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Tag: Running tips

Slaying the 100 Mile Monster

This idea came from a question. What is your number #1 priority for 2024?

Gain XP!  What is XP?  In video games, XP is experience.  XP is how to level up your video game avatar or character. As a kid, I played games like Golden Ax, Gauntlet, and Hero’s Quest where you picked a character at the start. There were 4 characters to choose from. A warrior, wizard, archer, or valkyrie. If you are reading this you might have selected the same character as I did, a trail runner. Maybe you slowly became this character over time, either way, your actions brought you here.

UltraRunning Character Selection Screen. Sometimes it feels like I’ve taken an arrow to the knee…

Certain adventures or quests are available once you have gained enough XP.  There are many quests that you can choose from year after year as you level up. This year I plan to slay the 100 Miler monster. It’s not my first time slaying it, but each year the monster comes back, slightly stronger, with different abilities and methods of attack. The difference is I have gained intelligence, strength, speed, agility, and more skills than the year before.

What quest could you take in 2024 that would give you more XP? With games that level up your character, you can’t keep picking the same quests you’ve done previously.  They will pay little to no XP, or gold as a reward.  We have to take on bigger quests than before.  We have to break out of the habits and routines we do year after year.

100 Miler Monster

Part of what made these games great was taking on the quests TOGETHER.  It was a shared experience with friends.  Those make for not only the most rewarding challenges but also the most memorable. I have made lifelong friends during my trail adventures. Gaining XP by yourself is one thing, but sharing it with others is where the real magic comes in.  That’s the formula for great games, experiences, and a great life.  So for this year, I am setting my sights on XP, and hopefully bringing the “trail running” character I’ve selected to his highest level before he fights the end boss.

The 100 Miler Monster

How do you defeat the 100 miler monster?  It’s almost like the race knows your weaknesses and will use them against you! The trick is you have fought mini-versions of the boss in your training. These side quests were done during your training to become a warrior. You were fighting mini-boss battles that consisted of quests in the cold, rocky, wet, trails around your village you grew up. They were shorter quests, but similar to the end boss.

The 100-miler boss is extremely powerful. He can even turn your own body against you! You have tested the elixirs and potions you have created consisting of Tailwind and GUs. Once you get to the 100 miler boss fight, which normally comes around mile 70-80, you know his tricks. You know what he’ll throw at you.  He might have a surprise attack you haven’t seen but you will defeat him.  

100 Miler Monster
What is chasing you during the entire race

You are going to war with at first the mini-bosses and then finally the 100-miler monster at the end.  Who will win?  Did you level up enough?  Do you have enough XP to defeat the monster?  If you have taken on all the side quests, and put in the time, you can slay that beast. Victory will be yours, for you are a warrior, and this epic quest along with all that glory waits at the finish line.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy “A Runner’s final race”. It’s a post where I try to imagine what happens to a runner the second they pass away. Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it please consider sharing the story.

Some of the other images I created when making this post

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