I left little Wisconsin on Wednesday, 2 days before the race. I stayed over at my grandparents house and on Thursday left for the hour and half drive to the pre-day cook out. After a week of anxiety and waiting, i was finally excited to be there at the start.
A little bit about Zumbro 100/50..It's a six loop course (16.7x6=100.2) and 3 loops for the 50 mile. Each loop consist of single and double trek trails. It is in Minnesota bluff country; so consisting of 28000+ ft of elevation change. 14000+ ft of elevation change for the 50. Making for a wild and rugged ultra. Each loop has 5 aidstation in the following order: start/finish, aidstation 1/4, aidstation 2/3, aidstation 2/3, aidstation 1/4 then back to the start/finish for another loop.
I got woken up around 6:30am from John the RD talking in his speaker saying "Everybody wake up Its Friday the 13th time to run!" Ahh what I good wake up call. After some time of walking around/going to the bathroom and just hanging around it was near 8; start time. 10 minutes or so before the start we all gathered around the start for a little pre race pep talk from John. Johns, along with everyone else's humor made for a relaxing and enjoyable start.
Leaving the start/finish I saw a piece of paper stapled on the signpost leaving the campground "Create you Goals" Knowing i was going to now see that paper 4 more times I started to wonder...Will I be reading this leaving for Lap 6 pumped to try and break 24? 26? 30??? Things started to get pretty emotional thinking about the long journey to come. I put in my headphones turned on some country and kept moving along. I was happy to being climbing and seeing all the foot prints that previously went through. This section was nice containing one long climb to the top of the bluff that over-hanged miles of rivers and the campground. From there it was mostly all downhill/flat making for runnable trail to aidstation 1. Halfway through this section I met up with a guy who was aww-inspiring. I wish I captured his name but missed it while listening to his amazing story. A year before this he was 110lbs heavier and with failing (Kidney, liver? Cant remember) the doctor told him he was going to die just like his father did, from the same thing. At that point he knew he had to change not really for himself but for his family. That ment a lot to me; the way he was telling his story I could tell he missed his father and couldn't imagine his son and daughter missing him at such a younger age. The next thing you know I was at aidstation 1 and grabbing my larabar, endurlyte fizz, along with some Heed. Waiting up for my friend I met, we headed off for trail ahead. We laughed it up making most of the section just fly by but as we started the tough climb up to ant hill(around 3.5 of this section) we agreed we both gotta run our own races. He was running a little faster then me but climbing a lot slower, we departed ways and never saw another's sight ever since. Not too long after making my way down the anthill I reached aidstation 2/3. The same amazing volunteer grabed my dropbag and gave me exactly what i needed; now knowing what i usually grab. With a quick pit stop i was headed off following a group of 2-3 runners. Throughout the section we made little comments and some jokes but never really got a conversation going. I didn't even catch any of there names but was still fun running with a pack of people. I started to fall in love with this small loop since the only non-runnable section was truly the beginning and the Sahara desert in the end, otherwise it was a pretty laidback section. I once again arrived at aidstation 2/3 and again the same just amazing volunteer helped get me exactly what i needed. I thanked all the volunteers and headed for the long climb out of the aidstation along with some others. Once reaching the top of the bluff i realized the amazing view of the miles of forest and rivers. Knowing my mistake from last loop i forced myself to slowdown but i still seemed to leave everyone like once before. On my own I ran along the ridge top near farm fields. This part of the section always seemed to be cold with no trees to block the wind coming in. I was feeling good making my way down the ridge to Zumbro rd. Reaching the gravel road i learned its best just to keep your head down and trot along. I got myself to run 5, walk 5 which seemed to help slow things down a bit. Reaching aidstation 1/4 again i just filled my heed and began on my way back to the start/finish. I again cruised this section but a little more slower at just over a half an hour. While reaching the Campground the negative thoughts started to come thinking Can I really do that 2 more times? Am I really gonna run through here 4 more times??? But once reaching the start/finish, all the cheers turned things around for me and distracted me pretty good. Lap 2-3:50 TOTAL: 7:35
I truly don't remember much of this lap. I think for most of it, all I was doing was putting my head down, and zoning everything out. I remember thinking through out this lap "Just get this lap done and then only 4 and 5... Then CELEBRATE!' I arrived at Aidstation 1 and started to drought the next section. Every lap my goal was just to get A1-2 done. I thought that once i got this section done, I was basically done with the lap; even though only 7 miles done. This section contained 3 big long climbs followed by some flat sections. I noticed on this lap that it was so hard to get in a rhythm since just when you start to get in a good rhythm there was the next big climb. After what seemed to be forever; I arrived at anthill and just started cruising down until aidstation 2. Once reaching the aidstation, that one amazing volunteer grabbed exactly what i need. I felt like i had a crew at 2/3! Just that little part of the race made a HUGE difference. It got me something to look forward to while running down anthill and thinking "hmm I wonder if hes going to grab everything i need again hah" After thanking him for what seemed to be the 10th time i was headed off to conquer the 2.7 miles i had in front of me. I actually was looking forward to this section since it got the climbing/down hill done right away and just left the small downhills left; making for a fast 2nd half of this section. I arrived once again at 2/3 and my crew( HAH kidding but he sure did seem like my crew!) grabed everything i needed and sent me off to aidstation 1/4. This section is a huge blank for me as I don't remember a single thing! Once I arrived at aidstation 4 I was hoping to see my uncle; Mark and cousin; Jayden. Well upon arrival i was disappointed..they weren't here and my mom having no cell reception didn't know either...Hoping to see them at the start/finish waiting for me, i took off to finish up the loop. This last bit always seemed to fly being mostly all downhill or flat. I arrived disappointed.. Lap 3-4:10 TOTAL: 11:45
They were no where to be seen. My mom asked me if she should wait for them, but i knew i needed her so I just said no..By this point I was a little angry..Since they've never seen me run. I finally just ignored it and switched my shoes from my new "New Balance Minimus zeros" to my old "New Balance Minimus zeros" just to get a different feel. With a nice clean feeling of new socks and shoes I was headed off into the dusk to quickly get the next 3 miles done. Arriving at aidstation 1, i grabed my headlight and swapped out the batteries so I can make sure i get at least some light. With some light and some FRS I was off and running. With darkness caving in and the FRS kickin in; I started to really wake up. While walking up the first big climb i took out my ipod. Yes...4 podcast of The Comedy Button. For over a month ahead of the race i stopped listening to my many favorite podcast so I can crank out the laughs during the 100. Surprisingly I didn't listen to it much up to this point of the race. I started my regular plan of: Podcast 30 minutes/ music 30 minutes, and just switched back and forth. So, here I was running for over 12 hours and now running and laughing through the forest in the middle of the night.. I just had to laugh at myself in between laughing at jokes from the podcast. After an hour of not truly thinking, and just listening and laughing..I was finally at anthill, thank gosh! Reaching aidstation 2/3 the same amazing, young looking, volunteer grabed everything i needed along with some FRS. While returning my drop bag he asked me "Do you have a pacer"and then "want me to pace you?" I couldn't believe those words were coming out of his mouth...It seemed like a dream come true! Just like that I took off to do the quick 2.7 mile section. My personality just completed changed i felt CRAZY excited to be running and to meet him back at aidstation 3. I cruised the next section at around 45 minutes probably one of the fastest loops i did in a while...When I finally reached aidstation 2/3 he had all my food/heed already so we just headed off. Within a couple minutes of me blabbing my mouth off he replied Wow! Your really talkative for 60 miles into the race! At that point I realized I probably was talking just a little to much..OKAY! a lot too much haha. I guess being isolated for a couple hours..or several, I was just thrilled to have some communication. I finally got around to asking about him. Well the savior himself is Andrew Goldstein. After I learned that he majored in math at st. Thomas and is going back to major in (I think some science? Cant remember) It just started to lightning. I was pumped! This was like awsome! We both were running through the forest on trails during the nighttime, laughing it up, AND it was lightning! Suddenly when it became too good to be true it starts down pouring. Rain doesn't bother me and getting a little would be nice for the sandy sections. Except... I was only wearing a tshirt and short shorts. Plus rain and 40 miles of friction don't work too good. I was happy to finally reach the mile of Zumbro road and told Andrew about my run 5, walk 5 plan. While happily trotting along in the rain, I found out Andrew is just getting into ultras from marathons, How cool! Hes also done a full ironman..WOW always thought about trying one but my butt cant handle the bike ride and most are age limited. After, picking his brain for a little bit; I could tell he has the ultra mind of caring/relaxed/chill attitude. Next thing I know were at aidstation 1/4. I came into the aidstation and remember screaming I got a pacer! to my mom/dad... a little to loud. Mostly, because my mom looked confused and scared hah! After explaining a little more carefully she was thrilled that i have someone to run with. After Andrew basically grabbed everything I needed, I grabed and jacket and we headed off. We cruised the next section to the finish, while talking more about our lives and running. While reaching the start/finish i got a HUGE surprise...! Lap 4-4:28 Total: 16:13
When I arrived at the start/finish i was surprised by my uncle and cousin! What a great moment to show up; being that lap 5 is easily going to be the toughest and longest lap for me. After talking to them both, I changed my shoes from my old new balance zeros to my original new balance Minimus. While changing shoes, my amazing pacer Andrew, grabed everything I needed; and we headed off. When we started climbing, I knew this was going to be a lonnggg lap....The 50 milers leaving 15 minutes before we arrived at the start/finish along with the rain; caused all the single trek parts to become a mud bowl! By this time in the race my pacer was running in front of me, which saved me many times. After 70 or so miles i couldn't keep my feet under me with all this mud. Finally after several falls we were up the bluff and away from the single trek trails. With the trails being in a lot better shape we cruised it in to aidstation 1. Arriving at A1, Andrew grabed everything i needed while I grabed two big band aids and placed them between my left and my right cheeks. No...not anywhere near my face but more like the other end. Hah! By this time in the race I went to the bathroom so much I started to chafe. I would have put some Vaseline or chafing cream on, but i knew like before that within 20 minutes it would of just of sweated away and started to hurt even more. After "fixing myself" we were headed off to aidstation 2. Im sure i told Andrew at least 50 times during this section that ughh i don't wanna have to do this section AGAIN after this.... Thinking back to it; I probably made things pretty miserable for Andrew, being so negative and all. I wish Andrew knew me good enough to just yell at me and tell me to stop being such a baby or something. After over a hour and a half of whining, along with 3 climbs later; we were at the anthill. Oh gosh...I forgot the anthill. This was going to be some fun. As we made our way down I couldn't help but falling. Right off the bat I remember falling and landing square on my butt! After laughing and saying this is gonna leave a butt stain...And Ohh dont worry Im just stretching Andrew being a wonderful guy helped my poor self up. As we kept making our way down, instead of falling back Andrew just told me to fall forward. Since him only have 13 or so miles in, could hopefully hold me up. God bless him for not punching me in the face! By now I was falling into him, and not just a little bump. I mean like a tackle! I couldn't help but keep my feet under me and fall towards him, but let me tell you; he did save me. A lot. Finally after a miserable 2 hours, we reached aidstation 2 and headed off to finish the small 2.7 loop...Oh did i say small?? Well this WHOLE section i just walked, and walked slow...real slow. While Andrew and me made our way through the slick trails he seemed to try to cheer me up. To be honest it worked pretty good. He kept telling me Man you were in a real dark place back there; your looking so much better now! I realized besides for the whining I haven't really talked to him in well over 3 hours. Even though just walking, I felt much better. So we decided to help save me in the race "later" we were just gonna walk this whole section. By the time we reached the Sahara desert, Andrew cheered me up pretty good so we started to trot a lil bit. Finally, after a whole hour; we arrived at aidstation 2/3. I grabed me some FRS, while Andrew grabbed me a larabar and some water. Since being at the start/finish, I stopped using my endurlyte fizz. No matter how much I told myself "I needed them" I couldn't get over the flavor and was craving just plain h2o. So, I started to try the endurlyte's in pill form. I've tried it before, but me being so anti druggish...hated the feeling of "poping pills" but just ignored the feeling. We headed off for the climb up the bluff then were planning to run most of the way to aidstation 4. Well that changed real fast...We made our way up the climb but as we started running I couldn't help noticing every little climb! I started to freak out a bit saying, " I don't remember this being this hilly before!" Andrew agreeing with me, we started to walk a lot more..again. Even though I kept seeing the reflectors of the markers(which was easily the best marking's i have EVER seen during a nighttime section of a race), I kept feeling that this was not the course. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. looked completely different! I don't know if it was me being a wimp or what, but i couldn't wrap my mind around why this wasn't "flat" After reaching Zumbro road we once again did the run 5 walk 5. Ah! Even the road looked to be slight uphill the entire way! I thought I was going crazy or something. Thank gosh Andrew thought so too, or else I might have freaked out...unless we were both going insane!After about 5 minutes of running and 2 or 3 minutes of walking, I had to go again. Yes like go in #2.. So I ripped of the band aids. Along with the ripping off pain, came the chafing pain. Thank gosh we were only 5 minutes away from the aidstation. After 5 minutes or so of running, we reached the aidstation. While Andrew grabbed everything I need, I was asking around for some big band aids. Crap.. No one had any. Well desperate times, come to desperate measures.. So, I grabed my medical tape and taped every where I could. Being a little uncomfortable I headed off alone...Andrew said 21 miles was enough of him, or more like 21 miles of whining. Being alone I put in my ipod and the song "ours" By Taylor Swift came on...Yes I listen to Taylor Swift. I realized that i really shouldn't be whining..I mean come on. Im in Minnesota, running on some of the most amazing trails. I have been running all day and all night..And here I was whining even though I never really get to do this. I started thinking every weekend I wish I could get out and run on the trails..but hardly ever do. So I started stop caring about the time. By the way I was moving and slowing down I would be lucky to get 28 or 29 hours..I then said i really don't care. Either way I was going to PR and even that doesn't matter. I should just be thankful I have the chance to be doing this..There for the first time I just broke down. I've done it many, many times during training but when it comes to during a race it never happens. I think mostly because we get caught up in the times; at least for me. Finally after well over 2 laps..I just wanted to run and have fun..They rhyme for a reason don't they? Right then the world seemed perfect...I didn't have a care in the world and all that matters was I got a whole nother 6 hours out on the trails Or at least I thought. After a very emotional 2.7 miles I arrived at the start/finish. -Lap 5-5:50 TOTAL: 22:03
After changing my shoes to the new balance 101's I was headed off for one last lap of 16.7 miles. The next time I would see the sign "create your goals" I will have finished the Zumbro 100. I was super excited to get to aidstation 1, since Andrew set me up with another pacer for the 4.3 mile section that i absolutely despised by this lap. Finally after 1 hour later i arrived at aidstation 1/4. I changed my shorts, took off my shirt and started looking for my pacer. I felt kinda bad since I started being a crabby ass to my mom when she kept bugging me about putting a jacket on. I was glad to have my uncle there; who surprisingly knew that I was just crabby because what I was going through. Very shortly after asking around I found my pacer and we headed out. I was heading out in just short shorts and shoes, and my pacer next time me in a fleece jacket and sweat pants. Within minutes of heading out Kevin Martin my pacer was just walking at a very fast brisk pace. Him replying to me that this pace was around 4/4.5 miles a hour, I was psyched! I told him just to keep the pace and to not slow down for me. Finding out he was a very experienced ultra runner and biker himself, I decided to listen to his advice to just keep up by walking a very fast pace. Well, within several minutes I found out it was very hard to keep up his walking pace so started to do a run/walk to keep up. After several climbs we were already at anthill! Wow! I couldn't believe it im going to run the hardest section in just over an hour. My last section only being 3 miles and a lot easier wasn't even this fast. I was thrilled and thinking hell, I could get this loop under 4 hours if we kept this up. Arriving at aidstation 2/3 he asked me if I would like to have him for more of the loop. This made my day! It was amazing how much I could dig deep because "I knew" I had to stick with him. After grabbing some potato chips along with my normal food we headed off. While climbing at a very fast pace I found out Kevin actually knows Scott Meyers, The guy who really introduced me into ultras. Along with telling him more recent info about Scott, he was telling me his stories of training out here for arrowhead. I never realized it, but the Zumbro bottoms management area was really out in the middle of nowhere. Like MILES away from anywhere, and with no cell reception it was a dead zone. Since, if you would get injured or brake a ankle or something, you could be out here for days. I felt his goosebumps as for some of my dusk to dawn training runs in the kettle, during winter; can get pretty scary too. Though the kettle not being miles from civilization still making for a "survival" feeling. While talking with each other, we slowly started picking it up. By now Kevin and I were mostly running everything besides the steep climbs. We arrived back the aidstation 2/3 in what seemed to be minutes. I was worried that I couldn't keep up the pace until the finish but the next 7 miles being mostly downhill or flat I was pretty confident I wouldn't burn out. After one last chug of FRS, we were heading off to take it home! We climbed up the bluff and stopped for a second. In aww we took one last look at the surrounding forest and rivers that surrounded the area. "Finally...The last official climb, I officially have done it" was what I was telling myself. With the rest of the miles being all steep downhills, flat, or very small uphills I knew it was already done. Basically..well not really but you get the point. We started cruising down the bluff and what seemed to take a long time we finally reached Zumbro road. I was pumped! I asked Kevin if he was going to run all the way to the finish with me and he said he's gonna try. I still couldn't believe he was wearing a fleece jacket and pants. I was sweating just wearing short shorts! As we reached aidstation 1/4 i was thrilled to see my mom. I was worrying that maybe she would still be in the car along with my dad, uncle and cousin sleeping, since I wasn't planning on being back so fast! I was also thrilled to see Angela Barbera and Bob Murphy. They just slapped a smile right on my face(: I realized my time for this loop was crazy fast, and would finish in 26 hours something. I couldn't believe my eyes! Last loop I was planning on getting 28, or 29 hours. I knew I wouldn't break 26 hours, so just hanged out at the aid station with my family, the volunteers and Kevin. After a handful of potato chips and endurlyte's we were headed off to wrap this baby up. This last section was mostly trying to wrap my mind around what I had just accomplished. Just like Ozark; where I thought I was going to miss the last aidstation cutoff but things magically turned around. This was no different. I couldn't believe the time I was going to get. 3 hours ago I thought I was gonna get 29 hours, and now look where I am. It was just amazing. I couldn't help but stop to thank Kevin many, many times for what he had done, and how much times he really did save me. Finally we reached the flat, wide dirt trail, and at this point knew I was about a half mile away. I looked at my watch and thought eh under 26:10 is possible and started just to cruise it in. I felt bad when I pulled away from Kevin but knew I would see him at the finish. I saw my mom (trail mom-beth) ahead and whooped and hollered and said congrats to her. She was thrilled to see me finishing and knew she taught me well hah! She did! I cruised it in to the finish. The first thing I made sure to do was to hug my mom, dad, uncle and cousin for coming out to watch me.
Lap 6 4:05 TOTAL: 26:08:21 5th Place!
After finishing the atmosphere was just amazing. Seeing everyone smiling and happy to be finished was just a great feeling. I talked to Kevin again and couldn't believe this was his first time running in weeks since his last running injury; shortly after arrowhead. It was so nice seeing people finishing and getting reintroduced to everyone. The ultra community really feels like a true family. I hope it always stays that way
THANK YOU EVERYONE!
I would like to thank everyone who supported me;and or even helped me during the race. BIG thanks to all the volunteers, over 70! Unbelievable! Also, CONGRATS to everyone who even made it out to the start line its a big accomplish. And bigger congrats to everyone that pushed through all the ups and downs to finish. Results and other info at results and other info.