I’ve known Jeff Webb for a while now via our favorite social media sites, Twitter and DailyMile.com. When I heard Jeff was doing his first 100-mile Ultra I got pretty excited and asked to hear all the details. I’ve run a 50k before and am signed up for a 50-mile in July, but I’m still wary of the 100-mile race because it seems like you have to be a special kind of crazy to think it’s a “good idea” to run that far, just cuz you can. Seeing as how Jeff seems pretty normal, I was intrigued to learn about the rationale behind prepping for the race, and then hearing about the race itself.
Jeff wrote up his own race report, and I’ve told his story on my blog as well. This, however, is a Q&A, with answers straight from the source.
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SMZRunner: This is your first 100 miler, right? Have you done Ultras before? What made you want to jump to this distance?
Jeff Webb: Yes, this was my first 100-mile race. I’ve done 8 or 9 trail races of marathon or longer but the furthest I had ever run before this was 41.6 miles at a 12 hour race in October. That is when I decided I could make the step to the 100 mile distance – I had not trained all that much and still got in nearly 42 miles with a lot of elevation without feeling beat up after. As far as why my friend Desiree and I talked ourselves into it; I suppose it was just the next step. There is a big ultra running community in Seattle and most of the people I know in the group have run the local 100’s so that was also a motivator. I had planned on Cascade Crest 100 being my first (which I’m doing in August) but Desiree and decided to shoot for Badger Mountain earlier in the year.
SMZRunner: Did you have anyone with you that planned to run the race as well? How did you go about finding a crew?
I knew a lot of people running the race, so that was fun. Desiree and I decided early on that we would run together and then my friend Jeremy from Arkansas signed up as well. As the race got closer we decided that we’d stick together as much as possible during the run; we were concerned about exposure and course markings.
My crew pretty much volunteered to help without me asking them which was great. I run a lot with my friend Karlee so when she found out I was doing Badger she immediately volunteered. I kept confirming for a couple of months just to be sure – it’s a big commitment. My brother who lives in Montana also volunteered when I talked to him in January.
SMZRunner: What kind of training did you do to prepare for this? What was your longest training run?
Jeff Webb: We had about 13 weeks after Seattle Marathon (where we decided) to train so I did as many back-to-back long runs as possible on the weekends. I would usually run roads 16-20 miles around my hood on Saturday and then 16-20 miles of trails at Tiger Mountain with my buddies on Sunday. I did a lot of stair workouts during the weekdays and just banked a lot of miles. I did a solo self-supported marathon on December 31 and Desiree and I did an overnight run in February where we got in 33 miles between 10pm and 6:30am. I also ran that morning and hiked in the afternoon both days that weekend so I got in 51 miles in less than two days and drove to Portland and back. That was probably my best training weekend overall. I did one 50k (Orcas Island) to test out the race legs on the trails.
SMZRunner: What kind of surfaces did you run on? What was hard/easy? What kind of shoes did you wear?
Jeff Webb: I think we had 15-16 miles of asphalt during the race. We had some hard gravel surfaces and a lot of jeep roads. Overall the surfaces were pretty hard and punishing. My feet held up ok – I did get blisters on my toes starting at mile 30, which is new for me. It didn’t impact my running too much especially after we taped them up. The bottoms of my feet were pretty worn out by the end of the run but I suppose that’s to be expected. I wore Montrail Rogue Racers and I unfortunately cannot recommend them – the uppers separated from the midsole during the race and I really don’t think they are a good fit for my foot.
SMZRunner: Did you have any concerns about the race, the course, the weather…
Jeff Webb: Yes, I didn’t think the race was going to have a lot of support on the course, and that was fine with me. I really memorized the map the best I could and tried to know my times between aid stations. We planned out when would be best for Karlee and Jason to run with us – the stretch at night where we didn’t have crew access for 22 miles was the obvious first choice. My crew planned on how to get between aid stations, where to pick up food & supplies, and when to nap so they’d be fresh for us. Overall this planning worked out really well – not too much but just enough that I felt comfortable with where I was on the course in relation to the map in my head. That is a big confidence booster.
The weather was a big concern. The forecast called for rain and we had pounding winds the night before. We woke up to those same winds. We were on exposed ridges so we had no cover and got buffeted pretty hard by these winds and rain. The night was cold but fortunately the clouds dissipated a bit. That still didn’t stop Desiree from getting hypothermic during the night, which unfortunately cost her a finish. The sun the next day was unexpected and I think it zapped me more than I would have thought. All in all though, we got a nice variety of weather on the course.
SMZRunner: What’s the most memorable moment of the race, and why?
Jeff Webb: At mile 87 I thought I was done. We had just spent three hours essentially walking nine miles and had gotten slightly off course and I didn’t think we could finish before the cutoff. This was definitely the low point people speak of. For whatever reason at this aid station I channeled all my energy and took off to gain back as much time as possible. I was frustrated at myself and Jeremy was pushing me to keep moving so I figured if I was going to move I’d do it fast. I didn’t feel anything in my legs and I was running sub 8:00 minute miles. That was pure running and I’d never experienced anything like that before. That really got us back on pace to finish too and probably saved our race.
Getting buffeted by 60mph side winds with rain on top of Red Mountain was a close second.
SMZRunner: How long did you spend in the Aid Stations?
Jeff Webb: Entirely too long. Over 10 minutes average and up to 20-35 minutes later in the race. This was an area I was told to focus on and didn’t. Hard to manage this time when you’re running with two others. Definitely a skill to work on for the next race.
SMZRunner: Was it hard getting enough nutrition during the race?
Jeff Webb: No, not really. I don’t think I was in my anaerobic zone so I was probably relying on my fat stores for fuel. I carry Hammer Perpetuem so that gives me calories in liquid form. I ate a lot at aid stations and carried GU, Shot Bloks, and Sport Beans. I ate a lot of Peanut M&Ms during the race.
SMZRunner: What would you do differently next time?
Jeff Webb: Train more – I definitely slowed down late in the race. Need to do more back-to-back runs during the week to just constantly train your legs to run when they are tired.
Keep moving. If you’re going to take a break give yourself a set time and then get back to your pace. We slowed down and never sped back up.
Limit your time at aid – that time adds up and kills you. I spent 2:49 at aid stations and could have pretty easily gone under 30 hours if I hadn’t been screwing around.
Run when you want to walk – not uphill but on the flats. I walked a lot later on the race, which ate a lot into my time.
Specific training – get better at descending. Especially in Washington where you can have long, sustained descents you don’t want your quads to blow out. No other way to train them other than running downhill.
SMZRunner: Are you happy with your race/performance etc?
Jeff Webb: Overall yes. My goal was to finish and I did. I think running a sub 28 (or better) 100 is quite doable if I can figure out some of the logistics stuff and develop a lot more endurance. It’s been barely a week and I’m already being critical but I know I put a good effort out there. Desiree having to drop was disappointing and bittersweet but she has also learned some lessons and she and I will be helping each other finish our 100’s later in the year (she’s running Pine to Palm in September).
I did put together a good plan and had a good crew and we executed very well save for some of the “late in the race” issues. And I have a brand new buckle to wear around!