Fortunately for Stocker, Hugo Mujica came to her support. Mujica, also of Greenwich, drove to Umstead State Park and met up with Stocker midway through the race. With Mujica helping her for the next 37 miles, she pulled it together and finished in 23 hours, 48 minutes and 24 seconds. It was the fifth straight year she had finished the race.
It was hot, humid and everyone was having problems, said Stocker, 53, who also had a case of walking pneumonia. I just could not move my legs. I said, 'Im done, I cant go on anymore.' Hugo wouldnt let me quit. He was standing there ready to pace me. I just sat there in a daze, and we started moving again. Slowly, I got my body balance back, and over the next 25 miles, I ran pretty well.
Stocker finished fourth in the womens 50-59 age group and 67th overall in a field of 150 finishers. She ran 22:08.42 in 2010, the fastest of her five Umstead races.
She picked up running ultra marathons when she paced a friend, Frank Colella, in a race in 2007. It may have been my midlife crisis, Stocker joked. I liked it, and I found out that Im kind of good at it. Ive developed the mental strength to finish in pain, when your body is saying stop, stop, stop.
Thats precisely what Stockers body was telling her in North Carolina. She also had to overcome a quick-moving thunderstorm, which she patiently waited out in a tent at the park. Your body gets very vulnerable when it rains, Stocker said. If you get wet, it can be the end of your race. It can lead to hypothermia.
Stocker had another pacer to help her through the final 12.5-mile lap. She also got through the run with an interesting assortment of body fuel, including gels, peanut butter and jelly, pretzels and crackers. Youre ingesting a lot of calories and a lot of junk, Stocker said. I had a veggie burger and two ice creams, and Hugo had two hot dogs in the middle of the night.
Stocker has run more than 100 marathons, many below 3:20 with a personal best of 3:00:29. She tuned up for the Umstead race with a 50-miler in March. She believes last weeks run might be her last 100-miler. But she still enjoys the challenge of endurance runs.
I think having run so many marathons, I was looking for another challenge, she said. Really, no one cares if you do it. Its personal satisfaction. Its like climbing Mount Everest. You always wonder if you can do it. It makes everything in life seem a little easier. If you can do that, you can do anything.
Stocker had trained since January for the race, and ran in the Boston Buildup Series as her speed work. Ive always had endurance; always been strong physically, Stocker said. Its not as bad on your body as you think. Youre hiking and walking, and you meet so many wonderful people. The ultra community is a very special group.
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