Thursday, April 10, 2014

Guest Blogger: Stephen Bandfield, Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run, April 5-6

I am quickly learning that main difference between training marathon runners and training ultra runners is the hazard … to my eyes!  I have yet to be sent photos of mangled toes by any of my marathon runners, yet Steve had no trouble clicking "Send" after attaching a lovely photo of the excellent work he did out there to his big toe and the neighbor along side.  This is likely retaliation for me showing him my bloody shoe at Two Rivers Marathon.  I am not saying that marathon runners or half marathon runners don't mess up their toes.  I know they do. I have. They just don't send me photos of them! ;)  (That reminds me… I have a few gnarly toe photos of my own to send back to Steve soon). :) Maybe if Steve allows me, I will include his photo at the end of this post.

For now, I would like to brag a little about the amazing work Steve did over the past many months in preparation for what would be his first serious 100 mile attempt. He was the epitome of commitment. He was committed to working with me.  He was committed to his training.  But most of all it was clear he was committed to himself.  Before I was even awake and having coffee at 5 am before my earliest training runs, Steven had already been up hours earlier training alone in the dark in the middle of the night before heading off to work.  Steve did everything I asked of him, not just the running part of the plan, but also the communication with me about his training part and the logging of his workouts part.  I ask for A LOT of communication because I want to make sure I am able to make fast, yet seemingly minor, interventions if needed so my runners don't get hurt.  But Steve is a machine. He needed very little beside a clear plan.  He made things really easy and he should be incredibly proud of what he was able to accomplish in training and then on race day.

Congratulations Steve! What a great run!

Without further delay, I would like to share Steve's race report from Umstead (also posted on his own blog at

Umstead 100 race report

The Umstead 100 mile race was one I had been training for since the end of last year. I hired a coach who trained me harder for this race then I ever had. I Pushed myself beyond what thought was doable. 100 + mile training weeks with a PR marathon run at the end. It was to be my first big deal 100 miler ( a Western States Qualifier). It had all the elements I was looking for ..non-technical trails, some elevation ( I think it was like 10,000 feet of incline for the whole course) in fairly decent weather and one My girlfriend and I could make a bit of a destination journey of it. She as a dear friend who lives just 20 minutes away from race course, this just worked out perfectly.

I got to the race site The William B. Umstead State Park on Friday Night for registration. Saw a few familar smiling faces and felt at home. At the pre-race briefing given by the outgoing RD Blake Norwood I heard these words “ Our job, is to get you to the finish..” and I knew I was going to be taken care of by the aide crews ( I wanted for nothing during the entire race..they even had SNOW CONES. ) Jackie ( My girlfriend, crew,Support team..who kept yelling at me each lap “Get out there !!! Hurry up!!..while bringing me stuff from my a love a woman like and I got on line for the pasta dinner and by the way they served the 150 or so people quickly and efficiently it was obvious, they had their system down pat.

“It was the best of times,it was the worst of times…… We were all going to Heaven,We are all going direct the other way.” Charles Dickens

So after getting a reasonable night sleep, we head out to the park . We get there as the gates open, 4;45 am and drive with a long dusty caravan to the race HQ and the start of the race. I leave a drop bag with few Items ( shirts, Ensure,hats.MT Dew…) on the Drop bag truck ..setup my stuff just a few steps off the course. The race started at 6:00am. It was still dark, so I used a small headlamp for the start ( there was so much light from everyone else headlamps ..I wound up turning mine off after the first mile.) Jackie and I wandered around a bit. I got into the starting area and thought “ Oh my god..what Have I gotten myself into..” Boom ..and we are off.

The course consists of eight 12.5 mile loops.the first few miles are fairly flat..little inclines ( which seem to get much bigger as the race wore and a couple of good descents. After about mile 3.5, is where the course begins to roll. Fairly long downhills followed by long uphills ( all my hill training came in handy) after about mile 5 you get off wider bridle trails and head into the interior of the park. Lots of shorter rolling sections . Mostly up and down between 5 and 6.5, where you have a second aide station.fully stocked..more food then you could want, along with drop bags ( full compliment of medicines..some of which I used later.) From here, you return to the interior of the park..with more big long up hills and down some longer downhills for about 3.5 miles. Then, you return to a section you started off with some more bigger up and down hills ( get the and travel back to the start. the last half mile in fairly large gravel downhill section, where many of the runners set up there stuff and crews await their arrival. it was definitely a party spot all night long. The cheers from the crews has I came down that hill each time definitely brightened my spirits. when you finally climbed the dozen steps to the end of the were rewarded with cheers from more crews and and aide station that wanted for nothing ( They even had SNOW CONES !!!)

I had 2 goals for this race; One is a sub 24 hr 100 miler or 2nd is to simlpy finish in 30 hours.I had a plan. First, I was going to try to run as much of the first loop as possible..get real feel for the course. Second, no music till after first loop (I’m a distracted runner and feed off the beat) and Third to shoot for 10:30 50 miler and then hang on. One of the reason I chose this race was the runnability of the”s packed or slightly loose gravel. makes for fast times and little worries about footing ( didn’t fall once during the race). So off I go..feeling good..running comfortably, not really looking at my pace. Thinking , “Am I breathing hard? , No, okay..keep it up.” got to the first long down hill. , then the first long uphill..ran that, got up a on steady pace. The next few sections had some more bigger hill sections and decided , maybe I should walk a little and did. I tried to run the next big hill, found out I was breathing too hard and said “ that was a mistake” and backed off . Got to Aide station 2 felt great.. took a gel ( I also planned no solid food till at least the 50 mile mark,,so it was Gu’s Ensure Water and Gatorade for the first half). After that, the course is more up then down for a while..ran most of it, walk a little but still cruising..There is one long downhill from mile 9 to 10 ( Downhills are my friend) and I hit it hard. this leads to another long up hill ( up and down,,up and down..that’s the and to a rolling section. finish up the loop and feel great. I look at my time and think way fast. 2Hours 6 min..

So I decided it’s time to take it easy..Walk the hills..attack the downhills.. Put on some Tunes ( Stevie Ray Vaughn ) and just cruise . I’m using a hand held water bottle at this point..The weather is about 60 degrees..I’ve taken off my arms sleeves that I started with and ready to run. So the second loop just feels great. Easy, but pushing on those down hills. it was pretty uneventful just I nice run in the woods. I’m still moving faster than I should be, but it feels good. I’m about to finish my 2nd loop when I feel this twinge in my knee.I think oh ,a little will pass, but it doesn’t but I finish my loop, take and Ensure and get back out…..This lap was about the same as my first..with way more walking. 2hrs 7min.

I went out for My 3rd loop , changed music, GreenDay and this little knee problem got bad really fast. This happened to me at my first 100 miler at mile 87 and I had to walk in the last 13 miles...THIS WAS MILE 25!!. All I could do was walk .Any kind of running was incredible I just started walking. I kept walking..a few miles of pretty flat trail. I thought to myself. “ So this is how all the training ends..With a walk,.....a long walk . I don’t to be walking another 70 + miles. Maybe, I should just bag it. I keep walking.I know from past experience that Ultra have Highs and lows,,BIG SWINGS. I figured out that 100 milers have a moment ..whether you quit or finish, just wasn’t expecting mine so early. So I say to myself..” What Can I do.,,Not What can’t I do.” I know this is going to hurt alot..but you have to try something. So I come a upon a downhill sectiom around mile 3, and I start to Jog and It hurts like hell..but I can to do it and the longer the downhill lasts,,the less it hurts.So I keep up this strategy..and I’m finding I can run the downhills ( painfully…) pretty quick and survive the ups and a little painfull running on the flats at the the 2nd aide station I get something to drink and a couple of Ibuprofen ( lifesavers), an Ensure and go on. (Another Strategy I followed..know what you want before you get to the aide station..get it and be gone).I got through the second half of the loop which has much more up hills and couple of long down hills. I continue to struggle,hurting but moving. Just finish this lap. I’m walking a lot..but still moving. Finish the lap..put on a knee brace that I had ( Thank GOD) grab some Ensure and Gatorade ( not everyone tastes,,but it works) and off I go walking through the next lap. 2hrs 31 min.

I'm going out on my 4th loop and I’m hurting,,,but I’m moving. and I looking at my Garmin and it’s telling me that I’m almost an Hour ahead of my goal 50 mile split time, So I keep up with the same strategy.. run the downhills,walk the ups and do what I can on the flats. I’m definitely slowing. but I’m moving and I’m not falling off the pace by that much. I’m doing this..I finish lap 4. I see Jackie , who has just come back to the course. she ask What I need, I tell her my knee is killing me. She gets my stuff, I grab a Mountain Dew ( a treat I’ve been saving up with a week long caffeine fast,) She give me my stuff..Tells me “Get out there,,Hurry Up..” and kisses me goodbye, Ain’t love Grand…………………….. lap 2Hrs;50Min , 50 mile split 9hrs34min

So laps 5 and 6 were pretty similar.This was the hottest part of the day,temps in the high 60’s maybe low 70’s but it never really bothered me. At one point I tried putting Ice in my cap as a cooling was just more annoying than anything else ( I’ve used the technique in another desert race,,but that’s another story, ) I just stuck with Plan,,I just kept trying to keept at that 12:30 per mile cumulative pace. Run the downhills , Walk the up. It was nice to see some of the same face on each loop, this told me I was on the same constant pace they were. Sometime ahead, sometimes a little behind,,but always around them. I had switched to a race vest with two water bottles that I was having filled at each of the two manned aide stations and was eating a liitle bit ( peanut butter and jelly sandwichs,,simple easy food)at each of the aide stations.My knee was actually begining to clear up a little bit on the 6th loop and I had some period when running wasn’t a painful chore..and lap 6 was faster then laps 4 and 5. Laps 2Hrs53Min and 2Hrs47mins

So lap 7 is when things begin to slow up a lot.It’s night. I’m running ( walking limping,...) in the dark which by itself will slows me down. My knee pain returns,I had take some Tylenol at the begining of the loop.Still eating. (As I left,each loop Jackie would make Sure of but the run to walk ratio is less less run and more walk. My garmin is saying I’m still slightly ahead of a 21 hour pace for the 100..if I can keep hanging on.I’m thinking I’m going to fade but maybe 22 hours is possible. I just about get to end of my loop when My garmin battery dies. I set the chrono on my watch at the start so I know my elapsed time. I'm pretty sure I’m going to beat my sub 24 goal but hoping for that Sub 22..I walk my way to the top of the last loop, grab an Ensure .some more MT DEW,a turkey sandwich. a kiss from Jackie and I’m off think of a line told to me by a friend “ Suck it up Buttercup”.......lap 3HRS23mins.

A famous Ultra runner once said that ” A 100 miles is not that Far..” what he didn’t say was that The last 10 miles when your dying can take forever. My mp3 dies..bummer. My knee is screaming at me every time I try to run now. Of the first couple of miles I might have only run a ½ mile . Then I was mentally screaming whila couple of te running the longer downhills..but still really slowly, By mile 5 I began to develop some sever pain in my right arm and I couldn’t move to swing for a run stride. Probabaly a result of using a handheld bottle for too long. ( In my slight delirium, I was thinking I might be having a heart attack due to all the caffeine I was ingesting after going on caffeine taper for a week..LOL) So, here is the picture.. My left knee won’t bend to run and My right arm won’t move to swing..Sad shape..but I know I can finish this.So I do what I can. I walk side up hills almost dragging my leg to get it up the hill. I keep going. I’m losing Perspective of time..I’m thinking. “ Oh my god..I only have 2 ½ hours to go 6 miles..will I make it?” The hills that were easy are now mountains that go on forever. Downhills stopped being a friend and became just taunting areas to my falling apart body ( Okay..getting a liitle Melodramatic,,but that’s what I was like at 94 miles,,lol) I’m getting passed ( I ‘m glad didn’t know I was third in my age group at start of loop , it would have made the suffering worse.) I just think, keep moving. Walking down the last big hill..almost there. last ½ mile walk down the hill . A woman who I’ve been running around me all day passes me..Oh well, I’m almost done. Last few stair steps to the top. I call out my # ...“ 88” the RD come out and shakes my hand, gives me My silver Belt Buckle 100 miles ..One day. I let a scream “YEAH!!!!!... Lap 4hrs10min ..

Finish: 22hrs 47min 9 sec. 
45th place … 
5th in age group 50-59

And this is what feet that traveled 100 miles look like :) 

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your race, but your toes look bad. You need to apply some cream on them, I hope they get better soon.