Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Good and the Bad

After this last weekend's failed 100 mile attempt, I've been considering what worked well and also what went . . . well . . . not so good!  I'm not being negative about my DNF.  Quite frankly, being honest, I really had a good idea that 100 miles wasn't going to happen Saturday.  Too many things weren't going right.  But this was the only weekend that I could really "give it a go."  If not this weekend, I would have had to wait until fall.  Turns out I will have to wait till fall anyway!!  But this way, I learned quite a few things!  I may have failed but I'm glad I tried.  Like Jimbo said, "Any DNF is better then a DNS!!"

So . . . what could have gone better?
  • The Weather.  Okay, I can't control this, but when temperatures spike to the 80s when they have been in the 50s-60s . . . there is going to be trouble ahead!  Realistically, there was little point in me starting, knowing what the temperatures would be.  So the lesson here is to attempt a 100 mile run when temperatures will likely be in the 60s or less.  So probably between October and March for this area. 
  • Be committed mentally.  Negative thoughts crept into my head.  mainly due to weather reports.  But realistically I really wasn't totally committed to the 100 miles. I was when I decided to do it . . . but as the weather reports got worse and worse, a mentally collapsed.
  • Aid Station Planning.  Twice I was into a loop when I realized I had forgotten something important at the last stop.  Once I forgot electrolytes (quite a serious issue when temps are in the 80s.  Another time I forgot my PB&J.  Since my loops were only 5 miles these problems weren't terrible, but they didn't HELP my odds.  I probably should pre-pack a packet for each loop which would contain stuff like gels, electrolytes, ginger, etc.  Plus, this would speed up each aid station stop.
  • Needed to de-carbonate my soft drinks more then just overnight.  Probably should test this to get it right!  Very distracting to have my Mt Dew spewing out of my bottles and down my legs!
  • Training.  I knew my training was likely at the very low end of minimum.  Thought I could just "gut it out".Not smart.  Do the real work necessary to have a quality chance of success.  Period.  Rookie mistake.
  • Run at a real race.  Since I'm usually a solo runner I was not concerned, but the support of other runners doing and going through the same things as you would help.
  • Maybe more solo running.  A strange thought given how much I appreciated the support I got from my RMEC friends while running this.  But maybe more time alone at the beginning would be helpful.  Need to keep my mind "right" and not be "social".  Paces may be more valuable on the second half.  Not sure about this point at all . . . needs more thought. 
  • Shady Routes are best.  At least if temperature get to the 60s.  My route was east-west with very little shade.  Wouldn't have mattered all that much on most days, but on the sunny day we had, it was a disaster.  But if the run is on a cold day, you would benefit from the sum!
  • Find a Rolling hill course. I'm thinking rolling hills would be a better route then a mostly flat course.  I'll walk the uphills anyway so they wouldn't really slow me up much.  But a good downhill is a mental booster, plus it certainly doesn't hurt your time!!
  • Needed more real food at my aid station (salty, boiled potatoes would have hit the spot.)  Pre-make PBandJ . . . too much trouble fixing a sandwich when I stop.
  • Find a trail.  The road hurts my feet too much on longer runs.  Got to avoid bruising my forefeet . . . a nagging problem for me recently.  May need to get some sort of different orthodics or something.
What went well Saturday . . .
  • My lap counting sign worked great!  Essentially, I had a big piece of foam/plastic posterboard nailed to a tree.  On the board I had drawn a box for the start and one for every lap, with the cumulative mileage for each lap written beside it .  When I finished a lap, I wrote the time of day in the box.  That way, people coming by could get an idea of where I was and how long ago I was last there.  I also asked all the people who came by to help to write their names on the poster somewhere!  Had I finished, I would have had an awesome momento of the day!!
  • My sunscreen worked really well!  Okay, that's a pretty weak start.  But it's true.  Out in the blazing sun all day . . . no clouds . . . and I didn't get burned at all.  At midday I took a cold, wet towel and cleaned off my face, neck and arms and re-applied the sunscreen.  Perfect.
  • The 5 mile loop itself, was a good distance . . . especially with Harris-Teeter at the 1/2 way point!  Maybe could have been a 10 or 12 1/2 mile loop.
  • My clothing and equipment were comfortable.  Nothing special here . . . since temperatures were so high I just had my favorite old running shorts and a tech shirt.  Plus I carried my Nathan fluid belt.
  • Fantastic help from running friends.  Could not have been improved on.
  • Having a cooler of hand towels in ice water was GREAT!  Draping one around my neck during mid-day heat was super.
  • My wide-brimmed Tilley hat was perfect during the mid-day sun.  Sunday, I just popped it in the washer.

This was a great experience, even if I wasn't successful.  I learn a lot that should help me if / when I try this 100 mile thing again!


  1. Sounds like it was successful after all!
    You did a 50 miler and learned a lot of things.
    I think that the Umstead 100 would be perfect.
    You get aid stations every 2 miles, and every 6 miles is a deluxe buffet and access to drop bags.
    Gently rolling hills that really helps with pacing and a nice soft dirt surface.
    Anyway, good luck on your 100 mile quest!
    After my 50 miler, I am going back to 5Ks

  2. Always good to learn lessons.

    Lake Hinson 24 hr would be a really good stepping stone. Good practice to run through the night, and no pressure to get to a certain distance (other than your own personal targets), and plenty of people (many you will know) to keep you company, great aid too, and a good course.

    No such thing as a DNF in a 24 hr race either!


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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.