The Vermont 100 mile foot race is no joke for sure. Many endurance racers have stated that it is runnable. If I haven’t conquered a course that is described as runnable I don’t subscribe to that notion. Last year I had raced this course and the course won. This year’s race plan was exactly the same as last year. I even ran in the exact same shoes. The only difference was my fitness level that I hoped would allow me to reach my goal time.
The weather was prefect. The morning was cool, comfortable and overcast. I started out towards the front of the pack and settled into a reasonable pace. Once I warmed up and was in my zone I planned to stay there all day long. As the miles passed through the rolling hills I only took power walk breaks when the climbs were steep. I was moving along nicely as I approached Camp Ten Bear at mile 47 when a voice that sounded like my conscience popped into my head. “Remember to take walk breaks. Save some energy for the last 30 miles.” It was the voice of teammate Randy Miller. I arrived at Camp Ten Bear in 8:23:32. I weighed in, found my drop bag, supplied up and took off. So far so good.
Miles 90 to 97 were rolling hills with three hard climbs that we power hiked. During these climbs I remember looking up and seeing the illuminated lights that were marking the course hanging from the trees. The climbs were so steep that I felt I was looking up at lights that were dangling from the sky. Sometime during these miles my left ankle decided to give me sporadic sharp piercing pains. After about 20 minutes or so I decided to do what Jens Voigt the cyclist would do. Speaking out loud I told my ankle to “shut up.” It did.
At mile 97 I asked for the first of a few time checks. I had three miles left with 30 minutes of time. It was going to be close. My plan was to stick to the pace and sprint the last ½ mile on the trail. When we got to mile 99 I thought that the rest of the way would be semi flat or downhill to the finish. As Jim Carey’s character the Grinch said, “Wrongo!” A climb to power hike. I thought that I should run the climb, but I didn’t have the energy at that point. I remember thinking that the game was over and I wasn’t going to reach the new goal time because I had walked the climb.
I would not have broken 19:00 if Elizabeth hadn’t paced me for the last 12 miles. My first race as part of the Mountain Peak Fitness / Campmor Team has been a positive experience and has already paid benefits. This was a PR by 1:42:00. I ended up finishing 17th overall and second in my age group. Not too shabby for a guy who carries an AARP card.