“I run… sometimes because it’s my one chance at greatness… but most of the time to keep my sanity!” WG
Our Tiger Ellen Nguyen embodies all that is Whippet: whether it is in her commitment to distance running, diet, bodywork, and of course, in her indomitable spirit. From 5K to Ultra-Marathon, Tiger Ellen has distinguished herself as a dedicated runner/racer, who, most recently, undertook the daunting challenge of this grueling 24-hour race, and finished, not only 1st among women, but 2nd overall!
Her race reporting on the event is a comprehensive tome that goes deep inside the heart and soul of what it takes to compete, and win at a highest level of ultra competition. The next time you’re thinking about long distance racing, and the effort of mind and body required, remember and refer back to the following post, and you’ll find your inspiration waiting there, in the form of a strong and steady-moving Whippette. Brava TE!
Ideally, I wanted to embark on the longest and easiest race in comparison to my peers, and was hoping to make 100 miles! That was my goal, although I had many doubts. I told myself that was my goal, though I knew 80 miles was my max. No way can I do almost 4 marathons, no fricking way. Who am I kidding? I’m known to be slow-mo, whether it’s walking, hiking, biking or running. That’s a known fact!
I was so blessed to have so many supportive teammates. Sky wanted to pace me in the wee hours. Michelle called and said the same thing. I was like, ‘some lucky Tiger.’ But, unfortunately, Michelle found out it’s not allowed by USAT rule. What a great surprise to see Eliot there. I made sure I got in early so I could take pictures with other experienced ultra-runners and to show off! Everyone had chairs, table, and food that was enough for 48 hour run while I had…. so little food. Henry was a gem; he went home and got me a chair, long pants and a coffee!
I always knew everyone like to start out fast and told myself, don’t even try. Not that I could as I did the Hamptons Marathon the Saturday before, 13 miles on Monday and about 12 on Tuesday. was a fool to do so much but I didn’t even know or think I was going to do the 24 hour race. Can’t blame the Tiger there ’til 4 hours passed by and I didn’t even hit 20 miles. Reality kicked in and said to myself, ‘fine, 80 it is.’
Hours went by, and I saw #14 (I don’t really look up or care much what one looks like if they are beyond my height during a race, sorry) and found his pace to be perfect! I asked: ‘Can I draft behind you?’ He said ‘…sure.’ Soon enough, I found out he had finished Badwater twice. I thought to myself, ‘uh oh; no way can I hang on for long.’ I was so happy to do about 6 laps with him in 3 different times. I was sad to see him walk.
I enjoyed every time I passed by the time-table. I was curious with my laps the first few hours and soon overheard someone say: ‘she’s in third!’ The pressure was now on. Actually, before that I did overhear something funny. As the one volunteer said my lap number, the volunteer next to her said, ‘she is referred to as Tiger Ellen.’ The next thing I heard was: ‘really?’ and a big laugh. I laugh myself as I passed the tent.
Not much of a Tiger today though. As matter of fact, I said it out loud a few times that the race director is not getting my $80 ever again; I will never do a 24 Hour race or 100 mile race again. Sometime later in the race, I was told I was in the lead! I said to myself: ‘no way! Stop playing with my head.’ A few laps later, I was told the same thing and I said: ‘but I didn’t want to be in the lead.’ Yes, baby-crying it was. At least everyone in the tent had a good laugh.
I was so happy when I found out I had 8 more laps to hit the 100 mile mark and told myself (and the volunteers and the tent): ‘8 more and I’m done.’ Counting down, at about 21:26, I made my very first 100 mile. Did I stop? Hell to the no!! Marched on for the rest of the time to get whatever I could. Somewhere near the end I got foot massages twice by Yuri and Trishul. It really helped. My feet were just too painful to be pounded on any further. My knees were protesting a bit too, but that’s a given.
I swear and live by massages. As matter of fact, I prep myself with massages during the 3 days of tapering, with very deep tissue massage, too. I felt a little discomfort on the right hip early on during the race but that disappeared. By the end of the race, it’s the bottom of my feet that cannot pound on pavement anymore. Other than that, I have no other problems.
At the end of the race, I had no clue who the leader was, because I didn’t hear it and had complained about not wanting to be in the lead. Hence, there was a lot of walking and slacking off as well. I even told Cherrie that I thought she was the winner. We didn’t know and had no clue. If she hadn’t done the 24 hour race the week before, she could have won the race easily. She was so strong and passed me by every time.
I know many of us had stomach issues during the 100 mile. It’s not easy to conquer that problem. I was lucky to have none. I had scrambled eggs for breakfast at 7:30. I ate a wedge of cantaloupe/honeydew/watermelon every lap. Drank a cup of either coke or Gatorade every loop. About 4 hours in, I ate about a half roll of sushi with scrambled egg, or one made with just spicy sauce. When pasta was served, I had it mixed with tomato soup because the soup was too hot and pasta was cold. First time, it was so so good. The second time? Eww and that was it. I had sweet pickle a few times (thanks to Lucimar), and kimchi twice. The melons and ice are what really kept me going.
Yes, I had the urge to poop a few times but never happened but peed clear 4-5 times (I know, TMI…). But, please, give me a break! It was a total surprise that I came in first for the women. Sky just pointed out something for which I had no clue: I was second overall! Holly smoke! But seriously, it was pure luck for me. The speedy runners were somehow not feeling well, so I lucked out. I will never do a 24 hour race again. I don’t want to break my own record, lol.
Wow, this is the longest report I’ve ever written. Thanks again for all the support I’ve had on and off the course. The race was made possible by all the volunteers, which by the way is the toughest job in my opinion. I once thought Michelle Mason was out of her mind when she told me she was going in for some kind of volunteering. Now, I know and will give back.
I kept hearing someone calling Tiger, but I had no clue who it was or how on earth did they know me as Tiger. I really am thankful for the shout-out; it really, really cheered me up. I suck in remembering names, and there were so many wonderful people. A bow from me for every single one who helped out during the race, whether you were there for a minute or 24 hours. Thank you so very much!
Lastly, I got to work and was happy that I got in early for a shower because I had 4 clients waiting for me. I showed off my trophy, went to steam room, got in the shower, and BAM, straight to the hospital. As the doctor said, I fractured my clavicle, so now I can’t run. As the doctor kept going with his speech, I was thinking of the kind of workout I could have in the gym. I also had 3 entrees within the period of 7 hours spent in the hospital. 🙂 Happy running all!!