Vermont 2018 race recap

This post has taken longer to write than others. I feel as though I have told the story 100 times already. I feel this race also sort of flew under the radar, in a storytelling sort of way. But, alas here I go.

I started my trip by going the opposite way and into another country. I went to Banff, Canada. I car camped, I tent camped, I ate good food, I ran up a mountain. Not just any mountain, a mountain that was seemingly untouched, a mountain that seemed to go on forever in a way you’d crane your neck looking so far up. I saw a Canadian glacier up close, and watched as a pair of loons as they taunted a dog. The views along with the air was something you can’t explain. I will absolutely be going back there. I have no doubt that this trip before a goal race was the right decision.

Long before I set out to travel to Canada and Vermont I made a decision. A decision to run this race alone. Since I started racing I had a partner, a partner who spent his life in the competitive world of athletics and knew the importance of a good crew, especially in long endurance events. I went in blind, trusting, and taking it for granted. I relied heavily on him to be there for me in a way I couldn’t for myself. Until one race day a few years ago at the Door County Fall 50. That had been my first ultra, and I had run it 5 years in a row, I love it. The last year I ran it, I signed up the night before and had clients who were running it for the first time. My crew chief couldn’t make it. Needless to say I was alone. I held first place for the first 50K +, PR’d by 45 minutes and had a great race; alone. Something clicked in me in the same way something clicked as I started running and the urge to go further and faster had. I wanted to see how much hurt I could withstand, how much and far I could go without breaking. If you have read some of my other posts or listened to interviews, this is a reoccurring theme for me. I am searching for my breaking point, the place you go that you have to risk your metaphorical life to claw out of.

pre race ice cream is a must

So, I knew after Wasatch last year and the dissolve of my marriage, I knew I needed to do it this way. Solo. And I did it. Did I find what I was looking for? No. Did I have this epiphany about lifes meaning? No. What I did find though was pride and a sense of freedom. I consider myself a strong person, and most people would agree. But for some reason I have always had this hesitation to do things alone, not for the want or the belief that I could. I think for the reason that I can. I like people, I can fit into any crowd, I make friends easily. The more I think about it, I realize that I really like being alone also. Growing up so early and fast, and having to rely on myself for most of my life, I got really good at it, so the hesitation to translate that into my running I feel is foolish. They say having a good crew can make or break a race. Running solo, there is no one to blame but yourself. So I felt I had to do this.

Again, as I write this I feel so neutral about the whole thing. No crazy ups, no crazy downs. All in all it was a great race, I felt awesome for most of it. I went in with zero expectations, I didn’t prep the way I usually do, I didn’t have sharpied splits on my arm like usual. I knew two stats: the time it took to get to the first bag drop about 20 miles in, and my finish time from last year. I had multiple goals: A. sub 20, B. sub 22, C. beat last years time of 23:41, D. sub 24, and E. finish and get my Western States ticket. None of these however came with a plan.

@vegasultrarunner and I at the start

The place I was staying at was almost a 2 hour drive away. So after the race meeting and dinner Friday night, I get back and go to sleep about 8pm. I sleep til 1130ish, get dressed grab my race day and after race stuff and start the drive back to the start. I arrive about 1:30am and get about 1.5 more hours of sleep/rest before I check back in and get ready to start. I finally meet @vegasultraruner from instagram and line up at the start.

I knew the first big chunk would go by fast, I remember it being fast last year so I knew to expect it. I ran for a bit with a guy and we are chatting about races we’ve run etc. Come to find out we had just seen each other on social media because of this race. I think James has the luckiest time with Western, he was the last person off the waitlist in the 37th spot last year!! Running with James felt effortless, we had a great pace going, even being sub 20. Keep in mind this is in the first 20 miles of a 100 mile race. If you have run one or if you haven’t there is so much race left and so much can happen. You take advantage of the times you feel good, and grind through the ones you don’t.

At some point we got separated, probably at one of the aid stations, he had a stellar crew of his wife and 2 daughters. I was on my own. After hitting the first major station 5 minutes ahead of last year, I grabbed food, AltRed tabs, and tylenol out of my bag and left. The next few sort of blended together, I remember changing socks and shoes at the next major aid about mile 30. Stephen(@vegasultrarunner) and I piggy backed a bit for awhile and ran together for a few miles in those early hours, I couldn’t tell you when though.

I remember thinking to myself that there was alot more trail to the race than I remember. I was also so thankful that it was a dry year, there were places that my shoe literally got sucked off last year, that now was dry and completely runable. If you have read my other posts or ran with me and heard me talk about how much I hate meadow sections during the day, you know how much I loathe them. Well thank you Vermont for adding one into your 100 miler! This year however, I was faster than last, and the humidity was actually pretty manageable, and the sun still low. Psst: I didn’t hate it!

Somewhere after the meadow or right before I met up with Brian and then Tim. The three of us hit it off well, sharing stories of what we’ve run before and whats coming up. Brian is in the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, which has been my goal for 3 years given I get into Western States. Tim has run this race 7 or 8 times and this was going to be his longest run since last year when he ran it.

The next part of this race recap is going to go by quickly, it all runs together and is pretty boring I would say. For the next approximately 70 miles the 3 of us ran together. All of us were solo runners. We would go into an aid station do our own thing and meet up after the fact. We took turns in the lead and pulled when we felt strong. I remember leading and flying through the trail sections and smiling, I felt so good and so comfortable. They were probably sick of me saying “this is like what we have at home!” We ate popsicles and Tim ate enough Roctane gels for everyone! Coming out of Camp 10 Bear the second time about mile 70(where you picked up your pacer if you had one), we all did a clothes change out. I changed my singlet and sports bra, socks and shoes. I was wet and dirty from ice that I was using to cool myself in the heat of the day. I didn’t want to go into the night with wet clothes.

There is a point where you almost don’t believe the pace you are seeing or if it’s possible or accurate. But we came out into this one stretch of the road and I remember last year being on it with Jana and I had her turn off her headlamp and take in the sky full of stars. It was so beautiful. This year we still had a few hours of daylight left, and that was a little turning point in my head. My competitiveness was now awake.

Even though we ran together for majority of the race, we were alone with our thoughts and in our own head. We would go miles without talking especially later on. We laughed, and settled into the pain cave. Those last 10 miles were the worst for me, we had fallen off our sub 20 pace, but maybe sub 21 was close. The tricky part with this race, is there is no respite. It is 100 miles of hill repeats. So if you aren’t power hiking up, you are trying to make up time on the way down, and that starts to take its toll. Just the act of starting and stopping was painful.

Polly’s is the last major aid station before the finish, you have about 5 miles left. They lure you in with belgian waffles and warm Vermont maple syrup. I made the mistake of sitting, eating a waffle with so much syrup, I even had one person at the aid station pour syrup in my mouth. When I got up though, I was cold. Shivering, teeth chattering cold. It wasn’t that cold out, 60 maybe,  but the effort of running all day and at this point it was about midnight. It took me about a mile to warm up. We all knew we just had to make it the next 2.5 miles to the water only spot. Then 2.5 to the finish.

This last section sticks out most in my mind because I had a low spot, I was feeling overwhelmed. I was hurting, I was tired, but I was also happy. I was doing it, I was going to PR. But, as we all know you CANNOT celebrate early in an ultra. So many things may still happen. So with about a mile to go, Tim tells us to go. I lead, and I shut it all down. Every pain receptor that I have firing is distinguished. I go. This single track of smooth dirt seemed to just barely touch my feet. The glowing milk jugs leading the way to the finish, a left turn and a slight uphill and under the banner I came. 21:09:22. Almost a 2.5 hour PR. Brian and Tim shortly thereafter.

I am proud of myself. I am happy I met those guys, all of them on the trail.

I feel the real challenge was my sleep and travel. I will say that I am fortunate enough to be able to fall asleep anywhere. My lovely cousin and her boyfriend live in upstate NY, and came to Vermont for a little get away and it was a chance to see each other. Immediately following the race at 1am, I changed and got in the car to drive the 1.5 hours back to Stowe. We will not get into details on how that drive went, I am sure you can picture how awesome it was. I had to shower and had enough time to catch about 4.5 hours of sleep so I could pack and get on the road to be BACK at the race finish for the awards meeting at 11am. This is where my cousin came in clutch, her boyfriend then drove my car to the start so I could grab another hour of sleep!

Commence food and awards. This is where I find out that I came in 11th overall female, the competitive side of me was pissed. I came in 8th in the open female category which is under 40. No clue where I placed in the solo category. I then pep talked myself, 11th is higher than 17th last year, its almost 3 hours faster, and you had zero expectations. So stop being a baby, there is nothing you can do about it right now, and be happy with how the race went.

Race director Amy awarding me with the buckle

Fun Facts:
*I changed shoes 4 times, socks 5 times.
* I went in with little expectations
* I ate yogurt in the car 30 min before the race start
* I used my tattoo of the elevation for the race to figure out what we had left to climb in the race
* I ate so much more sugar than I normally eat, making me super bloated that I looked pregnant
* Following awards I had to drive another hour to the airport, where I slept for 2 hours waiting to board.

Thank you to Timex for having me on the team and taking a chance on this crazy thing as ultra running. SaltStick for keeping me in check along with hydration. Thank you to Alt Red for keeping me steady. I had so many betalins! Zealios for keeping me protected from the sun. The Gear Well for making a stellar resealable pouch that allowed me to bring my own food in my drop bags. Oiselle for providing my race shorts and bra everytime and continuing to support me! UltraAspire for my reusable cup, whether it held flat coke, boiled potatoes, watermelon, or lunch meat. It worked great the entire time!

Lastly Thank you to all who wished me good luck, sent kind words, and projected good vibes before, during, and after the race. Even though I was solo, I had you all with me!



Vermont 100 recap

What a ride. July 15-16 the Vermont 100 miler. Finishing in 23:41:47 earning the big buckle. A sub 24 hour finish was my B goal.

Back up a bit. The previous weekend is when the whirlwind trip started. I first got up well before the sun and headed to a local race where I had 9 clients racing. It was amazing to watch them in the distances from the 1/2 marathon to the 50K all on the trail. I ran the 50 mile at this race last year as a tune-up and practice race with my pacer for Leadville. A little part of me wanted to be racing, but knowing that in a few hours we would be in a car driving across the country, would probably be a bad idea.




We left around 5pm Saturday. Stopped along the way in Indiana, I think. We then stayed at a state park near Lake Erie the next night. We were so close to Niagara Falls that we decided to make the trip. We had my 13 year old daughter with us and she had never seen it. It was pretty cool to walk right out to the Horseshoe Falls on the USA side.

We arrive in Vermont late night Monday and set up camp in the dark. Oh did I mention that we camped the whole time?! We stayed at Mt. Ascutney State Park, which was only about 30 min away from the race start/finish. We decided to climb the mountain on Tuesday, that was as close to race day that I wanted to do any hard effort running. It was 4.5 miles to the summit and almost 3,000ft of elevation, Roubaix and I took 2.5 hours I think to get to the top. The view was worth it though.

view from Mt. Ascutney summit
My quads were sore until Friday though from the downhill. It was so steep that you couldn’t even walk it. I should have realized that this is Vermont and it was a preview to what was coming.
Friday, the day before. I went to the start/finish area at 10am to check in and pick up my race bib and get weighed. 11am my girls come to camp to talk race strategy. Laurie my dear friend from Florida made to the trip up to crew. She is a masters track athlete, so the world of trail ultras are another scene. My bestest Jana came from Minnesota to pace me the last 30 miles of the course. That is the earliest point in which they let the pacers join. I had packed my drop bags the night before, showing them which ones I wanted where, was key.
We planned for the next morning, they left and I went to sleep. When you plan to be out running for 24+ hours, getting adequate sleep days leading into it are crucial. I woke up around 3pm and we left for the pre-race meeting where i ate the best ice cream waffle cone. Met up with the girls and listened to all the elements for race day. Vermont 100 is the first race in ultra running to have an adaptive category. At least two visually impaired runners were entered into the 100 miler, and at least one physically impaired runner. How amazing! p.s. both the visually impaired runners finished! There is also a endurance horse race that happens simultaneously. They prepped us on how to approach a horse and how to run with them.
Saturday morning 2am=wake up call. I wanted to be at the start around 3am for the 4am start time. Yogurt and coffee in the car on the way to the race. Check in again, go to the bathroom, wait.
At the start of the Vermont 100
4am hits and we are off, I had to fight the urge to be out front and stay there. I knew I had a long day ahead of me and I needed to play it safe. We started with a big downhill, not that different from the hill I ran a few days before.
Pace felt great, climbs were easier than I thought, because I was having trouble engaging my glutes leading up to the race. These miles went by fast. I ran most of it with a guy named Andrew who recognized my Concept 2 hat.  You may have noticed me wearing this hat at many races. It’s my lucky trail hat. This company is based in Vermont, it was a great conversation starter. I felt a bit hesitant wearing it not wanting it to be equivalent to the guy wearing the band t-shirt to the concert. Decided it was a state pride thing.
leaving Stage Road, I think

The plan was to meet at the first crew accessible aid station which was 21.3 miles in called Pretty House. My estimated time to arrive was 8:38-9am. I got there at 7:45am, needless to say my crew was not there. I always drop bags even if Roger is there. You never know if something hinders them from showing up, you could be left without your gear. For this race I went against my usual and did NOT drop bags. I was in great spirits, feeling good. I shoved some loose fig newtons in my pack and told some other spectators that if people came in looking for #56 I was going to go to the bathroom and then head out. They caught me just as i was about to leave. I wasted 10 minutes.

I would see them again in 9 miles at Stage Road. What happened in those 9 miles, I don’t think I could remember even if it was the day after. Uneventful i guess. I think this when we went through the meadow. The dreaded meadow. It was humid and overcast most of the day, but why did the sun come out just as we were coming through the meadow?! I hate it. I was already fantasizing about jumping in a body of water. I think I lost my shoe in super deep sucky mud in this stretch too.

I grabbed an ice bandana when I saw my crew again. I changed socks and shoes. It would be another 16ish miles before seeing them again at Camp 10 Bear the first time. There are, however, aid stations about every 4 miles with water and food, your crew just can’t access them.

socks and shoes. Poor Laurie

Those next 11ish miles to the Maragaritaville aid station was a bit brutal. A tad over 50 miles in and my knee was starting to hurt. My knee cap moves when my quads get tight. Remember when I said the downhills were steep?

I was being stubborn, me I know, shocking. I didn’t want to take Advil or Tylenol fearing I would upset my stomach. Which looking back I think is a bunch of bs. I have pretty much an iron stomach, It doesn’t get upset, I just don’t want certain foods at a particular point. We all get there. As an ultra-runner I enjoy the pain, invite it even. Will I be a sell-out if I take the Advil and dull that pain that I am inadvertently searching for?

I hit a wall, the wheels came off, I crashed from the sugar that I normally never eat and the Popsicles that were delicious. Whatever you want to call it, it happened there. All I wanted to do was sit for a bit. I had come to the realization that all the time I built up running faster than a sub 22 was gone. I think I was dealing with that too. Time goals are tough to let go of. I guess somewhere inside feeling that my A goal was now out of reach, why not make that gap even bigger. I sat for maybe 15 minutes, while my shoes got changed, lube was applied, pack was refilled, food was packed. My crew got me up out of that chair and on my way again with a more padded shoe.

I took the Advil.

give me those Ramen noodles!

It was another 11ish miles to Camp 10 Bear again to pick up Jana. Changing into the Hoka tracer helped my sore feet, it prevented them from getting worse. I had some serious chafing on my inner thighs that was caused by the ice bandanna melting and soaking my shirt and shorts. So that was awesome. I tried 3 different lubes. The one from a stranger that you had to apply with a glove and had a creepy baby on the package did the trick.
I went from eating salted watermelon to picking the meat and cheese out of pre-made sandwiches and ditching the bread. Ramen and coconut water at every aid station. I knew I was slowing, The thought of never finishing didn’t cross my mind. That is not an option, WHEN I crossed that line was now in question.
More chatting with strangers and mindless miles passed by just waiting until I can grab Jana.

Yay, Jana!

Picking up Jana at mile 69.4 in the daylight was great. However, we started out kinda rough. As soon as you leave Camp 10 Bear the last time you get to so graciously climb for the next 2 miles. I was already feeling worn down, I had a fresh braid from my daughter, a foot rub, and some new fuel but I wasn’t back yet. Add the climb.

We had less than 7 miles to get to the next crew spot, so that meant there was at least one aid station in-between. Jana was a breathe of fresh air and she was trying really hard to put some wind back in my sails. She was fresh, fresh legs, fresh eyes, and a fresh attitude. She was seeing this amazing countryside for the first time, she was running with the horses for the first time. In some way I took that all for granted. I had been out there for 15 hours already, I had seen most of it. How that all must have looked to new eyes!

I got my ladies with me!

The next aid station was a blur and much of the same, a change of socks but not shoes. We were in and out quick. 12 more miles. I was feeling better, the night came and it was beautiful! I made Jana turn off her lamp and stop to look at the stars. With zero light pollution and a perfectly clear night, you could see everything. I haven’t seen the milky way lit up like that in a long time. The course was also marked with green glow sticks hanging from the trees to show you that you were on the right path. These were coined ‘fairy lights’ by Jana. Pretty sure this is the leg I pooped in a field. I got blinded many a time by the knuckle lights that Jana kept swinging around.

We get to Bills, the second to last aid station. I got soup and ramen. I was feeling good. I got a nice foot rub, changing socks for the last time. We were so close only 7 miles to the next one and then 5 to the finish. Home stretch, we got this.

12 more miles, I can’t be serious

Also Jana was sweating so much she had to change clothes here. I don’t get it, I had been in the same clothes for a day almost already. Rookie.

12 miles left. I don’t remember much from this section. I know I sat down at an aid station to let my feet rest. I know there was some single track that was really hard to maneuver due to not being to bend my knee much. I got blinded by the knuckle light again.

As we are approaching the last aid station I look at my watch to see where we are at for time. I see that we have an hour and a half to get sub 24. I thought this goal was gone, I hadn’t paid attention to overall time for almost 30 miles, just the time it took to get from crew station to crew station. A runner ahead of us hears us talking. “are you doing math, you can make it. You need to do a 15 min mile.” We agreed we would stop quick and go. I needed a foot rub. It helped so much before and if I was gonna kick into high gear, I needed it. I had heard the last 3 miles were a B, the last mile especially. Roger knew we were close and had to push. He didn’t want to rub my feet, not wanting to waste anytime that should be used to get to the finish. I convinced him, that in order to get there, I needed it.

We decided to go for it, Jana I could tell had been waiting  for this. We were running up things we walked previously, we ended up passing about 15 people. We were not going to let the clock win. Every time I envisioned the finish I would get choked up and have to shove it down. Crying and running don’t mix. Jana, if you do not know her is the opposite of me in the crying game. I cry at everything, she cries at nothing. I told her she better cry at the end of this! I only snapped on her once. It was in these miles, it was a shut up or stop it or something. Quickly passed and almost forgotten already. We made it to that finish, those last 5 miles in 56:26, finishing at 3:41am with a total time of 23:41:47. I did it, I didn’t cry though. We had kicked in so much so that our crew wasn’t there. They missed it.


My daughter was disappointed, this was her first 100 mile spectating/crewing experience. It was something special to have here there eager to help, so proud. This is what makes me cry now. The hard work, the long hours, the sacrifices. She sees it firsthand. It pays off. When you spend most of your days in constant conflict with a 13 year old teenage girl and to have them light up at the sight of you while you are just trying to make it from point A to point B. That right there is priceless.

Thanks for the quesadillas Amelia

I am disappointed in myself for not hitting the A goal of a sub 22 hour finish especially when I was pace for over half the race. I know I can do better. I know it’s there. I ran with multiple people throughout the race, sometimes for hours. You jump right into a seamless unspoken ongoing rhetoric almost immediately. You can talk about hardships and fears, mishaps and DNF’s. All while never exchanging names. These strangers know more about you on a deeper level, names don’t matter, labels don’t matter.

I know. They know. Maybe you know.

Big Buckle Baby

Fun facts:
I asked for pickle juice at an aid station. Just a swig. They thought I was crazy and poured me a whole cup.

I changed shoes 7 times.

Every time I asked Jana if she had seen a confidence plate, one would appear right in right of us. Every. Time.

This course was mostly road and when you got to the single track there was so much mud that you wished for the road again.

A man named John Gessler finished his 25th Vermont 100 this year.

I ate 2 Clif shot bloks with two miles to go. Rocket-fuel?

I OD’d on Picky bars.

I was worried about getting a funky tan on my forehead from my backwards hat. I made sure Jana put sunscreen there.

They warned us about trench foot. Hence the changing of socks and shoes.