My first attempt at the Beast of the East 100 (formerly Monadnock Ultras) was during its inaugural year in December 2019. I quit after mile 83. I suppressed the memories so hard that I didn’t even want to read my own race recap to prep for this race. When Richard announced the December 2020 race was postponed to April 2021, I felt relieved. Now I had more than 2 1/2 months from my finish at Yeti 100 to properly train for the race. I had been worried about two months not being enough time, yet on race day I was not even a full 14 days from my finish at the Umstead 100 Endurance Run. Richard gave us the option to defer the race until December 2021, which I seriously considered but my recovery was stellar and this race has haunted me long enough, I was ready to get it out of the way!!
08APR21 – My best friend Nate agreed to fly in from California to support me. He felt that he owes me from the time I gave him my S1000RR to start his motorcycle racing career. I’m not by any means qualified to teach him things about the South, but it has been fun exposing either of my besties to Southern culture whenever they visit me. We drove down from NoVA to Gastonia, NC, the day before the race. Dinner was at Pita Wheel – lamb gyros and local craft beer (Good Morning Vietnam blonde ale – Wooden Robot Brewery and Peanut Butter Jelly Time brown ale – Catawba Brewing Co). After dinner, we scoped out all the aid station points that Nate was allowed to meet me during the race and headed to the hotel for final race prep and sleep.
Race Day 09APR21 – My alarm was set to 0444. For breakfast, I had coffee and a large sweet potato hot out of my Instant Pot. I copied Tricia’s recipe and sprinkled them with nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. I forgot the brown sugar, but the hotel had butter for me to use. We were 15 minutes from Linwood Access, so we left the hotel around 0700. When we arrived, the gates were still closed. Apparently, there had been a miscommunication with the park rangers, so Richard let us know that we would start at 0830 instead of 0800. I told him it’s all good, but inside I was ready to go!!!
During the pre-race brief, Richard announces to everyone that I ran 83 miles and had PTSD from that race. It’s true. The harder you try to suppress something, the harder you have to face it. My DNF haunted me every time the Ultrasignup link to the Beast was shared on Facebook and Richard had set the banner with my picture on it. Thanks Richard!!! Now that we’ve gotten all that shame out of the way, it’s time to race!!
Lap 1 (5:06:56)
The weather started out the same at Umstead in the 60’s with 90% humidity. I wore my RADrabbit tank top, rabbit mountain climber shorts, XOskin toe socks, Osprey Dyna 1.5L hydration pack, and a pair of Altra Lone Peaks 4.5 fresh out of the box. I’m also excited to see how my new Coros Apex Pro watch will record the race.
Each lap is about 21.8 miles with ~3200′ elevation gain beginning at Linwood Access. In the 2019 race, Richard had us start at Boulders Access.
During one of the ascents, I met DeMarion from North Carolina and Pompilio+ his friend from Texas. We shared a love for Altra running shoes. I make it to the 161 aid station (Hi Dan!) at 1015 and Boulders Access at 1050. Nate had just missed me leaving Boulders, so I don’t see him again until I return to Sparrow Springs at 1130 and back to Linwood at 1230.
Lap 2 (5:20:13)
I take Pompilio’s advice and ditch my Osprey pack for my Nathan hand-helds, so I no longer keep track of my stop times without my phone. I also take off my tank-top because it’s drenched from the sweat. I felt unhappy and struggled with this lap because it was so damn hot. Someone on the trail reminded me to “Just keep eating and one foot in front of the other”
At mile 27, I took a spill and scraped my left elbow. I was able to wash the blood off at Boulders Access. On the way back from Boulders, I tell Dan that I feel light-headed and hard to take down anything. He offers me pickle juice and bacon-wrapped pickles.
At Sparrow Springs, I sit down and attempt to bring my heart rate down and mindfully eat a small Ziploc bag of fried rice. He fulfills my request for ice water, a real treat before the climb back up Rock Top. Rich, the aid station captain, was consistent with my Coke/pickle juice requests.
They both tell me that the leading lady also took a fall and has decided to drop from the race after she completes 50 miles. I thought this news would help put a pep in my step, but my right leg cramped up really badly during the ascent up Rock Top. Even though I had noticed the layer of salt formed on my eyelashes when I went to the bathroom earlier, I had forgotten to ask Nate for salt caps. There were several times I sat still on the rocks, to ride the pain out and other times I used the rope Richard provided to pull myself up and drag my leg over the rocks.
This will sound really weird, but I wanted something salty so bad I started licking my arm…. like a freakin’ cat!!
I don’t know if it was just a psychological thing, but it worked for me, and I was able to move my legs properly again.
I saw the prettiest orange, blue, and purple sunset and regretted not having my phone to capture it.
When I finally made it back to Linwood, Nate and his superb attention-to-detail noticed all the layer of salt formed on my rabbit visor and gave me a bag of Salt Stick caps without asking him to.
Lap 3 (6:52:04)
I was proud of myself for making it back before dark. At every stop, I apply Desitin to my poor thunder thighs that are chafing and Biofreeze for the cooling sensation. I put on a new rabbit tank top, my Osprey pack and grab my Black Diamond Carbon Z trekking poles. I wanted to treat myself to music for this lap, but I didn’t want to deal with the clunkiness of my Petzl Nao+ headlamp with my Aftershockz headphones (another first world ultrarunner problem) I ascend the 1.3 miles of Tower Trail and listen to the tap-tap-tap of my trekking poles miles before I have to turn on my headlamp. The temperature is now cooler and I feel much happier during this lap, consistent with my nutrition and in a good flow, hopping over rocks and staying in the present moment. I even took a moment to enjoy pizza and laughing with the volunteers at both the 161 and Boulders aid stations.
10APR21 Lap 4 (8:28:31)
Nate had been waiting all day to go out on a lap with me so we roll out together on lap 4. I continued to feel good for that first three miles until we got to Sparrow Springs. Unfortunately, because I had rushed us to get out of Linwood, we did not grab everything I would use for each lap. It became a constant struggle between my emotions and physical pain. I tried really hard to focus on the positives, but it was extremely difficult. We watched the sunrise during our ascent into Boulder’s Access and listened to the high-pitched songs of golden-crowned kinglets. Their eyes glowed bright orange in the dark, which I have first mistaken for giant fireflies. We felt relieved to finally take off our headlamps, but that relief quickly left when the rain started coming down. I felt so annoyed that I had taken off my visor. At 0800, the 50-mile racers began and we saw them coming in. Nate cheerfully greeted them all while I sulked along. When we finally reached the top of Tower Trail where I usually would gain speed during the descent, my thunder thighs now had horrible chafing mixed with the rain and sweat. I winced every time I tried to run. We start slowly walking down instead – which really isn’t that much more comfortable considering the grade of the hill. Finally, I decide to do the most awkward diagonal shuffles down the trail so that my thighs wouldn’t touch. Even this old couple behind said to me, “You look like you’re in pain, I’m sorry.”
Lap 5 (4:44:53)
We finally reached Linwood, completing mile 88. I immediately go into the bathroom to change into a fresh pair of rabbit shorts, put on a visor, and liberally apply Desitin. Nate refills our packs, this time with everything I would need. Richard warns that I have 5 hours to finish the race. I would’ve felt relaxed if I had 12 miles left. Even though I get to skip Boulder’s Access and turn around at the 161 aid station for this lap, I knew that it was more than 12 miles and Richard was right, I’d be pushing it really close. Nate and I roll out together, but I end up ditching him at Sparrow Springs to finish the lap by myself. Sure enough, the rain started pouring once I made it to the 161 aid station.
This is now my third 100-mile race in a row in the rain. My friend Melvin asked, “Will you ever do a race where you don’t have any rain?” I told him “Well I did have one….but I quit at mile 83 like a dummy.” Dear God, I promise I will never quit again at a race that doesn’t have rain.
When I reached Sparrow Springs, I have 70 minutes to get back to Linwood. I don’t see Nate, but he has left my Biofreeze, Tri-slide spray, and a couple of Honeystingers on the table. I force myself to eat the Honeystinger chews and downed two Cokes before I took off.
On my last climb up Rock Top, Miller, the leading 50-Mile racer sees me again and says, “You’re just out here hiking all day aren’t you?” He didn’t think I was racing because I had changed my shorts and no longer had my bib. I’m stoked to finally say, “Dude, I’m about to finish the 100-miler!” and he responds super pumped with a “HELL YEAH!!” However, I was still worried that I will not make it before the 32-hour mark.
When I finally reach the top of Tower Trail – I had 16 minutes to run the last 1.3 miles. I take a deep breath and start sprinting towards Linwood and repeat to myself: “Do not stop until those two buckles are in your hand! Do not stop until those two buckles are in your hand!” I crossed the finish line with a giant smile on my face. Time: 31 hours 50 minutes and 37 seconds – I have just become the first and only female to finish the course!!
I sink into a chair as everyone around me congratulated me. Richard presented me with two buckles and snaps a derp photo of me to post on the Dirty Wolf Ultras Facebook page. He’s happy to hear me admit that this is the most challenging course I’ve done. Miller came in momentarily after to win the 50-mile race. His mom gave me a cold celebratory beer (SoBo Orangerine hazy india ale – Blue Blaze Brewing Co – another local craft beer)
I take a shower back at the hotel, feeling the burn on all my scrapes and chafing. I struggled to keep my eyes open as I make my way to bed. I woke up around 2100 to the sound of heavy rain and my stomach clawing itself. I drove 12 minutes to the closest Cook-out and ordered one Cook-out style burger and one Cheddar style burger. The cajun fries didn’t even make it back to the hotel. I wolf down both of my burgers and fall back asleep, peacefully.
Redemption is super sweet – 30 scoops of Tailwind sweet and sweet tea from Zaxby’s sweet ^_^
Nate – I am so grateful and stinking proud of him. His NASCAR pit crew experience and impressive organizational skills were instrumental to a successful race. He just started running 6 months ago and now he has completed his longest distance on difficult terrain, in the dark, with humidity/rain, all while jet-lagged and having been up taking care of me. Richard, thank you for giving us the opportunity to race again!! Please please please give future 100-milers more time lol!!! Thank you to all the volunteers, especially the ones that harassed me with their kindness. Hopefully I will see yall in December!