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“Why is 100 So Many Miles?”--a Country Mile Race Report

girl running 100 mile race

I've been wanting to finish a 100 miler for a few years now and I kept putting it off and saying things like “I'm not ready” or “there's no way I could stay up all night”. It had got to the point where I was actually pretty terrified of running that distance and wasn't sure I'd ever attempt to do it. 

I originally signed up for the Last Outlaw at Country Mile which is a last man standing type race put on by Upstate Race Series. I ran that one last year and LOVE that style of race. For someone who isn't super fast but can run forever and is really stubborn—it's made for people like me.

About a month out from race day I found out the Last Outlaw wasn't going to happen so I had to decide if I was going to run the 48 hour race or do something else. There weren't many other last man standings that weren't super far away so I decided to do the 48 hour so I could go for my first 100 in a really well supported environment surrounded by so many people that I know with a super generous time cutoff.

tent set up at 100 mile race
Home sweet home for 48 hours

A few logistics: the race starts at 6pm Friday night and ends on Sunday at 6pm. You can use the 48 hours however you want and run as much or as little as you want. You run 5k loops on a farm in upstate SC and have your tent set up towards the end of the course which gives you access to anything you may need every loop. This race takes out a lot of the usual stressors like navigating, having to carry lots, and running into any sort of creatures other than the things that resemble humans dragging themself around in circles. 

My goal was to run 100 miles in 30 hours or less without any naps/sleep. Go to bed. And then see if I had anything left in the tank on Sunday morning and go until about noon.

I was worried about the night time start but honestly I think it helped because by time I felt sleepy the sun was coming up and more people were getting up to run which made it easier to feel awake. It was chilly overnight but I love running in the cold so my friend Paul and I crushed some overnight miles. Some perfectly timed and dosed caffeine helped too! Before the sun came up we had accumulated over 50 miles and had settled into a very steady pace with run/walk intervals

We had some breakfast and took a walking loop to let our stomachs settle. The next loop Paul’s knees started to bother him (just a few months earlier he CRUSHED his Charleston 100 race with a massive 10 hour PR from last year) so we split up for the majority of the day because I still felt good and wanted to keep running as much as I could. 

ringing PR bell at 100 mile race
Ringing the PR Bell after hitting my distance PR for the first time during the race

I hit 73 miles in around 19 hours and that was the farthest I had ever ran before. That was at Delirium back in October and I did that in 24 hours so I was really excited. It was a good confidence boost especially as I was starting to feel some pain on the bottom of my left foot and also feeling a little sleepy. 

In what was ultimately an incredibly stupid decision, I ignored the foot pain. I don't really know what to do for blisters or any other foot issues that pop up during races. I recently switched from Hoka Speedgoats to Altra Lone Peaks for the wider toe box because in longer races I had been having issues with my feet legitimately feeling like they were going to explode. The shoe change helped big time with that 🙌🏼 But because they don't have as much cushion I'm wondering if that's what contributed to the foot pain which I found out Sunday afternoon, was a giant blister on the ball of my foot. I had considered taking my socks off and trying to see what was going on during the race but I was worried that if I did something to it I may make it worse. Instead I switched into my road shoes which did provide more cushion but the pain in my foot by the time I hit mile 80 was just silly. Every step felt like my foot was mush. This led to me walking like an idiot sort of on the side of my foot and ultimately ankle and knee pain from the super weird gait I now had. 

Looking back I realize how stupid this choice was. I know I need to learn foot care. But when you've been up for 24+ hours you don't always make great choices. 

girl running 100 mile race
Questioning my life choices

Miles 80-100 were mostly walking and I was getting grumpy. Everything else felt good. I had no stomach issues. No other part of my body was in pain. I was tired but wasn't falling asleep or anything crazy. I wanted to run and get it done but the pain on the bottom of the foot was too much for me. I kept reminding myself of my race mantra “f your feelings”. I trained hard for this, not just during this training block but over the last few years and I wasn’t going to let one part of my body dictate the outcome of the race. 

There was some crying and making angry sounds and wondering why 100 miles is so many. I said I never wanted to run 100 miles again. All I could think about was crossing that finish line for the last time, getting that buckle and getting off my feet. That's what kept me going. 

My amazing friend Eric ran some loops with me and kept me company. He told me stories and talked to me and it really helped to keep my mind off my foot. It’s amazing how just having another human around and keeping you focused can change the game. I was listening to music and podcasts and nothing was really distracting me like actually talking to someone. 

running 100 miles

During the last lap you actually ended up with a little over 102 miles which felt brutal as we headed out but I knew the end was so close and the caffeine I had about an hour earlier was starting to work its magic. We hit 100 miles and I just stopped and of course took a picture of my watch and got the biggest smile on my face. I thought I would cry like a baby but I don’t think I had any tears left at that point. For the next 2 miles I just smiled and shuffled along, not really comprehending what I just accomplished. 

running 100 miles
Buckle time!

Sam was manning the timing equipment and handed me a buckle and even had warm quesadillas cooking. I’m not sure which one I was more excited about at that moment. 

I knew I was going back out in the morning so it was an odd feeling to have accomplished my goal but also not be done yet. One thing was for sure–I was PUMPED to snuggle up in my sleeping bag on my zero gravity chair and take my shoes off. I had been awake for 42 hours at this point with just a few 2 minute “naps” which just consisted of me shutting my eyes and not actually sleeping. I slept for about 6 hours and then took my sweet time getting up out of that chair. My friend Alex was even nice enough to bring breakfast to me!

sleeping at 100 mile race
I had the coziest sleeping set up

Paul had a few more laps to hit 100 miles so I got changed and took the usual trail people shower (baby wipes + deodorant + dry shampoo + body spray + mouthwash) and headed back out for at least 2 more laps with him. Once we finished, I was at 108 miles and I still wasn’t sure if I would go back out. I knew that I could but I didn’t want to. I hung on to my ankle timing thing until I was sure. Ultimately I didn’t know what was going on with my foot and I had already hit my goal and didn’t feel the need to do anything crazy. 

But what really got me thinking and what I’ve been thinking about A LOT in the days since is—but what could I have done? Don't get me wrong, I am celebrating what I just accomplished and am so proud of my performance. But I just want to be honest about how I've been feeling this week.

 I had 6 more hours and could have logged more miles. What if I had done some foot care and was able to move faster? My recovery this week has been surprisingly pretty good. I fully anticipated being absolutely wrecked but that hasn’t been the case. Going into this I thought that for sure this was the distance that would wreck me. That once I did this I wouldn’t want to do this distance or anything further ever again. During the last few hours I certainly felt that way but damn—how quickly we forget about all that when we’re on the other side of it. It’s mind blowing to me how the pain can feel so intense but also be so temporary. It goes to show you that even when it feels like there is no way you can push any further you still have so much left in the tank. I’m honestly a little nervous to find out what I’m capable of but also incredibly curious and excited….stay tuned :) 

wearing buckle from 100 mile race
Too much for anniversary dinner??

Things I ate: Skratch super high carb, skratch everyday drink mix, skratch energy chews, nerd clusters, sour patch watermelons/bunnies/strawberries, kodiak cake chewy granola bars, jerky, fuel for fire pouches, chips, instant mashed potatoes, oranges, nila wafers, pancakes, sausage, quesadilla, ramen noodles, bonk breaker rootbeer energy chews, pickles, oatmeal….and probably some other things!


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