Thursday, October 23, 2014

100-Mile Lessons

When I started running ultramarathon distances, I had no idea what it would take to be successful in this sport. After a few years of these things, you have no idea how gratifying it is to truly understand that nobody really knows what they're doing.

For everyone fabulously chasing things that scare them, here's a few tips I've picked up along the way.

1) Training and recovery are nice to minimize the suffering of a 100-mile race, but if you're willing to suffer a bit, neither are required to actually finish. Worried that you're undertrained? That you didn't taper enough, or tapered too much? Stop it. Worrying can't help you. You are where you are. No matter where that is, know that you can finish. Be confident in that fact.


2) If all else fails, when you can no longer run, a brisk hike and limited aid station time will get you to nearly every finish line in time. No joke.

3) During the race, only think about the distance to the next aid station. Once you're at that aid station, only think about the distance to the next aid station. If anyone ever tells me, "You're halfway done!" at mile 50 of a 100-mile race, I'm going to punch them in the nuts. The thought of doing ANOTHER 50 miles after you've already done 50 miles is horrible, but thinking about going 5 miles to the next aid station feels like an easy, daily run. You can always go 5 miles.

4) Throwing up, alone, should never end a race, and actually gives you a nice few-minute endorphin rush. Sure, if you're not processing anything, your top end may be gone, but you can still run downs and flats. A bad stomach just makes things uncomfortable--not impossible. People go days without drinking and weeks without eating. You can make it 30 hours.

5) Most pain isn't real. It's merely your body telling you that it doesn't think you can sustain what you're doing. Don't listen to it. You can ignore that kind of pain. Jared Campbell gives that pain to an imaginary friend. I've convinced myself I didn't have feet before. This stuff works.

6) Accept your current conditions as they are, then make the best of things. That's the key to happiness in life, and it works beautifully in these events. It's raining? So what? That's just how it is now. You've been wet before. You dried. Keep going. Things aren't going the way you planned? So what? Change the plan. Keep going. Fallen off your pace? That wasn't supposed to be your pace. You have a new pace now. Keep going. Feet hurt? That's just how they are now. Keep going. Quads shot? That's just how they are now. Keep going. Adopt the mantra, "This isn't hard; this just is." Unless there's a significant risk of permanent damage, keep going. You'll figure it out.


7) Fake it until you make it. If you pretend like you're having a good time, pretty soon you'll find yourself having a good time. When people ask you how you feel, and you actually feel horrible, lie to them. Tell them you feel great. Smile a lot. Offer encouragement to others. It all helps.

8) Get all negative thoughts out of your head, and distance yourself from everyone that's being negative. Constantly remind yourself how awesome it is that you're doing a 100-mile race. Someone around you talking about dropping? Get away from them. Negativity is more contagious than yawning.

9) If you're falling asleep, sprint for 30 seconds. Seriously, the momentary rise in blood pressure will wake you up, and engaging different muscles for even a little bit will loosen you out of that 100-mile shuffle you've been suffering at all day/night.

10) Remember that we're the lucky ones that even get to attempt these things. There are people that would kill to be able to take 3 steps on their own, let alone run 100 miles. If you can take one more step, take one more step. To not take that step is an insult to everyone who physically can't. Do it for them.

11) Never make decisions during the race. Your brain wants you to stop. Of course it'll come up with 1,000 reasons to quit. Don't give it the opportunity. If you're not cut off, keep going. You will always eventually find a second wind. Things never always get worse.

12) Don't ever do math during the race. You're probably wrong, and will just scare yourself. If you can keep going, keep going. Simple as that.

13) Remember, at the start of the race, that you're entering a tunnel, and there is no way out other than the other side.



14) "Courage. We all suffer. Keep going."
The greatest battle is not physical but psychological. The demons telling us to give up when we push ourselves to the limit can never be silenced for good. They must always be answered by the quiet, steady dignity that refuses to give in. Courage. We all suffer. Keep going. 
- Graeme Fife
15) You are marvelous. These things we do are fantastic. We're choosing to live life, to cheat death. How can we not laugh, smile, and giggle the entire time?
Your life is your life,
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
Be on the watch.
There are ways out.
There is a light somewhere.
It may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
Be on the watch.
The gods will offer you chances.
Know them.
Take them.
You can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes,
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
Your life is your life.
Know it while you have it.
You are marvelous.
The gods wait to delight
in you.
- Charles Bukowski, The Laughing Heart
16) You are so much more than the outcome of any race. Don't ever forget that.
I have learned to take the falling short with the successes, and no longer let this sport so narrowly define who I am. I am so much more than that.
- Jason Husveth

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Registration Adventures, version 2015


Registration periods for the big 2015 winter ultras have long passed, but the rest of the 2015 season looms. If you're anything like me, keeping track of registration procedures for my must-do events is difficult. If you weren't aware, you've already missed your chance of registering for Angeles Crest 100 for next August. Before you miss any more...

















My big list of interesting 2015 races and their application procedures:

The "You're already too late" races:
HURT, Race January 17-18, Application July 20-27, Lottery Aug 3
Arrowhead 135, Race January 26-28, Registration Veterans Sept 1, Rookies Oct 1 (don't ask)
Angeles Crest 100, Race Aug 1-2, Registration first-come, first-served (FCFS) starting Monday following the previous year's race (sells out in minutes)

The "There's still time" races:
Tuscobia 150, Race Jan 1-3, Registration open until Dec 24
Barkley Marathons, Race March 28-30, Application ???, Condolences ???
Zumbro 100, Race April 10-11, Registration Nov 1, FCFS
Trans Iowa, Race April 25-26, Applications (Vets) Nov 3, FCFS
Kettle 100, Race June 6-7, Registration Jan 1, FCFS
Bighorn 100, Race June 19-20, Registration open, FCFS
Western States 100, Race June 27-28, Application Nov 8-15, Lottery Dec 6
Black Hills 100, Race June 27-28, Registration Dec 1, FCFS
Hardrock 100, Race July 11-13, Applications through Nov 23, Lottery Dec 6

(The August/Sept GLUT)
Bigfoot 200, Race Aug 7-11, Registration Nov 2, FCFS
Fatdog 120, Race Aug 14-16, Registration Nov 1, FCFS
UTMB, Race Aug 24-30, Application Dec 17-Jan 6, Lottery January 14
Cascade Crest 100, Race Aug 29-30, Registration Jan 1-Feb 12, Lottery Feb 14
Superior 100, Race Sept 4-5, Registration opens in March
Plain 100, Race Sept 11-12, Registration opens this spring (capped at 35)
Pine to Palm 100, Race Sept 11-12, Registration opens this spring
The RUT 50k, Race Sept 12, Registration opens in Jan
IMTUF 100, Race Sept 19-20, Registration opens this spring
The Bear 100, Race Sept 25-26, Registration open, FCFS

The "Someday" races:
Iditarod 350 2016, Race Feb 28-March 8, Registration Vets April 1, Rookies April 8 ($1,400 application)
Tor des Geants 2016, Race Sept 6-13, Registration Feb 1-14, FCFS (capped at 660)




















If I ever get into Western, or into Hardrock right off the draw, the additional silliness of race series becomes a question. There are three big series:

The Grand Slam, consisting of:
Western States 100, Race June 27-28, Application Nov 8-15, Lottery Dec 6
Vermont 100, Race July 18-19, Registration Jan 5, FCFS (sells out FAST)
Leadville 100, Race August 22-23, Registration Dec 1-Dec 31, Lottery in Jan (Grand Slam priority)
Wasatch 100, Race Sept 11-12, Registration Dec 1-Jan 4, Lottery Feb 7 (Grand Slam priority)

The Rocky Mountain Slam, consisting of 4 out of the following 5 races:
Bighorn 100, Race June 19-20, Registration open, FCFS
Hardrock 100, Race July 11-13, Registration open through Nov 23, Lottery Dec 6
Leadville 100, Race August 22-23, Registration Dec 1-Dec 31, Lottery in Jan (no priority)
Wasatch 100, Race Sept 11-12, Registration Dec 1-Jan 4, Lottery Feb 7 (no priority)
The Bear 100, Race Sept 25-26, Registration open, FCFS

The Original 6 Hundred Challenge, (must decide more than a year in advance due to Angeles Crest 100 registration) consisting of:
Old Dominion 100, Race June 6-7, Registration open, FCFS
Western States 100, Race June 27-28, Application Nov 8-15, Lottery Dec 6
Vermont 100, Race July 18-19, Registration Jan 5, FCFS (sells out FAST)
Angeles Crest 100, Race Aug 1-2, Registration FCFS starting Monday following the previous year's race (sells out in minutes)
Leadville 100, Race August 22-23, Registration Dec 1-Dec 31, Lottery in Jan (Grand Slam priority)
Wasatch 100, Race Sept 11-12, Registration Dec 1-Jan 4, Lottery Feb 7 (Grand Slam priority)




















Before 2015 rolls around, though, don't forget the crown jewel of the 2014 race schedule, the one and only December 6th Donut Day 25k!

If donuts and running alone don't excite you, the Donut Day 25k has a history of getting its runners through the Western States 100 lottery, and this year, Hardrock's lottery also falls on December 6th.

Last year, Joseph Altendahl and I pulled tires for the 25k. I'm considering a 50k, donut-decorated, tire-pulling effort this year.

Anyone in?