As you read this I’m in Bethlehem, PA for the Runner’s World Half and Festival. Enjoying a place I’ve never been, meeting people I’ve never met and running more races than I’ve ever run before in one weekend.
My husband, Chad, was kind enough to guest post for Fitness Friday and share his experience of running his first 100K. He is my inspiration, support and the love of my life.
So what possesses someone to “run” for long distances? While I am sure my wife could go into at least a half dozen psychological reasons…running away from something, etc. for me it has always been about how far can I go. 7 years ago I read Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes. 18 weeks later I ran my first marathon, simply because if Dean can run 100+ miles, I was pretty sure I could run 26.2. I did. It wasn’t pretty. After the pain wore off I knew I wanted to go further. Fast forward to 2 years ago and my first 50K was, and still is, an achievement that I will never forget. Last year I did various ultras through the spring to fill the time, but this year I knew I wanted push it a little further and run longer. Up until 3 weeks ago the longest distance I had ever run was 51.1 miles in a 12 hour race. This year, 43 miles was the longest. A 100K was the next challenge on the list, the next box to be checked. The only time I ever doubted myself was a few days before when I saw this….one lap, repeated 4 times:
Note to self: Check out the elevation before signing up to run a 100K!
That’s just over 4,200’ of climb each lap…and descent, an equally gnarly partner of the climbs! Luckily that first climb was at 0540 in the morning…ask Jill, I can pretty much run in my sleep when it’s that early in the morning!
A 1/3 of this first lap was done in the dark, which helps pass the time. I motored through the aid stations and felt pretty relaxed. I was dressed too warmly so after I got back to the “finish” area I took off my jacket and continued on with shorts and shirt, at 4:02 for the first 16 miles. I was still feeling good as I took off to tackle the 2nd loop. Strangely, I really don’t remember many details about this loop. I do know I began to eat hot potato soup along with oranges and bananas at the aid stations. Check out the aid stations below.
You would be surprised what tastes good and hits the spot when you are on your feet for a long time! I finished this 2nd lap at 8:12. It surprised the heck out of me that my pace was that consistent…YES! I motored out for lap 3. Now this lap I do remember. I talked to another runner for several miles, I typically don’t talk very much….again ask Jill. I continued to eat the same soup and fruit, with ramen noodles, pretzels, Nunn, etc. added in. Somewhere along the way I passed another 100K runner (You thought I was crazy! There was also a 100 mile run going on at the same time. The 100 mile runners had to run 6 laps plus the first hill 7 times!). Anyway, as I passed this guy he asked what distance I was running and I told him the 100K. With 20 miles left this guy informs me that he thinks I just took the lead. Wait! What? He went on to say that he was told he had the lead and several others dropped out. I couldn’t believe it. I saw other runners out there who were more experienced with ultra than myself. That was all I needed to push through the last 20 miles. I continued on and finished this lap at 12:30. I think that was 12 hours and 30 minutes….sometimes the details get a little fuzzzy! Anyway, I grabbed my headlamp and headed out again around 5:30 pm. I wanted to get past some critical parts of the course before I lost the advantage of having sunlight. I was pretty much alone from this point on. At times I would pass the time by thinking about what I would do at the next aid station, eating, dringking, etc. Keeping the mind busy, with about 9 miles to go, I had to switch on the light. Now, things get weird. If you have ever watched shadows dance by the light of a moving headlamp in the woods, welcome to my fun. Once I hit the last aid staion I sucked down some Ramen (burned my mouth as I discovered the next morninng eating breakfast) and took off for the final 6 miles. During this time, there is overlap with runners passing going in the other direction It was very disorienting. I started to get paranoid that I had missed a turn, not to mention the fact that I started seeing headlamps behind me. Remember what that guy told me with 20 miles to go? Yeah so did I, and there was no way I was going to let someone pass me this close to the finish!Somehow I pushed it and began running more and more. The last section of the loop was a big hill on a road. After running 63 miles I pushed out the last mile! I’m not sure how “fast”, but I didn’t stop until the finish….16 hours 47 minutes 29 seconds! 64 miles! I know, 100K is 62 miles. Tell the race director that made 16 mile loops! I couldn’t believe it. My first 100K, the longest distance I’ve ever run and I came in 2nd! When they told me I placed second I had to ask. What about the first place runner? He ran the race in 12+ hours.
To say I felt exhilarated is an understatement. And great doesn’t even begin to describe it.
To anyone who is reading this you can do the same. It’s really not that hard not hard. I hurt for about 3 days, but it’s the good hurt! Those muscles that you didn’t know you had, until you push it, find them and wake them up!
Oh, and by the way, the 100 mile run only had 3 finishers out of 25. The 100K had 11 of us, and we all finished and 9 of them were behind me!! (Just sayin’)
Results (Notice that 4 people didn’t even start. Makes you wonder why.)
My running mantras: Relentless forward progress. One foot in front of the other. Whatever works for you, just go and don’t stop.
Have you ever considered ultrarunning? What is the longest distance you have ever run?