Zsuzsanna Carlson's 2011 Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 Mile Endurance Race Report

Better late than never, it took me some time to come to grips with the obstacles this race presented me. This is the story of my third Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 mile finish and already my eighth ultra of 2011.

I made the MMT 100 my goal race for this year as I thought I was having a great race last year until mile 77 came and I got to the Visitor Center where I took a nap, for an hour! Of course getting really sore quads by mile 20 is also part of that story. But onto this year, I thought I had a good shot at 28 hours (30:57 last year)...

Race weekend: drove down Friday morning with my pacer Frances Davis who wanted to check out the course because she is thinking about running it next year.

Got into town and it was breath takenly beautiful as always. I Checked in, ate and set up my tent in the rain.

The 4:00 am race start came fast, before we knew it we were off running in the warm, very humid misty air. I ran up the road with people I know were about my ability and I felt comfortable. I had a plan of taking it easy for the 1st 3rd of the race, then working harder the 2nd and putting my head down for the 3rd!

About mile 13 I went into the bushes for a bathroom break as I squatted down I felt a tickle, poke, looked, hmm hope it's not poison ivy...

The 1 hour earlier start this year compared to last did away with running the notorious Short Mountain in daylight. We were on it in the dark just like 2 years ago, with very slick rocks everywhere, rain falling and fog so thick sometimes our lights barely hit the rocks. The early start gave us 2 hours in the dark on a hard section as opposed to one, this explained why I was about 20 minutes behind coming into each AS until mile 63. I was okay with that as long as I kept feeling good. I thought to myself maybe this year the race is taking less toll on me and therefore I will not fall apart at the end.

After the Elizabeth Furnace AS about mile 33 I finally put on my iPod. I have to admit I did pay attention to what the rest of the runners were doing and was alarmed by some people who I didn't think should be in front of me being in front of me and was equally alarmed by faster runners being behind me as well. Yet I was confident that the level of exertion was just right for me.

I picked up a lot of people between miles 33-63, including 2 girls, Kari and Company. There were long climbs which I didn't mind at all (yes!!! still thrilled about that) and long downhills, which I knew eventually would end up causing sore quads. Soreness in my right ITB already started to rear its ugly head. Habron Gap climb done! I’m on the ridge line as the storm comes in with its rain and wind. I put on my Saucony arm warmers, which I love and kept moving along.

Next up, Roosevelt AS. I picked up my pacer Rick Moyer, who was to pace me for 2 legs. On the long slow climb up on the blue trail I let a couple of guys pass me back (I had a very fast AS visit, so I always passed people there). Still sweating a ton, but no longer salty sweat, so I stop taking the pills (mistake?)...Ahh, with darkness all the bugs are gone! I have never have never experienced so many bugs on a run here before. Crest, see some awesome campers, hit a very muddy and rocky downhill going to Gapcreek AS. I realize I am dreading the climb up on Kerns and Kerns itself, I ALWAYS have a low (emotional and physical) there. They say Karl Meltzer already went through the second time (mile 96!!)...as I leave, Neal Gorman stormed though, I saw his lights all the way up on the switchbacks running! I am so impressed! I make it to the top once again, I climbed it better than any other years prior. The rain and fog starts again, I'm chaffing or whatever it is, it's so bad I am reapplying vaseline (carrying the whole tub) every 20 minutes. I am slow picking my way through Kerns. I slid into the edge of one rock knee first, instant blood and then a golf ball size swelling on my knee cap. kind of pulling on the already achy ITB but I knew that this was nothing. My butt hurts and nothing else matters. Its Raining hard now and seeing in the fog (or clouds) is tough. We finally hit the road again and I can't run it. WHY? Sore quads, blisters coming in on the heels and my chaffed butt. With all of this I am happy and peeing every 10 minutes...

AS Visitor Center I met my next pacer Frances and go. It's hot so we do not need rain jacket etc. Climb up Bird Knob harder than ever. My heart is racing I feel sick and EVERYTHING is wrong. I sit down on a rock to watch 3 girls pass along with guys I know are slower than me. I get to the top I throw up, I never threw up in a race before. I think it's just me dealing with my chafing or what not, it's taking it's toll on me. Bird Knob AS and viola. Get there, it starts to pour again. Winds and thunder...I take my shoes off for the first time, my blisters are way too deep to pop. I almost never get them, never did here anyway, at MMT, but if I do, I get the kind that's like 8 layers below the surface... never mind. We stay for a while because everybody is staying. I wanted to drop so badly but Frances says NO! Let's get to Picnic Area at mile 87, my friend Quattro will be there and that will be a boost. We go slowly barely any running we run stop reapply, go stop reapply (vaseline) on and on. The Sun is finally up!

AS: Quatro gives me Benadryl cream, mayonaise for my sandwich he says LOL. It knocks the air out of me, kind of like when you jump in icy water then it helps (until I pee again!). The next climb up is not so bad yet I am just so spent. All I want to do is lay down, stomach first and not move! Lori passes me she is doing her first 100 she looks GREAT! I am happy for her. Last AS with one big climb left. I actually pass a few people back on it, after I have to sit and fix my shoes and let them go!!! Messy decent on wet rocks again.

3 mile road section and I am power hiking can't run. That is just sad. I finish in 32:13. No good. I can barely move after. I see people all showered and happy and walking. I have never been so beat up after a race before....Sheryl says she had a tough day, so did Kathleen. Sheryl goes off into the woods (walking just fine!) to gather me some plants for my butt. Thank you!

To be honest I still don't know what happened down below. I know it was emotionally draining and I was concerned it was going to cause permanent damage. I am still walking funny but healing and looking forward to next year! 

Zsuzsanna