A long story for a long run. The report of my second, and lengthiest, 100-miler is broken into two parts: The pre-race and the race itself.
The inspiration for running Massanutten Mountain Trails 100
came from a handful of locals in the NEO Trail Club.
After my pacer experiences at the 2006 and 2007 MMTs
, never did I think it would be me lining up in Front Royal to tackle this rock-laden 100 mile challenge. After a 2008 of mostly road-running and marathoning, I decided that 2009 would be the year for my second 100-miler.
Once I found out my name was drawn in the MMT lottery I gleaned as much info as I could from locals Jim Harris, Bob Combs, and David Peterman -- NEO Trail members with a collective 11 MMT finishes -- on how approach this race. If nothing else, I learned not to start too fast and that taking an extra 30 minutes to reach Camp Roosevelt could save hours later in the race. Training:
Physically, I came into this race vastly under-trained; much less so than for my first 100 miler at the 2007 Mohican 100. Year 2008 was one primarily of road-running culminating in my first sub-three hour marathon
last October. Since then, I had not run farther than 20 miles until March 1st of this year. My longest training runs in prep for MMT were 50 km, done 4 times in March and April, culminating with an eight-plus hour effort at the Chocolate Bunny (a night run on the MMT course in April.)
The last time I ran longer than 50 km was a 100 km road run
in May 2008 and prior to that was the 2007 Mohican Trail 100 Mile in June 2007. My ability to go the long ultra distance was an uncertainty.
With a lack of training volume and over-distance long runs, I convinced myself that a strong mental game would pull me through. I maintained that my knowledge of sports-nutrition, staying injury-free, and recalling my past MMT pacer experience would carry me to the MMT finish line. Though I arrived on race day undertrained, I felt strong. I have heard that it is better to be 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained. My training status for this event would test that theory.Gear and Nutrition:
Through my training buds, I learned that the longest section and potentially the hottest section of the MMT course is the part from Habron Gap (mile 25) to Camp Roosevelt (mile 34.) With a large climb occurring at the same time the sun rising high, I knew that a two-bottle waistpack (~40 fluid ounces) might not be enough to sustain the 9.5 miles to Camp Roosevelt. I modified one of my backpacks to fit a 2.5 liter (80 fluid oz.) bladder, which I ended up using. In all, I had three hydration systems ready to go: a single bottle waistbelt, a double bottle waistbelt, and the backpack with bladder.
Nutrition-wise, I planned to fuel primarily with liquids and gels and fill-in with solid foods found at the aid stations. In my drop bags and with my crew I placed HEED powder (primary carb-replacement beverage) and CLIP2 and AMINO packages (protein-replacement beverages). I started out with a full gel flask with a plan to replace a full flask every 25 miles. During each hour of the race my basic nutrition plan was to consume one 20-ounce bottle of fuel and the equivalent of one gel each hour, grazing with aid station fare as needed.
Electrolyte-wise, I started out with Succeed! capsules with a plan to consume one per hour for the first 12 hours and reassess my needs after that.Goal:
Based on prior years' pacing runs at MMT, I estimated I might finish somewhere in the 28-30 hour range. Since the MMT course had changed over the recent years, I reviewed the splits from the 2005 race (a course identical to this year) and charted my probable aid station arrival times for 28 and 30 hours.Crew:
I was blessed with a great crew. Andrea the wonderful
would follow me around all day and the pacer team of Courtney and Brandon would drive from Ohio on Saturday to join her later in the day. Aid station spreadsheet:
I put together all the details of my plan on this spreadsheet
as a guide for my crew. This sheet became my tentative plan for fueling, drop bag contents, and aid station tasks. My crew was prepared to resupply my needs and keep going down the trail. Pre-race disposition:
Though I felt mentally prepared, my lack of training volume weighed in the back of my mind. In the days prior to the race I slept poorly, tossing, turning, and waking frequently.
I spent the final pre-race days with too much time to think about the daunting task of MMT's 101.8 miles. Looking back, I brought about my own restlessness as I had considered MMT to be my greatest ultrarunning challenge.
After arriving at the Ranch on Friday to check-in, receive the race briefing, and take in the pre-race meal and camaraderie, Andrea and I turned in early. A final night of tossing and turning preceeded a 3:15 AM wake-up that came much too quickly. I suited up and met Dave at 4:00 AM to drive to the start. A view of Buzzard's Rock from the Skyline Ranch Resort, which is the first climb of MMT 100Next post: Part Two, The race