Let’s set the record straight: I have never been overly smart. Choosing the Wasatch 100 as not only my primary race for 2012 but also my first 100 miler ranks right up there. 53,000′ of elevation change, scorching hot daytime temperatures, and cold nights bring one recurring adjective out of everyone’s mouth – relentless. At the same time, enduring these difficulties leads to a lot of knowledge.
Here’s what I learned while running my first 100 miler:
1. Be prepared for anything and then be ready for the unexpected. My cast-iron stomach and feet that never blister suddenly became my worst enemies. It took a great crew to react to these obstacles because I was clueless on how to fix something I had never experienced. If you don’t have a crew or pacers, then tell the aid station volunteers what’s going on. Many of them are experienced ultra runners and will work to get you back on the course.
2. An experienced crew and pacers can save you. They gave me food and meds that I would have never considered using. My pacer, Jerry Armstrong, cut off the top of the toe box from my shoes which solved my blister problem. This allowed me to get back on the course and keep running. By the end of the race, I was running sub-8 minute miles.
3. Never underestimate the kindness, generosity and support of the ultra community. I had 10 people swarm me after my finish. I was overwhelmed as they congratulated me. Also, the volunteers who work, sometimes through the night, are just amazing.
4. Sitting at an aid station doesn’t get you one step closer to the finish line. Where my butt goes, so does my mind. Keep moving.
5. Mostly importantly, commit to finishing. The mind controls the body. When the mind gives up, you’re done. More than physical ability, 100% commitment to crossing that line is what it takes.