My 12-Hour Race Report, and a 102-Mile Fastpacking Adventure

Podcast Radio2Well, 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.

Enjoy the show!

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Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Matt’s 12-hour race report (4:00)
  • How the “eat only dates” strategy worked out (11:00)
  • Going in the opposite direction of the minimalist movement (17:45)
  • Benefits of using a 6- or 12-hour event as your first ultramarathon (25:00)
  • Pacing strategies for a 100-mile ultra (33:45)
  • Doug’s experience on a 3-day, 102-mile adventure (40:00)
  • How the body deals with significant back to back runs (47:00)
  • Taking care of the feet with bigger that usual shoes (1:00)
  • Our favorite ultrarunning books and movies (1:02)

Links from the show:

Movies and books we discussed:

Races we discussed:

Beers we drank:

  • Anderson Valley Brewing Summer Solstice (Doug)
  • Terrapin Hopsecutioner (Matt)

Thanks for listening!

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Comments

  1. Congrats, Matt! A great accomplishment, even short of the 100K goal. Sounds like the lessons learned have you well on your way to the 100 mile mark.

    I’m enjoying your updates. Have done a 50K and debating whether to go for something longer this year.

  2. One of the questions in your race notes is about fats and complex carbs during racing. I recommend checking out Advanced Sports Nutrition by Dan Bernadot. He talks about that sort of thing and although I don’t remember the answer off the top of my head, I seem to think its in there.

  3. I so can’t relate to such an achievement. Matt and his long distance running clan are like a different species. Truly epic stuff.

    Yep.

    -Joe

    • Thats incredible Matt! You are such an inspiration!!!
      Good luck with the training! Im sure you will kick ass!
      Thank you for inspiring me to be a plant based healthier athlete!

  4. Hi Matt–I really enjoy No Meat Athlete and I wanted to address a few of your questions from your 12 hr race post. I’m the manager at Fleet Feet Sports in Tucson, AZ and have finished 2 Ironmans. Although I’ve never run an ultra myself, I’ve worked with several folks who have. Shoes can definitely play a role, as well as inserts. If you’ve never been fit for shoes or haven’t tried inserts, I would definitely recommend it. Having a proper fit with someone who knows the ins and outs of shoe technology, biomechanics, etc. can make a world of difference. With regards to compression, I think compression socks are a great idea. I would recommend CEP, as they have graduated compression from the feet up the leg. These will help get oxygen to the muscles more effectively and clear lactic acid more efficiently. Finally, walk breaks are always a good idea. You are right to consider walking the hills from the beginning of your race. Walk breaks will actually enable you to have a faster overall time (and better experience).

    Anyway, just my 2 cents–best of luck with the rest of your training!

    Anne Stancil

  5. Hi Matt,

    Great job – congratulations on your accomplishment! Sounds like you are well on your way to meeting your big goal.

    Have you guys ever thought of putting your podcast up on Stitcher? It makes podcast listening so easy for those of us that are iTunes frenemies. Understand if not, but just thought I’d toss it out there as a “reader request.” :)

  6. Hey Matt!

    I loved the podcast and congrats on your accomplishment. I have a few ultra running friends that wear Hoka’s. I’ve only ran a few marathons and I’ve had some issues w/ plantar fasciitis. I bought a pair a litte over a month ago and I’ve ran over 100 miles in them so far. I suggest you try a pair before you do your 100 miles. It’s like running on pillows. They are light, but they kind of look like orthopedic shoes. My feet and knees are happy, so I don’t even care anymore!

    BTW…Anderson Valley Summer Solstice is the BEST beer EVER!!! I went to my 1st Boonville beer tasting event and had a blast!

    Good luck on your event and your training!

    Adria:)

  7. While I don’t have a whole bunch of 100 mile experience I do have a bunch of shorter ultras under my belt and just completed my first 100 in April. It looks like you understand what you did wrong from reading your report. You should always be going slower than you think you should in the beginning. Walk the up-hills and take the down-hills easy for the first 50 miles. Below are my answers to your questions.

    Pace: The guy is just about right. For my first it worked out to 10.5 hours and 14.5 hours and I wish I would have taken the first lap slower. I might have gotten the under 24 if I took it slower the first 50. It seems crazy but 15 min miles after 80 miles was tough to walk let alone run. Also, do not waste time at AS. I blew it here and would have saved over an hour but I was hurting and sat down for a few minutes at each AS past 60 miles. Get in and out and quickly as possible.

    Eating: My experience is to stay away from slow/harder disgestion carbs. It takes more work and you need that blood/energy to keep moving your legs. Take a look at Tailwind Nutrition. They have an amazing fuel/electrolyte powder. Its a 2in1 and tastes great all day. I use that and just snack on food at the AS.

    Feet: I wore Hokas for the first time right out of the box for my 100 and it was crazy how great my feet felt. Feet and ankles were not sore at all. I will wear them for all my races over 50 miles. Speaking of shoes, make sure you account for the swelling in your feet. After 60 my shoes were so tight I started getting bad blisters. I am going to buy a 1/2 to full size bigger pair and trade out around 60 during my next 100.

    Walking: If it is a flat course you probably want to build in walk breaks. If it has hills, they will be your walking breaks.

    Socks: I wear the injini toe socks. Never had any issues and they are great with blisters. The hokas really help the feet/ankles. The compression is your call.

    Drinking: In my opinion there really isn’t an exact science. Make sure your urinating and drink early and often. I think the S-Caps or Endurlytes are a pain to keep track of (see Tailwind).

    Good luck. I was thinking about adding this race after I saw you signed up but it just didn’t fit my schedule. Have a great time and stay positive. You really have to love pain to do a 100!

  8. I was bummed that none of Doug’s voice is on the podcast from iTunes. There is just silence. It’s too bad because I’m sure he had some interesting stuff to report.

  9. Hi Matt,
    I guess I’m a fairly experienced ultra runner now with 2 100 milers and 5 24 hour races including a best of 147miles behind me.
    Walk the hills and stay positive would be my simple advice. And that’s walk all hills from the beginning.
    Good Luck

    • 147!? Where was that? Thanks for the simple tips. Walk the hills is definitely in my plan. Stay positive, too, but I guess the question is how, when you hit that dark place in the second half? I was thinking maybe in advance I should come up with some sort of happy thought or reason to keep going, other than selfish motivation.

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