Lessons Learned from Volunteering at Aid Station 9 at Midstate Massive 100 Mile Run

Everything I read the year I trained for the Leadville 100 Run in 2019 said to volunteer at a 100 mile race. I did not add that to my training plan. Advice also included running at night, hill repeats, intervals and practicing throwing up while running. I didn’t do any of these things. 

Now that I’m training, again, for Leadville in 2022, this time, I will do all these things, so first things first – I signed up to volunteer at the worst aid station – 11pm to 5am. This meant, most likely no sleep for a day which I knew was going to be problematic at some point and definitely screw up long training days needed as I train for Ironman Florida in 3 weeks. 

My BFF Jeff said yes to joining me since I didn’t know what to expect. I knew there would be an EMT there but really it’s all I knew. 

We arrived at 11pm and then runners started coming in at 11:30pm. 

What I learned at the Midstate Massive Ultra:

  • Have a plan for dropping at remote aid stations – it’s up to you to get a ride home, not the race organizers.
  • Know the course and download the maps. The app for this race had a speaker stating they were arriving at aid station 9, how many miles and their pace, plus it stated their approximate finishing time. WOW. Annoying but cool. Many people ran extra miles because they missed turns or were following others. This course has a way of doing that, though.
  • Get lean. The runners who were arriving first were lean. Weight matters.
  • The runners were so thankful we were there. Be Thankful.
  • Stop, take break and think about what you need at aid stations. 
  • Be thoughtful about who you choose as a pacer. This person must know your gear and what you like when you are completely out of it. I saw great teams out there. Pacers knew what to do and what their runner liked. They got their bottles and bladders out quickly and efficiently. I saw a couple who were running the 100 mile race together and they complimented each other perfectly. I saw one woman runner who was running her first 100 and her pacer/husband/boyfriend said all the right things while she was doubting finishing. I knew she would finish. I told her – You Will Finish This. Find your person

I’m sure there are more lessons but these were the ones that come to mind after sleeping for 12 hours. 

I can’t wait for my 100 mile race and training properly for it. Bring on the 2am runs.

Woman seeking pacer for Leadville 100 August 20, 2022. Must be motivational, but not too motivational. Must be used to running at 10,000 feet and higher. Contact blog writer.

Presidential Traverse in October

I mostly write blog posts so I can remember really fun times and look back to an adventure, a hope or dream. When the stars aligned for a Presidential Traverse on Oct 6 I went for it. One Day. 19 Miles. 9,000 feet of elevation gain. Hiking the last 3 hours in the dark. 

Heck Ya! 

It was great fun to look back at my post about my first Presidential Traverse and compare the trips after the second one. 

Here’s my Presidential Traverse Trip Review: An Epic Day in the White Mountains

Greg and I did a car spot at Highland Center AMC and drove up to Appalachia. We were on the trail by 7:30am. We took Valley Way to the hut and then a short out and back to Madison. Since it was a Wednesday we only saw about ten people on their way to Madison. The clouds prevented us from seeing Adams in the distance, and for Greg, this was his first time in the Northern Presidentials, so it was a bummer he couldn’t see where we were going. Or maybe it was good… He didn’t know what he was in for…..

Greg on Madison, Peak Number 1

Adams – well, it was Adams. Slow and steady wins this race. No views. 

We got to the top and then down and on to Jefferson. Again, we couldn’t quite see Jefferson from any peak but we got an occasional glimmer through the clouds to the west and the valley; beautiful peaking foliage. There are many little summits on the way to Jefferson but I recognized the summit from last year once we got closer. A quick up and a break – no views – and on to the Rock Pile. The sharp rocks cut my hands as I maneuvered over rocks and boulders in that lunar landscape. It’s a few miles from Jefferson on the Gulfside Trail to Mount Washington. We opted to bypass Clay and chugged on to the summit. We knew we were getting closer as we heard the Cog approach. Three trains passed as we climbed boulder to boulder, just waiting to get above the clouds. We walked over the cog and there it was – the view we were waiting for. Undercast. 

Mount Washington Summit, undercast

We took a break, filled our bladders with water and chatted with some people who took the Cog up. 

The way down to Lake of the Clouds was a welcome respite from climbing and finally hiking on a dirt trail. We passed the hut and on to Monroe. The entire hike up to this point was pretty warm. I could’ve worn shorts and a t-shirt (but didn’t). There was minimal wind and at some summits we had to swat flies. 

Photo by Greg, Washington looking north

The clouds were moving through and we saw several minor peaks in front of us. The trail junction marked the Mt Monroe Loop and it is a quick climb to the top. Then onto Eisenhower. Again, we couldn’t see it as we hiked on the Crawford Path and less rocky, for a bit. At this point my feet just hurt but not zombie-like, like I felt last year on this hike. My quads were good. I was tired. 

Up, Up, Up to Eishenhower and some nice views finally. Still cloudy but we could see across both side of the Crawford Path. As we descended the light started to fade to that nice, soft light. It got colder and I had to put on a jacket for the first time. A few minutes later I looked up to the west and the sunset turned pink and then a few minutes later orange. This picture doesn’t do it justice.

Sunset on Crawford Path heading south

Onto a quick out and back to bag Pierce with the headlamps on, and it was down the Crawford Path to the car. It was a bit of a slog. Seriously, 3.1 miles to the car took almost 2 hours. We both thought it seemed like 5 miles. We just couldn’t move faster and with the dark, we didn’t want to miss the trail. 

We got to the car at 9:30pm and it felt great to be off the trail. We drove back to get my car at Appalachia and I was home by 11:30pm. 

The Good: 

  • The Lunar landscape in the Presidentials is otherworldly and hard to capture in a photo
  • I had a Great hiking partner: funny, okay with leading, we never got lost and he even had beer in the car for after
  • Great weather despite the clouds 
  • Amazing sunset on the way to Pierce. 

The Bad:

  • My watch died before Washington. And seriously, since that is the only thing we considered ourselves lucky!

What a day in the Presidentials. Now, three days later, I’m still pretty sore. My feet, which were hurting so much are fine, but my legs are sore to the touch and it’s hard to walk and go downstairs still. 

And, I just want to go back. But I think I want to do a few peaks at a time and just sit on the summit for a while. I think. I’m a pretty fast hiker and don’t stop much but these mountains are so special. It was a great day and now I can say that I can’t wait to do the traverse again next year. But this time: more leg workouts and big hikes prior to the day. 

Then there is the grid. I enjoyed checking off these peaks for the October grid. But the thing about the grid is that I love getting to know these mountains and the grid is the way to do it. For my grid I’ve been to Mount Washington twice (not counting ascents prior to 2020). I want to get to know all the peaks and features of the area around it. This is why life is so fun and interesting and exciting – there are so many opportunities to see amazing places and challenge myself physically.

Bear Brook Classic, Training Update

When you find a way over every hurdle in your path and nothing but success is an option.

On Saturday I raced my first Mountain Bike Race. I signed up for it in July, the first week race registration opened. At that point, I knew that I wanted to work towards the Leadwoman race and the only way to do that was 1) actually race on a mountain bike and 2) figure out a way to finish the 100 mile run race. But first things first. 

I signed up for the Bear Brook Classic and then from July to October I changed my mind a million times about 1) what my goals were (100 mile run, 100 mile run not in Leadville, biking only, etc) 2) thinking about Ironman Lake Placid in 2022 3) not signing up for anything and just training for Ironman Florida and 4) just spending hours on race websites and calendars. 

Three weeks ago I made my decision – 2022 is all about Leadville and if all goes well 2023 will be about Leadwoman. I hired a coach and I’m feeling the pressure to do all my training days. It’s stressing me out a bit but it’s what I need. I think. Maybe. I’m pretty sure of it. Bring on the hemming and hawing. 

Which brings me to the Bear Brook Classic. In July I signed up for the Cat 2 (Sport) Women – 40+. At the time there were two distances: 10 & 20. I’ve been riding Bear Brook for about two years now and by July I had only biked about 10 miles at the most on a mountain bike. When I sign up for races I always think:  I want to sign up for a big race and train for it. Ten miles seemed so short so I signed up for the 20. I ended up biking 12 miles a few weeks later at Bear Brook, which was hard but doable. I knew I could do 20 miles. 

August and September were more triathlon training months. I mountain biked on average once a week. On the morning of October 2, race morning, I wasn’t even sure I was going to race. It was a rest day for Ironman Training and I didn’t train at all to race on a mountain bike – just trail riding. However, after I got my butt in gear, I decided the race would be interval and speed work. 

I’m glad I went because it was a great experience. The long course was 18 miles. 

The Finish Line at Bear Brook

The good: knowing that I couldn’t go out too fast, not trying to kill it on the first mile, getting settled in and just riding and having fun. I knew the course, there were only a few turns onto trails I didn’t know. Knowing the course helped a lot especially on a few downhill sections that I knew would have a quick uphill and I’d have to change gears to get up fast. 

The bad: not lubing my chain before the race, not carrying more food/gels. One more gel would’ve helped my energy level towards the end. 

I didn’t know what to expect going into the race and it just takes one experience to help confidence and know how I need to train: biking fast. 

One thing I’ve been struggling with is changing negative thinking (just do one lap, this is hard) to positive thinking (I can do this!) while racing. It’s so easy to just stop and be done. I particularly struggle with loops – it’s so easy to only do one. My brain wanted me to stop, do one loop and go home. I knew that I just had to go out on the second loop and I would be fine. And I was.  I have to remember that  for Florida.

I still don’t know my finishing place in my division but at the end of the day – who really cares. Okay, I care a little. I’m guessing second from last – those women were fast! 

I do love mountain biking but I also love running, hiking, and swimming. I love trying to do it all even if I suck at it all. I’m in it for the Adventure! 

I’ll be signing up for next year. Now it’s just 4 weeks to Ironman Florida and I’m in total-focus mode. I will remember the quote above: Find a way over every hurdle in my path so only Success is an option. This weekend was a success and I can’t wait to finish Florida. For the next 4 weeks: No missed training days. No excuses. Just do it.

Unfinished Business: Florida, Arizona, Colorado

Sometimes I don’t finish things and it weighs on me. But now I have a plan. 

Ironman Florida

In 2017 I DNF’d. I was feeling dizzy throughout the run and didn’t want to fall down in the dark on the second loop. I should’ve just walked it but my brain said stop. I need to talk myself out of stopping. Now, I’ll be racing/finishing Ironman Florida on Nov 6. No Matter What. I have 6 more training weeks to get strong on the swim, get the miles in on the bike and be ready to run a marathon. 

Colossal Vail, Arizona

In 2014 I dropped out of the Colossal Vail 55K. It was my second 50K and I felt like I was ready. I had some injuries leading up and I kept stubbing my big toe in training runs prior and during the race. I wish I had just kept walking and didn’t stop. Now, I’m waiting for the race director to approve the race and register me. They didn’t want to take payment this year and have to refund it if the race didn’t happen. Hopefully I will know and be able to book my flight to Tucson. I can’t wait to be in Tucson in December and see my friend Kassandra and her family. I miss the desert (when it’s cold in New Hampshire only). December in the desert is awesome. 

Leadville, Colorado

Leadville – how I want to finish this race and get my buckle. After DNF’ing in 2019 and thinking about it for two years, this week I hired a coach. I will be back on the course next August. I’m ready to work my butt off to make it to the finish line in 30 hours. I have 11 months to prepare. I’m ready for hills, speed work, weights, yoga and whatever else my coach plans for me. No excuses. All reward.