I never meant to take it this far…
But I got excited following along with the Western States Twitter coverage in June and was already doing big miles with my friends who were training for AC100, so I let it happen.
100 miles in one shot.
I’m pretty sure I manifested the Midstate Massive Ultra Trail 100 because it was my dream race: New England, Fall Foliage, Point-to-Point. I spent 5+ months in training and more time and money than I’d like to admit on logistics. But then, like it came out of nowhere, the gun went off.
My first 15 seconds: “Oh! I should go!” I was still fumbling with gear. Great start, right?
Here’s what I learned the next 24 hours, 57 minutes, and 43 seconds:
1. If you think you are prepared to run your first 100-miler, you’re halfway there
I was organized with nutrition, hydration, and gear, and knew I had the ability to run for a long time, but I had no idea what was going to happen in the 24+ hours. So many questions: How do I pace myself? What will it feel like? The funny thing is, I didn’t get direct answers to these questions. Pacing? I just did whatever my legs told me to. Three speeds: faster (couldn’t help myself), slower, cruise control. It worked but it wasn’t exactly pacing. What did it feel like? Like I was outside and running for a long time. I figure things will always be a bit unknown and go with the flow-y with this distance.
2. The camaraderie during a 100-miler is second to none
Before this race had started, I’d recruited my parents and two of my closest friends from home to crew me. I’d also managed to get two friends from LA to buy flights to come and pace me. 6 people had signed on for taking care of me and my highs/lows during a race, driving from NH to MA in the process. And that was just my starting point.
THEN, I spent a good chunk of the race with other runners, joking, getting lost, bombing downhills, commiserating, and learning each other’s stories. Every single one of those moments was wildly special.
DON’T FORGET the volunteers. They were out there at 3am feeding me broth and chips to keep me going. They could have been sleeping but they were out there in the cold.
It’s the most insane thing that so many people come together for these events, supporting each other in whatever way they can.
3. Give me 7 miles and I’ll be on the other side of whatever I’m going through
Pissed off after getting lost? 7 miles. Hitting a wall? 7 miles. Irritated at someone? 7 miles. It’s amazing. Basically, the distance between two aid stations is all I need to bounce back from lows.
4. New England trails ain’t so bad
In LA, I run up a mountain down a mountain a lot. We have singletrack next to cliffs. I trail dance on some technical and rocky terrain in Angeles. But it’s completely different than New England trails. These were deceptively challenging in their own special way. Their baby mountains made me scramble up up up before I sat on my butt to get down them. Rocks are covered in moss. Leaves, wet and dry, cover trails. You can’t stop paying attention. You lose focus, you fall or go off course. So fun.
5. 100 miles is basically a time-traveling experience
From a little after sunset until 4am, I thought it was midnight. I was completely shocked when my nighttime crew told me it was their last aid station and that it was 4am. The time between aid stations was a blur. I would leave one, go off and run in the woods, and before I knew it, I was at another aid station. I thought I was lost for 45 minutes and I looked at my splits that mile was 19 minutes – I was probably actually only stopped and searching for the trail for 8 but it felt like an absolute eternity. I never got bored, there was so much to pay attention to and soak in. But still, it was over so fast.
Finally, I gathered some more personal takeaways. I now know that people cannot, in fact, read my mind, unfortunately. It was brought to my attention that people actually notice how often I laugh, joke, and goof off during races (a running strategy I will never abandon). I also found out that breathing into your Conception Vessel 17 acupressure point with positive energy can help you resolve anxiety attacks quickly – a nice resolve for being lost in the woods for “45 minutes.”
Most of all, I learned that I *still* have no idea what I’m capable of, so I guess I will just keep on searching for that answer.