Well, I’ve officially cleared the biggest hurdle on my path toward running a 100-miler (until race day, that is): a 50-mile training run.
Actually, 52.7 miles. Last Saturday I ran the Black Mountain Monster, a 12-hour race around a 5K loop that comprises single-track trails, roads, and a few fields. I had hoped to cover 100K (62 miles) on the day, but when I completed my 17th loop at 11 hours and 15 minutes, I was fairly certain I couldn’t run another in 45 minutes, and called it a day.
Anything over 50 miles was good enough for me and for my preparation for the 100-miler, so the race was by no means a failure. But still, 10 miles short of my distance goal is a lot, and I can mainly blame myself for that — I started out way too fast, clocking 10-minute miles for the first three loops, when a steady 11:30 pace was all I would have needed to reach 100K.
The good news, though? I learned more during this race than in any previous one. I paid careful attention to exactly how many calories and electrolytes I was taking in, my paces, how my body responded to the heat, my shoes, and much more. Nothing like a little fear of running 100 miles to make you get serious, I guess — I even took notes! (You can see them here, if you’re interested. I’d love to hear answers to my questions at the bottom from any experienced ultrarunners; feel free to leave them in the comments on this post.)
I’m not a huge fan of writing race recaps — I honestly can’t imagine someone sitting in front a computer long enough to read thousands of words about my race. But somehow, listening to those words on a podcast seems a bit more reasonable, so all the details are in this episode.
Doug, my co-host on the podcast, did a little ultra-adventure of his own the previous weekend — a 102-mile, mostly self-supported trek over three days on the Appalachian Trail. This style of covering a fairly large amount of ground (compared to traditional hiking) is called “fast packing,” and Doug tells us all about his first experience with it here.
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