Monday, January 18, 2010

Weymouth Woods 100K - (14) 4.47 Mile Loops

The big day finally first 100K!  The event took place in Southern Pines, NC at Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve.  Weymouth woods is a cozy little park consisitng of mostly pine trees which had recently been burnt (cleared) by the forest service.  Wayne and I drove up from my home in Spartanburg on Friday evening and yapped with excitetement for the entire four hour trip.  Neither of us really knew what we were in for since we had both ran up to 40 mile races so far.  One thing was for sure - this was going to be a wild run...

Wayne getting hyped up in the hotel before the race Friday night...

I'm going for a more redneck approach in my remington camo cap...

Our nonsense finally ended about 10:30 on Friday night and we both woke Saturday morning from a restful, but light night of sleep.  We gathered all of gear and headed out to the race check-in at 7:00 AM.  The race started at 8:00 AM which gave us some extra time to wake up & get moving.

We arrived at the park and the atmosphere was already buzzing with excitement.  We check-in and get our numbers pinned on while chatting with old and new friends.

World famous race director, Terri Hayes shows up to run...

With about 10 minutes to go before the race everyone is scrambling to get ready.  This would be my first race using a drop bag full of supplies.  I gave it one more glance over and then just laughed because I really didn't know what I needed or what I had.  I was just ready to run!

At 7:58 AM all the runners are told to lineup at the start and the race director, Marie Lewis gives us some final instructions.  As usual I only heard a few words.  They sounded something like, "I'm not coming to look for you in the swamp....."  Then I heard "GO!" and we were off.......

I elected to start at the back of the pack as usual and just run with the herd for a while.  The park was beautiful...

I was surprised by how much sand was on the trail.  At times I felt like I was running along the coast.  The 4.47 mile loop offered a lot of variety.  It would give you some silky smooth dirt, then throw in a root garden, some steps, a wooden walkway, and then a pine needle covered trail.

A leafy covered section around mile three...

After mile three there were a few small hills and then you ran back up a hill towards the aid station.  We wore timing chips on our shoes and they recorded our time for each loop when we crossed the red mats.  Here is a look at Aid Station Blvd., the timing mats, awesome volunteers, and the all-you-can-eat buffet...

So that gives you a mental image of the course.  It was very runable with a few small hills, some roots, but no major obstacles to slow you down.  I would need to do this loop 14 times to complete the 100K distance of 62.58 miles.

I ran the first three loops with Wayne, who is a faster runner than I am.  We seemed to stay with the main pack for most of this 13 mile distance.  I was surprised at how easy the race seemed to be going.  After three laps I was thinking, "Wow!  Only 11 more laps to go and this is over...."

About halfway through the third lap I slowed my pace and Wayne kept chugging along.  He looked strong and it felt good to watch him run ahead.  I was finally starting to settle into a breathing and stride rhythm which felt nice.  I was focusing on my running form early in the race by keeping my feet under me and relaxing my shoulders.

The first six laps passed quick mentally which put me at 27 miles around 1:15 PM.  My main goal for the morning was to work towards the 50k distance, then face the 2nd 50k with whatever I had left.  After my 7th loop I hit the 50K (31 mile mark) and it became a whole new race.

Another loop.....

Leave the aid station....

Back into the woods on the trail.........

Surprisingly, I ran most of the first 9 laps - 40ish miles alone.  I would occasionally find a runner willing to talk some, but there were a lot of people cranking their MP3 players.  I started going downhill mentally & physically around the 10th lap at mile 45.  My brief ultra running experience reminded me to find someone to work with when times get tough.  Wow, God knew what He was doing when he sent Bill Keane Along!

Around mile 40ish when I was looking for a running pal....

At age 65, Bill is a ultra dynamo.  Over 200 ultras completed and working his way up to 300!  I had met Bill briefly at the Laurel Valley White Water run in August and knew that he had lots of experience.  I knew I was in good hands as soon as he lied to me and told me I looked great!  We ran the rest of the 10th lap together and gathered all of our night running gear at the aid station.  Bill was fueling up with birthday cake and I was stuffing my face with pizza.

I look over my shoulder and see Wayne standing behind me at the aid station tent.  Man, the guy looked wild.  His eyes were all shot out of his head and he was screaming "BEAST IT UP!"  Let's run!!!  This would be Wayne's 12th lap and my 11th since he had now lapped me.  I tried to keep up with him, but he looked like a jack rabbit jumping down the trail out of the aid station.  I ate a hamburger and laughed at him.  It started to rain.

I grabbed my cell phone for this loop and I decided to give my wife Beth a call.  I wanted to let her know that I was still alive, but I really needed a mental pick me up.  It's amazing how a family member's voice can ground you and energize your brain.  I talked gibberish to her for about five minutes and she sent me some encouraging love over the phone.  Once again, she made me feel better by lying and telling me that I sounded pretty good.  (After the race she told me I sounded horrible!)

So on lap 11 it is dark and raining.  The roots become little monster hands trying to trip me from the ground.  I play jokes in my head by trying to name various parts of the trail.  Let's see mile 1 was "The Hayride" - it looked like a great bumpy place to drive a truck full of screaming kids through.  Mile 2 was "Dung Mountain" - what started off as little innocent hills during the first 45 miles turned into big ones by now.  There was a half mile stretch that led the trail beside a horse barn here and you could smell the manure.  Mile 3 was called "The roller coaster" - there was a little hill in here that took you up to the top of another.  It seemed like the highest point in the race and you could run fast down the following hill (well, it seemed fast).  Mile 4 was called "Return from Mars" - The aid station helps you stay connected mentally and by the time I reached it at this point in the race my mind was mush.  It looked like a big space ship sitting up on the hill.

Here is what "Return from Mars" looked like just before dark...

So I roll into the aid station and have three loops to go (about 13 miles).  I drop my phone off into my bag and grab some more pizza.  This time I also grab a handful of cookies.  I take off down the trail and realize that I have two handfuls of food and left my water bottle sitting on the aid station table.  I could have made it without water, but it was my security blanket.  I went back and grabbed it.

The rain began to get heavier and lap twelve went on.  Once again, I ran through my little mental "towns' that I had created.  Each time adding new mental characters to them just to make it interesting.  Once again I head into the aid station and grabbed some food to fuel the work on lap 13 (miles 54-58).  I thought about grabbing my MP3 player, but forgot it.  No big deal - all of the towns people were out there waiting for me....

I finished this loop in a big caravan of runners.  There were about 10 of us doing our best to keep moving forward and we were all laughing and cutting up.  Two of the runners were on their final lap and everyone was feeding off of their positive energy.  We made it up to the aid station / UFO one more time and it was finally final lap # 14!

Wayne had finished up when I rolled in and he looked great.  He gave me a HUGE lift.  He helped me get my stuff together for another loop.  Man, I was out of it here. 

This is a accurate picture of how the aid station looked through my eyes...

I was shining my head lamp around looking for food when it was very bright, hmmmmmm...

I needed one more piece of pizza for the last lap......

I was euphoric as I headed out on my final lap.  I wanted the pain to be over from running 14 hours, but at the same time I was enjoying every step.  I'm not sure if these emotions are explainable.  Every step is a celebration in my mind.  I ran as much of the final loop as possible.  It was hard to maintain a good pace for more than two minutes without either tripping or cramping.  I knew that every step I took inched me closer to the finish line.  The rain really began to pour on the lap.  It sounded as though the trees were applauding me.  Wow - my head was really screwed up!

I kept plugging away, step by step, and it finally came.  15 hours and 44 minutes would be my first official 100K finishing time.  I remember looking up at the Mars ship from the trail and hearing Wayne yelling " Jason, is that you?"  I couldn't even answer him because I didn't know - no kidding....

Take a look at this face just seconds after crossing the finish line.  Hello, I dunno my name, but there are lots of little towns & creatures out on your lovely trail...........

It was awesome to join Wayne is a proper finisher's celebration with some hot coffee and a seat....

Some great swag from the Weymouth Woods RD!  I forgot to include the hand made pottery too!

Here are my split times for each lap.  Lap 12 was my slowest because I was naming all of the trail:

Lap 1 50:06.15 11:12/M 4.470

Lap 2 47:40.50 10:40/M 8.940
Lap 3 50:06.95 11:12/M 13.410
Lap 4 1:00:54.25 13:37/M 17.880
Lap 5 1:02:40.15 14:01/M 22.350
Lap 6 1:04:48.15 14:30/M 26.820
Lap 7 1:08:40.90 15:22/M 31.290
Lap 8 1:12:42.60 16:16/M 35.760
Lap 9 1:07:22.95 15:04/M 40.230
Lap 10 1:14:32.25 16:40/M 44.700
Lap 11 1:14:50.45 16:44/M 49.170
Lap 12 1:27:02.20 19:28/M 53.640
Lap 13 1:18:56.45 17:40/M 58.110
Lap 14 1:24:00.85 18:48/M 62.580

Wayne and I made it back home safely after sleeping in a Mcdonalds parking lot for two hours.  We were both some buzzed up from the race it was nearly impossible to sleep!

It will take some time for this experience to fully sink in.  I'm a little stiff with a few blisters, but overall feeling pretty good.  Marie (RD) and all of the volunteers were simply incredible.  I never wanted for a thing and everything needed to finish the race.  You guys rock!!!!  Ultras are fun.

This race leaves me staring into the eyes of the Iron Horse 100 mile endurance run in Florida (2/13/10).  After finishing the 100K, I'm not so sure that I'm ready for 100 miles yet.  I'm giving some thought into dropping the distance down to 50 miles or 100k.  Then probably doing a few more 50 milers before going after my first hundo.  I dunno, we will see.....


  1. Excellent race report! Birthday cake and pizza - YUM. But my favorite line of your whole report:

    Hello, I dunno my name, but there are lots of little towns & creatures out on your lovely trail...

    I laughed out loud. Congrats, buddy! Nice work.

  2. Thanks Beth! I miss those little guys out on the trail. This report had a lot of typos - I wonder if I have permanent damage? :]

  3. Congratulations on a wonderful accomplishment. Loved your write-up . . . I almost felt you pain! Next year for me. I need another 50 miler before I move up.

  4. Congratz and thanks for sharing your adventure!

  5. Great race report! Congratulations :-)

  6. Thanks for the positive feedback. I'm running 100 miles at The Iron Horse :]

  7. Wow!!! Congrats on your first 100k, that's amazing!

    I was cracking up at the part where you were naming parts of the trails... I'll have to remember that trick.

    Congrats again! That's awesome!

  8. Congratulations on another great race! What a wonderful race report. No doubt in my mind . . . you will "rock" at the Iron Horse 100 Miler! See you soon!

  9. Amy - not sure if naming the trail is good or bad, but it worked that day.

    Tiger - Good to hear from you. I'm excited that you are running Iron Horse too! It will be great to see another friendly & familiar face on the trail. Beth (wife) will be crewing for me. I will tell her to treat you right and hook you up with some good stuff when she sees you! See you in a few weeks...

  10. Great to meet you and Wayne. My first 100k also, just took me way longer than you. Thought I was the only one with stuff like that going on in my head, like talking to my legs and my buddies, the trees. Great experience though with many new friendships made. Go for the 100.-Jimmy Ballard

  11. Jimmy - Great to hear from you. I also enjoyed meeting you and several other inspiring friends. Hope to see you on the trails soon...

  12. Jason, I really enjoyed your race report!! You did such an excellent job of describing the experience that I sent this to all of my relatives... so they can have an idea of what the race was like :) Congratulations on your first 100k and see you at Iron Horse!

  13. Cheryl - Thanks & glad you enjoyed the report. I'm trying to remember if we met or not at the race, but I'm fairly sure we didn't? I will definately look for you at Iron Horse. I'm really looking forward to my first 100 miler & spending time with everyone on the trail! See you then...

  14. Sounds like you went a little loopy (pardon the pun given the multiple loops). I'll have to sit down with this when I have more time to read the whole thing. I wish I had run it. My hip flexors still aren't right from the New Year's race.


  15. Joe and I just spent a few moments cracking up about all the little towns and creatures you found. This is an incredible accomplishment! CONGRATS! I like the part about the roots trying to trip you. You should start an article about these adventures...or write a book...super great read!

  16. I read your race report a couple of times because it was so funny and then just reread it again after running the course myself. Just ran Weymouth 2012 this weekend and my friend Gene and I used your trick - we named parts of the trail. Every time we were back at one of our landmarks we were like "Wow we're back here already!". It really helped me get through the tough parts. I will definitely do that again in another race. Thanks for sharing such an entertaining recap of your experience!