July 17 & 18 were the dates of the 2010 Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run in Windsor Vermont (near Woodstock).
I went into the 2010 event with high hopes - I DNF’d last year (2009) at mile 77 (the Spirit of ’76” aid station). In 2009, I reached the end of my mental endurance - I just could not imagine going any further (I ran the first 50 miles in a little over 10 hours - very fast for me - and that was clearly the wrong plan). Body was great - but my mind had me going too hard too soon and I paid for it in the later miles (and crumbled mentally from 70 to 77).
For 2010, I was much better prepared mentally - having finished Rocky Raccoon 100 in Texas in February (a smidge over 23hours) and Ironman St. George in May - but my physical preparation was hampered by a torn/strained left hip flexor. A few weeks of physical therapy and low-mileage running had it feeling OK, but I was not sure how it would feel as the miles started to pile up.
The day began beautifully with a 4AM start - but you could tell that it was going to be a HOT day. The official high temp was 90 - but there were open sections of the course that reached 96 degrees. The problem in the mid-part of the day was not so much the heat, but it was very humid and body core temps were very hard to keep under control.
Feeling pretty good at 2:30AM at the Bed & Breakfast in Woodstock (20min away from the race start). Ate some apple cake, Clif bar, and an ice coffee to start the fueling for the day. Also took my Xango juice (to control inflammation), Eleviv (for mental focus), and Energ-Ease (for endurance) to get me going.
Throughout the race, I planned to use the same supplements that I typically use every day in training:
Xango Juice (inflammatory balance) = www.xango.com
Eleviv (stress hormone balance and mental focus) = www.eleviv.com
Energ-Ease (endurance) = www.wickedfastsportsnutrition.com
Wicked Lean (fat burning) = www.wickedfastsportsnutrition.com (coming in August)
Recover-Ease (post-exercise recovery) = www.wickedfastsportsnutrition.com
The tattoo below (of my left calf) is the Chinese symbol for “Qi” (pronounced “chee”), which means “life force” and is roughly what we refer to as Vigor in modern psychology research (www.VigorBook.com)
Vigor is defined as a “3-tiered sustained mood state, characterized by physical energy, mental acuity, and emotional well-being” (you might recognize the opposite of Vigor, which is called “Burnout”) - and I was hoping that my Vigor would stay high and allow me to see the “Welcome 100 Milers” sign within 24-30 hours later...
Vermont 100 is known as one of the “easier” 100 mile races because of the non-technical roads (see below) - but they are very hard and can really beat up your legs as the miles go by. I’d much rather run on technical dirt and rock trails - but this is what makes Vermont harder than it gets credit for...
Vermont 100 is also unique for the horses that run with us - YES, they go the entire 100 miles!
And don’t forget the amazing scenery in Vermont - hills, covered bridges, farms/barns - anything to keep you mind off your legs!
At mile 21, I made a switch to some new shoes (and had some Xango juice to settle my stomach - yum).
The shoes look like a cross between Moon Boots from the 1970s and clown shoes - but these Hoka trail shoes are the MOST comfortable shoes that I have ever worn. I got TONS of questions about them from other runners, and I was always able to give them a great recommendation. Too bad I only got to wear them until mile 70 this year!
This sign is just mean! (73.8 to go?!?!) Why not just put a sign with a huge middle finger?
The guys I was running with named this hill “Inferno Hill” because it was SO hot and humid - we were just dripping sweat and cooking in our own juices at this point - we knew it was going to be a long hard day...
Right after a very hot section of pavement - you cross another covered bridge and run along a beautiful river...
More beautiful scenery at about mile 45 - I was already hurting pretty bad here. My quads were KILLING me - which is very rare for me - but was clearly caused by my change in running form to favor my left hip flexor. By running differently to “save” the hip flexor, I was using my quads in a different manner - so they started to hurt a lot earlier in the race than I expected.By the time I reached this 50.3 mile to go sign, I was already feeling fatigue in my hamstrings and calves - and the very first stirrings of cramps...
When I saw Julie (my wife and “crew”) at the Camp Ten Bear Aid Station (mile 47) - I already knew that a sub-24hour finish was not going to be possible. Prior to the medical check at mile 47, I ate a huge bowl of pasta salad and drank a Gatorade and a Coke - so when I hopped on the scale and was told that I was STILL down 5 pounds due to dehydration, I knew I might be in trouble. I figured I could take it easy for the rest of the day and then have a fun run into the cooler night hours and finish easily before the 30-hour cutoff.
I was never able to “get ahead” of my dehydration - and I suffered for the rest of the day with cramps (legs and stomach), vomiting, fatigue, and low motivation - not exactly the “vigorous” day I had planned.
By the time I made it to Tracer Brook (57), I needed to take a long break - standing in the cold stream helped my legs feel better, so the next section to Margarittaville (62 miles) felt less-terrible (but not good because I still could not keep down any real food or liquid). When I reached Margarittaville, Julie was waiting for me with a chair and some encouragement. I was ready to call it a night at that point, but I got talking to some old timer there who basically told me, “look, this is a 100-miler, you’re supposed to feel terrible” - so I sucked it up and headed off into the night.
After about 2 miles, I knew that when I reached mile 70 (Camp Ten Bear again), I should probably call it quits. I felt terrible, stomach and legs were shot, and energy was very low. It was a little cooler at this point, but I was already “too far gone” to be able to rehydrate and refuel to get on a pace to get me to the finish line 30 miles away. At the medical check, I was down 10 pounds from my start weight - just shy of the 7% dehydration that triggers an automatic withdrawal from the race.
I was disappointed to DNF again this year - but I feel good about finding that new “edge” to my mental and physical endurance. We met a TON of great new friends - special thanks to Race Director Julia for putting on a great race and the the folks from Team G.A.C. for support out on the course. I also feel very fortunate to have had so many people texting and twittering and facebooking me their good vibes throughout the race - that all means a great deal to have that support!
I’ll be back next year (2011) for another try - here’s to hoping that the third time will be the charm!
Thanks for reading,
Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D.
Nutritional Biochemist and Author
NEW BOOK - “Vigor - 7 Days to Unlimited Energy, Focus, and Well-Being” (http://www.VigorBook.com)
Follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/DocTalbott
Follow me on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/shawntalbott
Follow me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/people/Shawn-Talbott/1345073317
-Killer at Large - an award-winning documentary exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic (http://www.KilleratLarge.com)
-The Health Professionals Guide to Dietary Supplements (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkens) - http://www.supplementwatch.com/
-Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection - The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House) - http://www.cortisolcontrol.com/
-Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living (Chronicle Publishers - Currant Books)
-The Cortisol Connection - Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House) - http://www.cortisolconnection.com/
-The Cortisol Connection Diet - The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House) - http://www.cortisolconnectiondiet.com/
-A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements - an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press) - http://www.supplementwatch.com/