100 Mile Race Advice

{in reference to signing up for my first 100-mile trail race}

It’s not easy taking the leap to sign-up for a hundred-miler. Sure, it’s easy to fill out the check, sign the race application, and schedule airfare and lodging; but, making that commitment to train like an animal, to show up in top-notch shape and most of all – commit to finishing – is a completely different “not easy”.

If it wasn’t for the support of the UltraList, an email list of ultrarunners worldwide, I would not have had the confidence to make that commitment. Below is some of the encouragement that I have received since dabbling with the idea of attempting 100-mile race. Notice how supportive and helpful the veterans can be – Ultrarunning is truly a unique sport. I hope it always stays this way.

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Hey Christian!

Way to make the leap! Superior Sawtooth is an awesome race. It is tough, and you know that already. There will be times that you’ll feel like shit climbing up yet another climb, but always remember to take a look out over Lake Superior, take in the view, feel the breeze on your face and you’ll feel renewed and re-energized to take on the next hill. Work with the trail and the hills not against them and you will have a wonderful time. The spectacular views really do re-energize you. Work with it!

If you need any help with logistics or anything like that, let me know. We’re up in Duluth less than an hour from the starting line, so let me know if you might need anything come race day. I could even take you out on a little training run on the course and show you around if you wanted to come up before the race to check it out. I’ve been on every section of that trail more than once. It is beautiful!

Have fun dreaming, but don’t forget to sleep and all those other important things in life.

Happy Trails!

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good sh*&! buddy. you are a nut, in a good way.
keep it all in perspective and enjoy it.

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First of all, congratulations. I know that excited, scary, nervous, arm pit
tingle (okay, maybe that is just me), “what did I commit myself too”, can’t
stop reading race reports, etc feeling after you sign up for your first 100
miler. I signed up for the Umstead 100 miler back in September. I signed
up and I had never even run past 26.2 miles. What kind of person would even
THINK about doing something crazy like that? Maybe one that has the
determination and motivation to train and finish something like that.

I ran my first and only 50-miler in December (Sunmart). I had run several
marathons, so I just skipped the 50K. I love ultras and I’ve only ran one
so far. :) I’m training my butt off right now to make sure I can finish in
April, but if I DNF, I’ll learn from it an keep going.

I enjoy reading your posts to the list. From what I’ve observed, you have
the determination, motivation and perseverance to accomplish your goal of
100 miles. Good luck at Mt. Cheaha. I’m envious. I would LOVE to do that
one since that is very close to my hometown of Jacksonville, AL. I’m in
North Carolina now, but I hope to run it in the next couple of years. I’m
looking forwarded to your race report.

I just wanted to let you know that you weren’t the only one out there that
jumps into 100-milers with that “oh crap” feeling. At least you had some
ultra experience before signing up. You will do great!!!

Good luck with all your training!

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Hey Christian,

Don’t stop the gush fests. I enjoy reading your posts. I am very much a noob like yourself. I’ve run several 50K’s and bombed a 50 miler in 96 degree temps. You remind me why I and most people choose to run these god awful distances. For most of us it isn’t to be competitive against anyone but ourselves, to have fun, and to challenge ourselves along the way.

At the beginning of the year I began laying out my schedule and goals for the year. The ultimate goal being to run my first 100 miler. I read this last message and said to myself, “quit putting it off. sign up”. I signed up for the Lean Horse 100 in August and I am bouncing around in chair like a school boy. It feels good to have something excite me like this at the age of 39. The point of all this is to say thanks to you. I would have signed up for the 100 eventually, but I wanted to thank you for the simple unintended reminder, that there is not time like the present to set the bar high.

It is going to be a great year. You probably won’t hear much from me on the list, but I look forward to reading about your progress as you get ready for Sawtooth.

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Christian,

Glad to hear you did it.
Y’know, people are different. I signed up to run the Badwater Solo as my
first ultra. It was just what I wanted to do, and the thing that motivated
me at that time. Maybe it was biting off too much, but I did it, and had
fun. Other people are happier taking it step by step. That lets you learn as
you go, and provides more of a safety net, but really, there’s no magic way.

Really, I think you’ll do fine.

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Christian,

I wouldn’t worry about Larry not accepting your application for one minute. He
is a great guy who does everything he can to support his runners. You picked a
good one for your first 100. Not easy, but good.

I’ve hiked the Superior Trail a bunch and am a bit intimidated with the
thought
of running an Ultra on it. But maybe I’ll do the 50…

Good luck with your training,

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You’ll do fine–you’ve already shown you can go distance. Beyond 50K,
it’s all in the pacing and just being a stubborn SOB when it hurts.

Enjoy it. Larry Pederson will take good care of you.

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Christian,

The time to do it is when you just can’t NOT do it anymore. My time came a month after my first 50. I mailed in the entry, and a month later, I was there. It was very difficult. But, I knew I was capable. I just didn’t know how long it would take. It was also a matter of whether or not my body would let me do it (injuries, sickness, etc.).

I was lucky. I’ve never thrown up (been very close), never had bad blistering (through all of 5 races now). But, I did have an injury during the 100, so that I was reduced to walking the last 35 miles. I think the biggest key for me was to be “in the moment”. Not in the future, as in: “I can’t walk this in for 35 miles”. More like: “I can go to the next aid station, then we’ll see. Maybe I can run then.”

Remember, it’s not necessarily about getting to the end. It’s about the trip that it takes to get there, including all your training and dreaming. The finish will probably be very emotional and meaningful. But, don’t forget that while you’re out there, that’s the experience! I remember telling my wife, while she was pacing me at mile 95: “This is it. Right here. This is the experience. In a few more miles, it will be a buckle on the mantle.”

My first one was a fantastic, almost overwhelming experience. Go and enjoy!

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Good. What’s the worst that could happen? What we imagine is always worse than what really happens anyhow. The worse thing that can happen is a DNF and you feel like shit for a while. Until you temper your ego. Then the sun rises and you’re off again to a new adventure. I admire your attitude.

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Hey Christian,

I still have 50K’s where I put is a sucky performance. Just the other week
at Jed Smith I had about 18 good miles in me then I just shut down from the
cold weather. It was low 40′s with a light rain and wind. Once I soaked
all my clothes (from both sweat and rain) I just couldn’t run fast enough to
keep warm. I also drank an Ensure which I just learned doesn’t digest well
when trying to run a fast 50K. They are great in 100 milers however. So
the 12 miles pretty much sucked even after I changed into dry clothes and
got a bit warmer. Never got my legs back and was only able to just jog the
last 3 loops. Oh well… Live and learn. But I knew I don’t run well in
cold temps so I had no real expectations.

If all it were was pain and suffering I don’t think anyone would do it much
more than once. But every time you screw up you try to learn from it. But
it does teach you that no matter how bad you feel you can usually get
yourself straightened out back up on your feet and keep going.

That year I described crashing at mile 80 at States, I also fell at mile 95
at the top of the hill after Highway 49 and dislocated my right ring finger
which I popped back in and just kept going and still managed to get across
the finish line with about 15 minutes to spare on 24 hours. That was my
first Silver Buckle which was about the toughest day I can remember.

I came back the next year and had a great run (cooler weather helped) and
finished without serious mishap and got a PR and felt great pretty much the
whole run. So with experience it does get better, and 100 miles does not
always have to be a death march.

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Regarding the Night Running portion of the race:

I have a black diamond icon and a planet bike 1 watt commuter light that I use. The black diamond is a 3 watt and is very bright and the planet bike commuter is nice as a secondary light for when it’s really dark. I always figure that a ton of light is nice because it helps pick up your mood and gives you a bit more confidence at night.

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—- THE EMAIL THE MADE ME TAKE THE LEAP —-

Hi Christian,

hee hee…I’m not thrilled about the pain and suffering, and I don’t have a self-punishing desire to hurt and throw up, that’s for sure. I hate it when that happens! I just want to make it really, really bad, and I don’t want to quit. I want the buckle!

I think you should try a 100 this year. They aren’t THAT bad and I’m sure you’re ready. I hurt in 50k’s too, and they feel just as hard as ever, but I know I’ll make it. I’m never too sure at the starting line of a 100 if I’m going to make it. I always wonder what a 51-year-old homebody is doing in the middle of all these runners. Can my spirit manage to get my body to the finish line, and keep everything functioning well enough? Don’t screw up, don’t forget___. I can never believe it when I feel my strength and my stomach return after the second sunrise. (my husband always thinks I’m “toast” when he paces me during the night –hee, hee) We are so much stronger than we think we are! It’s weird!

It’s an adventure and you feel awesome and amazed (and really glad) when you finish. Which 100 do you have in mind? What are you waiting for, send in the entry form :-) I entered my first hundred because I felt like my recoveries after 50′s were good, so I thought maybe??? Do you recover well?

L.

– very familiar with throwing up all night and I still have a lot to learn, but I Love 100′s and feel so lucky I get to do them. They’re an adventure and a challenge without much danger!

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