As I approach 4 months out from my first 100 mile run, there are so many things that go into training and preparing for the big day. For the first couple of months, it was nutrition & hydration. Easy right? Well, preparing and training your body to intake energy to sustain 22 hrs+ of work, well, it’s hard work. Once that was buckled down, it was strategy. You think you can literally RUN 100 miles? Well, if you have done it then more power to you. If you haven’t, you have to be smart. This means being prepared to walk most uphills in order to conserve energy for the latter hours. You check your ego at the trailhead, literally.
And here we sit, coming off a few pretty long training runs. Runs that include hours upon hours of walking, running, hiking. Hours of heat exposure, stopping at the car so you can shove food in your mouth and ice in your hat. Hours of mental training, of repetitive mantras of positivity and riding out the dark times. And with the day quickly approaching, one of the final steps is to prepare those who will support you on race day. Your crew, your pacer, your family & friends. Remember they have probably never gone through such an experience and so the only way they can help you, is with some draw out instructions. Here are my instructions that I sent to my pacer for my upcoming 93K training race.**I tend to be a lone runner, which means I am not a big talker. Though I do need distraction during the later miles of the run, it doesn’t mean you need to entertain me or talk the whole time. It is a good idea to say something once in a while to a)make sure I am alert, b)take my mind off of what is probably a very dark place, and c)to distract. If I ignore you, don’t take it personally. I am just saving my energy for more important things, like running 100 miles 😉
**Your primary job will be to a)make sure I eat enough calories(We will chat before the race but we are probably looking at about 300 calories per hour), b)make sure I am drinking consistently(most likely this should be every 15 mins or more often during the hotter hours), with the goal being about 25 oz of electrolytes per hour, c)Keep tabs of when I go to the bathroom(fun, huh?) so that you can tell if I am dehydrated. If once every couple hours is happening then we are probably good to go.
**AID STATIONS: Make sure I eat enough calories before heading out. Make sure if there was something that was an issue(wet socks, chafing, food that didn’t sit well, etc..) that it is addressed at the aid station before setting back out. Be prepared to spend 10-15 mins at aid stations, depending on the difficulty of the previous miles. MAKE SURE I reload my food and electrolytes, since it may be 6+ miles or so between stations and this can take 2 hours if it is a difficult part. MAKE SURE I prepare for the upcoming miles, if it will be getting dark I need a headlamp. If it is approaching night time, make sure I bring a long sleeve shirt. If my socks are wet, make sure I change them. Basically, be my babysitter.
**Watch where we are going. Even though I can see, it doesn’t mean I am looking…..at anything really! Especially when it gets dark, we will have headlamps but since I will most likely be a little loopy, you will need to keep track of the trail and just make sure I don’t veer off into the abyss 🙂
**Be prepared for some slow running/walking or hiking. The ultimate goal in these races is to keep moving forward, even if it is down to a slow walk. If we are approaching a downhill, feel free to suggest trying to run it. I’ll tell you if I don’t feel like running, and I just won’t. BUT sometimes a little nudge is all it takes for there to be a spark lit under my ass, so suggest away!
**DON’T LET ME QUIT! Of course I will want to quit a LOT of times. As ridiculous as it sounds, just tell me at the next aid station. If I am persistent about quitting, try to talk about something different and distract me. It kind of is like being with a kid or a puppy, cause at later miles I can be easily refocused off of my pain. There will be times where no matter what you say, I will be dead set on quitting. Feel free to tell me “Don’t be a wuss.” “Be the badass that you are.” “Don’t fuck up all that work you’ve put in.” “When it’s over you can have ALL THE CAKE YOU WANT!”, you know, shit like that 🙂
If you haven’t paced an ultra runner, you should try it! It’s a chance to see humans broken down, pushing themselves to the limits both physically and mentally. It’s a chance to see some beautiful courses and to be the hero who plays a critical role in getting that runner to the finish line safely. So to all who have played a role, you rock!