Adventures in Pacing Part 2: Umstead 100

There’s something magical about the trails at night.

At Rocky Raccoon, it was bad magic. There was something about the light draining from the trail that drained my happiness.

At Umstead, I was watching the light fade from the comfort of an aid station. The worst pain I encountered there included accidentally pouring scalding soup on my hand. That and a debate I got into with a fellow volunteer about Jurassic Park. It’s to be continued.

Aid station life is pretty tame. I even had the joy of denying a Garbo lookalike Oreos.


Fooled – It was Garbo’s Stunt double

20130410-001605.jpg I took a page from the Flying Matzs and mixed the wrappers.

Speaking of the Matzs, it just so happened I was thinking about them running AR50…when a man came up wearing an AR50 hat. What are the odds? Well, it’s probably way higher at a 100 miler in NC than a McDonald’s in CA, but you get my drift. It’s pretty stinkin cool and a def sign they were kickin some boo-tay.


Perfect day for a race

The weather was gorgeous, highs in the mid 60s, sunshine but plenty of shade. I was itching to run…but my time would come. By 8pm my volunteer shift was over. I picked out my volunteer/pacer gift (I got a sweatshirt -they let us pick out anything in “the store” as a thank you) and headed to my car to change.

We had been warned that volunteering as a pacer would mean a lot of waiting if everything went according to plan. The race organizer’s goal was to ensure no one who requested a pacer was turned away, which meant patience. I passed the time talking to Melissa and Chris, as well as helping out at my aid station some more.

It was almost 10pm by the time someone needed me to pace. She was a tiny lady in her 50s who was having trouble responding to my questions on fueling and hydration and anything else she wanted me to keep track of. I have to admit I was a big scared of her and what the next 12.5 miles held.

Within the first .5 miles, she threw up on me. She sat down and stared shaking, then began spewing  liquid on both of us. My only thought was “Oh no, all those calories!!” which probably seems like a ridiculous reaction to anyone but an ultra runner.  After a solid minute, she popped up and we started running.

Puke and Rally.

We ran at a decent clip post ralph. We talked about races –  turns out she and her husband are both Maniacs and her husband was pacing her for her last lap. She said “I’ve been looking forward to it all day” Awwwwwwww.


Full Aid Stations in Red. Unmanned fluid only stations in blue. 

She was so awesome, I even toyed with the idea that a Hundo wouldn’t kill me. The course is where a lot of my “training runs” happen and I know it well…every turn and every hill. Maybe…

Scariest point of the night came when we saw a raccoon on the trail. His eyes reflected the light from our headlamps…and he wasn’t running away. There was a rabid fox attack in the park a few weeks ago….and I promise you that my rabies shot blog would not be as funny as Mr Bacon’s. Luckily he scurried into the woods after I yelled at him to get the eff out of our way.


He looked like this. I think. It was dark.

We pulled into the start/finish a little over 3 hours after we set out. The clock was around 19 hours, giving her almost 5 hours to finish sub 24. She said she felt a million times better and thanked me a million times for “working my magic.” What a great feeling!

I checked back in at the pacing table, and went to the lodge to warm up and rest a bit. I saw NCathlete, who had just come back from pacing a guy and we chatted before she took a break before her volunteer am shift. My internal clock was really off and I had no concept of time. It didn’t occur to me how late it was until a lady said it was around 2 am and her husband should be finishing soon. Huh? 2 am?? How the eff did that happen? Do I really wanna go out for another lap?

A little past 3 they called my name to pace a guy on his last loop. He told me we’d be walking the whole thing….so I left my sweatpants on. We talked a bit, but as 4 and 5 am rolled around the suck got harder and harder to embrace. At the mile 7 aid station I drank some coffee – both for the warmth and for the caffeine and prayed for the mental strength to be a good pacer for the remaining 5.5 miles. The climb on the back half of the loop isn’t all that pleasant, even while walking. We stopped talking. I was failing as a pacer and I decided I was crazy to think a Hundo wouldn’t kill me. I wanted to die after only 20 miles!


Climb was around 1,000 ft per 12.5 mile loop

Around mile 8.5 it started to get light. I’ve never seen the sun rise while on a trail. It was like the sun and the birds were in sync because they got louder as it got lighter…until both became annoying. Even more annoying, I realized I “had to go” once it was light….and the woods were too sparse to offer any coverage. I’d have to hold it for another 2.5 miles, which at the rate we were moving would take over an hour. I managed to hold it….barely and very uncomfortably.

After my potty break it was only a mile and a half to the finish. We passed people on their way out for their last loops. I thanked my lucky stars I wasn’t in their place. My guy asked if I was going for another loop. Originally I planned on pacing 3 loops…but the last lap had to start before 8am so I wasn’t going to get there in time to pick up a new person. Thank goodness!! I told him I could handle the distance but not the time….that loop took us 5 hours and I couldn’t wrap my head around another 5. I was already falling asleep walking!

It wasn’t even my race and I’ve never been so glad to see a finish line in my life. I didn’t think it was possible because Rocky Raccoon pretty my solidified that people who do 100 milers are crazy and super human…but this made it so much more real. Ultra runners are incredible.


I may be nuts, but I’ll never be 100 mile nuts. 

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