Adam Gifford - Umstead 100

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run

By Adam Gifford

This year’s Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run was completely sold out less than 5 minutes after online registration was opened. It was more difficult to get into than opening night of one of those creepy teen vampire movies. No doubt that the reason for this race’s popularity is the fact that it exemplifies the ultramarathon experience. The race Director, Blake Norwood, and his crew of volunteers consistently put together a race that I can only describe as flawless.

My usual goals for hundred milers tend to be things like “don’t die” and “be coherent at the finish”, but for this race I was determined to break the coveted 24-hour mark. Fortunately everything happened that needed to happen and I was able to reach my goal (yes, I just started the race report with the ending, but that was just for people who are reading this at work and might not be able to finish because of that brainstorming session that they have to attend at lunch time.

The special La Sportiva hand signal that I invented on race morning instead of doing inportant things like packing my drop bags and lubing my thighs.


SHORT VERSION (for the folks craving efficiency) – Brrrr, cold. Run. Ohhhh, the sun. Mmmmmm, cookies!!! Brrrrr, nighttime. Finish in 22 hours, 26 minutes. Pizza.

LONG(ER) VERSION (recommended for time killing) – 

Lap 1 – It was about 36-degrees at the start, so the folks from New England were happy, but us folks from Florida were regretting the life choices that brought us to the warm climates in the first place. Nothing out of the ordinary happened this lap (which is always welcomed during an ultra). I was able to chat with a number of different people and met “inappropriate comment guy” towards the end.

Lap 2 – Got to un with my training buddys from Florida, so it was pretty much like every other weekend that we have except that really nice people were handing us food and compliments every 5 miles.

Lap 3 – This was actually my toughest lap. Even though I was running at a good pace I hurt all over and my body and motivation felt like blah. I knew that I could pick up my pacer for the next lap, so I just started counting down the miles and talking to myself a lot until the lap was done. It worked, so I am apparently a pretty good running partner for myself.

Lap 4 – I got to pick up my pacer/girlfriend (not in that order). This was her first ultra and she had an absolute blast. My spirits were immediately lifted and we laughed during most of the lap (usually at my expense).

Lap 5 – Lindsay (she has a name this lap) started to use her unique motivation style that includes a great deal of ridicule and humiliation. This method seems to work for me since we were able to easily hold our pace for the entire lap despite the fact that the sun was down.

Lap 6 – I was being motivated with phrases like, “If you were a real ultrarunner we would be running down this hill instead of walking” and “your pace is embarrassing me.”

Lap 7 – This was the lap I was dreading. When I ran Umstead 2 yeas ago this was my slowest lap because I was beat down and tired and didn’t have the “last lap motivation” to help me through. In order to keep me motivated Lindsay would jog in circles around me until I picked up my pace to at least 14-minute miles.

Lap 8 – I was amazed as to how good I still felt despite having covered 88 miles. I wound up hitting my low spot for the race between miles 92 and 95. My blood sugar dropped and I was unable to maintain my core body temperature (the 38-degree temps didn’t help much either). After downing some cookies and hot chocolate at the aid station I was able to regain some energy and run most of the rest of the way for a 22:26 finish…over 90 minutes faster than my goal.

AFTERMATH – This race could not have been more perfect. My La Sportiva Crosslites kept my feel happy and 100% BLISTER FREE, my Greenlayer Sports Excel Fleece kept me warm despite my thin blood, my Petzel Tikka XP2 lit up the trail so well that my brain didn’t even produce any good hallucinations late in the night, and my Ultimate Direction FastDraw Plus kept the ever-important hydration and nutrition (First Endurance EFS) at my fingertips. I think the true sign that this was a successful race isn’t illustrated by my time, but by the fact that no one at the airport on Sunday asked me if I needed help carrying my bag.

My obligatory post-race crazy eyes and the greatest pacer ever.

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