23rd Annual Umstead 100 – April 1, 2017
Finished 2nd overall: 14:43:38
Lap 1: 6 a.m. start time
Decent morning in the lower to mid-50’s and low humidity at William B. Umstead State Park in Raleigh, NC. It was a pretty chill start for me and I followed another runner, Owen Bradley, as I wasn’t familiar with the start of the course. I actually got to the starting line 30 seconds before the race began. The race started the opposite direction than I thought and I was positioned in the very back. All good though as I was warmed up and ready to go.
We had a lead-out cyclist riding with us and he was very courteous, letting us choose the best path to run.
He sat back for the most part, but made sure to ride one full loop so we knew the course. It would be very difficult to get lost on this course as it’s basically around the perimeter of the park. The effort was definitely controlled and felt fine. I was a little surprised nobody else ran with us. I figured it made more sense to run the first half a little quicker and back off the pace on the back half of the course with the majority of the hills.
My family crewed for me at this race which was a lot of fun. My father and sister were stationed just before Aid Station 2 (~mile 6.5). Just as I have done in other races, I exchanged my handheld bottle with them. They would hand me another bottle including my nutrition of Huma Gels, which allowed me to pass through the main aid stations without stopping or wasting much time. There were other water stations every couple miles on the course, but it was cool enough in the morning to pass these up and make it to the main aid stations. I settled down on the back half of the course where the steepest climbs were. I did a mix of power-hiking and running on some sections to keep the legs as fresh as possible for later. Owen pulled away and opened up a 90 second gap on the hills. At the end of the lap I would come by mom and wife and do a turnaround at the start/finish line. I finished each lap drinking coconut water and exchanging my handheld bottle with them.
12.50 miles 1:34:02 (7:31 pace)
Owen took a little longer than me refueling and I ended up beginning the second lap ahead of him. He and another runner, Greg Jones eventually caught up with me. We ran a few miles together before they picked up the pace. I felt like the right thing to do was back off and run my own race. Plus, they were most likely going for the 50 miles. I kept my attention on taking care of myself with hydration and nutrition. Greg wasn’t carrying a water bottle so he was relying heavily on the unmanned aid stations. I had a feeling I would be seeing him sooner than later.
I was able to use the bathroom every 14 miles or so. I monitored fluid this way and tried getting in more as it was going to be a warm day with highs in the upper 70’s. I passed my dad and sister again and was surprised to see an old friend, Brian Clark, from my childhood that I probably haven’t seen in 15-20 years. He lives outside the park and was checking out the race. Pretty cool to see him out there.
I caught up with Owen and Greg as they stopped at AS-2 and Greg took a bathroom break. It was Owen and I again on the back half and this time I stayed with him, or he stayed with me. As we were a mile out from the start/finish area I had a boost of energy likely from the caffeine in my Huma Gel. I pulled away and had a really quick in-and-out transition that put a few minutes gap on him. It was always fun running into the start/finish area as the crowd was very energetic and cheering for all the runners coming through.
25 miles 3:09:46 (7:39 pace/lap)
It was beginning to warm up, but still manageable. I had a four-minute lead at this point on second place and ten-minute lead on the top five. I backed off a bit on the pace from earlier and kept up with my nutrition plan. Don’t remember much of anything crazy or exciting about this lap. Trails were getting busier with pedestrians, and I was beginning to lap runners. It wasn’t a problem as there was plenty of trail to share.
Coming into the start/finish I got rid of my shirt and refueled with coconut water. I also began taking a few Klean Athlete Electrolytes pills per aid station so about every hour. Each pill contains Vitamin B-6, Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, and Sodium Chloride.
At this point I now had a four-minute lead going out on the fourth lap and that grew to eight minutes as the other runners were taking longer in transition. On this course, it is easy to monitor others and know how far ahead or behind they are as there is a total of five miles of out and back trails.
37.50 miles 4:50:00 (8:01 pace/lap)
Lap 4: I was content with my effort up to this point and knew there was a lot of running left to do. It was also beginning to warm up which would result in me slowing down a bit. I tried to run the sections that had the most shade to keep cool, even if it meant not running the tangents. I adjusted my pace accordingly and felt good overall with the warmer temperatures. It felt like I did the right amount of heat acclimation leading up to this day, and it was playing to my favor. I was finishing a full bottle of fluids by five miles and was now beginning to use the unmanned aid stations located every couple miles. I would top off the bottle and had plenty to keep me hydrated before switching bottles with my crew at 44-1/2 miles.
50 miles 6:36:45 (8:33 pace/lap)
Four down and happy to be halfway done. My legs were definitely feeling it more and running another seven hours was going to be a daunting task. The halfway point for me is where I have my low points in a race so I knew it was going to be a tough lap. I noticed one guy, #5 Olivier Leblond, was starting to gain on me as I was leaving the start/finish area and he was just a few minutes behind by the turnaround point. It was another 3-1/2 miles before he would catch and pass me on an uphill section. I wasn’t too concerned as there is a lot of racing to do and I felt like I had plenty in the tank for later.
I was dealing with more pain now and starting to back off quite a bit. My watch died at 53 miles which was frustrating because I wasn’t able to check pace and other information. It was helpful knowing when to take gels. Fortunately, they had the course marked for the first 12 miles and I could tell by distance and estimated pace how often to take my nutrition. Olivier put a two-minute gap on me over the next couple miles so he was holding a steady pace. He had a really good turnover and was clipping along quite effortlessly. It was the first time I stopped at an aid station (mile 57) and asked for Aleve or Excedrin. I was trying to go as long as I could without taking anything, but figured it wasn’t going to get any better and may get worse. I took a couple and went on my way. My legs were taking a beating on the hills on the back half.
62.50 miles 8:32:58 (9:17 pace/lap)
Olivier’s lead grew to 9 minutes so he was basically a minute per mile faster. I took a little extra time at the start/finish aid station to make sure I was still getting plenty of fluids and asked for my iPod. Poured a cup of ice in my shorts to get my core temperature down. I left with a little bit of frustration as I faded quite a bit that previous lap and things were getting tougher. I knew the next 38 miles were about to hurt so I pulled the visor down low, cranked up the music, and ran a brisk pace. I got into a good rhythm and tried to make up some of the time I lost. I did the best I could to tune out the discomfort I had been feeling and it seemed to be working. I didn’t know how fast I was running and it would have been nice to see my splits. At the halfway point, I made up some time on Olivier, but didn’t seem like much.
My niece was at the AS-2 crew spot so it was good to see her. She cheered me up and ran a little bit with me. I kept going and went pretty hard on the back half. The leg pain was starting to come back and it was primarily the quads from the steeper descents. I was still behind about nine minutes or so going into the start/finish aid station and Olivier was looking good leaving. My legs were toast and feeling it from that hard effort on the hills. It was like it hit me out of nowhere and I was dreading another four hours of running. I asked for another Excedrin at the aid station and started walking back to where my crew was. This was the lowest point of the day as there was an overwhelming amount of emotions going through my head. It’s hard to control the negativity during these times and stay focused on what your main goals are. I knew I needed to take a break before going out on the next loop. I had to focus on the big picture and what I wanted to achieve this year as well as future races like Badwater-135. It helped knowing third place was close to 40 minutes behind so I could relax a bit and take care of myself. I laid down and elevated my legs while talking things over with my wife and mom. My quads were shot and it was going to be about finishing on the podium and hopefully not getting bumped off. My wife had been in touch with my friends that crewed the last couple races and they were offering some good advice. She also spoke to a guy across from them that was available to pace me due to his runner dropping out. I knew right away I was going to need additional support to get through this. I chilled out for a couple more minutes and took him up on his offer. I put on a white shirt and a buff that we soaked with cold water to keep me cool. I changed my crew socks and put on the Drymax Thin Mesh socks. My feet were doing great with no blisters, but felt it was a good plan to put on a fresh pair for the last 25 miles.
75 miles 10:26:29 (9:04 pace/lap)
Carter (pacer) and I went on our way and it was nice to run with someone I’ve never met before. He was from Norfolk, VA area and had quite a bit of ultra-experience. We shared stories and kept plugging away on the first half of the course. It was helpful to take mind off the monotony of running. I saw family again at AS-2 and we stopped to get more food this time at the main aid station. I’m not one for trying new things during a race, but felt like I had nothing to lose at this point and would be better off getting in more calories. I drank some chicken broth and Carter took a bag of pickles and another with cantaloupe. My plan was to power-hike the hills and run the flats and downhills. I ate the solid food (pickles and cantaloupe) during the slower pace on the uphills. We eventually completed this loop and I was in much better spirits. I took some more solid food at the start/finish AS, had some more broth, and drank a cup of pickle juice. Also ditched the shirt and buff and went out for the final loop.
87.50 miles 12:40:03 (10:41 pace/lap)
We were behind about 40 minutes on the leader and I had probably that much time over third place. Our goal was to complete this last lap in two hours or less which would be a minute faster per mile than the last. We didn’t focus a whole lot on the actual pace but kept moving in an urgent manner. I wanted to make up as much time in the front half because I knew the hills were going to be rough. I was having to stop and stretch every mile as my legs were getting too tight and aching. We made a quick stop at AS-2 and refilled bottles with cold water. It was a relief knowing there was five miles remaining. I ran the hills this time and blocked out the pain as much as I could. I would spray down my head, face, and upper body with the ice-cold water to keep my alertness high. I now had to stop about every half mile to stretch my quads, but it was helping and I was able to run better this way. The uphills were more of a relief than the long downhills. I was running about 90 seconds per mile going up than on flatter sections. With two miles to go we picked up the pace and kicked it in. Carter pushed me the last mile and it was all I could do to keep up. It was a huge help and I’m glad he was around to help me fight through those last 25 miles.
100 miles 14:43:38 (9:53 pace/lap) 8:50 overall pace
Overall, I think I had a good performance, but definitely have some takeaways which is what I try do work on and improve.
- Not prepared for the down hills / pounding. Going to try something different in my build-up to Keys 100.
- Practice more patience. Should not have accelerated like I did at mile 62. That should have been done the last lap or two. I’m not a patient person so this takes a lot of discipline.
- Experiment with more solid foods. This worked for the most part, but not sure I need much more calories. May add pickles/pickle juice and broth/noodles to race plan for Keys 100.
- Managed the heat well, but don’t believe it was that hot to affect my race much. Going to continue to work on this as it will be a much greater factor at Keys 100.
- Maintained good running economy and did better at controlling pain. I’ve learned some really fascinating stuff with NeuroKinetic Therapy leading up to this race and was able to practice it. The result was positive and will be beneficial to my success the rest of the year.
Race Day Gear:
Shoes: Hoka Claytons
Shorts: Salomon S-Lab EXO twinskin
Socks: Drymax Trail Crew and Lite Mesh
Water Bottle: Handheld Ultimate Direction
Watch: Garmin Fenix 3
This was a very well put on race and the entire staff and volunteers did an amazing job. Rhonda Hampton, the Race Director provided a first-class event, and it was evident that she was focused on making sure all the runners needs were met. I will definitely recommend this race to others and hope to come back some point in the future to race again.
My crowd support was growing throughout the day. These two munchkins are the kids of my brother-in-law’s family.
Best Crew Chief! #TeamDelzer
Discussing the race with the overall winner Olivier Leblond. He won the USATF 24 Hour Championships last year, which earned him a spot on the US Team. The World Championships are this summer in Ireland.
Always time for selfies with these pretty ladies. My sister on the left, and my wife on the right.
My father and I. He was past-President of The North Carolina Road Runners Club in the mid-80’s.
It was very comforting having my family involved and supporting me all day. They did a really great job keeping me on the go and making it easier for me.