The past two weeks have kind of flown by. They’ve both been part of my “extended taper”, so I’ve only hit 40ish miles each week. I had intended to get closer to 50miles this past week, but with my uncle’s wake and funeral and my cousin’s wedding all happening the same week, I had a hard time fitting in my miles and I was emotionally and physically drained by the weekend. Running almost always makes me feel better, and on Saturday I really wanted to get my 10 miler in, but I was barely able to stay awake and felt the beginnings of a sore throat so I scrapped the run. Luckily, I was feeling mostly rested by Sunday and had a chance to get 15miles in to round out the week.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve done a lot of preparing for VT100. I’ve gotten some extra hill repeats in with the low mileage. I’ve tested out new shoes, my potential race-day outfits, and some new fuel sources. Later this week, I’ll be creating a race plan with approximate split times at crewed aid stations for my stretch goal time (a time that shall not be named… yet) and a sub-24hr pace. The ultimate goal, of course, is to finish in under 30hrs, but I do think with my training and previous performances at the 50 mile distance it’s not unreasonable to aim for something a bit more aggressive. The last time I wanted something this badly was my PhD and I put 5 years of hard work and sacrifice into that, so I’m going to distill that drive and motivation down to 24hrs of effort. I’m not afraid to play the long game and be patient, but I’m still going to do my best to race this thing if I have it in me.
In terms of preparation, here’s the stuff I’ve figured out so far (with a little bit of gear review thrown in).
Light: I’m loving Foxelli headlamps! They are $12 on Amazon and are incredibly lightweight and bright. The one I have runs on 3 AAA batteries (not rechargeable). They have other models that are bigger and have rechargeable batteries – I’m just more focused on something lightweight for this distance. I got one for each of my crew members so we know we will all have plenty of light and extras floating in the car if we need them.
Packs: I’m going to be using two different packs for the day. I usually use the Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Set for most of my running. I’ll using it through for the later miles and definitely by the time I pick up my pacer. It’s a simple, lightweight pack that carries two flasks. It also has plenty of snack pockets – an important feature for me! I used it through all of Wapack and Back and loved it. I also love that Salomon actually caters to runners of different sizes. I was able to get a XXS and it fits perfectly over a singlet as well as over my full winter running gear.
If the weather is typical for July, I’m going to want to run without a shirt during the heat of the day. This is really hard to do when you’re wearing a pack because of chaffing! One thing the Salomon pack doesn’t have going for it is that the lining of the inside of the vest is a hard mesh – this is great for breathability, but if you wear it on your bare skin it’ll rip you to shreds. This weekend I took my Nathan VaporHowe out for a 15 mile test drive while just wearing a sports bra on a hot day. It was perfect! There was no chaffing issues, and the material was soft and breathable. The pack weighs quite a bit more than the Salomon, but it is also a 12L so it isn’t intended to be minimal. I want to use this pack through the heat of the day when I may take off my shirt. It also can hold more stuff which I may want early on in the race when I only get to see my crew a few times. It also has the option of putting a bladder into the pack. I don’t think I’ll need that, but if it’s a really hot day, I’ll fill the bladder with ice and throw it back there to cool me down. I can’t say enough good things about this pack. It is clearly designed by a woman for women and comes in a variety of sizes. I got the XXS and it fits really well. I think I could have gone up to the XS if I wanted to wear it over a lot of gear.
Shorts: I just picked up a pair of Outdoor Research Essentia Shorts and I am in love. They are lightweight, UPF 50+, and they dry quickly. And… they have snack pockets! I ran my 15miler in these and they are definitely my shorts for VT100. The XS are a little big in the waist (that’s always an issue for me), but fit well across the hips and thighs. They are really easy to move in and I felt like I was wearing next to nothing, in a good way!
Socks: I was chosen as a Farm to Feet ambassador for the VT100! I’m a huge fan of Merino wool socks and I’m looking forward to trying out their line these next couple weeks to see what is going to serve me best for the 100. I’m eyeing the Boulder Midweight (it has insect repellant built right in!!) and the Blue Ridge Compression socks. I’ll be sure to update soon on what I decide to wear for the race!
Shoes: I plan to have a couple pairs of shoes with me for the race. I need to talk to others who know the course well, but I think I’ll be starting the race in the Altra Paradigm 2.0s if it’s relatively dry. They are a highly cushioned road shoe. I had sworn off Altras because they were too wide for my midfoot and heel – I always had to use lace lock lacing and had to pull the laces so tight it looked like I was lacing a football. The Paradigms seemed to have fixed this issue. They are considerably narrower and the heel cup feels much more stable. They are definitely a goofy-looking shoe (as are most Altras, in my opinion), but the cushioning cannot be beat.
I have a new-ish pair of Topo Athletic MT-2s I ran Pineland in and I really like those for muddy trails. I think I’ll be finishing the race in those since the last 20 miles or so have some of the most trail running. I’ve also considered getting another pair of Terraventures since I had a pair I wore at Wapack and have since run to the ground. It’s probably worth getting them and having them in the arsenal!
Fuel: The bulk of what I’m going to be eating for the 100 is going to be liquid (or semi-liquid). At Wapack and Back, about 80% of what I ate was in some sort of squeezable or drinkable form, so I’m going to do a similar thing for VT.
I just ordered two dozen Munk Pack squeezable oatmeals. I love every flavor and I looked forward to them so much during my 50miler earlier this year. I also ordered another case of Shine Organics Calm banana, pumpkin, coconut, chia squeeze pouches. I used these at Wapack as well. I got some Clif Banana, Beet and Ginger packs. I haven’t tried them before, but I love all the ingredients in it and ginger is so good for my stomach that I’m going to try them on a couple runs leading up to the big day. I’m also going to try out Spring Energy packs. I like the idea that they are real food and some have caffeine in them. I’d like to steer clear of GUs if possible. I definitely use them pretty regularly, but they can sneak up on me and make me sick to my stomach. I want to avoid that as much as possible.
Extras: I will have salt tabs (one package every 2hrs) and Gin-Gin ginger candies with me at all times. You never know when you need to hand one out or take one! Ginger candies saved my VT50 back in September. I was in ROUGH shape from miles 32 to 42 and once I had a couple ginger candies and some ginger ale I was back in the game.
Mileage: 40.8 running, 5.2 walking
Time on feet: 8h32min
Mileage: 40.9 running, 7.6 walking
Time on feet: 8hr50min
100 bodyweight squats per day this week