This is my view of what happens the second after a runner dies. This post is inspired by the book “Sum: Tales from the Afterlives” which is 40 different ideas about what it’s like the instant after you die.
At that exact moment, you are transported to the start of a race. The final race. It will be the longest distance you have ever run. You are positioned on the starting line. You look back at the other runners and notice a lot of them look familiar. The gun fires and the race is off, the race takes place through all the places you lived or visited. It will see the sights you loved, the streets you grew up on, or maybe the playgrounds of your youth. As you start to pass other runners you notice they are people that played a role in your life, teachers, friends, parents, and co-workers. They run alongside you and talk about some of the best moments in your life, the moments you shared together.
As you reach the final point of interest you turn a corner to see the finish line. The familiar crowds shout your name as you approach. They clap for you as you sprint toward the finish. You hit stop on your watch, but notice there is no time displayed. As you sit there exhausted, the people in your life cross one by one. You talk to them about their race. You discuss the highs, and lows and what you enjoyed about the course. They say their final words and then walk away until the last person leaves. You look around to see if finish times are posted, but they are not. You notice a large board with your name and all the people you helped complete the race. You sit down on the grass, by the side of the course, bathing in the sun as you enjoy final race memories and cherish your last race…
If life is what you make it can’t death be the same?
I kept the clothing light because I had been reading about the effects of overdressing can hold too much heat in. I wore a new singlet that really worked well and didn’t cause any chafing. I changed tops later at night because the temps dropped. I switch my pack at mile 83 to my waist belt. The only issue with this was I forgot some key items in a transfer like butt wipes and battery chargers for devices. I think I made the right decision, I wanted to travel light and with no vest for the last section. I saw that I was using aid stations effectively so I didn’t need all the extra stuff.
It’s OK to not have a pacer. I had made different attempts to get a pacer, but in the end, it just didn’t work out. I didn’t need a pacer, I made friends and I talked to the right people exactly like I have done in the past. Sometimes you hear the voice of someone or have a few words with them and you know they are the type of person to spend a few miles with. I knew I could count on myself to make friends. It happened organically and was great! Mixing in with just the right people at the right time.
I used my water on my back vs bottles in my vest. I could get lots of ice, have icy water, and hold way more than I needed. This will be the go-to setup for all races over 50K with aid stations over 8 miles apart. Distance between aid stations is critical for which setup to use. I also used pantyhose cut in half and filled with ice stretched over the neck. It worked really well at keeping me cool, but it wasn’t a really hot day. Then just dump the pack after the last drop bag and run it in!
2Toms foot powder for anti-blister seems to work well. I still had major issues with my feet swelling and soreness on the sole. Maybe thicker shoes? It was so much downhill I’m not sure it would matter. It was faster to pre-load socks with this stuff than trying to lube feet. Just throw a new pair of socks on and go.
PRELOAD YOUR WATCH COURSE WITH WAYPOINTS! I can’t stress this enough. Using the course feature on my watch saved myself and others around me. We knew instantly if we were going off course and how much was left to the next aid station. Yes, we did go off course once or twice but were quickly back on course with this feature. Note: disable Bluetooth, Inreach, and heart rate for my watch to make it over 30+ hours. Need to be mindful of that in a race of this length. Watch died at 100 miles, and this race was 103 in length.
I packed aid station bags at the beginning of the week. It took off so much pre-race anxiety before I left. I will always make sure to pack my bags WAAAAY before. I used super large zip lock bags as always and they were perfect.
Poles are now my new best friend for super technical climbs and descents. At first in the race, I was getting annoyed with them. After 30-40+ miles I got used to them and actually LOVED them. They really saved my race/life on some really technical stuff. I can’t count how many times I tripped and the poles caught me as they hit the ground first. I did remove the wrist straps and I had heard horror stories of people getting hurt if they fell with their arms in the straps. Warning: Do not leave it until race day to practice with them, they will do more harm than good. I actually broke a cheap pair in testing and got a better pair before race day because I tested them.
What went wrong
I had some type of butt rash I had to use vaseline on, not sure why, but I had it in my pack because this has happened before. Tailwind gives me so much gas, hence the name, and I had to use vaseline.
Incredible quad pain from the downhills to the point I could barely walk in the race. Not sure what you could do to eliminate that except TONs of downhill in training. That amount of force on the downhills was HORRIBLE. Like I didn’t want to take a step, and I noticed if I laid down and put my feel up it went away. Blood was pooling and I had some massive foot swelling. Changing shoes at aid stations worked really well. When we laid down for 12 minutes I was super refreshed. I was actually able to run again.
I killed my small camera by getting too much water in it. I record my runs and then do a video montage for those that want to relive the race. My small camera died and I couldn’t recharge it. I now know to put it in a zip lock bag. It wasn’t until after the race and it dried out did it come back to life.
What I would do differently
Stop being so scared going into these things. If anybody was willing to talk about it I would cry about how crazy the course was. Next time STFU and stop scaring yourself. I know enough now about how to handle these types of races. Yes, this was the granddad of them all, but it’s still just goddamn running not brain surgery. The only thing at stake if you fail is YOUR pride. I kept telling myself my new mantra, “I don’t mind what happens”, AND I actually believe it.
InReach died because Bluetooth and ant+ were enabled, they should be turned off for that long of a tracking event. Who cares if I can send it from my watch if the device is dead??? Just set it in track mode and pull it out at aid stations to send additional messages. My dad thought I actually dropped from the race because he didn’t see any additional points when the device died.
That’s it. That was everything I learned from this race, besides that it went very well. I felt great, didn’t get hurt, had fun, and made a really cool video people seemed to enjoy. Check it out below.