I think, despite what I assumed I was doing in my preparation for the Umstead 100, when it came time to actually RUN I was really treating it like longer version of a 50 mile run. My 100 mile planning was not substantially different from what I’ve previously done for 50 mile races. I got a great lesson that that’s not the case. In the few days following my DNF, I read a blog post that said something along the lines of “a 50 mile race is a lot more similar to a marathon than it is to a 100 mile race.”
But even if I had come across that piece of wisdom before Umstead, I wouldn’t have understood just how true it was. Perhaps the only way to really get a handle on the notion of running 100 miles is…. to try to run 100 miles. Thankfully, having seen and experienced Umstead, I now have more to go on as I start planning my next attempt at 100 miles.
Take Care – One of my lessons from Umstead is that the standard advice of “take care of yourself” should be interpreted much more broadly than what I’ve done before in 50 mile races. I think it needs to start from the very first mile. I ran my first 25-30 miles at Umstead at what I thought was a relaxed pace, but in hindsight I wasn’t walking enough or eating enough to get myself to 100 miles. Next time, I’ll set more appropriate time/pacing goals to make sure that I’m not spending too much energy too early in the race.
Eat More – I fueled myself for the first 30-35 miles on Tailwind (about 200 calories an hour) and perhaps a half dozen gels. Tailwind works very well for me, but I think I need to supplement it with more calories to get all the way to 100 miles. I need real food – particularly in chilly conditions where I hope to continue moving for 24-30 hours. I had a burger, chicken sandwich, and a couple cups of soup during my 62 miles at Umstead, but I could have used a lot more. During my next 100 I will try to eat real food at every aid station.
Stay Loose – I did NO proactive stretching or loosening while running Umstead. So by the time my hips tightened up, I think they were too far gone for me to do anything to remedy the situation. Since I haven’t developed a good intuition as to when to start doing a little bit of stretching to keep myself moving efficiently, perhaps in my next race I’ll have a 30-60 second stretching protocol that I’ll make myself do every 45 or 60 minutes.
Embrace the Suck – I thought I was prepared for the level of discomfort, but it still caught me off-guard. And I wasn’t prepared for the depth of the cold that I felt when I dropped out of Umstead after lap 5. I knew there would be low points, but I hadn’t ever felt that low on a run before. Now I have that experience and that context, so I can (hopefully) be a little better prepared for it next time.
Have Some Imagination – My running mindset at Umstead was so much about staying in the moment, not getting ahead of myself, etc., that I lost sight of the bigger picture. I wasn’t able to stay open to all the possibilities of how things might progress for me as the hours wore on. I didn’t allow myself to imagine (or perhaps I wasn’t capable of imagining) how my low point would feel, so I wasn’t well prepared for it. Next time I’ll allow myself to look a little farther ahead down the road.
Now I just have to find that next 100 miler to try.