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Lori Enlow Challenges the Impossible and Wins 2011 Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd – Interview

“I remembered the last words of my trainer, “demand the impossible”.  I thought, “Is this what he meant, could I actually win?”. This became my mantra.” – Lori Enlow

Tahlequah local, Lori Enlow, won the female race in 22:52:37 and finished sixth overall at the inaugural Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd (results). This course guides runners along the scenic rolling dirt roads of the J.T. Nickel Preserve just outside of Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

As an ultra athlete attempting her first 100 with less than six months of ultra running experience, you can’t help but be inspired by her simple willingness to prepare the best she could, execute her race the best she could, and see what happens. And then you create the opportunity for the seemingly impossible to become possible.

Lori was extremely kind in sharing with us her recent lifestyle transformation, training, the Pumpkin Holler experience, and her request to you for what to race next. Help a girl out!


Background / Training

[EB – What is your running background? Based on the few results I could find, you appear to be fairly new to the trail/ultra racing scene. When did you start trail and ultra running and what led you to explore the sport?]

I was diagnosed with diabetes about 2 ½ years ago. I had always been a casual runner, but began to take diet and exercise more seriously then.  I ran around 5miles/day 3-4 days per week and did a few 5Ks.

About six months ago a friend of mine encouraged me to train with her for a 50 mile ultra run-Midnight Madness in Tulsa with the intention of doing a 100 mile race before the end of the year.  The training was fun and the idea of doing something a little “extreme” was enticing.  While training, I fell in love with the long runs, with pushing myself to see what my body could actually do.

[EB – Do you have any specific running mentors that have influenced you along your journey so far?]

I didn’t even know ultras existed six months ago.  When my friend asked me to start training with her I started doing some reading. At the urging of a friend, I read the book, Born to Run.  Sounds silly, but this book really motivated me further.

My motivation is my kids and husband. I work in the medical field and see day in and out the effects of diabetes. I want to be there for my kids and grandkids. I don’t want anyone to have to take care of me because I didn’t take care of myself.

All those ultra runners I encounter who have done this for a long time are my mentors.  I couldn’t do this without their encouragement and expertise.

Pre-race PH100 pic with friends. (Lisa Pivec, Lori Enlow, and Sherry Coldwell)

[EB – What does a typical training week look like for you? How much training do you do on the trails? Do you do any type of cross training?]

My training weeks escalate weekly with every 4th week being “recovery week” with lighter runs. I have been using a trainer to get me to my first 100, since I had no freaking clue what I was doing!  Not to mention there are very few ultra distance runners in my small town community…three that I actually know of including me.

At the peak of my training, around the mid September my week was as follows…Monday-easy 30 min run, Tuesday 1hr 15 min run with 3 x 10 min at near max effort with 5 min rest intervals, Wednesday was 1hr 15 min with 30 min at a moderate pace, Thursday was 1hr 30min fluctuating effort between easy and moderate, Friday off completely, Saturday 4-6 hour run, Sunday off.  Every week is a little different with alternating easier and harder days and harder/more miles each week until the 4thweek.

I wish I could do more trail running!  I live in a small community with rolling hills and dirt roads, no “real” trails.  I had no idea what “trail running” was until I blindly agreed to do a 50k at War Eagle in Arkansas.  Holy !@#$.  Straight up and down tiny little mountain bike  trails.  I cursed every rock and root and hill!  Fell and flung my handheld many times. I ended up loving it though and look forward to doing more! Learned a lot about hydration and nutrition the hard way that day too!  High was around 98 degrees.

Cruising along. Nice form.

Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd

[EB – Was this your first 100 mile race? How was the body and mind feeling coming into this ultra adventure?]

Yes, first 100.  I followed my training schedule to the T so that on race day I could believe that my body was capable and I could really focus on nutrition/hydration and the mental part of it. I believed I could do it, I just didn’t know how it would play out.

[EB – Being your first 100, pacing and nutrition can often be a tricky area for people. What was your effort and nutrition strategy?]

I had established a pretty good nutrition strategy during long training runs and stuck with what worked for me.   I used a product called CR333-a simple carb/long chain amino acid sport mix and drank that with 21 ounces of water without fail every hour. That equated to about 300 cal/hour.

During the day I added 10-16 ounces of water depending on my thirst.  I tried to eat a little banana or pb&j at the first few aid stations but suffered with nausea each time for the next 2-3 miles.  After the first 20 miles I never ate again and felt well fueled the rest of the race.

About every 5-8 hours I would start to feel a little crampy or foggy and took in a salt cap and would clear up quickly.  I tend to over-hydrate and get a little hyponatraemic.

[EB – Arkansas athlete, Karen Martin and yourself stayed within 15 minutes of each other for much of the race with Karen leading the way through mile 69. At mile 69 you closed the gap and was only three seconds behind Karen with one 50 km loop to go. Did you and Karen talk at all? What was going through your mind with one loop to go? Did you have any particular strategy?]

My only goal for this 100 was to numero uno-finish, and two finish knowing I did the very best I could. I knew that I was in about 4th place the first loop and then lost count into the second loop.

The second loop was hard, I broke down a few times and got a little discouraged about halfway through.

My strategy was to take advantage of the flats and downhills and walk all of the hard ups. As night started to fall it gave me a little boost-a change of scenery.

As I came to the start/finish aid station I realized I was really close to the lead female…I didn’t know her name. It never crossed my mind that I might actually have a shot at placing.  Seeing her supercharged me.  I remembered the last words of my trainer, “demand the impossible”.  I thought, “Is this what he meant, could I actually win?”. This became my mantra.

Mile 69 with one 50km loop to go. Time to dig deep! 100 miles isn't easy for anyone.

I grabbed my pacer and we were off.  I can’t say enough about what it meant to have a pacer.  I thought it would be distracting…kinda like in labor, you hurt and your tired and you don’t want anyone talking to you and everyone annoys you!  It was wonderful. My pacer’s energy and lightheartedness was contagious.  He stayed with me for 10 miles then I picked up my next pacer.

She was just what I needed at that point. It was a flatter section of course and she moved fast. She stayed just in front of me, daring me to move faster.  I started feeling a little pain in my left knee and the tendons in my feet just before the last 10 mile stretch.  That is where I picked up my last pacer.

The next five miles were hilly and tough. By the time we reached the last aid station my knee was killing me. I could no longer run.  I limped the last five miles in.

If it weren’t for my pacer I would have quit.  I didn’t layer up at the last aid station since I had been moving at a good pace and wasn’t cold. BIG mistake.  Since my pace became that of an inchworm I got somewhat hypothermic.  I must say thank you to Mc Jagger and The Rolling Stones for the song, “She’s So Cold” as it played over and over again those last fourmiles!

If I asked my pacer once, I asked her a million times, “are we under a mile yet to go”.  I’m pretty sure she finally resorted to lying. Every tiny step was agonizing.  I kept waiting for the lead girls to pass me, but they never did.  I was shocked that I came in first.

[EB – What were the first thoughts in your mind after crossing the finish line and winning your first 100 mile race?]

My first thoughts were “Thank God I am done!”  and then the pain and cold became immense.

[EB – Where there any lessons you learned about yourself and 100 mile adventures? For someone looking to run the Pumpkin Holler 100 next year, what insider tips would you share to help them get to the finish line?]

You can do far more than you think you can.

Practice running downhill and practice power hiking/walking.  I didn’t do much of that. Figure out your nutrition strategy-what works for you and stick with it.

Looking Ahead

[EB – Do you have any running events planned for the rest of the year? Any other trail adventures on your radar you would like to experience but haven’t yet?]

I can’t wait to figure out what is next!  Not sure yet, but would love some suggestions! [EB – Any suggestions for Lori?]

A huge thanks to Lori for sharing with the Endurance Buzz community! Loved it.

Do you have any questions for Lori?

What keeps sticking in my head is the idea of making the seemingly impossible – possible. This little process is available to all of us. In all areas of life.

Prepare. Execute. Observe/Assess. {repeat}

How many areas of our life could we transform the seemingly impossible to possible? Simply by starting. Simply by beginning the journey.

And then at the end of the day, whether every impossible becomes possible really doesn’t matter although I would bet you experienced more than you would have initially imagined.

It is the journey. It is the engagement in life. It is…your life.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

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