Tag Archive | "beth mccurdy"

Pam Smith at Desert Solstice 2013

Zach Bitter Breaks U.S. 100 Mile Open Track Record

Zach Bitter went down to Arizona to battle it out with the best of the best at the Desert Solstice 24 Hour in Phoenix and he’ll be going home with a new U.S. 100 Mile Open Track record after blazing 100 miles in 11:47:21.

So that must be kinda fast right? Oh, yeah, well just a 7:04 per mile pace. Run It Fast!

The previous record was recently set by Jon Olsen in 11:59.

He followed it up with the 12 Hour WORLD Record with 101.66 miles.

American Pam Smith, not to be outdone by Bitter, set the female U.S. and World 100 Mile Track Record in 14:11:26.

The Desert Solstice 24 Hour is hosted and put on by Aravaipa Running.

Overall winner of the 24 hour event was Olivier Leblond with 152.36 miles. He was followed in second place by Ed ‘the Jester’ Ettinghausen with 144.41 miles and third overall (first female) went to Connie Gardner with 110.11 miles in just 19:41:23.

2013 Desert Solstice 24 Hour Results:

  1. Olivier Leblond – 152.36 miles (23:57:19)
  2. Ed Ettinghausen – 144.41 miles (23:58:26)
  3. Connie Gardner – 110.11 miles (19:41:23) – 1st female
  4. Roy Pirrung – 106.88 miles (23:59:39)
  5. Hung K Ng – 103.64 miles (18:50:00)
  6. Zach Bitter – 101.66 miles (11:59:15)
  7. Pam Smith – 101.41 miles (14:44:28) – 2nd female
  8. Jay Smithberger – 100.91 miles (17:36:25)
  9. Victor Vella – 100.66 miles (17:47:14)
  10. Padraig Mullins – 100.17 miles (17:12:02)
  11. Beth McCurdy – 84.76 miles (16:57:49) – 3rd female
  12. Debra Horn – 82.02 miles (14:18:05)
  13. John Maas – 78.79 miles (12:50:09)
  14. Anthony Forsyth – 77.8 miles (11:12:08)
  15. Anthony Culpepper – 76.06 miles (12:46:24)
  16. David Ploskonka – 71.58 miles (12:46:02)
  17. Kristina Pham – 65.37 miles (10:24:50)
  18. Eric Clifton – 62.39 miles (10:09:47)
  19. John Ticer – 62.14 miles (10:39:55)
  20. Carilyn Johnson – 52.44 miles (8:42:57)
  21. Jennifer Aradi – 51.7 miles (9:18:25)
  22. Tracy Hoeg – 31.57 miles (5:14:03)


Congrats to all of these elite ultramarathoners!

[image: Aravaipa Running]

Posted in Records, Results, Running, Ultra MarathonComments (1)

Chris Estes Post Race 2012 Strolling Jim 40 Miler

Chris Estes Jumps Over Guardrail to Help Save Fellow Runner During Last Mile of Strolling Jim 40 Miler

The Strolling Jim 40 Mile run was memorable, to say the least. The thunderstorms early on, which has happened in the past, preceded extreme heat, sun, and pretty high humidity. We all heard that this heat and humidity would happen and prepared for it somewhat, but when you wake up in the morning race day and it’s foggy and getting ready to rain, it’s hard to imagine how hot it will really get in the later hours of the race.

LIke most others, even on the flatter sections of the latter part of the race, it was difficult to run and taking walk breaks or shuffling was imperative. No matter how much I wanted to push myself into a 8:30 pace, 10-11 minute pace was all that I could muster up. At the time, I thought that I was the only one who felt this drained by the heat-especially when I saw Chris Estes.

Even though Chris was taking walk breaks, he was still feeling strong and said the heat wasn’t bothering him that much. Over by the “manure” section, where huge stretch of land was being plowed with manure, I was having a difficult time running and smelling that stench. Chris made a point to ask me a few times if I was okay. I replied, “No but yes I’m fine”. If you are an ultra runner, you know what that means.

The final stretch of the 41.2 mile race is on a highway with fairly large shoulders to run on. The road is marked “Only 2 miles left” and “Only 1 mile left”. Around the time that I saw that I only had one mile left to go, I saw something that could have been a hullucination. I saw Chris jump over the metal highway railing down a significantly steep grassy slope. I was still about 1/4 mile away so I wasn’t sure exactly what I saw.

Honestly, I was thinking that maybe Chris suddenly wasn’t feeling well and needed to use the bathroom. What else was I supposed to think?

Shortly after, I saw cars stopping and people moving around quickly. What was going on? The closer I got,  it suddenly occured to me that Chris was needing help.

I stopped and saw Chris about 10 feet down the slope and asked him if he was okay. I got a little closer just as he was telling me that a runner was down and unconscious and I saw another man on the other side of the unconscious runner and they both looked worried. I also saw a local family of three dealing with the situation by calling 911 and responding to the situation.

The only thing that I did to help was close the door of the pick-up truck, in fear that the door would be hit by an oncoming car. I knew that the situation was being dealt with but it was hard to leave. It was hard to see my friend down there dealing with it after running 40 miles in the heat and humidity. But, at that moment, I was honored to know him.

This was Chris’s first Strolling Jim 40 Miler. He is a Boston qualifying runner and loves ultras. He wanted that “sub7 red shirt” that so many of us want. Chris was a few minutes ahead of me before jumping over that railing to save another runner. The truth is that Chris just happened to see the runner’s hat and saw him down the slope off the highway. The runner had been sitting on the railing and fell backwards after passing out. If Chris hadn’t seen his hat, he never would have spotted the runner, or anyone else would have spotted him, for that matter. The runner could have died.

I finished the race in 6:33. Chris was at least a few minutes ahead of me so he would gotten his 6:30 shirt. Instead he finished in 7:10, as a result of saving that runner’s life. The race director, Mike Melton, did give Chris a sub7 red shirt. What Chris did on this day was far more important than receiving the “red shirt”. Even though he was exhausted and getting ready to finish a 41.2 mile race under brutal conditions, he reacted to an extremely difficult situation and to me, proved how special ultra runners are as a whole.

We are not just out there for ourselves: to beat others, to get something out of this in a selfish way. We not only love running and running far, but we also love the community of runners and will do anything for them, expecting nothing in return. On this day, Chris was the perfect example of that.

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Strolling Jim 40 Miler – 2012 Winners – Kathy Youngren – Blake Thompson – Dink Taylor

Blake Thompson Wins 34th Strolling Jim 40 Miler (Results)

Huntsville’s Blake Thompson won the 34th Strolling Jim 40 Miler on May 6, 2012 with a winning time of 5:17:29 for the 41.2 mile course.

Thompson’s time was the slowest winning time in race history according to Race Director Mike Melton.  This was due in large part to the high temperatures and humidity that took a toll on all of the runners throughout the grueling hills of Wartrace, Tennessee.

Second place went to Strolling Jim veteran Dink Taylor (5:29:01) who has run 24+ Jims.  Third place went to ‘Bruce’ Sung Ho Choi (5:33:21) of Jacksonville, Florida.

Top overall female went to Huntsville native Kathy Youngren with a time of 6:04:35.

Second place female was Beth McCurdy (6:33:01) with third place female going to Kim Nosenchuk-Brooks (6:46:57).

Top 34th Strolling Jim Finishers

  1. Blake Thompson – 5:17:29
  2. Dink Taylor – 5:29:01
  3. ‘Bruce’ Sung Ho Choi – 5:33:21
  4. David Jones – 5:36:22
  5. Tom Dolan – 5:48:59
  6. Andy Bruner – 5:56:33
  7. Kathy Youngren – 6:04:35 (F)
  8. Christopher Cadotte – 6:10:11
  9. Timothy Pitts – 6:11:19
  10. Dwayne Satterfield – 6:14:00
  11. Robert Youngren – 6:14:50
  12. Carl Laniak – 6:25:40
  13. Robby Callahan – 6:27:17
  14. Evan Dare – 6:31:34
  15. Beth McCurdy – 6:33:01 (F)
  16. Gary Dawkins – 6:35:39
  17. Hal McClure – 6:38:23
  18. Orlando Baez – 6:45:20
  19. Kim Nosenchuk-Brooks – 6:46:57 (F)
  20. George Menyhert – 6:46:58
  21. William Arnold – 6:51:34
  22. Dana MacCorquodale – 6:58:37

One of the scarier and heroic moments of the race happened during the last mile when Chris Estes, who was on a 6:30ish finishing pace, jumped over a guardrail to help save a fellow runner who had fallen over the guardrail (full story).

[photo via Dink: Kathy Youngren, Blake Thompson, Dink Taylor]

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Traci Falbo – Umstead 100 Female Winner – 2012

Mike Morton Crushes Umstead 100 Mile Course Record (Results)

Florida native Mike Morton coasted and glided to a new course record at the Umstead 100 Endurance Run on March 31, 2012 in Raleigh, North Carolina with a time of 13:11:40.

The Florida native crushed the previous course record set by Zach Gingerich in 2010 of 13:23:02.

Second place finisher Jim Sweeney (14:14:25) and third place finisher Mark Manz (14:16:25) were fast enough for the 5th and 6th fastest times in race history.

The female winner was Indiana native Traci Falbo who easily won with a time of 17:02:39.

Second place female was Allison Moore (18:45:02) with third place going to Beth McCurdy (19:11:28).

2012 Umstead 100 Mile Top 10 Results

  1. Mike Morton – 13:11:40
  2. Jim Sweeney – 14:14:25
  3. Mark Manz – 14:16:25
  4. Jonathan Allen – 15:19:53
  5. Troy Shellhammer – 15:27:50
  6. Chris Ramsey – 15:35:58
  7. Garth Peterson – 16:48:01
  8. Traci Falbo – 17:02:39
  9. Greg Armstrong – 17:48:03
  10. Darian Smith – 18:25:27

Complete 2012 Umstead Results

Congrats to all of the finishers and to all of those who ran far enough to earn 50-mile finishes.

[photos: Umstead/Ben Dillon]

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Beth McCurdy and Dena Cyr

BFF Time on the Trails

BFF Time on the Trails

2011 ended with a challenging 100 mile race, Ancient Oaks 100, and after some time off and the New Year, I decided to get back to the basics of why I love to run. As much as I enjoy the challenge of finishing a race with a time goal in mind, I needed to take a step back from that and focus on why I really run.

Fat Ass 50k is a GUTS race that is has been a tradition for me since 2009. All week, I was excited to travel with Dena Cyr to Sweetwater Creek Park in Lithia Springs, GA, see all of my GUTS friends, and enjoy some time on the trails.

Dena and I met the summer of 2004. We both joined the newly formed, Hamilton Mill Road Runners club (that I now am the director of).  People come and go in running clubs either due to pregnancy, moving, or changing athletic goals. Dena and I are the  original club members and have shared many miles together throughout the years. I have so many fond memories of our runs.

We became good friends outside of our runs and our kids essentially grew up together. In fact, our sons are only 4 months apart in age. Grant has been friends with Parker longer than any other friend. We have been to parties together, out of town together, and lunch together throughout the duration of our friendship. Our  friendship expanded far beyond just running into a deep caring for one another.

Because life can get busy and we may not speak to eachother for a few weeks at times, we always know that if I needed something or if she needed something, we would be there for one another in a heartbeat. I don’t have a ton of friends in my life that I know will truly be there for me.

Dena and I were so looking forward to BFF time; not only on the car ride there and back, but hopefully also on the trails. In a long race like this, we always have the understanding that it’s not required that we stay together, but on this day, it just worked out perfectly that we were wanting to stay together.

What can be better than over 7 hours in the woods with your BFF? I would get so caught up in our conversations that at times, I would forget to run again after walking a difficult section. We talked about everything: training, kids, husbands, other running friend’s successes, Christmas, and anything else that came up in the moment. On the 4th loop, I suddenly lost my balance while climbing one of the boulders (yah, I need to work on that, lol) and Dena caught me! We were a team out there all day-even when the rain came down hard on the 5th loop and we yelled, “HTFU!” and “Who else runs 34 miles on trails in the torrential rain!”.

On the way home from the race, we literally found a Taco Bell right off the interstate. This made the end of our day just perfect!

“Dena, why does this burrito taste so dang good?”
“I don’t know I should have gotten another one”.
“I know we should have gotten two!”

We laughed remembering other times that we devoured Taco Bell food after races and how we would never eat Taco Bell unless it was after a race.

Another Fat Ass in the books and more running fun in the future with Dena and my other running buddies. 2012 is going to be a good year and I’m so grateful to have friends like Dena in my life. A run like this makes you remember what’s important in life and I’m thankful for this reminder.

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Beth McCurdy and Ami Roach

Chasing Ami


Qualifying for the prestigious Boston Marathon is not easy to do. Some are able to pull it off on there first or second marathon. Others try to qualify for years and finally get there. And, then there are those who can never qualify no matter how much they want it.

I met Ami Roach at my neighborhood 5K nearly three years ago. She finished the 5k in 24 minutes which is a decent time, I thought. She shared with me that she would like to qualify for the Boston Marathon and needed a sub 3:40 finish time. She lit up when we talked about this. At this point, Ami had only ran a few marathons and her goal was to break 4 hours. I was excited for her that she was so driven to qualify for Boston but I knew deep down that she probably still had a long way to go. For most people, a lot is involved with knocking marathon times down.

Ami and I became running buddies after we met that day and began to run on a regular basis together. She shared with me that she used to weigh 254 pounds at 5’1”. Until she told me that she wore a size 20 shorts and showed me a few “before” photos, I really couldn’t imagine it. How could this super strong, powerful running machine once be morbidly obese? And on top of that, she had been overweight her entire life.

I tried to make sense of her weight problem by asking her a lot of questions. What was it like being that heavy? What was your daily life like? Did other people stare at you or ridicule you? And why couldn’t you lose weight?

Ami’s approach to weight loss was not by using fad diets, although she had tried many of them throughout the years. Over five years ago, she lost weight the good ‘ol fashioned way-eating less and moving more. She began to cook healthier and exercise by using “Biggest Loser” home video workouts and jogging on the treadmill in her home. She didn’t dare head outdoors out of being uncomfortable running in front of other people at such a heavy weight.

Ami explained to me that she had an epiphany after she ran her first 10K, which was in the 60 minute range, still at a heavier weight. She said that she realized at the finish that this was what she was meant to do…run.

I really wanted Ami to break 4 hours in the marathon for two reasons: 1) She wanted it desperately 2) What an incredible success story for someone to lose 130 pounds AND finish a sub4 hour marathon. We trained together and with others in our community and she continued to run marathons. Some of them close to the 4 hour mark and others were ten or more minutes off. I even paced in twice to finish in four hours but she still couldn’t do it no matter how much she wanted it.

At the Chicamauga Marathon last November, she missed the 4 hour mark by 6 seconds. Six measly seconds! She was determined to get a sub 4 hour marathon at that point and trained harder. She never gave up.

I used to wonder if Ami got sick and tired of always seeing me finish faster in every race that we do. Not that she is competitive with me but I can see how it could become frustrating at times. I also wondered if Ami would ever be able to get a sub 3:40 or even a sub 3:45 which is what her qualifying time changed to by turning 35 years old. I tried to be optimistic but I often thought, if she’s struggling so much breaking 4 hours, how is she going to knock off another 15 minutes? I continued to be supportive and of course never shared my doubts with her.

On a mission, Ami set out to run the Charlotte Marathon the following month and didn’t tell anyone except for myself and one other person. She was fed up with this, didn’t want any pressure, and headed to Charlotte to run a hilly marathon and break 4 hours. She not only broke 4 hours but she blew it away with a 3:53. Okay…now I’m thinking that she can qualify for Boston and she’s thinking that she can too.

A few marathons later used as training runs, she prepared herself to qualify at the Mercedes Marathon this past February. She had veteran runner, Scott Ludwig, pace her to finish in under 3:45:59. She finished in 3:44:12. This was Ami’s 21st marathon.  I have never seen her more happy in her life and she couldn’t wait to register for the Boston Marathon.

The Boston Marathon has become so popular in recent years that the standards to get in changed for 2012. Because Ami is in a competitive age group and she “barely” qualified, she missed getting in by 26 seconds. She was devasted but this fueled the fire even more. Hard training was not over. Now it was time for her to get ready to lower her time significantly for 2013 so that there is no chance that she will not make it in with her time.

Training became more intense and running buddy, Coach Joe Fejes pushed her even more. But, heading over to the park by herself to run a 0.67 mile significant incline at a 8:00 pace over and over was not unusual for Ami. She was driven. She wanted it. And she was not going to give up. The Savannah Marathon, which coincidently was one year later from the Chicamauga Marathon where she couldn’t break 4 hours, was the race that she had her sights on to crank it out. And, she was not using a pacer this time.

The morning of the Savannah Marathon, I was counting the minutes for the phone call. Did she break 3:40? Did she break 3:35? How did she do? When I got the call from her that she got 3:32:06, I was ecstatic and couldn’t control my enthusiasm. It’s a good thing that I was in a car parking lot with the windows closed or my loud screeches would have disturbed some people for sure.

Ami had an over 12 minute personal record AND she beat my marathon PR from 2009 by over a minute. She had done it and this was her 29th marathon.

A good friend of ours gave us free entry into the Zooma Women’s Half Marathon this past weekend so we both registered. Ami had run a 1:39 half just two days prior at the Thanksgiving Atlanta Half Marathon and I had a 100 mile race the following weekend, so we sort of decided that we would stick together and not push too terribly hard. When the gun went off, we suddenly found ourselves 2nd and 3rd overall and were running a 7 minute pace. Wow! I thought, I wouldn’t be able to keep this up. My goal for the rest of the race was to try and keep up with Ami who is clearly faster than myself at this point. I loved chasing Ami. She is finishing this race, on tired legs from a fast half marathon just 48 hours ago, before me. This was one of the best races of my life.

-Beth McCurdy

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Beth McCurdy’s Destroyed Feet from Ancient Oaks 100

Beth McCurdy’s NASTY Ancient Oaks 100 Feet (Photo Not For the Weak) – Results

Beth McCurdy is one of the best ultramarathon runners in the South.  She completed her third 100 mile ultramarathon on Sunday at the invite-only Ancient Oaks 100 Mile in Titusville, Florida.  Beth’s feet hung on just long enough for her to finish in an impressive 25:47:25.

Her feet however  were left along the course in several pieces as the photo above can attest.  The photo also proves just how tough Mrs. McCurdy is when a finish line is in sight.

2011 Ancient Oaks 100 Results

  1. Sung Ho Choi – 17:15:16
  2. Claude Hicks Jr. – 20:48:51
  3. Brad Lombardi – 21:15:26
  4. Andrew Mathews – 22:45:16
  5. Joe Ninke – 22:52:05
  6. Ashley Walsh – 23:25:59
  7. Cheryl Lager – 24:34:05
  8. Shaun Bryer – 25:09:11
  9. Lorna Michael – 25:16:52
  10. Beth McCurdy – 25:47:25
  11. David Metcalf – 26:15:27
  12. Juli Aistars – 27:15:14
  13. Jeff Collins – 27:35:38
  14. Jim Schroeder – 28:08:06
  15. Sherry Meador – 28:09:38
  16. Stone Mahaffey – 28:36:06
  17. Fred Murolo – 28:47:53
  18. Andrei Nana – 28:56:24
  19. Letha Cruthirds – 29:03:49
  20. Tammie Wonning – 30:17:27
  21. Smith Jean-Baptiste – 30:17:41
  22. Pedro Toledo – 30:47:00
  23. Ray Krowelicz – 30:56:52

Ancient Oaks 100 Results

Ancient Oaks 100 Website

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Beth McCurdy Iron Horse 100

What is Your Fueling Strategy?

Fueling before and during races seems to be a topic that runners like to discuss at length. It’s such an interesting topic with a variety of responses. What may work well for one person, may not work at all for another. And, as Sally Brooking puts it, “How you decide to fuel is also related to your particular training/running/racing goals”.

Figuring out fueling before and during shorter distances can be a little more simple for the most part, however it can have it’s own challenges depending on the runner.  What becomes more complicated is attempting to understand what your own body can handle while running for hours on end.

Ultra marathons require a little more strategy and planning. Sometimes we have to find out the hard way what works and what doesn’t work. The suggestion of always trying something new in a training run or a race that you don’t care about seems to work well. However, unfortunately this is not always an indicator of that particular fueling method will work in the actual event.

I’ve been running races since 1995, marathons since 2004, and ultra marathons since 2007. I’m still trying to figure out what works for me and am regularly experimenting with different products, foods, and fluids. I asked some veteran and top performance ultra runners what they fuel up with the night before and during the race.  I’ve learned a lot from friends and others over the past several years when it comes to fueling.

Joe Fejes

The day or night before I try to eat at Sweet Tomatoes restaurant which has a wide variety of my favorite salads, soups and pastas. I stay away from ice cream and anything that is odd or heavy. My favorite prerace breakfast is hardees ultimate omelete biscuit or a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from Waffle House. During a 50 or 100 miler I get most of my calories from liquids such Boost, V8 and Gatorade, although I also will eat fruit and cold salty potatoes if available.-Joe Fejes

Jacqueline Melchoir

The night before my race I try to eat pasta, salmon with a pinch of spinach. Race morning I try to eat a half a bagle, with peanut butter and honey and I love drinking a can of Verve for a extra boost. During my run I drink NUUN and gatorade and depending on the distance will have 2 gels. Jacqueline Melchior

Bill Keane

*Pre-Race – I normally fuel up on red meat protein and high carbohydrate foods. The family likes to go out on Friday’s to one of our many Chihuahua restaurants and that means lots of TexMex starches and cerveza grandes.

*During a Race – I will eat steadily cycling thru GU Gels, oatmeal cookies, crackers (Nabs), raisins, beef jerky, and augment that with whatever aid treats the race provides. As for race fluids, I have run on Conquest for 20 years. I am down to my last can for Hinson Lake. After the Conquest is gone, I may have to get a new hobby. I will also go through a lot of S-Caps and Excedrin.

*Post Race – I always do some serious rehydration which always means more beer. This regimen had gotten me thru 258 ultras todate. Bill Keane

Sarah Woerner

The day before i try to make sure i really focus on hydrating well and try to stay away from caffeine after my morning cup of coffee. For my dinner, i almost always eat a steak and salad with some bread. i usually have a granola bar a little before bed. On race morning, i have to have a cup of coffee and usually eat a couple granola bars and some fruit. I can also do pb toast or some cereal but not much milk.

During the race, i drink G2 or diluted gatorade/powerade if possible. Heed can really mess up my stomach. I don’t eat much at all in a 50k, maybe a gel or two and some orange slices at the aid station. For longer races, i eat more solid food like pb&j, chips, etc and try to space my gels out because i can only tolerate a few of them. At Pinhoti 100, i ate mostly solid food including an egg and cheese sandwich! -Sarah Woerner

Jon Obst

The day before a race, I like to have a steak or chicken along with veggies, pasta and red wine-something substantial and healthy. Race morning PB&J is my staple with strong coffee. During a race, I use a lot of gu’s throughout and solid fuels, like burgers ,pizza, potatoes, meat, soup, especially in a 100, 24hr.-Jon Obst

Janice Anderson

The days before the race I try to eat easily digestible foods, plenty of calories, and usually a beer or two. During the race always depended on how close i was running to my max. Shorter races-just fluids (like CLIF now-Conquest used to be the only thing) and gels. For longer things (100s) usually gels for awhile, but by mid-day- cheese sandwiches, potatoes, salty stuff, fruit, chicken broth, and anything that looks good at the aid stations works. Oatmeal is my go-to now before the race. it is very easy on the stomach but lots of good carbs/calories-Janice Anderson

Jennifer Vogel

I stay way from gluten and dairy at all costs the night before. I usually make a noodle bowl with rice noodles, a pretty salty broth, eggs and some veggies. For racing I use all Hammer products. Hammer gels in races 2-8 hrs. Perpetuam mixed in after the 8 hr mark. Fruit or anything fructose will shut my stomach down. One beer or alcoholic drink during peak training or racing season, especially in the heat, makes me violently hungover.-Jennifer Vogel

Sally Brooking

The night before a race I usually eat pasta or pizza and try to limit myself to two beers. I try to stay away from greens ie salads. Race day I eat oatmeal and a banana in the a.m. Shorter races I may eat Gu and anything that looks good on the aid station. Longer runs, I like cheese, beef jerky and Gobstoppers. I am not particular as to what I eat or drink unless it’s HEED or Hammer Gel products….I stay away from those at all costs. A beer during the race is not out of the question-Sally Brooking

How do you fuel up the night before and during a big event? The more we share with eachother, the more it will help by giving us ideas of new things to try so that we can perform at our best.

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Beth McCurdy Accepting Finisher’s Belt Buckle at KEYS100 Mile Ultra Marathon Race in Florida

Beth McCurdy’s Intense Keys100 Mile Ultra Race Report

KEYS100 Race Report: May 15th-16th 2010
by Beth McCurdy

As I sit here writing this report only 4 days later, I’m thinking about how fortunate I am that I do not have to work this week. Taking care of Grant, preparing dinner, and all the usual stuff, takes a lot of effort right now. Running 100 miles in the extreme heat affected me more than I had anticipated, both physically and mentally. But it was completely worth it in ways that I had never imagined.

Beth McCurdy

Making the decision to run a 100 mile race wasn’t all that difficult. My decision involved making a verbal commitment to my friends in Tampa, Florida on a Half Marathon race weekend in addition to posting it on facebook. I knew deep down that until I officially sign up, I could always back out. A few months went by and when I felt fairly secure about this decision, I decided to sign up. Never in my life have I ever felt so much nervous energy-even more than right before the gun went off in the Boston Marathon. I felt exhilirated, anxious, and down right scared. After all, the most I have ever run is 50 miles in cooler climate. Running a 100 mile race in the Keys in the month of May would not be easy and I wasn’t even sure that I could finish. But isn’t that I why I signed up?

I stayed focused on my training leading up to the event by completing 70 miles in a 12 hour event, plus some other ultra and marathon distances. I felt confident that my training, my crew, Stacey, Whitney, and Dave, and the mental preparation necessary for this distance, would carry me through to the finish. Of course, the heat and humidity was always the unknown factor that weighed heavily on my mind-and for good reason.

The week before the event I was less nervous than I thought I’d be. In fact, I was in an incredibly positive mood and happy. I was about to embark on the most exciting adventure of my life. I had so much support and encouragement from friends and family-they seemed just as excited about the event as I was.

After a fairly decent night of sleep, my crew and I headed to the start line at the 101 mile marker in Key Largo. The gun went off at 6 a.m. For the first several miles, I talked to Christian and Cyndi. The company helped keep me relaxed and it was nice knowing that I was not the only one on the planet who was about to run 100 miles. Those early miles were an adjustment. I was running at an incredibly slow pace for me and sweating profusely. On a cool day, this pace would feel completely different. So this was my first wake up call of what I had in store for the rest of the day.

At the first few crew stops, I just wasn’t sure what I needed. In fact, I made the mistake of telling my crew that I didn’t need them for 7 more miles. Wow, what was I thinking? I ended up getting water from another crew during that stretch and realized that I need to accept help from my crew as often as possible. So, I surrendered to them and thank goodness I did. Every 2-3 miles, my crew was there with everything that I could possibly need and came out to me so that I could keep walking. Whitney had the cup of strawberries and oranges, peanut butter sandwich, and bag of washcloths. She would squeeze the ice cold water on my head, drape washcloths over my shoulders, and encourage me to eat. Stacey had the refilled handheld water bottle, salt tabs, pain relievers, and the new bandana filled with ice to wear around my neck. Stacey would go over with me what was ahead and where they would be at the next stop. This information was extremely helpful-especially knowing when a bridge was ahead which I ended up looking forward to rather than dreading.

The first longer bridge came at about 15 miles. As I crested the hill on the bridge, all I could see was beautiful clear greenish-blue water everywhere. Even though the cars were speeding by me at 50+miles per hour, I was able to block them out and had this sensation that I was running on water. I was grinning ear to ear and thanked God that I was given this experience to run the KEYS100.

When I approached the 50 mile check-in, I realized that I ran the second 25 miles faster than the first. This was a confidence booster for sure, however, my blistered feet were beginning to concern me. I told my crew that my feet were a mess but that I will not be taking my shoes off to treat the blisters or change socks because I was fearful that it may make me sick if I see the damage. They listened to my wishes and I hoped that my feet would be able to withstand the duration of the race.

The 7 mile bridge approached soon after the 50 mile check-in and I stopped at the SUV in order to take in a significant amount of water and gatorade. I held two handheld water bottles and headed on the bridge with Stacey. Even though there was a nice breeze on the bridge, I had already gone 54 miles at this point and it was approximately 4 p.m. so the sun was strong. Having Stacey lead so that I didn’t have to focus on vehicles flying by was extremely helpful.

After the 7 mile bridge, I returned to the SUV to regroup and suddenly found myself very dizzy. I lay down on the ground and my crew covered me with ice cold washcloths. I believe that running the 7 miles without my crew cooling me down affected me more than I thought but luckily after about 10 minutes, I was back running again and felt fine.

One of the best parts of the day was when the sun started to go down and it wasn’t nearly as brutally hot. I started to finally feel some heat relief and despite my hurting feet, I was able to keep running. I started thinking that if I continue to feel this way, I may actually finish this thing by 2 a.m. But without any notice, I started to go downhill (not literally).

After the 75 mile check-in (time was a little over 15 hrs), I realized how much pain my feet were in and at that time, it seemed to be more difficult to walk than to run. I also realized that running in the dark was going to be more of a challenge than I originally thought. Being in pain, tired, not being able to see ocean, trees, or people, and having to dodge vehicles, was almost too tough to take and Stacey at that point agreed to stay with me for the remainder of the race. I thank God for Stacey.

Unfortunately, I had another “issue” to deal with soon after the 75 mile mark which was nausea and vomiting. I had to accept the fact that I would not be able to eat or drink gatorade anymore. I knew this would be tough but I was still able to process water. My kidneys were still functioning properly and I was able to keep moving forward so with Stacey’s guidance, this is what I did. She encouraged me to run if I could, but the majority of the time, I could only last 5 minutes or less without needing to walk.

With 6 miles left to go, I could no longer run. I had no energy left and my feet were in too much pain. At one point, I had a strong desire to close my eyes. I felt extremely tired and thought that it might feel good to close my eyes. So, Stacey and I walked arm in arm while I took a little “walking nap”. I did this again with Whitney even closer to the finish.

I pictured in my mind that the finish would be the finish of a lifetime. Even if I’d been walking leading up to the finish, I’d make myself run with my crew by my side and be overwhelmed with emotion. Well, I did finish with my crew by my side but I was in such a fog that I really didn’t feel anything. I wasn’t able to run through the finish because my feet were beyond painful and my thoughts revolved around sitting down and taking my shoes off. My finish time was 22:52. 9th overall, 3rd female, 30 finishers total out of 70 starters.

Things that I did not expect

1)The support and love from my family and friends was unbelievable. I know that people love me but I guess running 100 miles reminded me of this.

2)That my feet would get so damaged with swelling and blisters. I thought I might have a few lost toe nails but nothing close to this.

3)That my crew would be 100% perfect. I knew that they were going to be great but they were impeccable. The selflessness of Whitney, Dave, and Stacey was incredible and believe me, they were tired, too!

4)That I would have lost so much weight. I’ve lost weight due to dehydration before from events but I hardly recognized myself afterwards. LOL.

5)That I would feel this much satisfaction out of accomplishing my goal of finishing my first 100 mile foot race.

Thank you!
Mom and Dad and the rest of the family for being so supportive
My running club buddies
My GUTS friends
My neighbors, childhood friends, and facebook friends
And to Whitney, Dave, and Stacey, the best crew ever.

Beth McCurdy

Posted in Race Reports, Running, Ultra MarathonComments (2)

Beth McCurdy Umstead 100 Mile Ultra Marathon 2011

Saltines, Ginger Ale, & an Indomitable Will (Umstead 100 Mile Ultra Marathon)

Saltines, Ginger Ale, & an Indomitable Will
(Finishing the 2011 Umstead 100 Mile Ultra Marathon)

Barely moving my legs, I think about my breathing and how labored it is. At times, I’m preoccupied with inhaling and exhaling. It’s so loud and disturbed sounding. I wonder why I’m breathing like this and whether or not it’s helpful. I’m also curious as to what my pacer Kelley, is thinking. For about two seconds, I’m slightly embarrassed by my noisiness. By the third second, I could care less what she thinks or what anyone else thinks.

I ask myself, “Do I really need to be breathing this heavily?” So, I stop breathing heavily and settle down by focusing on each step. I’m amazed by how ponderous each step feels and how variable my rhythm is at this point. I know I’ve become slow, but the reality is it’s so slow that I’d rather not know my pace. Deliberately focusing on my steps causes my feet to hurt even more, so I decide that it might help if I resume the heavy breathing again.

When walking uphill, I’m taken aback by the strong pull in my neck and upper shoulders. I’m recalling that only a mere 10 miles ago, my neck wasn’t even bothering me at all. The pain is not unbearable but it forces me to stop and self-message on several occasions. At one point, I’m wishing that I didn’t have so many layers of clothing on so that I could really penetrate into the muscles to loosen them up. My mind wanders back to the car ride to Raleigh when I remember thinking that I really hope that this tight neck won’t be a problem in my event tomorrow. Being the overly confident and optimistic person that I can be at times, I shrugged it off, so to speak. I tell myself that by the morning, the neck will be fine. The neck will be fine.

At the final aid station before the finish, I’m wondering how in the world I’m going to get up the next climb. Even early on in the race, this hill is difficult to walk. I’m depleted and need to do something to feel better. I ask my pacer, Kelley, if she could please get me some crackers and ginger ale at this aid station. I’m really thinking that a couple of crackers will help me get up that next climb. I sit in the chair and Kelley hands me Mountain Dew and some saltine crackers. I’m finding it very challenging to place the crackers in my mouth. They are sticking to my lips and mouth so I decide that it’s critical to swallow Mountain Dew and eat the cracker simultaneously. This sort of works.

I remember the aid station volunteer chatting me up about KEYS100. He’s an ultra runner and was graciously volunteering the night shift at this aid station. I wanted to chat with him. I wanted to smile and be friendly. But swallowing crackers and getting up that hill were the only things on my mind. I had to let him know in a courteous and desperate sort of way, that talking to him was not an option at this point. I’m on mile 94.5. I have 5.5 miles left.

Every single bit of every part of me is going to be used up to get through the next 5.5 miles. I know that I can do this. I don’t question as to whether or not I can finish. My brain and body have to go beyond what they want to do. I have no choice but to finish and I ask God for him to continue to keep me strong. Not finishing the event was never an option in my mind. I had everything I needed: My pacer who has taken care of me from 50 miles on, two crackers and some Mountain Dew in my stomach, and just 5.5 miles left. 5.5 miles to the finish line of the Umstead 100 Endurance Run.

Getting up from that chair was not that difficult. I knew that the longer that I sit in the chair, the longer I’m out in the cold dark and the farther away I am from the finish line. On any other day of my life, even when I’m having a really bad running day, 5.5 miles would be fairly effortless. On this day, 5.5 miles is an infliction of pain on my body and I’m not looking forward to it.

Getting up the series of climbs that I was so concerned about was arduous, to say the least. My neck and shoulders were throbbing and plodding uphill felt like my quads were being crushed with every step. Even though I looked forward to the downhill because I could actually run, I needed to tiptoe and blurt out with every step, “Ouch, Ouch, Ouch…”. My feet were sore and tired. If they could talk, they would be telling me to sit my butt down and enough already.

Even though the temperature was around forty degrees, if felt like below zero. I already had on a tank top in addition to three long sleeve layers at this point, however, I was shivering uncontrollably. Kelley had a green hooded coat and generously gave it to me. I zipped it all the way up and pulled the hood over my head. Running with a heavy headlamp and hood was confining but getting my body warmer was a higher priority. Moreover, I discovered that picking up the pace would help warm the body so I forced to do this at times when we were on flatter sections of the course.

With just a few miles left, I kept asking Kelley if were getting closer. Even though this was my eighth time running this loop, I still could not recall how much longer we had until the finish line. Knowing that we were getting closer, I attempted to run rather than walk. If I only walk, it will take longer to get there. I needed to make myself run.

Everyone seeks some form of comfort upon finishing an extreme endurance effort such as this-perhaps gatorade, food, a bathroom, or a clothing change. I asked Kelley if she could please send me straight to the lodge by the fire upon finishing. I need to get warm. She reassured me that she would take care of me and not to worry. Her presence at this point put my mind to ease and the notion of being out on the course alone was a daunting one.

Running on the half mile rocky section to the finish was painful yet exhilerating. I kept asking Kelley, “Am I really finishing?, Are we really there?” Kelley responded with a resounding, “Yes! I’m so proud of you!”. On this final stretch, she screamed “Woohoo!!” to volunteers, crews, and other runners, letting everyone know that I am finishing 100 miles. As I crossed the finish line, I was filled with a variety of emotions. I looked at my watch and noticed that I finished in twenty hours and thirty-eight minutes. I felt overjoyed, wipped out, accomplished, thankful for Kelley, borderline hypothermic, and a a little delirious. I was overwhelmed yet quite calm and in need of warmth. I achieved what I set out to do and never gave up. I finished my second 100 mile foot race.

Beth McCurdy
Umstead 100 Mile Ultra Marathon (2011)

2011 Umstead 100 Mile Ultra Marathon Race Results

Posted in Running, Ultra MarathonComments (0)

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