Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vermont 100 Race Report by Christy Scott

Vermont 100
July 21-22, 2012
Christy Scott

After the lottery for Western States 100 was completed in December, 2011 and I did not get in, I immediately signed up for the Vermont 100. I wanted to do one of the “big” races and VT sounded perfect. With 15,000 feet of climbs and descents, with some rugged terrain, I knew it would be my hardest race yet. I started training around the end of January with Mountain Mist 50k on Monte Sano Mountain as my kick-off. I put together a training plan based off my past experience, reading lots of information, and talking with more experienced ultra runners. I trained my butt off, raced a LOT, and stuck to the schedule. I asked our friend, Stuart, if he would be interested in helping Tony crew for me, and of course he said that he would. We later found out that the Badwater Ultra (135 miles in Death Valley) was on the Monday before my race, so he would be traveling straight from one race to the other. That’s a true friend!

We arrived in Vermont on Thursday evening before the race. We stayed at a beautiful place called the Ascutney Mountain Resort in Brownsville, VT. It is a ski resort and was gorgeous! It was also only about 10-15 minutes away from the race site. We got up on Friday morning and did a nice, short trail run around the resort. The trails were perfect, as was the weather. It was only in the mid-50’s that morning, which was a welcome relief from our Alabama heat! We then spent the day sightseeing, then picked up my race packet and crew info, weighed in and attended the pre-race meeting. There were tons of people there with 306 runners, their crew and families, plus lots of horses and riders. This is the first race that I have ever done sharing the course with horses, and it was really cool. We then went to dinner at Spooner’s in Woodstock with the rest of the Huntsville gang that was there for the race.

Ascutney Mountain Resort

Stuart running the resort trails

The race started at 4 AM, so we were up at 2:30 and there by 3:30. The weather was perfect at around 56 degrees. We started almost right away on some steep, rocky trails in the darkness. It was great! For the first 30 miles or so, I maintained an 11 minute per mile average pace, which included walking all of the harder climbs and running the downhills and flat sections. I dropped to around 12 minute miles average after that point, then ended up with a 14:56 average overall for the race. Tony and I made a mistake late in the race around mile 93 and ended up running 2 extra miles, which killed my chances of even being close to a sub-24 hour finish. I had been slowing down anyway, so it was going to be a close call whether I would break 24 hours. At the VT 100, you only get “the buckle” if you finish sub-24. For 24-30 hour finishes, you get a plaque. I really wanted that buckle to add to my collection.

Race start

Me and Tony at the start

The course had equal descents with all of the crazy climbing that we had to do, which was nice. At about mile 30, I really started feeling the climbing, as my legs began to tighten up and try to cramp. I drank like crazy all day, including both water and Gu Brew. I ate salt, as well as lots of typical ultra race foods. There were three weigh-in points along the course, which is to make sure that you are staying hydrated and fueled properly. I had lost 5 pounds at the first weigh-in. They told me to watch my intake and try and get more in. At the next weigh-in, I had not gained any back, but hadn’t lost any more, so that was a good sign. By the last weigh-in, I had gained 4 pounds back, which was good. I feel like I did well with nutrition, as this is the first 100-miler that I have not experienced any stomach issues. What slowed me down more than anything was the tightness, fatigue and soreness in my quads (from the steep downhills), as well as my breathing in the latter part of the race. Over the last several months, I have had some trouble with my breathing during training runs, especially where big climbs were involved. During the race, I felt many times, like I was on the verge of something like an asthma attack. I just tried to focus and calm my breathing when it started to happen. This was frustrating for me, as I knew my original 22 hour finish goal was slipping away. I shifted to “Plan B”, which was a sub-24 hour finish. As we got further into the evening/early morning hours, I knew that we weren’t going to break 24 hours, especially with the 2 mile detour that we took, which I have to admit, was totally my fault.

Sharing the course with the horses

Heading into an aid station

This race was by far, the hardest thing that I have ever done, so finishing sub-25 was fine with me! It is my second fastest 100-mile finish, and considering the course, I am very happy with it. The climbing, the rocky, root-covered trails (which tore up my feet and ankles with blisters) and the heat were a challenge. The views were spectacular, the volunteers were awesome, my crew was amazing, as usual. We also got to share the course with horses, which I thought was really cool. They had the option of 50, 75 or 100 miles. The riders were all very nice and were happy to share the trail with us, as well as offer up lots of support and encouragement.

View from the top of one of the major climbs around mile 30

One of the challenges I thought I would have is that they prohibit headphones at this race, due to safety issues, especially with the horses being out there. Although I had run many miles without them, running 71 miles with no pacer and no headphones to distract me, I was worried. My other races had allowed pacers to start much earlier, plus I had the headphones to keep my mind busy. Thankfully, I had no problem at all. The views were so beautiful and it was nice to be able to talk to the other runners as well. The time actually went by quickly, up until around mile 20 miles from the finish.

At the end, running the downhills was BRUTAL, especially on the trail sections. It was dark, unfamiliar trail and my quads were shot. Stuart and Tony were both great with encouraging me and trying to get me to run as much as possible. They wanted me to get that buckle as well. Although I didn’t come home with a buckle, I feel very proud of my accomplishment. I know that I gave 100% effort and couldn’t have done any more. That’s what counts. I finished what I started.

At the finish with my awesome crew

306 starters, 218 finishers 24:53 finish time, 14:56 average pace