Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nine Days To 100 Miler!

Only nine days until the Javelina Jundred - 101 miles of trail running through the Arizona desert. I'm nervous and completely excited. This race demolished me last year and I dropped after running 77 miles (plus one bonus mile after getting lost). I'm hoping for better luck this year.

Another thing I'm really excited about is running with my friend and coworker Catherine. We've done a bunch of races together but this will be her first time going for the whole enchilada. She is awesome.

I sent her an email with a tentative game plan for the race. I am very far from being an expert on this ultra running thing and I have so much to learn, but I've finished four 100s and thought this may be helpful for others looking to run far. So here is the proposed game plan I emailed to her with a few edits:

1) Have you listened to this Trail Runner podcast on race execution?  I listened to it again this morning because there is so much good info.

On the podcast they talk about The Line: this predetermined point where the race REALLY begins. So everything you do before the line doesn't matter. Your only focus is to get to the line feeling good. I think our line should be the beginning of the 5th loop at mile 62.

That really is the hugest part of the race right there because you think to yourself: "Okay, I'm feeling crappy and sore and tired. I'll just go for the 100k belt buckle and be done." As long as we can drag our butts out of that aid station we'll hopefully be good to go.

2) For lighting at night I prefer a head lamp and a hand held which helps a ton with depth perception (and spotting snakes - ha ha). I bought a 3 pack of hand helds from Costco that are 250 lumens. They are so bright that they should require a fire permit. So if you usually run with a head lamp and want one of these I'll bring one for you.

3) Nutrition: We MUST, MUST stay on top of nutrition, 200-300 calories per hour no matter what. We can help remind each other. I plan to use Tailwind for the majority of my calories. It's a gluten free drink mix that I just dump in my pack. Eventually my stomach tanks and I don't want to eat any solid food but I can at least keep drinking. Check out their facebook page, you'll see how many people it's helping to get through long races: I know you're not supposed to do anything new on race day but I've got a good supply, if you want I can bring some as a backup in case things go south for you.

Keeping the calories going is one of the very hardest things about these races but I've learned that it comes back to bite you big time if you get behind. I'm going to have this be one of the things I really try to do better with for this race.

4) I think we should be take very frequent walk breaks but make sure that when we are walking, we're going speedy. Run slower and walk faster.

5) In and out of aid stations fast. Especially in a race like this where there are so many aid stations that can suck time like crazy. Even if we passed through each aid station on the loop and just stopped at Jeadquarters for 15 minutes that would still add an hour and a half to our race, and the extra time on our feet is the real killer.

What has worked well in the past is to fill up my pack at Jeadquarters and then that is usually enough water to get me through the whole 15 mile loop so I don't have to stop at the other aid stations along the way except to maybe grab some fruit or Coke or whatever. Tell Kacey that when you come into Jeadquarters he needs to kick us out quickly. I'll tell Mel the same.

6) I've heard this tip on a few podcasts and it has worked well - I'm not going to listen to music at all for the first half of the race. But after 50ish miles when you put that music on it's like a drug and gives your brain something else to focus on besides the fact that your legs feel like they're pinned underneath a Greyhound Bus.

7) If we do get separated, we need to make sure to latch onto another group of runners because it gets lonely out there by yourself and then your mentality spirals down and you get cold and tired and come up with more excuses to drop. No bueno.

Here's the thing I was thinking about this morning: I have trained for this. I've woken up at obscene hours to get a run in. My kids are watching me and I need to be a good example. I've sacrificed sleep. This little extravaganza costs a decent chunk of cash I. AM. NOT. LEAVING. WITHOUT. A. BUCKLE. Granted - there will be times that I'll want to quit. And my mind will have rationalized some really good excuses why it's okay to drop out. I will be miserable. But don't let me. No matter how much whining and complaining I make - don't let me. Remind me that if I drop I'll regret it. I'm not stopping that race until I get to the finish line or until someone pulls me off the course after a cutoff. And I'll do anything....anything I can to help you get that buckle too. I'll help you through some dark times in the pain cave and I'll let you help me when I'm in there too.

So that's my $.02. Sorry about the War And Peace novel I just wrote. And of course some of this stuff is race-specific....but you get the point. Finishing a 100 miler involves a degree of training, a degree of race strategy, and a degree of luck. Everything has to come together. And I'm scared to be posting all this gibberish before the race because I'll feel a bit silly if something comes up where I don't finish. You never know what will happen - but that's what I love about these races! Experiences like this let you peak into your soul and see what you're really made of.

Here's what I'm hoping - we are able to dig deep, push through the pain cave, and after 101 miles (right, this race is actually 101 miles, not 100) make it to the finish line. I'd love to add another one of these to my collection:


  1. I have learned in my 100's that I am going to spend alot of time in the "Cave of Pain" and even if I want to quit , unless I am hurt , risking injury or health I will not quit . It hurts way more to quit than to drag my butt across the finish line . Of course you would feel better , for the moment , but then you have an entire year to deal with it . My motto is " BE EPIC !" Good luck to both of you ! Get it done !
    Danny Widerburg
    P.S . I will see you at Zion !

  2. I think the one thing that makes me think I can't run a 100 is #7. I don't know anyone in these trail races I do and I found in Leadville I had to run my own race and not latch onto someone else's pace or I'd be toast. It got lonely out there and I can't imagine doing a whole 100 by myself. I'm going to throw my name in the Western States hat (chances are almost nil, as you know) so will see. If I make it, I can guarantee you'll be seeing emails from me almost daily, "OMG, what do I do?" :)

    You're trained so well, Cory. Trust...and all will be good. Excited for you. Now, go get that damn buckle!

  3. Coolest medal/belt buckle ever!! Love it. Go, go go!! I totally know you've got this one!!

  4. Sounds like you're prepared mentally and physically. You'll be amazing!

  5. Yeah!! That sounds like a great plan!! Some year, I will come out and run Javelina... maybe 2015?

  6. Having a running buddy to get you through those tough bits is great! If you and Catherine can alternate feeling crappy then you can take turns at carrying the mental load. I hope you get that buckle.

  7. Very cool you get to run with a friend! Sounds like you have a good plan. Good luck to both of you!

  8. Javelina is one of the races I dream of doing! Just enjoy the whole experience (pain included) and all will be well. I don't think anything beats finishing a 100 miler.

  9. Thanks, Cory! My first 50 miler is tomorrow and this post helped me prep.

  10. You are always so nice with your comments to me about running ... but you my friend, are a total MONSTER! No way I could ever do what you do. I know you'll get this one. Best wishes, and be safe and healthy!