Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015--Kinda Weird

cheers to the new year!
I've grown to feel like end of the year posts give me closure on whatever might of happened in the past year.  2015 in particular just had some strange stuff: some good, some not so good so a nice "see ya later" post is in order. 

So what exactly happened in 2015??  Like I said, some weird stuff.  I'll break it down in a list format.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Orange Mud -- HydraQuiver

Disclaimer: I received Orange Mud HydraQuiver as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Being the water hog that I am when out on long runs, I was looking forward to testing the OrangeMud's hydraquiver.  There are a couple different models, I was sent the single barrel for testing.  At first glance, I thought the whole thing was a neat little device.  It has several pockets to stash cell phone, goPro, gels, keys, whatever you need.  The two pockets in the front have a cinch feature so that you can ensure nothing pops out while you are running, the right one even having a key clip. There's also two shoulder pockets on the pack that velcro shut that can hold even a phone.  I liked the feel of the material.  I could tell that it would be nice and breathable and comfortable.   I was curious to see how it would feel to have to pull a water bottle out from behind me while on the run.  I was equally as curious how easy it would be to place it back in the holder while on the run.  I'm not a very coordinated person when it comes to things like this so I was concerned that I would constantly miss the holder and drop the bottle or that it would just be hard to get it lined up properly while I'm moving.

Monday, December 14, 2015

"Run To Lose"

I started running a little over 5 years ago and my sole purpose was to lose weight.  I had always been an athlete my whole life.  I was on the swim team and played softball through high school.  I was originally on the swim team in college however I was doing an intense, accelerated program for Biology and Physical Therapy.  My academic schedule was such that I would miss practice at least 3 days a week.  I am not someone to half ass something so I made the decision to not be on the team.  Fast forward 6 years to when I was finally done physical therapy school, I had my doctorate but I also had at least 30 extra pounds.  Emir and I joined the gym and did lose a little bit of weight.
we lost some weight for our wedding but didn't keep it off

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Running a Marathon is Never Easy--Philly Marathon 2015

The medals this year were AWESOME.  The bell rings
At some point in the last year or two, I lost sight of the fact that running a marathon is no easy feat.  I got it in my head that I can just go out any given weekend and run 26.2 miles, barely breaking a sweat.  I know it has a lot to do with all the ultra training we have been doing especially training for TARC100.  We were doing two 20+ mile training runs a weekend.  But even though we were doing tons of miles somehow I forgot that in the middle of that training Emir and I often said to each other that we didn't think we could run 20 miles straight without walking for a few minutes here and there.  We were just so immersed in our ultra world, running tons of slow miles on the trail, walking up the inclines and stopping at aid stations for minutes on end that we started to feel like we forgot how to run on the road especially in a race.  During my 22 mile training run a few weeks before Philly, I totally bonked and literally took 11-12 minutes per mile to finish the last mile or two which was one reason I had a feeling a PR would not be in the books come race day as I mentioned last post, I had serious doubts.

Friday, November 13, 2015


TARC feels like so long ago at this point, that I almost forgot it ever even happened.....Almost.  It's also become one of those things, I don't even really feel like talking about it.  I think mainly because I don't know what to say.  I don't really know what went wrong.  Even though I've never DNF'd before, there's definitely races I felt that I've tanked but I always know right away the reason it didn't go well. 
Emir said taking this pic was bad luck as I took a similar one on the way to Eastern States....

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

OrangeMud Transition Wrap

Disclaimer: I received Orange Mud Transition and Seat Wrap as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

I was actually pretty excited to test out the transition and seat wrap as it was something Emir and I had looked at possibly getting for our trail escapades. It's a towel that can be used for changing and a seat cover for your car.  The one edge of the towel is actually a built in belt clip so that you can secure the towel around you and it won't fall down while you change out of your gross stuff.  The belt is secure and it does stay in place, my only issue is that the towel is not really big enough for us ladies.  For guys it's perfect size but I need a bit more length to keep all the lady parts covered.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Zero Limits -- Growing my Altra collection

I was given the Altra Impulse to test by Altra and I am also an Altra ambassador.  All opinions are my own.  

At the Runner's World Influencer event, we were each given a pair of Altras to test out.  Obviously running in Altras is nothing new to me (it's all I run in these days) however the model I was given, the Impulse, is new to me.  I've run in a bunch of different Altra models but never the Impulse.  While some people like to stick to one thing that works for them, I was excited to try something different.  Honestly, I have yet to find an Altra that I didn't like running in.  I do have my go to racing shoes but I love training in all the different ones I have and there's been several times that I've tried a different model and that ended up being my go to race shoe, so I was looking forward to seeing what the Impulse would do for me.

First run in my Paradigms was the Philly Rock N Roll Half

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My weekend as a Runner's World Influencer

Disclaimer: I received lodging for the Runner's World Influencer events however all opinions are completely my own. 

When Runner's World contacted me over the summer to be an influencer, I was beyond thrilled as you can read in my post about being selected.  However, at the same time, there's a big part of me that kept thinking "why me??"  I had stalked a few of the influencers from last year that were coming back this year and they are all way out of my league.  They have thousands upon thousands of followers and god knows how many pageviews on their blogs.  Meanwhile, I over here am lucky to get a few hundred overall on a good post.  I definitely went into the influencer events feeling way under qualified.  But on the other hand, I have attended every festival since the beginning in 2012, run every race at each festival and am an Altra ambassador so at least I felt I had that going for me ;-)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Runner's World Festival--4 for 4

Disclaimer: I received entry to Runner's World Festival and Half as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!
I also was given entry to the trail race and lodging by Runner's World however all opinions are my own.

You maybe wondering where my TARC 100 post is?  Well you are going to have to wait because a few short days after TARC, I headed to Bethlehem, PA for the Runner's World Festival, my annual pilgrimage.  Since I have some obligations to fulfill in the form of blogging, etc for the Festival, this post comes first.  Don't worry I will get back to TARC. 

I left work at lunchtime on Thursday to make my way to Bethlehem.  Yes, Thursday!!!  This year I was invited as an influencer for the event which meant I got to go up a day early and do lots of unique things that only the influencers were invited to.  Since I know writing about my ENTIRE experience would be extremely long, I'm going to break it up into a couple of posts.  This one will just be my race reports.  I will cover the influencer events in a separate post.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Plantronics -- BackbeatFIT

Disclaimer: I received Plantronics Headphones as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

When I first started running about 5 years ago, I ALWAYS listened to music.  Running was SO hard for me.  It took a while before I could make it a whole mile without walking at all so I needed something to take my mind off of how hard it was and that thing was music.  Even as I ventured into the longer distances I still had music for the duration.  I remember compiling a playlist that would be long enough to last me my entire first marathon which was challenging because I figured I needed 5 hours of music I liked for running.  I'm not sure when exactly I stopped running with music.  I think it might have been a couple years ago when I started getting into ultra running and trail running.  For one reason, I now had two kids and our household was twice as loud and twice as busy.  It was hard to have time for my own thoughts except when I was out on the run.  So I tried a few runs without the music and I loved the quiet so much that I never went back to music.  Also running without music made me realize what a hassle running with music was.  At the time I did not have a flipbelt or a pack so I had to wear my phone on my arm which as I started running further caused major chafage.  And it was hard to find headphones that felt comfortable for really long periods of time not to mention the constantly tangled wires and me accidentally ripping the headphones off when I would catch my hand in the wire.

I hadn't even thought of trying to run with music again however Bibrave was asking for more Pros to try the Plantronics BackbeatFIT.  I didn't go for it the first time they asked but then after a bunch of people tried them and we're all raving about how much they loved them, I decided I needed to see what all the fuss was about.  

When I opened the package I was pretty pleased with what I found.  The pieces that go in your ears were a nice comfy rubbery material and you could even manipulate them a little bit to fit better in your ear.  They are connected by a super flexible rubber piece that actually goes behind your head.  I loved this because number 1, I don't have to worry about it breaking when I shove it in my pack or in a bag with all my other running gear and number 2, there's no adjusting that needs to happen everytime I put them on.  The headphones also come with a case for storing them and if you reverse it, it's a waterproof armband/case for your phone.

Of course, the feature that most people will love is that they are completely wireless.  It was SUPER easy to pair the headphones with my phone via bluetooth, literally a second.  My son wanted to try them out with his tablet and it was just as easy to pair them with that as well.  I just had to make sure to disconnect them with my phone bluetooth or that it was completely out of range so that they would pair with his computer.  Normally, I would not let the kids play with my equipment but these are so sturdy and flexible, I really think they are almost impossible to break.  This past weekend when I attempted my first 100 miler, we had a bin stuffed with running stuff and I just threw them in there.  They came out just as they went in, no worries about them breaking even with tons of heavy gear in there and being jostled around.

Now to the actual functioning of the headphones.  Since I don't use headphones often, I'm not an expert but I thought the sound quality was excellent.  I really enjoyed how nice the music sounded.  I also like how easy it is to turn on and off the headphones.  You just tap the little button on the right side to turn on and immediately it tells you the headphones are on, bluetooth connected and how much battery is left.  On the left ear is the volume control, which is also very simple to use.  Despite keeping the volume relatively low so I can hear my surroundings while running, I felt like I could hear the music well and yet still hear everything going on around me.

Charging the headphones is a simple USB cable that I can plug right into my charger that I use for my phone, gopro, etc.  The headphones turn blue when they are done charging.  As far as battery life, I'm really not sure yet.  I thought I would be able to see just how long it would last on one of my last 100 mile training runs however I have an ancient iphone and with the combo of streaming music and using the bluetooth, my phone died about 3 hours into the run, headphones still had juice left, I'm just not sure how much.

All in all, there wasn't anything I disliked about the headphones.  They are a bit on the pricey side compared to other headphones however I think they are worth the price.  Being wireless, having such quality sound and can last years easily make it a good investment especially if you are someone who wants to run with music.  I will continue to enjoy some of my quiet trail runs in the silence of nature however I definitely will run those tough speed workouts and probably even a race with music now that I have a medium that won't hinder me. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Run like an Ironman--Wigwam Socks

Disclaimer: I received Wigwam socks as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Last week I received a pair of Wigwam socks to try out.  They are called Ironman Run so I figure they should be able to stand up to my ultra running habits but you never know.  I've tried many a sock and have had many a blister.  My feet actually have been in pretty great condition this whole summer which is surprising given my mileage and terrain in prep for TARC100 (only 6 days away!!!!!).  So that alone makes me hesitant to change anything but trying new things is all part of being a #bibravepro and usually I end up with a new product I really like.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Full Buff

Disclaimer: I received BuffUSA gear as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Last month I tested out the Buff USA half buff and this month it was time to check out the full buff.  Unlike the half buff, I did not have a choice in color but if you decided to get one for yourself, you would have MANY different options.  Since the full buff comes in a bright "bibrave" orange color, that was the one given to all us Bibravepros to test out.  This actually was completely fine with me.  To be honest, I don't really have any running accessories that match my bibrave singlet or running shirt so it's nice to add a bit more orange to the mix so I don't look AS crazy out there ;-)

Anyway as soon as I opened the buff, I could feel a difference in the material.  It wasn't a bad thing, it was just different.  The full buff felt a little thicker than the half and wayyyy longer (obviously twice as long as the half).  If you check out the Buff USA site they show you 12 different ways to wear the full buff.  I'm not a huge fan of wearing it like a pirate or a hat but I do like how it looks on other people.  I prefer mine as a headband or on my wrist to wipe sweat.  While I don't dislike the full buff, I have to confess that I do love the half a lot more.  Sorry full buff!  I just found the full buff to be more cumbersome both on my head and on my wrist.  But as I said in my half buff review, the half was perfect because it's hot out and I don't want extra material even though it's breathable and all that jazz, it's still there.  That said, I know I will be thanking my lucky stars for the full buff come winter time.  Not so much as a headband or sweat wiper but as a buff over my face.  I even saw on the site how to configure it as a hood and over my face at the same time.  I know I will DEFINITELY be doing that on those freezing cold long runs.
before and after a tough #100miletraning run
freakin hot out there!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Phillies Baseball 101 -- August 25, 2015

I have yet to blog about anything that isn't running related so this will be a first.  You might be wondering "baseball?! what's that all about?"  Most people unless you are a family member or close friend, just think of me as crazy runner Amy but really I am crazy baseball Amy at least for most of my life.  Baseball is truly my first passion in life.  I loved it from the second I first held a ball in my hand which was probably the day I was born.  My dad is known by most people as Mr. Baseball.  He has played his whole life and he was good, and I mean really good.  He was all American in high school, recruited for the majors but went to St. Joe's University on baseball scholarship instead where apparently he discovered beer and that's why he didn't end up playing baseball for a living ;-)  After college he did play semi-pro in cape cod and the Pendel League.  In more recent history we were honored to watch him be inducted into the Hall of Fame at his high school and college.  Two of the years that he played at St. Joe's University were the only two years they have ever won a baseball title, no small accomplishment.
Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.  A night I will never forget!

As a little girl I went and watched him play and then eventually he transitioned over to being my coach.  He coached Cindy and I at all different levels of little league, ASA and high school softball.  He has an excellent knowledge of the game and is great at sharing this knowledge with his players.  I'm not just saying this because I'm his daughter.  Most of the teams he coached were extremely successfull including my sister's little league team who came in second at the Little League World Series.  People were still begging for him to coach after Cindy and I were done playing.  Cindy and I also always received compliments from other coaches and spectators of our games about how much we knew the game and truly understood the fundamentals.  A true testament to our dad.  Sometimes when you have a parent who is so into a sport and wants you to love that sport as much as they do, kids can end up hating it.  But that was never the case for us.  Cindy and I have always LOVED baseball and I know we always will.  I have clear memories of not only attending many Phillies games with my family, as my dad of course is a long time season ticket holder, but also watching night after night on tv even when they were at their worst.  We watched no matter what.  And the years I was not old enough to stay up until the end of the games, I would listen to Harry and Richie on the radio as I fell asleep.  Even as an adult there are many nights I have the game on tv.  And now the Spiecker baseball gene has trickled down to the next generation.  Niko not only loves to play but has become an avid Phillies phan as well.  He loves to sit, watch the games and talk baseball.  He knows all about counts, different pitches and positions.  He even requests to listen to the game on the radio in the car and knows what's going on!  It's awesome and I love it! 

Now with that background, I can move on to the purpose of my post.  This past Christmas my dad gave myself, Cindy and my mom the gift of attending Baseball 101.   I didn't really know what that was when he said that's what he got us.  As it turns out it's a women only event hosted by the Phillies at Citizen's Bank Park.  I wasn't sure what to expect going into it but anything that involves spending the day at the ballpark followed by a pre-game party with food and beer followed by the game is a great day to me. 

The three of us arrived to Citizen's Bank Park before the start time of 9:50.  We were greeted excitedly by some ball girls, given the tickets to that night's game and directed to the Diamond Club where a continental breakfast awaited us.  Scott Palmer was our host for the day.  After his warm welcome we were split into teams, we were  Team Asche,  and we went to various sessions.  Our first session was with the clubhouse manager, second was with the strength & conditioning coach followed by the team chef.  All three sessions were very upbeat, super informative and fun.  They were more than willing to share lots of information with us even some personal info about players and routines.  We really got a great sense of what a typical day at the ballpark is like for the players and staff.  On a side note, everyone was also very eager to talk about the Chase Utley trade that had just happened the week before.  It was so nice to hear their personal stories about him and that he truly was the great guy we all thought he was.  Yes, it's no secret I love Chase, but who doesn't?!!?! 
a player locker, he bought an Utley jersey and had him autograph it before he left

strength and conditioning coach
Where the players eat.  My kinda place!
the team cook

Labor Pains 12 hour

teamdedic !
I had heard about the Labor Pains ultra prior to deciding to sign up because I had seen on my social media that several running friends had signed up.  I really have no idea why but I looked at it and said "I have no desire to do this race at all"  Maybe because TARC is early October and silly me was thinking that a 12 hour would be way too much only a month before my first 100.  I realized this was grossly incorrect as I watched Emir train during the summer for Eastern States.  Obviously I knew training for a hundo takes LOTs of training miles but I guess I wasn't really fully realizing exactly how much it entailed.  After seeing week after week, how many miles coach Caleb was assigning Emir and then adding to it that I had dropped down at Velebit and then missed Sljeme, I was on the hunt for something else to do before TARC.  I had forgotten about Labor Pains but then it popped up on my search for something not too far from home that was end of August/Early Sept time frame.  I emailed Coach Caleb asking his thoughts and he immediately encouraged me to sign up.  He said it was perfect timing to do a long race before TARC and to practice fueling/hydration for the 100.  If coach says it's good to do a 12 hour the month before TARC, then obviously I'm going to do it ;-) 

Labor Pains takes place at Liederkranz in Reading, PA.   It's only about an hour away from our house. Given that Emir ran 80 miles at Eastern States not too long ago, he had no desire to do a 12 hour.  He also is not a fan of doing a loop a whole bunch of times.  Labor pains is a 5 mile loop course.  So since he wasn't running, we decided it would be a family event.  We arrived about 40 minutes before the 7:30 start.  Now having done this race once, I might try to get there earlier if I do it again just to get a prime tent spot.  In the end, we had a perfect spot but it was pretty much the ONLY spot left.  I was able to get my bib and swag super fast.  There were both indoor potties and port a potties available so taking care of business was quick and easy.  As I got myself ready, I said hi to a bunch of our friends who were there.  I really loved the whole setup at the race.  When you come back in from the course you run right through all the tents and people spectating, crewing and then threw the chute to the aid area which not only featured an amazing spread but cold showers ;-)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Eastern States 100 -- Crewing/Pacing

He was ready!

So hard to know where to begin these posts sometimes, especially when there's so much to say and so many emotions involved.

Eastern States was not my race, it was Emir's but it might as well have been mine too.  I went through all the ups/downs mentally and physically during his training this summer.  There really weren't many downs actually.  He was in fact rocking it.  I mean how he handled 18 hours on the Velebit course convinced me he was more than ready.  And I just could not wait to see him accomplish this goal, maybe even a little jealous that he would accomplish his first 100 before me ;-) 

At first we thought we could handle everything with just me as Emir's crew and pacer however we quickly figured out that given the logistics of Eastern States, this would not work.  If I was going to pace, I would have to leave my car at an aid station and somehow get a ride back to it later or get a ride to the aid station from the start/finish area.  Thank goodness our good friend Mo volunteered to help us out and he brought another friend of his, Sandy, along. 

We all took half days on Friday.  Emir and I made it to the race start/finish sometime in the 5 o'clock hour.  He picked up his bag however bibs would not be given out until Saturday morning.  There wasn't much going on and we weren't hungry yet to feel like attending the pasta party so we decided to drive back to Williamstown where Mo had so generously gotten a B & B room for the night.  I have seen Eastern States referred to being in the black hole of PA and now I know why.  A few minutes after turning off of the highway to head towards Little Pine State Park, we lost all cell reception.  So once we got back near the highway we started getting messages from our teammates wondering where we were.  Turns out they were about the same distance from the B & B as we were, so we all ended up arriving around the same time. 

Tiff and I representing Altra and Trail & Ultra

#teamdedic or #teamred with Sandy and Mo

I know you aren't reading this to hear about how we spent the night before so we ate, had a couple beers and went to sleep.  We left the B & B around 3:30 am as the start was at 5 and Emir needed to get weighed, get his bib and hand in his drop bags.  While he did that, myself, Mo and Sandy got our PACER bibs and I spent some time talking with our friend Tiff from Altra.  She also had some Lone Peak 2.5's on hand for runners to test.  Emir and I jumped at the opportunity to try some out.  We both have the Lone Peak 2.0's and they have been, o-k but we heard some great things about the 2.5's.  Some picture taking ensued and some more talking to other friends that were there and before we knew it, it was start time. 
drop bag area

alot of stuff is needed for a hundo!

The start of ultras always makes me laugh because everyone is so pumped, energized and rushes over to the start line.  Then they say go, blow a horn or whatever and it's like the slowest start to a race you will ever see.  Cracks me up every time especially because I do it too.  After the runners left.  We had a lot of time to kill.  There were only a handful of aid stations that crews were allowed access to just because of the nature and location of the course, it would be impossible to allow a bunch of cars and people safely.  The first aid station that crews were allowed wasn't until AS 3 which doesn't sound bad but it's at 17.5 miles into the race and given the nature of this course, we knew it would be a solid 4 hours if not longer before Emir would get there.  We drove back to the B & B to eat, collect our stuff and put our running clothes on since we knew there would likely not be facilities for changing later.
runners are ready
We arrived at AS 3 around 9.  I was feeling nervous because that was 4 hours into the race and I was hoping we didn't miss him.  I quickly went over to the people keeping track of who checked in and found out that we didn't miss him.  After a while I realized it was silly to be so worried as only a handful of runners had come through at that point.  AS 3 was a huge area so we set up his stuff a little past the official aid table and waited.  After a while I needed to walk around and I found my teammate Kristen and her husand Simon and some other Misery Loves Company (MLC) people.  Most of them already have met Emir as he has gone to some of the group runs but I have not met alot of them.  It was fun hanging out and getting to know them.  Eventually around 10:30 I saw Emir climbing the big hill to the aid station.  I didn't realize how happy I would be to see him until I saw him coming.  I was jumping around, yelling and waving to him.  He looked good.  He said he felt good that he did have a fall and briefly hurt his ankle but was fine now.  We helped him refill his bottles, took his headlamp and gave him some supplies to tide him over until the next time we would see him.  I was pleased with how it all went.  He was happy and I felt that we did a good job helping him.  Now we had another 18 miles or so before we would see him again at AS 6.
coming in to AS 3
We didn't have a room anymore and we didn't have anything at the start/finish line so we had no reason to go back there.  There were handouts that we printed from the website that were specifically for crew and included directions to the aid stations.  We followed the directions to find AS 6.  Somehow we missed the turn and eventually came across AS 9 which is how we figured out that we miss AS 6.  It wasn't a big deal as we had hours to kill.  We back tracked and found AS 6 (we found out later that it was not my poor navigation skills, the distances given in the directions were actually incorrect and a bunch of crews drove around way longer than us).  At this point we were hungry and we knew where the AS was and we had seen a tavern only a few minutes away so we decided this was a good time for lunch.   The last couple days I felt like I was eating to run a 100 miler (you know sympathy eating) and I was feeling kind of bad about it.  But we got to the tavern and I was SO hungry and knew I had to run 11 miles with Emir later that afternoon so I went for it and got a cheese steak, fries and a beer.  Delicious.

We went back to AS 6.  We parked and took naps in the car.  I had set my alarm so we wouldn't miss Emir but I woke up because my arm was numb from the position I was in.  Emir was averaging about 20 minute/miles the first 17.5 so we had figured he would be in around 4 or so.  I was getting antsy when it was past 4:30 and we hadn't seen him but at the same time, we didn't see runners that were a little ahead of him at the other station either.  Eventually he came in.  He looked great but I could tell he was frustrated.  I ran down the road to meet him to talk to him while we made our way to the aid table.  He told me that there was extra mileage to aid stations 4 &5 and not just a little bit extra about 2-3 miles extra.  He said there were people running out of fuel and water because it was further than what they had said (each aid station had a profile of the next section with the distance to the next aid station which would have been awesome if they were accurate).  And he was upset because he should have been hours ahead of the cutoff based on his pace and the mileage listed however he was a little less than 2 hours ahead due to the extra mileage.  I told him not to worry about it that he would probably make it up in other parts of the race.  He seemed to be ok and I think he was excited because the next AS we would meet him at was only 4.5 miles away and that's when I would start pacing him.  I was excited too.  I couldn't wait to get out on the course with him plus I was bored of sitting and waiting all day.

AS 6: discussing how things went since I last saw him
 We shipped him off quickly since we would see him soon and drove down the road to AS7.  We saw a few of the faster runners going through and they had burgers.  We were happy because we felt Emir was in need of something more substantial at this point.  I spent most of the time waiting for him getting myself ready.  Before I knew it, here he came.  Again he seemed worried.  He was talking about the cutoffs.  He had actually done that section a little faster so he was  under 20 min/mile plus he was around 2 hours ahead of the last cutoff so I didn't understand what he was worried about, he should have gained time.  But when I looked at the papers, he was right, he actually was about 1:45 under cutoff.  I didn't understand then or even now where these cutoffs came from if you actually go faster in a section shouldn't you gain time, not lose it?  But again doing my job, I told him not to worry about it, that he and I were going to kick ass and that he was fine.  He felt good and was maintaining a smart pace.  When I had looked at last year's results, it showed people made all the cutoffs and finished under the 36 hours with over 21min/mile pace which I told him so I said see you are fine, just maintain around the 20min/mile and you are good.
coming into AS 7

figuring out what he needed     

#teamdedic ready for action
We took him over to the aid station and asked for a burger, there were none.  Ok what else do you have?  beef jerky and chips.  that's it?!  Ugh I was so frustrated because I knew Emir needed more and all he ate was jerky.  Yes we had Tailwind, gels and a few different types of bars but he needed something other than that.  The sign also said it was 7.4 miles to the next aid station which is long on this tough course.  But he said he was fine so off we went. 

off we go!

#bibchat Donut Hole!
At first he was talkative and it felt so good to be out there with him.  Then he got quiet.  I knew something was off.  He didn't know what exactly was wrong but didn't feel right.  I made him take a gel and I think he ate some of a bar.  A short time later he was back to being talkative and joking.  I was relieved.  There were some crazy climbs on this section.  The first one was pretty long and then the next one so steep I was climbing with my hands and legs.  There were also a couple extremely steep downhills.  I was tempted to sit on my butt and slide down if it weren't for the rocks.  It was really dark on the trail as it is heavily shaded so probably less than two hours in, we got out our headlamps.  There was a section as it was getting darker that was definitely along a cliff edge, one wrong step and over you would go so we wanted to be sure we could see what we were doing.  At this point I was happy.   Despite the crazy terrain, I had him just around 19min/mile for this section and he was feeling good.  I was excited because I figured we are gaining some time. 

Headlamp time
Things got bad in a hurry.  We were around 7.5 miles and there was no sign of the aid station whatsoever.  Emir was quiet again.  He needed to eat more than the gels and bars he had.  He started getting really down really fast.  "where is the aid station?!  I need stuff!  If there's extra miles on every section I'm not going to make the cutoffs!"  I tried my best to calm him down but honestly it got to a point where I was feeling like "what am I supposed to do?!"  I couldn't just keep telling him the aid station is coming because it obviously wasn't and I had no idea where it was.  Not to mention, it was just making him more mad to say that.  I had no idea how much longer I had to keep dragging him along.  Around 8.5 miles I thought we hit the aid station but it was just some other runners with their lights.  I asked how they were and everyone looked so confused.  They were asking where AS 8 was that it was supposed to be a while ago.  One runner was especially dazed and stumbling just mumbling that he couldn't find the aid station.  I tried to encourage them and say to just keep going we should hit it soon.   I was starting to get worried.  Seeing how those guys and Emir were deteriorating was upsetting and if we didn't get to the aid station soon, it could be a real problem.  Eventually right around 9 miles, we got to the station.  I said to the man checking runners in "I didn't think we would ever find this aid station!"  He replied "yes everyone keeps saying that!  Apparently it's further than what they said."

I've seen stuff at ultras before but AS 8 was kind of a mess.  Runners were everywhere.  It was like a graveyard.  People were in dazes, wrapped in blankets.  It just wasn't a good scene.  And I knew exactly why, the extra mileage had killed people.  It's fine if it was 9 miles between aid stations but runners need to know that so they plan for it.  Also many of them were very worried about the cutoffs due to the extra mileage which now was also a huge concern of mine.  Emir's overall pace was still just under 20min/mile but yet we were only 45 minutes ahead of AS 8 cutoff.  I just couldn't wrap my head around this whole thing and I didn't have time to either.  I got him to eat some soup and some other stuff.  AS 8 was amazing with the spread of stuff so I made sure we took advantage.  I even tried drinking coke for the first time in a race.  I had always been scared to try it.  I really do not like soda and in general I feel like it leaves me thirsty and with a bad taste in my mouth which are things I don't want to experience while trying to run an ultra.  Since I only had a few miles left pacing Emir on this leg and we weren't moving especially fast, I figured it was a good time to try.  To my surprise, I REALLY enjoyed it and I felt really good after I drank it.  I'll be utilizing that at future ultras for sure.

AS 9 was listed as 3.5 miles away and would also be when we would meet up with Mo and Sandy.  Sandy would then relieve me of my pacing duties and run the next 9 miles with Emir.  I told Emir this is good, it's a short section.  His response was "who knows how long it is?!  none of the distances between stations are right!"  He was down and I mean DOWN.  I worked him through some emotional times that short segment.   I, myself, was getting so pissed off.  I just didn't understand why the distances were so much longer than what they said, it was messing with the runners big time.   If we had hit AS 8 at 7.4 miles even 8 miles Emir wouldn't have been in his current state.  But there was nothing I could do but encourage him and keep him moving.  He was afraid to run too much in the dark which I can't say I blame him.  The terrain was rocky with wet sections and sections where you literally were running on the edge of some kind of cliff.  I totally face planted while were hiking not running.  Despite all this, somehow we still managed to maintain his overall pace right around the 20min/mile.  I would have been happy because that SHOULD have put us well under the cutoff but surprise surprise we rolled into AS 9 at only 45 minutes ahead of cutoff due to the extra miles, again.  My leg that was supposed to be around 11 miles was 13.  2 miles in a race with this kind of terrain is a big deal as for the average runner it's anywhere from 30-60 minutes longer than what they thought.

checking in at AS 9

I could tell when we got there that our crew was worried because they were expecting us sooner and we had gotten too close for comfort to the cutoff.  I explained what happened and we went to work getting Emir what he needed.  AS 9 was big and TONS of great stuff so we made sure he ate well.  Sandy checked in with me to ask what Emir needed while she was pacing.  I told her to make sure he kept eating and drinking because I was sure that's what caused him to get so down during my part.  Mo and I sent them off as quickly as we could, knowing that there were some really tough sections ahead with more cutoffs.  After they left, we were conversing with a few people that had ran the year before.  The one guy was pacing this year.  He was saying how his runner was frustrated as well because he thought he was doing more than a good enough pace to make the cutoffs but then was barely making it.  He said how he had to explain to him that yes that was his actual pace but not his pace according to the Eastern States numbers.  He also told me that the course was actually about 107-108 miles not the 100.8 that is listed everywhere.  I was really starting to panic because these extra miles really could make the difference in Emir's race.  But there was nothing I could do other than cross my fingers. 

Mo and I set off to find AS 11 as that would be the next time we could crew.  Our plan was just to get there and then sleep in the car since we knew we had a few hours.  Once we got there, we went over to the aid station to use the pottys.  As we were leaving to go back to the car, we saw a guy come running from the trail.  He was coming the wrong way, never a good sign.  He was yelling that someone had "pitched over into the creek and was in shock"  We walked over to see if there was anything we could do as we could hear someone else yelling in the woods.  We were informed that a runner had somehow made a wrong turn and ended up falling off a ledge into the creek.  He broke his hip and elbow and suffered hypothermia from the creek as it took a little bit to find him.  There wasn't anything we could do so feeling shaken up we went back to the car and settled in for a nap. 

I set the alarm for about 1:45 as I was hoping Emir and Sandy would come into the aid station about 2:30ish, the cutoff is 3.  While we were waiting, Mo asked if the aid station volunteers knew what time they got to the AS 10 and he said 1:00am.  We definitely panicked big time!  1:00 was the cutoff and now we were very worried if they would make this 3:00am cutoff.  Thankfully they emerged from the darkness suddenly right around 2:30!  I was SO EXCITED!  Other people sitting around were laughing at me but I was just soooo happy because I really thought they might not make it in time.  There really wasn't much food around at this aid station, a lot of little snacks.  I was disappointed because earlier when we first got there, they had pizza but that disappeared real fast.  While Mo and I were waiting, we watched other runners come in and ask what they had and the answer was just these snacks, of course they had fluids but nothing with caffeine and no major food items.   I refilled Emir's bottles and shoved more fig bars and clif bars in his pack.  I told him just keep moving that he could do this.  He was looking and feeling great.  He was just worried about the cutoffs, as the next one was at 5am at AS 12 followed by 7am at AS 13.  These cutoffs were super stressful and didn't really make much sense.  There was a lot of them that were just always 2 hours apart regardless of how long the section was or what type of terrain it was.  We sent him and Mo off, crossing our fingers.

Sandy and I now had ALOT of time to kill.  We would not be able to see Emir and Mo again until AS 14 which was a solid 17-18 miles.  Since we were in the middle of the black hole of PA with literally nothing around or any kind of phone access so I made the decision to drive back to the highway to Sheetz so we could get some food, drinks, use a nice bathroom and have some phone access.  It ended up being about a 45 minute drive.  I'm not sure how long we were there but I also made sure to get Emir trio of mini burgers because I wasn't sure what kind of food he would be getting while Mo was running with him.  Then we headed to AS 14 which was probably another 45 minutes or longer.  We parked and I immediately went to the check in area.  There was a board with all the people that either dropped or were cut off, it was getting LONG.  I asked the guy if he knew when Emir checked in at AS 12 but he said all his info was running at least an hour behind so he didn't know.  Then he mentioned something about AS 13 being at 7:30.  WHAT?!  I asked him again and showed him our million papers that say 7 and he's like nope it's 7:30.  So then I asked well what about this one then, it says 9.  And he responded with "I'm not sure what time this one is yet.  We have to radio in to find out."  I wasn't upset with this poor volunteer because these things were not his doing but I was freaking out.  I mean it's good that the times were later however I just prayed that Emir and Mo had this information as well because it could totally change how they approach those legs of the race. 

I was so keyed up but so exhausted as well plus I was supposed to run the last 22 miles with Emir so if he made it in time, I had quite a journey ahead of me.  I pulled out my sleeping bag and pillow and found an empty grassy area and went to sleep.  I was so restless and could only sleep about an hour.  When I emerged from my cocoon people were laughing because they really didn't think there was a person inside the bag. 

trying to get some rest
By this point Kristen and crew were there so I hung out chatting with them.  I was having a good time but still worried about Emir.  Eventually around 8 the man said that Emir had made it to AS 13 but he didn't make it in time.  DAMMIT!  I was so upset and I knew he would be too.  Luckily someone at that aid station was able to drive Mo and Emir back to Sandy and I at AS 14.  As soon as they arrived I started crying.  Yes I admit I did.  Emir still looked awesome but obviously frustrated.  He told us how they knew at about 6:50 that they definitely could not make it by 7 so they just slowed way down to take it easy since there was no point to push it anymore.  And then he went on to explain how once they got to the AS, he was told he just missed the 7:30 cutoff and he couldn't believe it because he had just asked at the previous AS to confirm that it was a 7 cutoff which they confirmed it was.  Emir and Mo both agreed they likely could have made the 7:30 cutoff if they knew and then the next section wasn't too bad so they probably would have made it to us by whatever time they changed the cutoff to.  I mean who knows maybe he wouldn't have made the whole race in 36 hours, but there was still a good chance he could have.  He still had plenty of time left.  I totally understand the purpose of cutoffs however I don't think they should be cutting off people that still have a chance.  My thought is especially when there is still 10-12 hours left in a race, either not have a cutoff until later aid stations or have it be a much later time that is really only for those that clearly have no chance at all to finish the race in 36 hours.  I think a race should give runners the most chance they can to make up some time and to finish. 
Best crew!!  Couldn't have done it without you guys!!

Emir and I have been reliving Eastern States for two weeks now.  We know not everyone will agree with our opinions or assessments.  We also feel that if the race directors decide not to make changes to the info given to runners and crews that people deserve to know what they are getting into and also  just for their safety.  It's well known that there are many 100 milers that are more than 100 miles but that's just it, it's well known.  I have seen many races that are whatever100 but it clearly states it is 102 miles or 105 miles.  Eastern States clearly states everywhere 100.8 miles however it's actually somewhere between 106-108 miles.  I honestly don't care that it's longer, I just want to know so I can prepare and pace accordingly.  Emir had studied all the numbers and information.  He made the conscious decision to try to keep his pace slow enough so he wouldn't bonk out especially given this was his first 100 but so that he would make all the cutoffs and finish well under 36 hours.  The fact that he was successful in doing this however didn't make the cutoffs because the information they gave was incorrect, makes me mad.  I also wouldn't bring up these points if I thought it only affected Emir or if it was just a case that he just wasn't prepared for this race and just wasn't fast enough for this race.  I witnessed many other cases of runners who felt they had a good shot of making it, get cut off.  I also talked with some crew and runenrs who felt the same way and saw discussions online after the fact.  So I do know this was an issue that affected many people.  And let's face it, a 30% finish rate is not good.

The other major issue was the distances between aid stations.   We have done a number of ultras at this point and I know it's not an exact science.  However, I have not experienced where the aid stations were anywhere from 1.5 miles to 2 miles further than what was stated by the race.  In a race like Eastern States, this is a BIG deal.  Depending on the time of day you are hitting a particular section, it could totally mess you up big time.  I witnessed it first hand.  There was a number of people who were struggling because they ran out of hydration and fuel due to the extra miles.  Emir also reported how bad it was earlier in the day when it was hot and runners were becoming dehydrated due to the extra miles.  In this type of course an average runner is going to take an extra 40 minutes to an hour to complete two extra miles especially if it's one of the tougher sections or it's the hottest part of the day.  And like I said earlier, I have no problem if it is indeed 9 miles to the aid station but runners just NEED to know that. 

In general, we did have a great experience at Eastern States.  The atmosphere was exciting and fun.  I loved being part of a big event.  All the volunteers were super helpful and very friendly.  I loved getting to crew and pace.  I loved hanging out with tons of other runners, their crews and our crew.  Getting to know Mo and Sandy was awesome!  The course is tough and challenging but beautiful and fun.  I enjoyed the miles I was able to get in with Emir.  And I learned that crewing is NOT easy.  I woke up Monday morning with a splitting headache and so tired.  I'm pretty sure I didn't hydrate myself enough during the race and was feeling the effects of dehydration and extreme fatigue.  Even though coach Caleb had told me to rest, etc., now I really know for next time to take better care of myself while crewing. 

This whole experience made me SUPER excited for my race the TARC 100.  I think just seeing what a 100 was like in person gave me a whole new perspective and I just feel really good about it now.  As it turns out, Emir's DNF might not have been the most horrible thing either.  Both myself and coach Caleb have urged him to run TARC with me since it's not until October.  He needed a little convincing (not much) but he's registered.  This time we are doing the 100 miler the right way, TOGETHER!  I think it's just destiny that #teamdedic accomplishes all new distances together.  With the exception of our first marathons, we have run all our ultra distances for the first time together (50K, 50 miles and 100K) and been successful so maybe it was our fault for doing the hundo different.  Why fix something if it's not broken?!  In any case, I am so happy and can't wait.  But before that, Labor day weekend I am tackling the Labor Pains 12 hour in Reading.  It will be great prep for the hundo and tons of fun.  My teammate Kristen is running and Emir & kids will be there supporting me.   Speaking of which, time to get back to running! ;-)