Pistol Ultra Run - Race Recap

“What do you need to run 100 miles?” Two legs and a heart ❤ Lazarus Lake

Other than giving birth to my three children with NO EPIDURAL, this was the most challenging and painful thing I had to do in my life. This experience will be with me forever. There is not enough physical training that would have prepared me for what I had to mentally endure.

Pre-Race Day 
We had a 10 hour drive from Florida to Alcoa, Tennessee. I was anxious, excited, nervous, I had no idea what to expect. But I was ready for anything. We arrived Alcoa HS early morning December 31st. I rented a camper for us to stay at the race sight. After our camper arrived, we settled in and just lounged around until it was time to head out to the pre-race festivities. At around 2:20 pm I headed over the to school for the Lazarus Lake workshop. For those who do not know who Lazarus Lake is, he is a legend; founder of the crazy Barkley marathons. I will leave it at that, go watch it on Netflix. 

As I walked in the school I had to contain my emotions, just wanted to scream "I'm here!! It's my first hundo" Lol  Volunteers were finishing up the final touches for the expo. I walked around took a peak and proceed to the auditorium. 

Workshop lasted about 2 hrs and half. Laz had a lot of great tips for us & a few funny stories. There were a few things that stood out for me and I carried in my head throughout the race. As far as nutrition first thing he said is those aid stations are a trap πŸ˜ƒ. Do not waste time in the aid stations. Do not eat just because it's there for you to eat. If you get to an aid station and you do not immediately feel the need to eat its because you don't need it. Keep it moving. If you go eat a pretzel or potato chip and its bland, then you don't need salt. Focus on staying hydrated. Beef sticks and cheese are his choice of nutrition, high in fat and salt. Another tip was feet care. Taping hot spots help in preventing blisters, also applying Vaseline all over your feet, toes and on tape too. He suggested at least two pairs of sneakers one pair being half size bigger just in case your feet swell up, however, he said if your feet feel fine then don't touch them; it's okay to run in one pair of sneakers and socks. Lastly do not start off too slow. Yes, you want to conserve energy, but starting off slow doesn't mean you will finish strong, it's 100 miles people! 

Laz: I am not sure why people want to take photos with me
Me: Don't you know you are famous?
Laz: I wish I knew that, I charge a fee. Good Luck! 

After workshop I proceeded to pick up my bib, I remember when I picked up my bib at NYC Marathon Expo I cried, but this time, I held it in.... Someone told me during my first 50 miler, "Ultra runners don't cry, go finish this race... cry later" So I sucked it up.. Lol Everything was so well organized. Volunteers were great, very attentive and cordial. "Where the heck is Stacy? ugh!

Once I got my bib, they had me grab a backpack, then over to the Injini sock table to pick out a pair... Oooo my favorite!! They had several tables after that you just walk by and grab what you like; beer coozies with Pistol race logo (umm YES), neck buffer (Double YES), several vendor samples of nutrition, protein shakes, dark chocolates (yum), first aid kits, etc. now over to the shirts, we got a hoodie and a shirt. The volunteer tells me after your complete your race you will also get a finisher shirt, visor, and your buckle. WOW!! Talk about swag! I spent a little more time wandering waiting on Stacy before our pre-race mandatory meeting. Got to take a look at all the awards, medals, & buckle. I was in awe on how beautiful it was.. I just couldn't wait to have that baby in my hands. Pre-race meeting was very helpful. RD went over the course, markings, aid stations, rules, etc. Timing company advised there be four mats to cross. After they were done with all race logistics they proceeded to raffle door prizes. WOW, free 2018 races entries, 50% race entries, Tail Wind, more and more swag. Plus they raffled one of each AG award prizes.

I head back to my camper at about 6:45 pm. John had dinner ready for me; grilled salmon, steamed broccoli, baked sweet potatoes. By 8 pm I was already laid in bed feet up resting. I had a very good night's sleep, probably one of the best I had in months.

Race Day
I woke up at 6 am. Prepared an easy light breakfast, Eggo waffle sandwich with eggs, bacon and half banana. It was a crisp cold morning, My attire consisted of:
- UA thermal compression pants
- UA thermal compression shirt/Asics half zip pullover sweater/Nike thermal jacket
- Asics thermal beenie/Pearl Izumi thermal gloves/neck buff/Injinji wool socks
- Sketchers Forza

I set my table and chairs outside my camper, with several items I would need during the race. Walked over to the school with John, we got some Panera coffee and a bagel for the kids. For the first time was not going to feed myself but relayed completely on the aid stations for nutrition, however, I had a 20 oz handheld with Nuun Plus and base salt. In addition, I carried potassium & magnesium supplements.

The course would run along Pistol Creek, through Alcoa into Maryville Greenbelt Park. It was an out and back for 10 miles. There was 1 aid station at the start-line and 1 main aid station (Woody' AS) along the loop about 4.5 miles,  Woody's AS was the best, ask Stacy about the cookies and banana bread..LOL!! My strategy was to complete each loop in about 2 hours while making sure I kept my heart rate in the 140's. It's almost start time. I waited for Stacy who was running the 50k to take off at 7:55 am. My last words of encouragement "PR BISH" 😜 I was starting at 8:00 am. As soon as the 50k'ers are out, I realize "Shit!!" I don't have my handheld. "JOHNNN"!! Lol he ran and got it for me. I enter the corral, the clock is counting down, I am super anxious and excited, the gun goes off and guess what, my Garmin is off, smh!! Jessh talk about being unprepared!!

Waiting for my Garmin to come on. 
Loop 1 - First 3 miles, easy peezy. The trail was absolutely gorgeous, the trees, the creek along the way, the chill in the air, but the clouds were nearing, RAIN was in the forecast, that made me uneasy. But I was ready this time. I had three layers on, UA compression cold gear shirt, Asics thermal pull-over sweater, Nike thermal jacket. I wore UA compression pants, my sketchers with Injinji wool toe socks, Pearl Izumi running gloves, Asics beanie hat & neck buffer; needless to say I was pretty warm. However, after 1 mile, my arms were feeling uncomfortable. The compression shirt was annoying the crap out of me, it felt like my biceps were being squeezed really hard.  So I knew that would have to go.

Since I don’t use music I spent my time counting the purple bibs (100 milers) as they were turning around. Well I was just counting the females, my competitive nature wanted to know where I was. I know there was some really fast ones. But I knew if I could keep up my pace I had a chance if being in the top 10 females.
Back to the course, as I approach 3.5 miles we entering park I encounter my first steady incline, not bad.. but we hit the first short but annoying up-hill. Okay I said.. I can handle that; well then we hit about 3 more steep inclines. Ugh I just knew that after two loops I would be over this. Since it was an out and back I would have to repeat those pesky little hills. So from miles 3.5 to about 6.5 it was just up and down, then back to flat. I also see the first photographer on the course at about mile 4. I see other runners jumping.. I remembered that last year they had a contest for best jump. Oh boy.. as I get closer, I asked him, "am I supposed to jump"? If you want to. Here was my best shot.

Once we are off the trail at mile 9, it was a steady incline back into the school, we have to cross the finish-line mat, I pass by my camper then go for a short out and back to start-line. That was annoying. Lol. However, I was able to tell John to have whatever I needed ready while I did that short out and back.  So I completed my first loop in 1:48:35. I didn’t spend any time at aid stations first loop. It was cold and too early to eat. I drank maybe 10 oz of Nuun Plus. But I had to get rid of compression shirt. John helped me strip right by my tent. So I just kept the two layers on this time. With transition of less than 3 minutes, I started my 2nd loop at 1:51:06 (overall avg pave 11:06)

Loop 2 – So now that I was familiar with the course, I had to make sure I ran it smart and not waste energy trying to run up those pesky inclines. I decided I would run the first 3 miles, and once I start hitting the incline and hilly areas I would conserve my energy by walking up and running down. I was still able to maintain my pace and was feeling strong. By mile 15 I ate for the first time, I just had a handful of grapes and kept moving. Completed 2nd loop in 1:51:31. I also took my first bathroom break and took two supplements; one of potassium and one magnesium (250 mg). Within 2 minutes I was off again at 3:45:39 (overall avg pace 11:16).

Loop 3 - Now I have a rhythm going. My body was warm. I was feeling great. Enjoying the scenery. Talking to other runners, one in particular called Billy from Knoxville. We chatted about marathons, about pacing, about training, about the stupid inclines..Lol nice guy. I had seen Stacy twice on the course. Both times I stopped quickly to give her a hug and tell her to make sure she stayed focused and PR... no excuses, Lol..  I wished we could have ran together, but I knew she would do great. I was still drinking my NUUN, only eating grapes and oranges and few sips of water. Not wasting anytime in the aid stations. I completed my 3rd loop in 1:53:26 (5:40:18). I was getting bored of the NUUN; I still had half bottle left, so I just topped with water. I had to use bathroom but this time was just to apply some A&D ointment in the private areas, ugh!! #TheAssChafeBegins! This time it took my about 4 minutes to get going, I was off at 5:44:52 (overall avg pace 11:29).

Loop 4 - 30 miles done.. my goal was to be at 50 in 10 hours or less. Stayed focus on the course, sticking to my pace. Paying attention to the female leaders.... I was in the top 7 or 8 somewhere. Nothing really changed from last loop. There was so much food at the aid stations but I didn't have much of an appetite; just kept eating fruit to sweeten my palette. I completed my 4th loop in 1:56:44; I was 7 hrs 52 minutes into my race (overall avg 11:48 pace). I was still feeling great. Took my 2nd bathroom break; I wish I not held it that long.. ugh that didn't feel good. 😩

Loop 5 - I set out for my 5th loop. We had a light drizzle, on and off. The winds were picking up. I wasn't too worried yet. But I knew I would need my rain poncho for next loop. Legs were feeling a bit tight, took another potassium & magnesium supplement. This time at aid station (mile 44.5) I felt like I needed to eat but I didn't know what. I gazed at the pretzels and chips, ehhh I picked up a pretzel put it in my mouth, and I immediately spit it out, blah! Lazarus Lake said if that chip or pretzel is not salty you don't need any more salt. I tried small piece of humus wrap, mmm that was better. But I also grabbed a few more grapes, slice of oranges and handful of cashews and off I went to finish this 50. I ran those last several miles without taking a walk break. I completed my 5th loop in 1:59:22 (9:56:52 goal accomplished). So now I was done with NUUN. I switched to water. If I needed the electrolytes later I would use my base salt; however, I knew I had enough salt in me. Needed a flush. 😳 I grabbed my rain poncho, tied on my waist. I crossed the mat at 10:00:52 hours to begin my 6th loop (overall avg pace of 12:01). By the way my Garmin dies, so I take my backup.

PS every tent in the start area had blown away, broke. oh well there goes that! John placed my stuff in the back of the van for the time being. No biggie.

Loop 6 - My longest training run was my 50 miler on December 10th. I had done a 100K before but that was back in February. So now I need to mentally prepare myself for this 2nd half of the race. All I need to do was stay focused, stay hydrated and stay warm. The good thing about this race is that I kept seeing the same faces over and over. In the beginning everyone is smiling, saying good job, keep it up.. but now there were some struggling faces. I just needed to stay smiling even though I was starting to ache. There was one guy, with USA tights that I kept seeing at the on the course, he kept telling me, "you are still smiling? Keep it up, you are making me smile" So if my smile could make another runner smile & not think of anything else for one second.. that meant I must keep smiling. I completed the 60 miles (including small breaks) in 12:18:21 hours (overall avg pace 12:11). Now my goal for each loop was to survive and stay strong.

Loop 7 - Here is when shit started to feel real! Before I made it to the aid station stomach cramp.... WTF is that? ugh please God not now. It was pretty sharp, literally had me halted and bent over for a few seconds. All I kept thinking, I had stomach pain meds back at my tent, I should had carried some.  I took a deep breath and kept moving. I crossed mile 64.6 averaging 12:27, I knew if I could not get control of my belly I would slow down a lot. Once I got to the aid station they had ginger chews, I grabbed two, I also had a sip of ginger ale. I wanted something solid to eat but now I was afraid to eat. I took off. But now I my left ankle started to feel funny; sharp pain in the front. I stopped to touch it and it was super tender, felt a small bump too. Now what? well I started to speed walk. I just wanted to get back to my things so I can apply some bio-freeze. My 7th loop took me a little over 2 1/2 hrs; I was getting slower but its okay, as long as I was able to maintain a easy jog, try to keep at least a 13 minute mile I'd be okay. John had a fire pit going, the kids were making s'mores. This was the first time I sat down and to check my ankle. I had a tiny bruise, it was a bit swollen. I massaged it for a bit and rubbed some bio-freeze. Jonah says "mom are you done" Lol I wish.. no son, 30 more to go. I was 11 pm, I was hoping to be with the family by the time the clock hit 12:00 am. Well that wasn't happening. That made me a little sad but I gave them all a kiss and said Happy New Years, Love you! and off I went. I was 14:59:32 hours into my race (overall avg pace 12:51). 30 miles left Diane!! I could definitely get it done and still finish was under 24 hours. "Let's do this!"

Loop 8 - My body still felt warm. I had my rain poncho on this time. "Stupid RAIN" it was chilly, but I was okay. A few minutes into the run I realize I left my Garmin on the chair I had been sitting on.. oh well!! I was trying to make it to the aid station before midnight but of course here goes my stomach acting up again..and once AGAIN I didn't take any meds with me, ugh!! Not sure what time is it..about 3 minutes before reaching the aid station I hear cheers. Ugh, did I  miss it? Here comes a runner, Happy New Year. I was so sad. I just brought on the New Year on a dark lonely trail. I tried to stay focused. First thing I ask at the aid station if they anything I could take for my stomach, and they pulled out of bottle of TUMS!! Yesss! I chewed about 4. I also had some chicken broth. I was starting to feel cold and tired. As I head out for the last 5 miles everything just turned upside down. My gloves were completely soaked and wet. My hands got cold, I just started it to shiver. It as hard for me to even run. I was trying to hide my hands inside my rain poncho but that wasn't working. I was moving very slow. I had flashbacks from Iron Horse 100K where I didn't even have a poncho. I prayed to God I could hurry and get back so I can layer up and change my gloves. Man! It took me 3 hours!!! 3 hours!!! I couldn't believe it. I felt a little bit of desperation kicking in. I made it back to my camper, I banged on the door and asked John to help me up. "Omg I am so cold" He helped me strip of my tops, I added two layers, my thermal jacket and rain jacket. I got new gloves, new scarf, and he helped put my poncho back on. It took me about 10 minutes before I got going. 18:09:57 hours! I have 20 miles left. I should be able to warm up now. Off I went. ohh but I forgot to tell John to call Stacy. But then I said to myself, its too cold. I can't have her come out here. maybe I will call her later.

Loop 9 - "Diane if we jog a little we will be able to warm up" not sure how far I ran for before I started walking again. I was tired, my body would not warm up fast enough. My core felt frozen. I was so cold I forgot my ankle hurt. Now all my muscles are starting to stiffen. Diane we need to run, try to run.. I can't I am trying,  I just want to sleep. Now I am turtle walking. Not even trying to speed walk. But there was one thing I knew and didn't forget was that no females had passed me yet. Maybe they were cold too. The leaders look cold, God how are they moving. I wasn't able to run this lap at all. I just need to keep moving. I was not giving up. Again, I am at the aid station mile 85, I sat for the 2nd time. This time I lowered my head and closed my eyes. I didn't want to get up. One of the volunteers came and wrapped me up with a foil wrapper. Another asked if I wanted to lay down.. I said no its okay; I just need to close my eyes for a little bit. Not sure how long I was there for but I jumped up I said I have to keep moving. I had some broth & a piece of quesadilla and went on to the next 5 miles. I felt like a zombie. I kept stopping in the middle of the trail and closing my eyes. A few times I found myself veering off the trail asleep. I almost fell twice or three times.. who knows. At least two runners stopped to asked me if I was okay. No I am not, I am so cold, and sleepy. I was done! God please help me! As I am making myself around to the school, I said to myself Diane you are almost there. John can help. This time I almost fell off the sidewalk..so I got off the sidewalk and walked in the middle of the road. 4 hours and 10 minutes later I make it back to my camper. WTF!! over 4 hours. 22:18 hours into the race!! I was standing in front of the camper helpless. I didn't have the strength to knock for John to come out. I was trying to rip off my poncho. I could barely feel my hands. I just wanted to crawl up in a ball. And all of a sudden I see a car, lights and someone saying "heyy!! what can I do for you?" It was Stacy!! I completely fell apart crying! "I am so cold, I am so tired" How am I supposed to finish these last 10 miles. All she said was "I got you" I got you" AND she did!! She help me up the camper. John jumped out of bed grabbed me. Between both of them, they got me into dry socks and sneakers (first time I changed them). "Please not my feet, don't touch them" Stacy insisted. New gloves, hand warmers, thermal pants, and the best part she brought her NYC Marathon Poncho! Why didn't I think of that?? smh!

THE FINAL LAP!!! Loop 10 - "Victory is mine" 
Here we go!! Ouch!! my feet felt like bricks in extra sneakers. Ugh but I didn't care! Stacy said she would keep me company for my last loop in one condition "Don't make me run, I don't have a bra on" Lmao!! Well I was determined to speed walk. I didn't need anything to eat, I just wanted to be done!! I was warm, and wide awake. All I hear Stacy talking about was the yummiest cookies and banana bread!! We set out at 22:26:26. It was pretty painful. We talked about her race, her medal and night with her friends. I spoke with Kirsty and Ashly. They both said how proud they were of me, I was strong, don't stop and to keep moving!! But now I realize shit! There goes one... two.. three... four.... females!! Oh well, at this point. I knew I was not going to sub 24; but I just wanted to finish this loop in 3 hours, so we need to walk fast. As we came around the last mile, I felt a knot in my throat. Wow!! This is happening!! I am doing this!! I took off my poncho. Stacy ran into the camper to get John, while I went to go aroun last timing mat. I had to run.. so I painfully started to run to that mat, came back around, my chest felt tight.. I was breathing heavily, I just wanted to burst into tears, but I wasn't there yet. Last 800 meters. Pick it up Diane, you can do it!
Official Time 25:34:01

Tears of Joy!
I completed my last and final loop in 3 hrs 8 minutes!!! I RAN 100 miles in 25:34:01. Wow!!! now I can cry!! This was real. I did it!! I fell into John's arms, "I am in so much pain" I said!! He answered, "Yes you are, but this is what you wanted and you did it!"
I am finally done!
Go collect your prize

"Where is my gun?" Lol
I walk into the school to collect my finishers award. I walk up to the table where they were handing out my split times and one last surprise. "She is also age group" volunteer said... whaaaaaattt!! I was 3rd in my age group 40-49 How amazing is that!!!!

After I took my finisher's pics I sat down for some coffee and pancakes. I finally took off those God awful sneakers. No blisters, No toenail loss!! Woohoo!! After I showered and changed I went back to the school to get some TLC from  Quest Therapy Consultants Amazing people!! They were there the entire weekend assisting runners, even throughout the night!! 

Ahhh that stretch felt great!! I am telling you, they could not have spoiled us much more!

These boots tho!! The bomb!!
"Their function is to assist with venous blood flow and lymph flow to decrease swelling and speed re-oxygenation of blood for faster recovery and to speed healing." Dr. Dana Schoonmaker

Thank you!!
What else can I add? I am so proud I didn't give up. I am so blessed that Stacy was there to lift me up when I need it the most. Words will never describe how grateful I am for you!! I love you so much for making this trip with me. You absolutely ROCK!! Thank you always for your genuine friendship & support.

Thank you to my husband who was in and out of sleep all night, making sure I had what I needed and when I needed it. Thank you for your support, for caring for the kids, for working 10 days straight with minimal sleep so you could be here for me. I will be eternally grateful to you. I love you from the bottom of my heart.

Thanks to everyone for all the cheers along the way!! To my amazing running group (West Volusia Runners) and their leaders who inspired me to run farther and farther. For giving us a safe place to run and train. Thanks to Ashly, Faye, Arlene, Kirsty, for joining me on some of my long runs. Stacy and Gillian who were with me for my overnight run. I hope I didn't miss anyone, if I did I am sorry I love you all.

Thanks to Dr. Dana aka "The Bone Whisperer" for keeping me healthy, for using her trickery anytime I did something dumb. To my massage therapists for keeping these muscles functioning all year out!

Lastly, a huge shout-out to Race Director Will Jorgensen, his wife, and the amazing volunteers for putting on such an amazing race! I could not have picked a better race for my first 100; Pistol Ultra . Thanks a million!!

What's in store for the future?
Another 100?? Ummmm yeah of course!! I want that sub 24!! I am still recovering, running easy. I have a few races in mind, nothing set in stone as of yet. I am pacing my first marathon late March, so I am considering another ultra immediately after. My plans after May is to solely focus on speed and work towards a sub-4 hour marathon or at least get close it. So yeah, next major goal is to qualify for Boston Marathon. I know I can do it!! I am determined to get there. I will be attempting my next marathon PR October 15th at the Detroit Free Press Marathon. Stay tuned!!


  1. Just an edit that I was wearing a bra just not a sports bra so technically for running I may as well had none...lol...Diane is the strongest person I know...she is always picking me up as I am the whinest runner I know and to see her cry and cold and wet and in pain killed me ..how was it that I got there just in time...I didn't know anything except that when I left she was so strong... 530 am changed the race completely... It was awful and was just time to finish!!!! We talked for 3 hours and got that last loop done BC we all know it just had to be done...there was no other option!!! In the end..I love her and couldn't be prouder!!! No one has ever worked so hard with determination that I can't ever imagine having about anything!!! Ready for her next 100!!!

  2. Amazing write up, I enjoyed it a lot! Congrats on your first 100!!!! Woohoo!!


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