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Road races that have been run in or around Philly.

Eastern States 100 – The Hardest 100 Miler on the East Coast

What went right

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.  

My video montage of ES100

How I ran my fastest Broad Street time in 18 years

What went right

This was the first time I had access to a gym to do stretching and mobility leading up to the race.  I used two things primarily, this video 15 Minute Runners Flexibility Routine (FOLLOW ALONG), and this piece of equipment Technogym Flexibility I liked going to the gym to work on mobility because I normally skip that stuff. Doing it at the gym removes all distractions.

Mentally, I felt like I was in the right headspace.  I had a lot of good workouts and had taken 2nd place in a small 5K, this was a huge confidence booster.  I also just heard on a recent podcast about acknowledging the pain, don’t try to distract yourself from it, actually feeling it, and thinking about it.  Listen to where is it coming from and acknowledging its existence.  Why would you do that?  Because most try to ignore the pain, they listen to music to distract from it. It will only keep screaming for attention like an impatient child! I have 3 of them so I know how that sounds. 🙂

What we run from only stays with us longer. Find what you are afraid of most and go live there.

– Chuck Palahniuk

I listened to the pain and tried to live in it.  I felt by doing this I was more respectful of what my body was trying to tell me.  I did listen to it and it was not ignored, but I realized that is where true work begins in the race. 

“Lately, my main strategy has been to stay in it and like fully embrace how much it hurts and how painful that experience is because, in doing that I think it just reminds me that I’m doing something by choice and that, and to get to that physical state where it hurts that bad means, you know I’ve worked really hard to get to that point and to celebrate kinda being in the pain cave.”

– Courtney Dauwalter

I am reading the book the Courage to Be Happy when I came across an interesting concept. It was this idea that “history is written by the victors.”  That same logic goes for the version of yourself today, and whatever story you have told yourself.  Whatever version you are today was the result of wars that were fought inside your mind and events of your past.  That story you tell yourself is what drives your decisions.  The past doesn’t have to matter, the question is, “What should I do from now on?”  So the story I was telling myself is that I should be getting slower and I will be getting weaker.  That didn’t back up all the work I put in this year.  Maybe when I am 60 or 70 that might be the case, but I know a lot of people who are faster and older than me.  A part of me has learned that when you drop your fear of failure and your tension of succeeding you can truly run without limits.  I really didn’t care what happened and I was just grateful to be there with my family. I know there are only a handful of these races left see the tail end. I had 2 fig newtons and some coffee right before the start and got in my corral. During the race, I think I only grabbed 1 cup of water off a spectator.  

What went wrong

I had a complete camera fail.  I tried this new rubber wrist mount and it created footage that was too shaky.  I had to delete a lot of the good clips I recorded, but I did learn how to use this new program to save footage that is too shaky. View the clip in full screen to see the difference.

This will be very helpful for future races where I record my runs for my video journal. There’s a saying that is, “Nothing is learned when everything goes right”. I had no physical issues in the race, everything just felt good and the weather was perfect!

What would I have done differently

Not much, I liked adding the week of downtime for mobility, stretching, and hydration. It makes you feel like you are still doing something.  

Final Thoughts

The mental side of these races always becomes a big factor when it gets painful.  I focused on it instead of trying to distract myself from it, I acknowledged it and didn’t try to ignore it.  Basically, I just listened to my body.

The mind and body are viewed as one, as a whole that cannot be divided into parts. Tension in the mind can make one’s arms and legs shake, or cause one’s cheeks to turn red, and fear can make one’s face turn white. And so on.

– The Courage to be Disliked

I got to run one more time with everybody in my family and for that I am grateful.  I stopped caring about time, I stopped caring about pace, and the magic is once I did that I ran my fastest race…  WTF?

The race through my eyes, running the streets of my youth: