happened this year - the best news being, David and I got married! A month ago today too!




But let's go back a little further. Last year ended with a little bit of a break from running, and it was nice and much needed. Other great news - I joined the inov8 team, which was so awesome! They sent me out to a team retreat in February to Big Sur, CA, where I learned a lot more about the company and respected them even more - I couldn't ask for a better sponsor!



So anyway, this year started with running, and great training plans, but a lot of inconsistency. I had some good runs on some weekends, but it just fell apart during the week. School was ridiculously busy for whatever reason this semester, and I had a lot of trouble balancing school, and work, and trying to keep up with our new house, and wedding planning, and of course, running. So all too soon, it was Bear Mt. weekend, and I wasn't ready. I'd stood undertrained on start lines before and had things work out, so I deluded myself into thinking that I had a chance to defend my title. Everything went wrong that weekend - and I went home humbled.

Next up, was Cayuga, but I had less than a month to get ready with the wedding the week before the race. I planned out my weeks, but again not much went right. Pacing 40 miles at MMT was supposed to be a big training run for me, but there was some confusion with communication, and I ended up waiting hours before I knew my runner dropped. I scrounged some good runs that week, but nothing of the caliber I needed.

So again, it was race weekend, and I wasn't ready - but I didn't waste time deluding myself this time. Instead, I took it easy out the start, I didn't get caught up racing girls I really wanted to race. I focused on the finish, because I really needed it. It was a tough day; it was hot and the miles were about twice the distance I had run so far this year at one time. But I finished and was finally starting to feel closer to my old running groove.



Next up was Manitou's Revenge, not the kind of race you want to go into underprepared! I had three weeks in between and I tried to make use of them as best as I could to run some hills.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

2013 - Year in Review

2013 was a great year! Many amazing things happened and I had a great year of running! Here's a highlight of some of the best events.

David won his first 50 miler at Glacier Ridge, and ran awesome; and I was luckily there to pace him!



One of my first races of the year was also my best performance - winning TNF Endurance Challenge in Bear Mt, NY when up against big names like Nikki Kimball, and breaking the course record!


I feel like I need to give my dog Reis a shout out. In May she turned 5, and by now we've been together for over 5 years and I really don't know what I'd do without this kid! She's a great companion and one of my favorite trail running partners! This is a pic of us in the Catskills last spring.



David and I were world travelers this year! We flew out to California in June to reunite with friends from the Marines and attend our friend Ryan's wedding!



One of my favorite races this year was the inaugural Manitou's Revenge 54 mile. For whatever reason I am drawn to grueling, difficult races and this race definitely fit the bill. I absolutely love the Catskills and hope to head back to this race this year.


Thanks to my friend, Dave Hunter, in July I got an interview with Trail Runner and was featured in their E-Newsletter, Inside Dirt.

http://www.trailrunnermag.com/component/content/article/775-military-brat

My happiest news of the year happened over the best vacation ever - 15 days of mountain running in Colorado - David and I got engaged!




Colorado was seriously amazing. I could post hundreds of worthy pictures from that trip for my year in review, but I'll let you check out my previous blog posts for that. Colorado 1 & Colorado 2

I took the 100K course record at Oil Creek this year and had a great race and 2nd place overall finish out there!


I seriously have the best crew in the world!


Oil Creek closed out the running year, but still more great things happened! I finished my sophomore year in college (and 4th straight Dean's List semester, I might add) and David and I bought a house together! 

2014 promises some great things! Most importantly: David and I will be married on May 24th! 

In the running world, its almost official that I will be joining the Inov-8 team for the year! I hope to have my best ever running year. I currently am signed up for Bear Mt 50 mile again, as well as the competitive Cayuga 50 mile, and the inaugural Eastern States 100, which I am proud to also be on the committee for! 

Looking forward to 2014!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Running, Not Running, and the End of a Year

So today I went out for a nice easy road run; you might be surprised to learn that since Oil Creek 100K I've hardly been running at all. Seriously - just a handful of times. Not because of injury or anything like that, or really for any reason at all! But it is the first time I've taken a break since I started running regularly, back when I started training for my first marathon in 2009 - and I must say, it has been quite nice.

Today I took my last final of the semester; no more classes until late January! These past few months have been pretty crazy between class work, work work, and David and I buying a house and moving out of our apartment. And so as I was running today, I firstly was reminded of how great running is for collecting your thoughts. I reflected back on running in general and really think this break was good for me (despite my inner conscience repeatedly reminding me how lazy I've been). Typically after the last race of the year, I plow on, running just to run - many times enjoying it because, obviously, I love running, but a lot of times (probably more than I'd like to admit to) I really am just forcing myself to run. And it was great this year because after Oil Creek, without consciously planning on it, I just stopped running. I mean, I did a nice run with Reis here and there, a trip to my favorite places via trail on occasion, but there was no method to it, no training purpose, I just did it because I wanted to and I think that's made all the difference…

So now, before you start thinking that I'm losing it, that I've quit running, or any other nonsense like that, I can assure you… I'm back! I'm ready to start training and set my sights on higher goals for the next year! 2013 was a great year of racing for me - I had some of my best races and accomplished a lot of the goals I set for myself. But honestly, I think 2014 is going to be better! Most of this year my training was inconsistent and definitely inadequate in my opinion. Races came up before I was ready for them and I just got lucky I suppose.

Now as I plan out my year (no Western States unfortunately), and as I start getting back into running again, I've thought of all the things I want to work on and change in my training. I am horrible at doing speed work; I typically prefer to do long runs and run hills. With the races I'm looking at this next year, this won't cut it!

I originally thought about doing a year in review for my blog, and funnily enough, I checked out facebook's account of my year and was amazed by the accuracy! Great races, amazing family and friends, trail running adventures in Colorado, getting engaged, and now buying a house with David! Maybe I'll post it later, but for now - just my thoughts on running.

So guys, enjoy your holidays and if you see me out there running - tell me to speed up! ;)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Oil Creek 100K

This year has absolutely flown by. Seems like yesterday David and I were counting down the days, getting ready for our first 50 milers of the year: Glacier Ridge and Bear Mt. Soon after we were anxiously awaiting and planning our trip to Colorado. Before we knew it, that's over and Oil Creek is right around the corner. Where did my training time go? Was I ready? I snuck in good back to back long runs three weeks before at Dam Full. I had great ambitions of a fast time, but as every taper week goes, I was ridden with doubt and uncertainly.

David, Jeff, Becky and I arrived in Titusville on Friday evening, set up our tents under the same tree we have for the past two years, picked up our race packets, and got some dinner. We met up with Pat and Ted later when they arrived from Pittsburgh and I got to bed early. Actually being out at Oil Creek, I felt more relaxed. The years previous I ran the 100, but only two loops this year! Only 62 miles - warped way of thinking, I know - but it works.

I woke up at 5 for the 6 am start, got ready and ate my traditional bagel. Jeff was going to be running the 50K (his first!) and started an hour later than the 100K, but still everyone got up to see me off. I headed out into the foggy darkness with just a flashlight, hoping daylight would be soon upon us. Nick Hanson broke off immediately ahead of the rest and I followed, running a comfortable pace the mile+ to the trailhead. By the time I got there, I was already alone; Nick nowhere in sight ahead, and no lights anywhere behind. The day was already shaping up to be much different then last year, it had rained on and off during the night and was already unnaturally humid so early in morning. Other then a good fall on a slick rock, the first part of the loop was pretty uneventful. Soon I was rolling into Petroleum Center, past the best crewing/cheering section in the world. These guys make so much noise and are so encouraging - you can't not feel good when you see them! 


David handed me gels, filled my bottle and I was soon off. The second half of the loop was also uneventful and went by quick - traditionally it always seems like forever to get to the Miller Farm aid station about midway through the loop, but it seemed like no time before I was in and out of there. I'm usually never very detailed or dialed into my nutrition, I typically kind of just make it up as I go or as I need it. I don't mind gels, but I usually tend to put them off. From the beginning though, I decided to try to stay on a schedule and took them every 50 minutes. As it was pretty warm, I also took an S Cap every hour in the beginning - I usually don't have problems with muscle cramps, but had some really painful issues out at Bear Mt. (also a hot day) and was eager to not repeat the experience, so I played it safe. When I came into Miller Farm, I tried some boiled potatoes dipped in salt. For some reason, they really hit the spot all day!



Right at the end of trail section of the loop, I caught up on the leader, but he pulled ahead again on the road back to the school. Here Becky handed me my drop bag, I switched out bottles, smothered some potatoes in salt and moved out as quick as I could. Last loop already! Again - pretty uneventful and not much to write about here. The heat was really creeping in, as was some of the strain from the pace.

I was excited to reach Petroleum Center to pick up my pacer - David was going to be pacing his dad in the 50K, but I got lucky enough to secure Jeff Shanks as my pacer only a week notice from the race. He volunteered to drive out and run the last 15 miles with me. I probably didn't make it too interesting for him in the beginning, around 50ish miles I definitely moved slower then I should've and really struggled with overheating. We moved along though and after refueling on salted potatoes at Miller Farm again - I managed to get it together. I picked up the pace and ticked off the miles; before I knew it, I heard David yelling - he ran out the trail a bit to see us. And then I found the whole clan out at the bottom of the trail - these guys are so awesome, couldn't do it without them! Dave and Jeanne Hunter were even out on the road to cheer me in! As I began the Drake Well loop, I saw the leader Nick Hanson just finishing it - he ran a great race, shaved almost 20 minutes off his previous time and ran the second fastest 100K time ever.


I finished in 10:42, second overall and with the female course record. Guess I'm slated for the 50K next year!


 My awesome crew!
So, another success at Oil Creek; I really love this race. It has a superb set up, great volunteers and amazing support. Can't imagine a year not going back!