1. The time is a lot more of a concern than the distance. It’s simple to get from one aid
station to the next and split the mileage up. Run slow and you’ll make it. However, running all morning, all afternoon, through the evening, into the dark, through the deepest part of the night, seeing the sun rise, and running into the next day is a daunting task.
2. I wasn’t prepared for the altitude. Bryce Canyon ran between 7500′ and ~9500′ above sea level. I figured I’d get “altitude training” in by running in Tahoe, which sits at 6500′ or so, assuming that since I lived at 37′, this would be a huge help.
Not so. I hadn’t accounted for the point at which your body stops processing oxygen efficiently, which for me, seemed to be around 8k. Above 9k’ my head ached and my legs slowed to a stagger. Next time I’ll train at the altitude the run is to be held.
(This video is from around mile 85, a nice window in which I felt great. I had bonked hard from 70-80, then again during the final ten miles, so this was a nice few hours!)
3. Sans pacer is the way to go. It really forced me to focus on myself and my well-being and
be completely selfish out on the trail. I ran for myself and within myself and that’s why I love this sport. My wife, kids, and parents were there at a few aid stations and seeing them lifted my spirits a lot.
4. No watch? No problem! Just like not having a pacer, running without a watch forced me to run on feel rather than on time. I’ll definitely do that again.
5. A disposable toothbrush in a drop bag is the greatest thing in the entire world. Adam Hewey recommended I stash one of these in my 75 mile drop bag and I am so glad I did. After drinking nothing but protein drinks and eating gels all day–not to mention the amount of dust and dirt in my mount–a toothbrush perked up my spirits like nothing else.
6. Stop and take pictures! I had my iPhone with me and stopped a few times to snap some pics, forcing me to recognize where I was and appreciate the beauty of my surrounding. I may
have felt like hell, but the inspiration around me wasn’t going to change.
7. MAP helped a ton. Throughout the run, I never had real muscle fatigue. My mind was tired and my feet were sore, but I had no cramping, no sore hips, and my legs weren’t abnormally tired. I took 8 pills before the race, then 25 or so throughout the run.
8. Mental strength. Looking back, I never doubted that I’d DNF due to mental breakdown. I’m a mentally tough runner but am still surprised how easy it was to keep going.
9. My immediate recovery was awful. I should have planned on having a few protein shakes at the finish or a handful of MAP to take. Instead, I had a few pieces of bacon and a beer, and for once in my life, I’ll admit that that wasn’t the best meal. I couldn’t walk or think for the remainder of the day and failed to complete my traditional “day after shakeout” run.
10. No chafing! TMI alert, but I generally get a chafed undercarriage and crotch on 50
milers, even with ultra glide. This time I wore compression shorts under my running shorts and had no problem. Chafed butt cheeks, sure, but that’s a lot more tolerable than the alternative.
11. Don’t agree to things post-race! Some time on Saturday, I agreed to not run another 100. I was vulnerable, weak, and not thinking straight, and my lovely and smart wife took advantage of the situation. Now I’m eyeing Rio Del Lago in November and am having to back pedal on my promise.