The Ins and Outs of My First 100-Mile Ultramarathon

br100 medal1 1024x657My alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. This is it, I thought.

Even with all the advance planning I had done in an effort to make absolutely certain I got a full night’s sleep, a fitful four hours was all I had managed, tossing nervously and with a distinct feeling of guilt for three hours before actually drifting off.

That’s right, guilt. A friend who has done many ultras had warned me that 70 or 80 miles into a 100-miler, a feeling of guilt for abusing your crew is not uncommon, one of the brain’s many tricks for convincing your body to quit. But the night before the race?

It seemed my brain was getting a head start, trying to undermine the whole effort before it even got underway. I felt badly about how much time I had spent training since we had our daughter less than three months ago, how much of the workload my wife had shouldered to pick up my slack.

I worried that something would go wrong in the race, that kidney failure or hyponatremia would result in a trip to the hospital (or worse) and cause my family a lot of hardship. But more than that, I worried that I would quit, and have to tell them that for all the work and sacrifice that had gone into training to complete a 100-miler, I hadn’t yet achieved what I had set out to.

My parents had come along to crew, too, driving six or eight hours each to get to Cleveland. A friend whom I met through No Meat Athlete had driven four hours from Cincinnati to come pace me for the last 35 miles — it would be his first ultra, running through the night and putting up with whatever foul mood I would surely be in, and all of it without even a medal to commemorate his effort.

All of these people were here for the sole purpose of helping me. I hadn’t realized how difficult accepting that would be until it was actually happening.

But somehow I fell asleep, and suprisingly, woke up feeling fresh. Ninety minutes later, I was running through the dark by the light of my headlamp, knowing that I’d very likely still be out here at 5 a.m. the next morning.

I was right. But never once in the next 28 hours and 40 minutes — spanning 101 miles total — did I reach a low that even approached what I had felt the night before.

My Burning River 100 Recap

This long post is divided into two sections. The first is the play-by-play, which I’ll keep pretty brief as the vast majority of the miles were uneventful. There were some incredible (and incredibly painful) moments, so I’ll highlight those, but the second section will be more practical info about fueling and preparations and pacing so that you (yep, you!) will have a few more tools to help you understand how a pretty normal guy or girl can do something like this, should you ever want to try. And based on my experience, I’d recommend it if you’re into this sort of thing. icon smile

Here’s how it all went down. If you’d like more details, Doug and I recorded the next NMA podcast episode last night with many more of them; that should be published on Friday, so subscribe to that if you’d like.

The First Marathon: Ease

matt and h mile 26 300x290The big story of the morning, at least in my mind, was the weather. Expecting the worst (and not given much choice in the summer), I had trained for 95-degree heat, so I was elated to find out the projected high was a mere 69 degrees.

With that bit of good luck, the first 26.2 miles of the race were about ease — I stayed pretty close to a 13-minute per mile pace, which was pretty easy to do if I walked every hill and for 5 minutes after every 25 minutes of running. The point here was to cover as much ground as possible before feeling any fatigue at all, to “shorten” the race, in a way. These comfortable, relaxed miles flew by, especially after I ditched my headlamp and hat at mile 6.2 … and when I reached the crew access aid station at mile 26.2, I couldn’t believe I had been running for 5 hours and 45 minutes already.

No iPod necessary, yet. I just enjoyed the trails and roads in the early morning, sticking as close as possible to my eating schedule (see the Food section below), and munching away on sunflower seeds in the shell — a boredom-killer I picked up riding the bench in high school baseball (look at me with high school sports mentions in two consecutive posts!). The sunflower seeds provided a lot of salt, too, and figured that my best chance of avoiding hydration/electrolyte issues was to go pretty heavy on the sodium and only drink to thirst (again, see the Food section for more details).

The Second Marathon: Mud and Moisture

mile 41 1024x768The conditions of the morning were too good to last. The cold front had brought some rain with it, and though it helped to keep everybody cool, the steady precipitation eventually soaked my shoes and the trails. Otherwise things continued to go well — at mile 35, I thought to myself how incredibly easy this day would be if I were only running a 50 miler and had just 15 miles to go.

But at the mile 41 aid station, when I took off my shoes to change socks, my feet were wrinkled from moisture and had a few hot spots, which I covered with athletic tape to prevent from turning into blisters. It was here that I made a simple mistake that would ultimately become my biggest of the race: I forgot to bring along an extra pair of socks for the next leg, when I knew I wouldn’t see my crew again for 23 miles.

Leaving the aid station, with my stomach full from a bowl of rice with avocado and soy sauce, I felt great. In nine miles I’d hit the halfway point, and I was exactly on target to do so at 11 hours, so that I could hope for a 13-hour second half to finish in 24.

Just five miles later, those hopes were dashed, when three miles (44-46, or so) took me an hour and 45 minutes to cover. Why? Mud, mainly. The steady morning rain had soaked the trails, and 100 runners ahead of me had already been through this section, making the footing even worse. Hills were so slick that it took some creativity to even climb up them without slipping down, and the downhills were essentially muddy ski slopes which could be navigated only by sliding down and hoping to grab hold of a tree to stop. Somehow I messed up my elbow in this process, which didn’t slow me down but certainly added to mounting mental fatigue.

Even the flat sections of the trail were hard to navigate. The single-track paths through the woods were pure mud, four inches deep in spots, and tall brush along the sides often made going straight through the mud the only choice. My feet got heavy as my shoes became caked with mud, my socks were saturated with moisture, and my heart rate soared as I had to quickly react to slips to avoid falling entirely (which of course, I still did, several times).

Things were slipping out of control. Those three miles destroyed my 24-hour plans, but worse, the mud threatened to prevent me from finishing at all. What if the rest of the course is like this? Even if I didn’t fatigue any more, I’d never be able to manage even 20-minute miles in mud like this. Worse, the difficulty of the past three miles had consumed all the mental focus I had, and I felt my head game starting to fall apart.

My feet were beginning to hurt as the moisture led to blistering. Without dry socks to change into, and more than 15 miles to go until I’d see my crew again, I thought I was done for. Blisters don’t sound like enough to ruin a 100-miler, but when every step hurts in a race that will take a few hundred thousand of them, blisters matter.

“The Moment”

My only hope was to take a break and care for my feet. I sat on a stump in the woods, depressed and annoyed at mosquitos that wouldn’t relent, and sloppily taped every single one of my toes. It hurt to jam my feet back into my shoes with all the added thickness of the tape, but I knew that I had 15 miles of running this way ahead of me, so I did my best to forget about my feet.

It was here that I thought about quitting, for the only time in the entire race. And in doing so, I experienced a moment so valuable that it made the entire experience worthwhile.

For just a few seconds, I debated dropping out. I could make my way slowly to the mile 50 aid station and tell everyone there how bad the last five miles had been, and they’d understand.

That was about as far as that thought went. Immediately, I thought about what dropping would mean. For me, for my crew and pacer, for so many friends and family who were following my progress. And, just like that, it hit me:

Absolutely nothing hurts more than quitting would. Barring an injury that physically prevents me from making forward progress, I’m not going to stop until I finish this race.

That was all it took.

Once I made this decision — or really, once I came to understand this, for it certainly didn’t feel like I had any say in the matter — there was never again a doubt in my mind. In that moment, with over 50 miles to go, I knew I would finish the race.

The physical pain increased, but the urge to quit never did. The blisters got worse, and as I sit here writing this, I can find (and feel) one on no less than eight of my ten toes. But mentally and emotionally, I turned a corner at that point. In the race, sure, but I think maybe in a larger sense, too. It wasn’t just the decision, “I can keep going, for now.” It was, “I can keep going for now, and no matter what else happens or how much it hurts, I’ll keep going then, too.” I’ve never felt something like that, and honestly I didn’t know I had that in me. I’m still in awe of how it felt.

The Second Half

mile 65 768x1024Though I would run for another 16 hours after crossing the halfway point in around 12 hours, there’s not a whole lot to say. “The moment” at the end of the first half kinda sucked the thrill out of the rest of the race, but I suppose that’s not a bad thing.

It was a struggle to reach mile 65, where a change of socks and a re-taping of my feet awaited. But even in that tough stretch, there were some high points where the pain in my feet let up and I ran at what felt like a good pace for two or three miles at a time.

Finally, I hit the crew access station, where I had some soup, got my feet re-taped and shoes dried, and picked up Greg Watkins, my pacer. It had just gotten dark to the point of needing a headlamp or flashlight, and having someone with me as I headed back into the woods made a tremendous difference.

Running with Greg was motivating in a way that’s beyond just a “keep you company” sort of way. Greg first reached out to me early this year, when he sent me a long letter about changes he had made in his life, losing over a hundred pounds from a high of 330, and this after a battle with addiction. He said that reading No Meat Athlete had helped him find the inspiration to run, and that he had completed a few marathons and was now considering an ultra. Seeing that Greg lived in Ohio, where this race was, I asked him if he’d consider pacing me for 30 or so miles of the second half of this race. That way, he’d have a partner to help him run his first ultra (unofficial as it may be), and I’d have his help in conquering a huge goal of my own.

His help was absolutely essential; I can’t imagine how tough it would be to run through the night on your own in the second half of a 100. Being able to help each other out in that way was extremely rewarding for me, and I hope for Greg as well.

There were some low points in the night, but nothing unexpected. A lot of the miles were on hilly trails, so there was a lot of hiking, which was a welcome break from running but painfully slow at times. Between miles 80 and 85 (after I had gotten some work done on my blisters by some Kent State podiatry students at an aid station), we hit a lot of mud on the steepest, hilliest portion of the course. That was a cranky point for me, mentally, as even the thought of 15 remaining miles was overwhelming. But we made our way through it, and thankfully, that was about all the mud there was on the second half of the course.

mile 73 768x1024As we left the mile 85 crew access aid station, the sun was beginning to rise. It was 6 a.m.; I’d been running for 25 hours, and it sure felt like it. Aid stops where I could see my wife, kids, and mom and dad were wonderful breaks, and truly the incentive to keep moving when things felt hopeless, and so I lingered at them, relishing the 10 or 15 minutes of food, love, and comfort. But when I left, the contrast of having to get back out there, combined with stiffness in my muscles and the painful shock as my blisters felt my weight once again, made these some of the toughest moments.

But as day broke, and the course turned back to roads, hope was restored. Gradually, as we knocked off 15-minute miles or even the occasional 13-minute mile (it felt like we were really moving then!), I came to understand that the 30-hour cutoff time wouldn’t be a factor, so long as the wheels didn’t fall off.

From there, the last 12 or 15 miles felt a bit like a ceremonial procession, a simple formality to complete the race. The hard work had been done — a brisk walk would get me across the finish line if that’s what it came to (and for the most part, it didn’t). The frequency of crew access stations increased, so I was able to run several miles without my backpack or even a handheld bottle, and getting to look forward to seeing my family every 3 or 5 miles.

mile 93 768x1024We left the final aid station at mile 96, now in the town of Cuyahoga Falls where the finish line would be. With the exception of several flights of maybe 60 stairs at mile 98 (really!), the course at this point was flat and on gravel or paved roads, and the people walking or running by in town had lots of encouraging things to say.

Finally, 28 hours and 35 minutes after I started running the previous day, a quarter-mile ahead I saw my wife carrying our daughter, along with my son and my mom, all of whom had come to walk/run the last several hundred yards with us (my dad was at the finish taking pictures).

We ran together, my son almost tripping me as he ran excitedly along in front, and the finish line came into focus. We crossed it, all at once, and we were done. I’d run 101 miles — why they made that the official length of the course is beyond me — and had earned a buckle to show for it. And finally, I could rest.

And rest I did, falling asleep on the concrete sidewalk not 20 minutes later, at which point we decided it was time to go.

My finish time of 28:40:33 was good for 122nd place, out of 263 starters. Less than 58 percent (152) of the starters finished the race — apparently the mud made it a tough day for everyone.

101 1024x768

matt and greg 919x1024

hugging h 1024x934

hugging dad 790x1024

matt and crew 1024x768

feet 768x1024

Final Thoughts

The biggest surprise for me was that running 100 miles (at least, running this 100 miles) was easier than I expected it to be. I never hit a point of serious depression, despair, crying, guilt, or even an overwhelming urge to quit. In fact, judging by how I handled the stairs at mile 98, I think I could have kept running for many more miles if I had to (granted, with a lot of walking too), especially if not for the pain of the blisters.

But speaking of blisters, I think in some small way they were a blessing. The pain they caused me prevented me from running my projected pace after mile 45. If not for the blisters, I’m pretty certain I’d have been able to keep up that 24-hour pace for a long time. The question is, though, would I have crashed bigtime as a result, long before the race was over? I had assumed my pace would slow to 15-minute miles in the second half, but had I kept up the 13-minute pace for 60 or more miles — which I think I may have if not for all the mud and the resulting blisters — the next 40 may have become unbearably difficult.

My crew (and this includes Greg, my pacer) was unbelievably helpful. I’m floored by the amount of effort they put forth to make this race a success for me, and I’m in absolute awe of anyone who can complete a race of this distance by themselves, without support — logistical and emotional — from a crew. It was so nice to know, when I reached a crew access aid station, that my every need would be taken care of and every important question would be asked (more on the details of our preparations in the Crew section below). So to every member of my crew — Erin, Greg, Mom, Dad, and the kids — thank you, from the bottom of my heart. This would not have happened without you there.

The Technical Stuff (For Those Who Want to Run a 100 One Day)

What follows is a breakdown of most of the details that went into the planning and execution of my first 100-miler. I don’t expect most people to read this, but figured for a few people who have their sights set on a 100, it might be really useful to see how a very average ultrarunner (and above-average crew!) made it work.

Food

Here’s a list of everything I ate during the race (some are estimates, but pretty close ones, I think). I’ll explain my general approach below.

  • Heed sports drink (about eighteen 20-ounce bottles)
  • 1.5 cups sunflower seeds in shell, cracked in mouth, shells discarded
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 16 fresh dates
  • 20 Newman O’s
  • 3 CLIF Bars
  • Bowl of white rice with soy sauce
  • 1/4 avocado
  • Can of Amy’s No Chicken Noodle Soup with soy sauce
  • Boca burger on bun with BBQ sauce and pickle
  • 1 onion pita with hummus + salt
  • 1 white pita with almond butter + salt
  • 1/2 Amy’s dairy-free bean burrito
  • 5 corn tortillas spread with refried beans
  • 3/4 cup of Snyder’s Veggie Sticks
  • 1/4 cup pita chips
  • 15 slices watermelon
  • 10 ounces black coffee (Counter Culture!)
  • 3 Nuun tabs (added to Heed)
  • 16 ounces soda

Through experimenting in long training runs, I decided that I felt best when I ate/drank 300-350 calories per hour for as long as I could manage. A reliable way for me to get near this range and also take in some salt was to aim for eating, each hour: one date, a small-medium boiled potato dipped in salt, half a pita spread with hummus or almond butter and sprinkled with salt, and 20 ounces of Heed.

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep eating the same things each hour for very long before I got sick of them, but I decided to do this for as long as I felt good about it (which was about 5 hours, as I recall). After that, my approach was to eat whatever I was in the mood for, making sure that I never went more than 90 minutes or so without eating something. But once I was off my initial schedule, I decided, I would eat anything that sounded good (if it was vegan and I had it with me, of course).

I discovered through testing that I lose about 30 ounces of fluid per hour through sweat in hot weather. But (thanks to some comments from readers) I learned about this iRunFar.com article about the book Waterlogged, which posits that drinking only to thirst is a safer and smarter idea than following a hydration schedule. By drinking only to thirst during this race, I drank far less than 30 ounces per hour, and never had any dehydration symptoms (granted, it was a cool day).

The Waterlogged author also argues that taking in sodium is unnecessary during an ultramarathon, but I was unwilling to take that risk. Deciding that the risk of having too much sodium was far outweighed by the danger of not having enough (which could lead to hyponatremia), I decided to err on the side of excess sodium. However, I decided not to take in any sodium via capsules (though I carried them with me in case of emergency), because I didn’t want any sodium to bypass the built-in “Does salt taste good?” feedback system. Basically, I ate salty foods whenever my body told me (through my cravings) that it wanted them.

I really loved drinking Heed. Prior to this, I had always chosen Gatorade, but several readers (thank you!) suggested that I try Heed, because I suspected that Gatorade was causing my stomach to not want any food after a few hours or so on training runs. I tested it on a few training runs, and found in this race that I was able to drink Heed all day long (in assorted flavors provided by the race) and not get sick of it or experience stomach upset.

After the race, my wife Erin mentioned to me that she and Greg had had a discussion about whether Heed was vegan-friendly, since it contains L-carnosine. Hammer’s webpage says that Heed is vegan, as does the packaging, so I’m assuming that the carnosine in Heed is somehow lab-synthesized (in nature, it is only synthesized in animals, not plants). If anyone can confirm this or provide more info, I’d be grateful!

Crew Plans

matt crew sheet 218x300

My 26.2 mile aid station crew sheet.

I’m not very good at making advance plans, so my wife was more than a bit concerned about the quality of instructions (or lack thereof) I’d be providing for the crew. I think I did a pretty good job of it, mainly to prove her wrong. icon smile

For each of the 10 crew access stations, I printed up and filled out a sheet about what I’d probably want/need at that point in the race, as well as what questions they should ask me and any other important notes. I’ve included a sample sheet in this post. Obviously, the instructions for later aid stations had a lot of wiggle room since I didn’t know what I’d want or how I’d be feeling.

At the last minute I wrote up a list of questions the crew should ask me at most aid stations, to help make sure we didn’t forget anything and also to keep an eye out for signs of dehydration or hyponatremia. You can see those questions (rain-smeared) here. I also gave each crew member a printout of common symptoms of different combinations of hydration and electrolyte levels.

Shoes

I wore Hoka One One Bondi B’s for all but about 15 miles of the race (miles 26.3-41.7). They were incredible — I’m amazed at how much cushioning they provide and how great my feet felt, considering the major blister issues I had. Had I thought about the mud in advance, I might have bought a trail model of Hokas instead of the Bondi B, which are for roads and smooth trails.

Best of all would have been to have a waterproof, mudproof shoe to use for certain sections. I actually own a pair of New Balance shoes that are perfect for this, but it didn’t occur to me to bring them since I need to wear them so rarely (and they’re technically for winter).

During miles 26.4-41.7, I wore a new pair of Brooks PureFlow 2. I changed into them because I thought my feet would enjoy the change from one shoe to another and then back, but that was a mistake. The difference in the amount of impact I felt in the Brooks (which I normally love) compared to the Hokas was significant, so I switched back at the first opportunity.

I’m completely sold — Hokas are incredible shoes. I can’t imagine running another ultra in anything else. For marathons and shorter distances though, I’ll stick with more minimalist shoes like I usually wear.

Important Note: I haven’t confirmed that Hokas are vegan-friendly. I’m so used to buying Brooks shoes (which are all vegan-friendly except for their walking models) that I forgot to even think about the issue when I ordered the Hokas. Michael Arnstein, a vegan, recommends them in this talk on ultrarunning equipment, but I’m not sure if he has thought about this either. Anyone know if they are?

Other Equipment

Here’s a list of other stuff I used:

  • Nathan HPL-020 pack, bladder removed: I got this idea from Michael Arnstein, and it worked out very well. If not for my vegan diet, I wouldn’t have needed to carry a pack, since the food provided at the aid stations would have sufficed. But besides fruit and potatoes, I didn’t know how much of it would be vegan, so I decided to carry most of my own food and refill at crew access stops. The pack came in handy for carrying spare headlamp, flashlight, batteries, long sleeve shirt, hat, etc.
  • Nathan QuickDraw bottle: nice because the pocket is big enough to fit a cell phone.
  • Brooks shorts with lots of pockets: I wore one pair of shorts the entire race; the pockets were crucial for carrying foods I wanted to have easy access to
  • CEP compression sleeves: I put these on at mile 26.2, after I felt some mild pulling in the side of my left knee. That subsided, but I left them on for the rest of the race.
  • Balega socks: good socks are a must for avoiding blisters. It helps if you keep them dry though. icon smile
  • Headlamp and running flashlight: this was the first time I tried carrying a flashlight instead of wearing a headlamp for some of the miles, and I really enjoyed it. I used a cheapo from Dick’s sports which burned completely through two sets of batteries in just a few hours, so I’ll get a better one soon and use that instead of a headlamp for the most part.

Pace

Going into this race, my target was to run it in 24 hours. That wasn’t a goal, per se, because I was far more focused on finishing the race, but I did estimate my paces based on a 24-hour finish. Many experienced ultrarunners told me that you will slow down considerably in the second half of a 100, almost regardless of how careful you are in the first half. Mostly this is because the darkness slows you down, and foot pain (from blisters or simply the pounding) seems to accumulate, whether you’re running fast or slow.

I aimed to run the first half in 11 hours (a little over a 13-minute per mile pace) and the second half in 13 hours (slightly slower than 15-minute per mile pace). These paces need to be adjusted if you plan on stopping for any amount of time at aid stations, of course, so when I was holding a 13-minute pace for most of the first half, I was actually running/walking a 12-minute pace and then stopping for 5-10 minutes at crew access stations.

I walked every steep downhill and every uphill from the very beginning of the race. For most of the first half of the race, I walked 5 minutes after every 25 minutes of running, except when I had recently walked a significant amount of time due to hills.

In hindsight, I think 24 hours was a great initial estimate for pacing purposes. I was feeling great when the mud and blister issues started, so I think I’d have been able to give 24 hours a decent shot had the conditions been perfect (admittedly, a lot to ask!). And as I said above, I think part of the reason I felt so good, aside from the blisters, was that the blisters forced me to run an exceedingly slow pace.

Training

I trained for this race using a six-month, 50 miles-per-week (peak) plan from Bryon Powell’s Relentless Forward Progress. My 50-mile training run was a 12-hour race, and I had to shuffle the schedule quite a bit to make it convenient. I was far from perfect, but probably got in 90 percent of the scheduled runs.

In the year and a half before I started the six-month training plan, my training had been decent but casual, with a few periods of running 40 miles per week or so, but with a fair share of bad months where I didn’t train a whole lot. Almost all of my training during this period was slow mileage, but on a lot of hills. I took most of the second half of summer 2011 off from running, so that fall was a sort of reset point that I now view as the start of the training for this race. I ran a marathon in March 2012, the Blue Ridge Relay in September 2012, the Black Mountain Monster 12-Hour in June 2013, then this race, the Burning River 100, in July 2013.

Thank YOU!

If you’ve read this far (or even just the first half of this post and then skipped down here), then I owe you a thanks too. A huge part of the reason why quitting was simply out of the question was the huge number of readers that I knew had been following along with my training and were rooting for me during this race.

If you’ve got any questions, ask them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them — especially if you’re thinking about doing an ultra!

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How to Train for Your First Marathon on a Plant-Based Diet



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Comments

  1. Kristina says:

    Hi, big congratulations on successfully completing your 101-mile race! I’m wondering if you plan to offer a “How to Train for an Ultra” for plant-powered athletes, as you offer programs for other races. (I read the tips and suggestions in your article.)

  2. Sarav Kaliyaperumal says:

    What a great read Matt! Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I feel a bout of adrenaline rush just after reading your blog. I have run a marathon and few half marathons and would love to run an Ultra in 2 years!!! Your blog just strengthened that resolve in me.
    Thanks again!
    Sarav

  3. Shannon C says:

    Congratulations and thank you for the inspiring story! Impressed w your dedication. Looking forward to the podcast too.

  4. Kristyn says:

    I’m competing in my first half-ironman this weekend. Your story has me in tears. What a huge accomplishment! Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

  5. What a wonderful read. Congrats on finishing Matt!

  6. Ryan Jensen says:

    It probably seemed easy because of all the preparation you did beforehand! It takes a lot of dedication to prepare for this mentally, technically and physically. Races are not run over 26.2 or 101 miles. They’re run over several weeks or months over 100′s of miles. Congratulations Matt!

  7. Congrats, Matt! You are completely crazy in the best possible way.

  8. No questions – just want to give a hearty “congratulations” to you on this accomplishment. When I first came across your site and saw that you were running 100 miles at once I couldn’t wait to read the wrap-up. This was a fantastic journey to be able to keep up with.

    Inspiring and incredible. Well done.

  9. Darren Peters says:

    First of all congratulations on your finish and thank you for writing about it, seeing the pic of your legs buckled and your son running along side at the end is great. I’m currently toying with the idea of a 100 mile race in the next 2 years, i’ve already got a 50 planned and then a 60 so i will be coming back to see what lessons i can learn and also trying some more of your recipes. Again well done and thank you.

  10. Loved reading your RR! As another ultrarunner, I loved reading it! I just DNFed my first race in my second 100 attempt (finished my first), so I can promise you that quitting feels quite horrible. Haven’t been excited to even think about another 100 attempt until I read this. Thanks for that! Enjoy the glory of being a 100 mile finisher. :D

  11. Firstly congratulations on your first 100 miler. Secondly thank you for providing so much informtaion. I am making the switch from a carb and meat centric diet to a more vegetarian (baby steps ) keto diet.

    A quote that gets bandied around a lot but I love is “The pain is temporary but the glory is forever” it certainly made me keep pushing when I felt like I was fading.

    I hope you do feel proud of yourself, any now you’ve done 100 miles everything else, hopefully, will be like a stroll in the park.

    Well done

  12. Congratulations!! What I think is so amazing about all of “us athletes”, runners especially, is that at some point or another we can all relate to some of what you were feeling during a race of our own. My eyes were full of tears while reading about the finish line because it made me remember the joy of some of my own finishes. Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. Congratulations! I am impressed and glad that it went (mostly) so smoothly for you! Great recap.

  14. I just literally finished reading “Eat & Run” 10 minutes ago – about Scott Jurek, ultra-marathoner… so I’m all about reading the ultra races. I bow down & applaud you for making it!!! That’s so impressive. Love the details you gave… just all so interesting to me the challenge of what a body can do when pushed.
    …. OHHHH – those feet… those blisters… I bet the next few days were a recovery, huh?
    YOU ROCK!!!!

  15. Really inspiring – thanks so much for sharing the whole story. Congratulations.

    I have a few friends who have done ultras but I think I’m just now understanding the appeal. I’m going to bookmark this page, just in case.

  16. John in Boston says:

    Congratulations! What an amazing accomplishment – reading this put the biggest smile on my face. This same weekend I ran my first-ever ultra, a 12-hour timed race. I completed 42 miles, and I have to say you were (and are!) a huge inspiration to me Matt :D

  17. SO PROUD OF YOU! And now I’m completely convinced that this is something I can do! Although, I say that now when my longest run to date is only 16 miles… ha!

  18. Kuwanna Pietras says:

    I enjoyed reading your story. Congrats on your finish and thank you for inspiring me.

  19. I’m beyond impressed! And thank you for such a great wrap-up. I’m definitely one of those readers that geeks out over all the details, so this was a treat. ;)

    CONGRATS!!

  20. Congrats Matt! I’ve been reading this blog since well before you qualified for Boston. It’s amazing how much you’ve accomplished as a runner over the years. You continue to be an invaluable source for running info and, more importantly, motivation! Congrats to Greg as well – how great that you were able to support one another!

  21. Congratulations Matt! Knew you could do it. Bask in the glory of being a new member of the 100-mile club. Well done. Can’t wait to welcome you to the “100 miles, One Day” club too…soon, eh?

    -Chris

  22. Wow! Congratulations, you are amazing!

  23. A fabulous post! Congratulations on your huge accomplishment and thank you for sharing it with us!

  24. I really enjoyed the review. A BIG congratulations on your finish!

  25. Congratulations!! Thanks for taking the time to write all this.. Especially the technical stuff :) I’m sure you are still experiencing the extreme high from completing this, fantastic!

  26. That’s a great achievement. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your story.

  27. Congratulations Matt!! I read every word of your article and I don’t even plan on doing an Ultra. It was just SO interesting the details that went into your event. What an inspiration?
    Thanks for sharing.

  28. Great job! Running stories always make me cry. That’s how I decided to start running; someone tells their journey to the finish line, and the emotion it brought out in me made me want to experience it for myself. Very inspiring. You had a great crew behind you. A+ reporting as well.

  29. What an amazing journey, Matt. Many congratulations to you AND your family on your awesome accomplishment!

    Dustin

  30. Congratulations Matt! What a huge accomplishment…and so special to share it with your supportive family and friends! Good job. Currently, I’m nursing a stress fracture, but I look forward to hopefully running 50 and 100 mile races someday, and when I do I will definitely take the advice you left here and learn from your experiences. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Tremendous job, Matt! Congratulations to you and your crew. Thank you for sharing the ins and outs of your journey. I’ve enjoyed following along with you and have learned so much!

  32. I wasn’t able to attend the race this year, but I’m from the area and would love to help crew for you if you decide to do it again. Congrats on your outstanding achievement. GO team No Meat!!

  33. KC Ross says:

    Matt – Congrats to you on this fantastic achievement! You are so inspiring. What a beautiful family, too! Thanks for sharing all you do.

  34. You continue to inspire me Matt! I congratulate you and wish you all the success of your dreams! I also would like to mention and honor Greg for his achievement in turning his life into one of an inspirational character. Well done to you both!!!

  35. Huge congrats Matt. Thanks for your report, I enjoyed reading every detail. An ultra is in the plans for one day.

  36. Congrats to you Matt! This is very inspiring and an amazing task that you completed! I admire how you selected your pacer. Well done to you both, and your family!

  37. Congrats and thank you for the second section a vegan LT100 is my goal. Since no-one else answered the questions you posed I’ll chip in what I know. Hoka One One BondiBs are made with synthetic materials and Hammer Nutrition says they are vegan friendly, and since there is not a certified vegan label that can be expected we have to trust their word.

  38. Tanya Schroeder says:

    Matt!!!!! I’m so proud of you!!! Congratulations!!! I may not comment often, but believe me when I tell you that I read and look forward to every post. I LOVE this blog and I’ve been inspired to run and stay vegan because of this blog. Your victory is our victory, and seeing you making constant improvements keeps me and I’m sure other readers, going for our best too! So grateful that you shared your experience with us. Of course we read the whole post! It was the next best thing to actually being there. Can’t wait to read your new book! ;)

  39. Congrats Matt!!
    So much fun reading this report… yes, I read every word (twice!)

    For many reasons (some I understand, others I don’t) I’m drawn to do an ultra next year (obviously starting with a 50 miler) So I will continue to keep doing what I can with my beatup body (NYC marathon this fall) and check websites for 50 milers on or around May 20, 2014 (10th anniversary of the accident when I almost lost my leg and my life)

    Rest well… your body needs it for a time.

  40. Tanya Schroeder says:

    One more thing! Congrats also to Greg on overcoming addiction, his weight loss and giving of himself to support you. I’d love to read a post about his inspirational story. Many of us are still struggling with similar demons.

  41. Congratulations on your awesome achievement. You’re truly an inspiration both being a vegan, and in having the courage to push yourself outside your comfort zone.

  42. Great post and congratulations! I love the picture of Holden running to the finish line. I will definitely be sharing this to more veggie loving athletes and people in the Health and Wellness community here.

  43. A commenter above stated that “you’re crazy, but in the best possible way.” I couldn’t agree more! Inspiring.

  44. Vickie Frazier says:

    This weekend was both exhilarating and exhausting! Crewing for you was an incredible experience! Ok, I did tell your Dad in a cranky voice around the mile 41 mark that I would NOT do this again, whether you finished or not, but I take that back now :) I had been expecting it to go really downhill and it didn’t. Congrats, Matt! What an accomplishment!

  45. wow, cheers for a great achievement. and sharing all the details I feel like I know how to prepare for one now.

  46. Hi Matt,
    I’ve never met you yet feel so connected by all your posts. This was an incredible journey to read about. I became vegan three months ago, and have always been concerned about the health affects. You have truly shown that the vegan diet is not only the healthiest, but the most sane. Your posts have helped make the transition to being vegan much smoother. You’ve taught me so much. I began running four years ago and have completed six half marathons and one marathon. This fall I’ve challenged myself by signing up for two marathons. I can’t imagine running any further. What you’ve done is incredible. In addition, as a high school math teacher I am in awe of you math accomplishments as well. You are amazing. Thank you so much!

  47. Jodi-lee says:

    So inspiring!
    I never thought I would contemplate an ultra, but your post has got me thinking…maybe the perfect race for the slow and steady such as I am.
    My question is this: how do you look so pristine in all of the photos?!?! When I finish a marathon, I look like a dirty little salt monster, yet you are immaculate! What gives? Did you have hair and make-up on your crew? ;-)

    • Thanks Jodi-lee! So great to hear that this has you thinking just a little bit about an ultra.

      As for looking pristine (thanks!), I think that’s just due to the nature of a 100. The intensity is necessarily so low that you don’t feel like you would after a marathon — you can’t, or you’d never make it more than 26.2! The fact that it was cool and rainy probably helped a lot, since it washed away mud and salt and anything else. Then when the sun came up the next day, it was a huge feeling of revitalization, so I probably looked a lot better then than I did during the night.

      Trust me though, I didn’t smell pristine. :)

  48. Lindsy shrewsberry says:

    Simply amazed by all that you have accomplished in the last 10 years post JMU days. Congratulations on being an inspiration to so many. Go dukes. Love u guys.

  49. Congratulations on your 1st 100 miler! What an inspiration! Great food recommendations as well. I’ll have to try some of those out as I train for my first ultra.

  50. Congratulations, Matt. And what a great post! I read it at work and had to hide in the bathroom to finish it, hee, hee. Love your Ah-ha moment. Running can do that to a person, no? Hope you’re taking it easy and giving your legs and feet a rest. Also, congrats on the little one, too. That makes training so much tougher, but so much more worth it, eh?
    Cheers from a vegan runner in Alaska,

  51. Loved reading this Matt. I experienced the same thing on my 50, first half was a 13 minute pace, way too fast, I finished the whole 50 with a 17 min overall pace. I’m amazed at how much food you ate, though. I feel like I didn’t even eat 1/8th of that during my 50. Congrats on your finish, though! Now, enjoy the rest days with your family.

  52. Catherine says:

    Awesome, Matt!

  53. Great recap! You are amazing – congratulations!

  54. Congratulations! I love getting your emails! You give me hope!
    Changes lead to Transformation! Don’t ever quit!
    Don’t ever give in or give up!
    Thanks for sharing your life and your passion!

  55. Loved reading every single word of this. Very inspiring indeed. Huge well done and congrats. I ma in awe.

  56. Gill Ewing says:

    You did brilliantly – mud and all. Many congratulations and thanks for this recap too!

  57. Congratulations, Matt! Thanks for the recap – this was really interesting. I can’t wait to listen to the podcast later this week!

  58. Pat Herriott says:

    Many, many congratulations to you Matt on an outstanding achievement. I’ve enjoyed your posts and this one is a real winner as are you and your whole support team. Well done all of you!

  59. Congrats on finishing 100 miles, that is awesome! I was refreshing your split time throughout the day (and next morning!)

    I learned about BR100 from your blog and I think I might aim to do it in 2014 as my first 100. I am in Toronto, so its relatively close. That said, the mud is giving me pause. Would you recommend the course? How hilly is it?

    You mentioned you stuck with the “routine food” for 5 hours and then ate according to cravings — how did that go? Did you have long periods of every little food? Any stomach issues during the run (most 100 mile report I have read includes tales of stomach rebellion at some point!)? When did you drink the coffee, all 10oz at one aid station or smaller amounts at several? (As a regular coffee drinker, I am interested in how best to work caffeine into a 100 mile race plan, while still being easy on the stomach).

    Apart from the blisters, where did you feel the most pain (calves? quads? lower back?) Any lessons about types of training (ie. should have trained more hills, should have trained more in ankle-deep mud, etc.)? I guess I am asking about any training that would especially help in preparing for BR100.

    Did you switch hands with the Nathan water bottle, or was is okay keeping it in the same hand all day/night. I tend to worry about about carrying weight in one hand and not the other might effect my gait or pace, but it seems loads of ultrarunners do it.

    Congrats again (and sorry for all the questions!).

    • Hey Mark, thanks for the congrats and for following along as I ran!

      I would definitely recommend Burning River — to me it felt like a fair course, not too easy and not too hard, and about 75% trails, 25% roads. On a race calendar I was recently looking at (http://www.ultrarunning.com/calendar.html), on a scale of 1 to 5 BR is a 3 in terms of terrain (hills, etc.) and 4 in terms of surface (technicality of the trails, I think). I’m not sure what the total elevation gain is though.

      A guy I ran with for a few miles from the area and told me had never seen mud like this there. He said mud wasn’t uncommon in some spots, just not like this.

      After I was done with routine food, my wife (who was in charge of crew stuff) encouraged me to eat slightly more than I probably would have if I were on my own, and I think that was a good thing. For the first half, I was still eating at short intervals, like every half hour or 45 minutes, along with drinking Heed whenever I was thirsty. In the second half, I seemed to eat less often (once every 90 minutes or 2 hours) but larger “meals.” Still, I carried Newman O’s and snacky things like that in my pocket so that I could get to them quickly, and had little bites of those fairly often.

      No real stomach issues, thankfully. Twice after mile 80 I felt some stomach weirdness, and guessed (correctly) that it was just an empty stomach. I ate a CLIF bar or Newman O’s and felt immediately better.

      Coffee was two different 5oz servings in consecutive crew access points, miles 73 and 80, I think. It was gourmet, too! I brought along some Counter Culture and had the crew hand-grind it and make it with a pour-over filter/holder I packed. Luxorious, but probably the easiest way to make coffee (besides instant) in a situation like this. It turned out the aid stations offered it too. I typically drink one 10-ounce cup each morning and no more, but I didn’t want to mess with that even during the race. So I had a cup when I woke up at 3:30 before the race, and then it must have been around 2am and 4am that I had it during the race.

      Aside from blisters, the most pain I felt was in my heels and the outsides of my foot. If you look at the nasty foot picture in the post, you’ll see those white spots (not blisters, just macerated from moisture, I think) where I obviously landed each step. That’s where it hurt, just a dull soreness with each step after mile 75 or so. I really didn’t have any leg pain at all; it was feet. I did a LOT of hill training because of where I live (every run is essentially a hill workout, albeit slower), and I think my legs were more than adequately prepared as a result. I did my training almost exclusively on roads and gravel paths, not technical trails, but you should definitely have some experience trail running since so much of this is trails. I think so much road training may have been a good thing since it beats your feet up more.

      Yes I switched hands often with the handheld bottle. Not according to any schedule, just when it felt right. I used to think that carrying a bottle would be annoying or affect your gait like you said, but I did it for the entire Vermont 50 and after that have never felt uncomfortable with it.

      Thanks again! Happy to answer your questions. And good luck!

      • Thanks for the detailed responses, Matt.

        Hand-ground gourmet coffee during a 100M race — love it! You might like the Aeropress, an inexpensive hand press that makes great espresso-strength coffee — I use mine daily. I’m sure it would fit in a drop bag!

        • I love my Aeropress! And I have the hand grinder that Matt suggested in a past post. Never took them to an ultra…maybe I need to try that next time. Great idea.

  60. The look on your face when hugging your Dad says it all. Brought tears to my eyes. Congratulations.

  61. Congratulations Matt on your amazing accomplishment. Thank you for your continued inspiration!!

  62. This was an absolutely fantastic post. “Absolutely nothing hurts more than quitting would.” I’m adding that to my mantras while I train for Chicago this year!

    Thanks so much for sharing. Congrats!

  63. Congratulations Matt!!! I was emailed your blog by one of my Team in training coaches and after seeing an event like this one for the first time in person it was so great to read about it from one of the runners! We were at the mile marker 55 aid station and everyone that came through was just simply incredible! Not only because they had been running for 9-13 hours at the point when I saw them but because most had higher spirits than I did! I am training for my first half marathon through Team in Training and when I think of how impossible it seems to succeed I think of everyone I saw that had a goal in mind of 100 miles!

  64. Chelsea Jordan says:

    Wow, I am just in awe Matt! Thank you so much for sharing your experience, including the intimate details. I am a US Peace Corps volunteer serving in Botswana for 27 months. Four months ago I decided to go vegan, and two and a half weeks ago I completed my third half marathon in Zimbabwe (my first on a vegan diet and a PR!) and in 14 weeks, I am planning to do my first full marathon in South Africa! I have to admit though, I am a bit terrified. Not only have a reached my first rough patch as a vegan (four months of feeling great, and now some serious cravings are kicking in!), but I’m also really intimidated by 26.2 miles! Reading your story is so inspirational, but I’m not quite at the point in my head where I can even visualize a full marathon as a breeze. I guess what your story got me thinking about is, how much of a breeze is one full marathon in a when your goal is 100 miles? Being such a small fraction of a 100 miler, it makes me wonder, is there a point in your running experience where 26.2 miles doesn’t seem so intimidating anymore? I guess 26.2 miles still has the monster status in my perspective, which could be part of it. I’m just curious about how you have built up your mental stamina for such great distances! Especially as an “average guy” as you say :) (Join the club there! Even though I’m a girl, not a guy…I’m an average runner!)

    • Hey Chelsea! Congrats on your transition to veganism and upcoming marathon!

      For me, racing a marathon is still very hard. Even racing a 5K is hard! But with ultra training, even training for a 50-miler, you need to get to a point where running (as opposed to racing) a marathon is not stressful at all, on your body or mind. A lot of this has to do with pace … the first 26.2 miles of this 100 took me 5 hours and 45 minutes or so. That’s nearly twice as long as my best marathon of 3:09.

      So while running your marathon will (and should) be tough, if you were to run it at half the speed you’re able to, it would be much easier.

      Interestingly, I actually stepped back during this race and thought about how enjoyable it was to run a pace like this. If I could ever get myself to take a marathon or a 50-miler this slowly, it would be a heck of a lot more enjoyable! Granted, racing for a fast time is part of the fun, but this made me realize there’s a side of running I haven’t really explored, that of enjoying it purely for how it feels to move along at a super-conservative pace.

      • Chelsea Jordan says:

        Thanks so much for the tips! I was thinking while reading your story, Wow…13 minute miles, that is a bit slow! It certainly makes sense though. I realized in my last half that if I’m not consciously thinking about it, my pace control is terrible! This was the first time I used a device to track my mileage and pace (the Nike iPhone app) and realized I was pushing out 8 minute miles for my first 4 miles, which is definitely not a pace I trained for! It’s amazing what adrenaline can do, but I think I need to be a little more disciplined for my safety and chances of finishing at a goal time.

        That’s really interesting that you mention a side of running you hadn’t yet explored. Just goes to show that there’s no end to adventure with this sport! I think all runners would agree that there is something about running that goes beyond beating records and other competitors. It’s a lot deeper than that. Every mile has a personality of its own and can bring out parts of you that you may not have realized you had. And after this last race, I decided that if Heaven is a place, it must be the runner’s circle at the finish line! I swear that is the happiest place on Earth!

        Keep up with these stories and emails! They are fantastic!

  65. huge congrats on finishing the 101 miler! thanks for posting all this. i’m running my first 100 miler in October and this was very beneficial. i’ll probably go back and read this a few more times in preparation for race day. “Absolutely nothing hurts more than quitting would” — that’s so awesome man! i need to tattoo that on my arm!

    Thanks again!

  66. Congratulations Matt! Very inspiring post about your race recap!

  67. Awww Mat!! Congratulations!! I just read your report and I have goose bumps!! Well done for such an incredible achievement and for being a wonderful inspiration!! Enjoy your rest and nurse these blisters ;-)

  68. Congratulations on this crazy-awesome accomplishment! Thanks for taking the time to put together such a detailed post–a great read, felt like I was along for the 101-mile journey.

  69. Great write-up!! Thanks for sharing the experience. Very inspiring. I’ve done a 50K but have a long-range goal of doing a 50-miler. Not sure I’ll ever be up for a 100-miler! Congratulations on an incredible achievement.

  70. Did you take any of the Medjool dates at the mile 46/Ottawa Point aid station? I was the station captain and I had them ready for you! I know these trails well, and I know how terrible they were, especially the “Bog of Despair” between 46-50. You had an amazing first hundo!

  71. I stuck my head in your van right before you left BR to say hi. I read your blog but have not made the vegetarian leap yet. I figure if I keep reading your blog, it may entice me to jump. I dropped at 70 as I could not keep anything down for 30 miles including water. Great finish for you (and your little helper). The temperature was great but I have never seen the mud like that at Burning River before. Enjoy your recovery.

  72. Hi Matt,
    I parked next to your NMA Merc van a number of times. My boyfriend was running BR100 as well. I would tend to agree the Hoka Bondi’s probably are not the best for trals. We run in the Hoka Evo Stinsons. I would also say that with regards to shoes that don’t let moisture in, they don’t let moisture out either, so beware of that fact.

    Great time as well. Keith (#1619) said the same thing – the mud sapped a good portion of his energy as well and his sub 24 hr pace went out the window by about Boston Store.
    Best of luck!

  73. Wonderful post! I always appreciate your attention to detail and providing such great advice, feedback, etc. Congrats to you, your family and all those that supported you on race day! I look forward to your next 100-mile race post! =)

  74. That surprises me that Brooks shoes are vegan, because their ad campaign certainly is not. Their print ads in Running Times are very offensive to vegans. It shows a runner devouring a dead beast like a wild carnivore, to get “protein” for recovery which is a myth in itself. After seeing that ad, I promised myself I would never wear Brooks.

  75. Hi Matt. A huge congratulations on finishing the race, and thank you for sharing the experience. It was very emotional to read. Cheers.

  76. Congrats on finishing your first 100! I’ve never raced farther than marathon distance, but it’s fun to read ultra race reports and to imagine what it would be like. Thanks for sharing!

  77. Way to go, Matt! So proud of your accomplishment (not quite sure how I get to be proud of what you did!). Not that I am going to run a 100 miler ever, but I did read the entire piece and liked the second part as much as the first.

  78. What a monumental feat (“feet”?) !!! I am in awe. But still not sure I would ever want to tackle such a run in my life. Even a 50 miler seems like not too much fun after, say mile 30…

    My only question is bathroom necessities.

    How many times #2? And did the course allow for some privacy and what do they recommend when natures calls? I imagine your metabolism was off the charts and every morsel of food consumed during the race found “it’s way out” so to speak…

    Sorry for the gross question but you asked for it :) !!! Congrats again.

    • Good one Larryz! You’re right, a 50-miler isn’t fun after mile 30, unless you’re running way slower than you’re capable of doing for the distance. But for 100, the “not fun” part doesn’t usually happen until 65 miles (or so I hear). It seems that no matter what the distance, it’s at 60-90% of the way through where it’s really tough.

      Two #2′s, I think. The course ran by public restrooms at several spots, and I guess my timing was good. I don’t think it’s uncommon for people to do that in the woods though, and there were remote-enough trails that you’d have no other resort if the timing wasn’t good.

      Lots of #1′s, mostly during the second half. I think probably because it got so cool at night that I wasn’t sweating out much water.

  79. Congratulations on such an accomplishment! You are absolutely inspiring! Your posts are a wealth of great information and a joy to read. Thank you!

  80. Congratulations, and thanks so much for sharing your experience with us! After spending a couple of months this spring after my first marathon recovering from tendinitis, I’ve just started a very slow, very long (to hopefully avoid re-injury!) training plan that I put together to train for my first ultra — hoping to run my first 50k next spring or early summer, and from there…?? I love reading race reports from people who are already there. They are inspiring and simultaneously totally relatable and unimaginable. Thanks again. So what’s next? :)

  81. I love reading your posts. They are so inspiring and real. I am currently working towards running my first marathon. I liked how you wrote about feeling like an imposter. So funny since you obviously are NOT. But I totally relate because I feel like that whenever I talk to a “real runner” not a slow half marathoner like me. Anyway, congrats and thanks for a great blog! (I look forward to your book)

  82. CONGRATS CONGRATS CONGRATS! WOHOO for 101 miles! And your fantastic crew! So impressed by your accomplishment and always, even more so by your attitude, humility, and mindfulness of what you take on. Thanks for sharing and happy recovery!

  83. Matt, congratulations 100x (once for every mile!)!! What an Amazing accomplishment. I am on track to complete my first marathon this October after being inspired by watching my (future at that point) husband cross the finish line several years ago. Your recount of your experience is so very inspiring and has me kicking around the idea of an ultra now. That’s the best thing about running, there’s always something new and challenging to shoot for!
    I especially appreciate the food notes. I am 98% vegetarian and cook/bake vegan whenever at home. I’m starting to really focus on fueling strategies for my upcoming marathon; I’m going to give some of your suggestions a shot. Thanks!

  84. Loved every word. Congratulations!

    What I loved most was your acknowledgement and gratefulness for your team. I love how you and Erin are a team and in it together. I get the sense that you would support her extreme notions, should she have any, as much as she supports yours. It’s always there, in the subtext of your posts. True support and friendship. Not perfect but real, honest, good people. Congratulations on that, too.

  85. Many congratulations Matt!!! What a fantastic achievement :-) Thank you for sharing not only your race report but also so much valuable information about fuelling, preparation etc. I’ve done a 40, have a 50 and 70 planned for next year and a 100 for 2015 and will certainly be referring back to this website many times for knowledge and tips. Many thanks once again

  86. Thanks, Matt! What a great article. I love the way you let us in on, not only the physical aspect of your training and your process, but what’s going on in your head, as well. I know just how you feel about how your mind can try to trick you into sabotaging your best plans. Congratulations and keep up the great work!

  87. Hi Matt,

    What an amazing accomplishment and I enjoyed reading about the real trials and tribulations a monster race like this entails. You are an inspiration and, only finding your site about a month ago, have introduced a lot of your writing into my training for a positive new approach. Congratulations and hopefully the look back now leaves an elite sense of pride. As you can read, all your readers and followers are proud of what you have achieved and you give us hope and determination. Thank you for sharing!

  88. IN-CREDIBLE! I’m a proud half marathoner (which at one point I thought doing was impossible – and now I’ve done 4 with more to come!) and have recently been “dabbling” with marathon training, leaving myself room to backout in case reality hits too hard. But I am literally getting off the couch right now to go do today’s scheduled training run. You have INSPIRED me and I’m ready to DECIDE and COMMIT to this journey based on your words. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Oct 26th, I’ll check in and send finish line pix proudly wearing my NMA shirt!

  89. This may be the only time I stop lurking and leave a comment, but I just had to say how completely happy I am for you – and your crew – that you achieved this amazing goal on the first go – good on you all!

  90. I just wanted to offer my congrats, also, on a job well done! I like your line, “Absolutely nothing hurts as much as quitting would.” After my recent olympic tri (my first) where I was woefully unprepared for the swim, I had to reach down, through the panic and fatigue and decide that I was not about to DNF. Only someone who has participated in an endurance event can truly understand the truth behind your eloquent words.

  91. Congratulations!!!! This is my first post – usually I am shy about posting, but I could not leave this page without telling you how amazing your accomplishments are. I am just getting back into distance running after a long injury recovery, and I always turn to this blog when I need that extra kick of motivation to get my running shoes on. Thank you so much!

  92. Congratulations. I haven’t stopped by this blog in a while but had to read this post. And I sit here on Amtrak crying. Well done and what a resource for others planning similar races. I have never run more than a marathon, haven’t run more than 6 miles in a while but I do have an ultra on my bucket list…one day.

  93. Michelle says:

    Well done! Thanks for sharing!

  94. Elizabeth Eaton says:

    Congratulations to you and your crew! Thanks once again for another inspiring and honest post. I ran my first 50K this May and am hooked. The gear and food tips were especially helpful; I sure love my Nathan handhelds! After reading, I feel now more than ever that a 100 miler could be within my reach.

  95. Amazing & inspiring! Congratulations!!!

  96. Congratulations! I felt so bad when I woke up Sunday morning and saw the DNF next to your name. I didn’t realize it was DNFYet. Even though I don’t know you, I’m so proud of you and admire your perseverance and positive attitude.

    I’m so grateful for all you (along with other NMAs) have taught me over the past 5 months. I was transitioning to a plant based diet and looking for info online. I only looked at your site because you have the same name as my cousin; my maiden name is Frazier. I’m so glad I did! Thank you!

  97. Congrats! I just finished my first sprint tri Sunday, and my coach told me that there was nothing in my vegan diet that was going to help me out in this. Glad I could point to your hundred miler in rebuttal!!

    I just want to say that you have the most amazing wife ever. Any woman who supports her man in that kind of endeavor, all with a baby strapped to her chest, is awesome. From one mom to another, Erin, you rock!

  98. What an inspiring post! I am currently training for my first ultra – the JFK 50. Everything about this race report was so helpful. Maybe one day (if I survive the 50!), I will venture into the territory of 100…. CONGRATULATIONS!

  99. Thanks for the motivation to eat healthier and push the limits. Found your site and changed to almost 100% vegan over two months ago. Feeling great and getting increasingly more active running*swimming*biking. Feeling stronger every day. Thanks to you. The perfect smoothly recipe rocks!!! Congrats on the 100 Miler and all be best on future races. Thanks Matt.

  100. Hi Matt
    Congratulations! As an experienced ultra runner myself I’m most interested in the very personal question of how did you eat so much fibre and not spend all day in the toilet?
    Cheers
    Dave

  101. Lorraine says:

    Hi Matt! Greetings from Cape Town, South Africa. I absolutely love your site, your writing, your enthusiasm, your determination, your diet, your mention of my own South Africa’s Tim Noakes’ book (Waterlogged) – everything about you! I’m like a teeny-bopper fan! :)
    Having run loads and loads of half marathons, I decided to run my first full marathon this year to mark the occasion of my 50th birthday. I’m really struggling with getting over the 30km mark, and your article has given me the boost I needed. (Yes, mere kilometres, not miles, but still…) Thank you!

    • Chelsea Jordan says:

      Hi Lorraine!

      I’m a US Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana, and I’m doing my first marathon in South Africa this year too! (Soweto in November!) Are there other marathons in South Africa you know of? And how inspiring is this page?! I love it! Good luck with training…I’m also around where you are with my training and hitting a wall after about 30km. We can do it! It’s nice to know you’re not the only one currently prepping and aching for the love of running and the dream of completing a first full marathon!

  102. Congratulations! What a huge accomplishment! Just out of curiosity – how did you feel in the days after? I know after marathons I can barely walk like a human being – more like an orangutan – for a few days. I imagine it’s much more intense after a 100-miler.

    also thanks for all the resources at the end of the post. I’m hoping to do my first 50-miler next year and I need all the info I can get.

  103. Congratulations, Matt ! What a great report you have shared with us. I’ve run a dozen 100s, never used crew or pacer so need to rely on drop bags and aid stations. My first 100 as Vegan was Leanhorse where miraculously I ran a PR. I think this was due to the easier course-and aid was every few miles. I was able to carry one handheld and a few gels in my pockets. I drank Heed from the stations and they provided HammerGel too. You don’t use gel? For Superior 100 I have more difficulty. Aid is remote-up to 11 miles and through rugged rocks and roots. Your rice is a great idea. I could Tupperware it or place in a ziplock. I’ll use Hammergel and Heed from the stations. I sure appreciate all of the details in your report.!! Recovery quickly !

  104. Congrats on the relentless effort and finish put in over the entire last 6 months.

    You deserved that finish and I’m sure it will be an accomplishment you will look back on and smile when your 90 years old running some po-dunk local marathon. ;)

    Great job bud!

    David Damron
    BecomeaBeast.com

  105. Hi Matt-
    I don’t usually post anything on any website, but I just had to comment on your post. Congrats on the 100 miler! I’ve only been running for about a year and a half now (I’m only 15) and have only run a 5K (July of last year) so your accomplishments (and those of everyone else on NMA!) seems pretty much superhuman to me! I found your blog at an extremely painful time, and it’s been a HUGE help for me, not just in running, but in life as well. It’s made me think that maybe, just maybe I’ll someday do a marathon… Enjoy your post-race bliss, and recover quickly!

  106. I heard about this high-powered, inexpensive, waterproof,… flashlight from the TrailRunnerNation podcast (recommended by Jimmy Dean Freeman), and I love it: http://www.amazon.com/Fenix-Flashlights-E11R4BK-B-Flashlight-Black/dp/B00BNUBFQ4/ref=sr_ob_1?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1375717855&sr=1-1

  107. Hi Matt,
    You (and anyone else who ever finished a 100 miler) are an incredible rockstar. Congratulations!

    What’s next? Aren’t you afraid for a post-achievement void?

  108. Matt, you’re such an inspiration. I was questioning whether or not I could do a half marathon in Dec (I’m training now) but after following your journey I know I can and I will.

    Good job on completing the race. You’re awesome!!! Yey vegan athletes!!! ;D

  109. Dawn Lisenby says:

    Hi Matt,

    Great post! Can you email me the list of questions you had your crew ask you? I could not get the document you linked to open. Thanks!

    Dawn

  110. You sir.. are a true hero..your like one of us..i mean like..normal runners..haha..i feel like i can connect to you.. Im currently going for a half marathon soon, and sometimes during runs the pain, the side stitches, muscle cramp. It just makes me feel like wanna give up and be disappointed of myself, but reading your story really made me feel like a “wussy” haha.. you have given me strength and motivation from your inspiring story.. thank you..bless you.. :D

  111. Amazing job Matt! I read the whole blog post and am just fascinated with your experience! Way to complete your first 100 miler! My husband and I are newly vegan and endurance athletes. My husband more so than me, but I’m still an endurance athlete! Anyways, I’m excited to get your book for our library on training for marathons and ultra marathons as vegans! You and all the other no meat athletes are truly inspiring!! :)

  112. Oh my gosh Matt! I haven’t been keeping up with you (I apologize, which is why I added you on FB so I don’t miss anything!) and I’m so proud of you! This is awesome. Congrats on finishing your first 100! I wish I could have been there to cheer you on! I helped crew for a friend at a number of races and even ran with him in the dark late at night. It’s a trip! When’s the next one? ;)

  113. very impressive!! I am training for my first half marathon and people like you always amaze me!

  114. My husband is about to run his first 100 miler next weekend. Our children won’t be there but I thought about putting a picture or card from them in some of his bags after mile 50 for a little encouragement. Maybe that’s a bad idea?? Can you give me any ideas for encouragement?

  115. Hey Matt that was a fantastic post. I love your site!

  116. Wow! What an accomplishment! Congratulations! I love all the detail in this post, it makes running a race seem doable! I love that you had such a supportive team behind you every step of the way. Way to go!

  117. Great job man! This was an amazing read and really inspiring. I literally tried on the Hoka’s today and will use them for long distance stuff while using my pureflows. I laughed when I got to that part of your article. Keep up the awesome work.

  118. Shane Robinson says:

    Very inspirational! I just finished my first (plant-powered of course) 50 miler at the JFK yesterday, and am ready for more… eventually. :)

  119. CONGRATS, CONGRATS, CONGRATS! I found your post inspiring and encouraging! I’m set to run my first 100 in March, the Buffalo Run at Antelope Island, Utah. -Your post just made me smile and excited for my own race! Great job!

  120. I’ve been a avid soccer player and novice runner all of my life (with the past 4 years as a vegan). After my recent move to Africa, I’ve picked up my running a bit. I plan on running my first marathon in Zimbabwe this June and hope to run in the Ocean Floor Race (160 miles) next March. The race would be to raise money for the NGO where I work. My schedule is fairly open to any level of training, but I want to make sure that 160 miles a year from now isn’t too unrealistic. While I would like to finish in under two days, participants are allotted four days to finish. There are stations every 15 miles where participants can leave drop bags (I have no idea what to put in these – socks, food, ORS, blister packs???) What is your perspective on this goal, with particular consideration of being vegan and without a support team?

  121. About to run my first 100miler in two weeks , http://northburn100.co.nz, came across this post when looking for other peoples take on their first 100, this post is a really fantastic read

  122. Love your posts!! I ran my first 50 miler last year and am searching for a beginner level 100 miler. Would you recommend this for a first 100 miler race? Or do you have any other suggestions? Seems as though this would be miserably hot.

  123. Hi Jay, I really did think Burning River was a great choice for a first 100-miler. It’s certainly possible to find easier, flatter ones, but I thought the course was fair and varied and fun. Plus a decent number of crew access points.

    But you’re right — the heat could be a huge factor. I was prepared for 95-degree heat, which would have made for a much different day (as it was though, the mud I dealt with wouldn’t have been such a big factor if it were a hot day without rain).

Trackbacks

  1. [...] to start somewhere. It’s a law. You must complete two miles on your way to three. Even to run in 100 mile races, you always start with the first [...]

  2. […] long ago, Matt completed his first 100 mile ultramarathon. His recap walks readers through all of the ups and downs, as well as the logistics (what he ate, […]

  3. […] you feel like peeing your pants? Well, I’ve never felt that way reading Matt’s blog. [Ok, maybe there was that one time.] He truly makes health and fitness feel like something we can all achieve whether you are just […]

  4. […] you feel like peeing your pants? Well, I’ve never felt that way reading Matt’s blog. [Ok, maybe there was that one time.] He truly makes health and fitness feel like something we can all achieve whether you are just […]

  5. […] What it’s really like to run a 100-mile ultramarathon. […]

  6. […] always found Matt to be a big source of running inspiration for me (he just recently ran his first 100 mile ultra marathon – check out the recap, it’s amazing), and the book shares how Matt went from being a casual […]

  7. […] With numerous ultramarathons under his belt, including a finishing time of 28:40:33 in the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run, Matt has shown the world how fueling with plant-based foods is not only doable, but optimal for […]

  8. […] or 100 miles. Well, here it is — everything I took in during 28 hours it took me to complete my first 100-miler, the Burning River 100 in […]

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