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Guest Post: Tackling Your First 100!

Today’s blog post is a guest post from remote training client Nettie who ran her first 100 miler last weekend!  I simply loved her race recap and thought you might enjoy reading it to; race recaps are a GREAT way to learn no matter if you are a seasoned veteran or thinking about signing up for your first ultra.  I hope you enjoy reading about Nettie’s experience  as much as I did 🙂

Burning River 102.2


Last winter after finishing JFK 50 that crazy dream started in my head of trying to finish a 100 mile race.  In January I ran Winter Trail Marathon in Indiana (where my light locked up in dim mode on me and I got lost and ran 30 miles instead of 26 and DNFed because I didn’t find the finish line in time).  As crazy as it sounds this DNF made me think that maybe-maybe I can run 100 miles, because I didn’t panic in Indiana, I ended up troubleshooting it and fining my way out.

Fast forward to August 6, Burning River 100 (or rather 102.2 ).

The goal for this race was to just finish, and  leave each station at least half an hour before the cutoff. My body felt a bit iffy before the race, with very tight right  piriformis and hamstring, and tight left calf. They could have been phantom pains, but definitely weren’t confidence boosters. I also looked at previous results of Burning River and saw that there weren’t many fast times there. Some phenomenal runners I know running 26 – 29 hours on that course. Summer in Ohio can be very humbling.

My pacer Carissa and I got to Akron on Friday around 6 pm. The couple days prior to the race were crazy hectic with little sleep, because of last minute work stuff and just life in general. I told myself not to worry about it because there was nothing I could do to change it this point. What’s done is done… “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”

We had dinner (potatoes, some pasta with marinara sauce, mint tea, banana, some pistachios: seriously though it was very hard to eat, my stomach was in the knot even though I didn’t think I was too stressed).

I tried to go to bed at 9 pm, but couldn’t fall asleep for quite a while. I was also waking up every couple hours checking the clock.

I got up at 1:30 am to get ready for 2:15 am bus. Got dressed, made my oatmeal that I would eat on the bus, had Earl Grey tea, mixed my Tailwind, rechecked my gear. It was just enough time to walk to the bus. I tried to sleep during the bus ride but it was hard. I drifted off a couple times.

We got to the start line around 3:40 am. Enough time for a potty break, quick chat with a friend, and to line up the start line.

At 4 am off we went. I used my cheap light in the beginning of the race,trying to safe my good 600 lumen one for the night. The cheap headlamp was fine. We ran on the road and pretty much stayed together. I tried to keep a slow pace and started at the back of the pack. I ran with a couple guys who DNFed at BR100 last year and one of them said:” See those guys in front? Half of them will drop, and we will pass about a third of those who won’t. Don’t try to keep up with them! I made this mistake last year!”.

First 13 miles were pretty uneventful road miles, some rolling hills, pretty view, pretty high humidity. I ran with a guy name Mike and we shared stories.

I was excited to hit Polo Field Aid Station where my friends Eddie and Suzanne were volunteering. It was so good to see them! I grabbed a piece of watermelon, topped my bladder, added Tailwind and kept on going .

More easy miles with great company, a potty break, pretty views. Honestly it’s all a blare … At some point around mile 30 or so, I passed my friend Crystal who is much more experienced and stronger runner than me. I got worried that I was going too last but Crystal reassured me that I was fine. By mile 40 I realized my watch was being stupid and was ahead by about 2-3 miles. At first it upset me but then I calmed down.  It didn’t really matter. Aid station to aid station. Time of the day. It doesn’t matter which miles my watch reads.

About mile 40 we also hit the section of the trail that I ran during Buckeye Trail 50K in July. It was great to know the trail and know what was coming up (I remembered the steep hills). I kept thinking that in 10 miles I would see my family and pick up Carissa! A couple aid stations in and out with topping my fluids and mixing in Tailwind as I walked. It was getting hotter but I managed to get in a Larabar to get some proteins.

Out on the course

I got to mile 50 around 11:32 if I remember correctly. It was so wonderful to see my husband, daughter, my pacer Carissa, and my friend Lori. I planned on changing my socks then, so I sat down and Lori pulled off my sock to reveal a huge blister! I didn’t even feel it! The medic drained it for me and out some ointment and bandaid. I ate a few grapes and Carissa and I were off. New socks felt heavenly! The next 5 miles were on the towpath and sun was brutal. And I needed to pee again. Then we hooked back on the Buckeye Trail for 5 more miles that were familiar to me. At mile 59 I saw my friend Eric and it was great to chat as we ran together for a bit. Again I was concerned as I passed Eric, who is a stronger runner than me, but felt good. Carissa and I did a run – power walk intervals on the flat section for a few miles. We got to mile 66 and I saw Dave and Carla again ! My feet were bothering me too but I decided to keep going to mile 72 where I could pick up fresh socks from my drop bag.

We got into the woods and it got dark so I put on my waist light. The trail was getting more technical too. True race began!

At mile 72 I found more blisters on my feet. Very frustrating since I did everything exactly the way I did at Mohican 50(where I didn’t get a single blister (same socks, same shoes , lots of Trailtoes etc)). I switched socks and shoes at mile 72 ,hoping new shoes would help. Putting compression socks on at this point was a battle though! It took Carissa and I a good 3-4 minutes to get those guys on!

By mile 80 my feet were killing me to the point that I could not stand. If I kept moving, hitting the ground with one foot at a time, the pain was bearable. I took ibuprofen together with my SportLegs and Salt Stick at this point ( prior to that it was just SportLegs and Salt Stick). Carissa would stop at the aid station and get stuff and would catch up with me. I only stopped to grab grapes and Clif oatmeal squeeze.

We kept going, running some, walking some. Everything hurt: my delts, my elbows, my biceps, every muscle behind my knee joint. And my fricking feet! But I never really thought about quitting! Hallucinations started too: kitties running in the trail, people riding horses, antelopes coming out of the water, trees changing shapes revealing Harry Potter world faces hidden in them!

Again last miles are a blur. But it was great to see the sunrise, and it gave me a little boost of energy. At mile 101.5 I picked my 10-year-old daughter and “ran” the last section with her. I was trying to keep up with her as she was running in flip flops.

Headed to the finish line!

I crossed the finish line teary-eyed and quickly stopped to have my feet checked and my blisters drained. I felt good, happy, excited, not even that tired.

But when I got up from the chair the world started to spin, and I felt really lightheaded, and had a tunnel vision. A couple runners that I met and run with during the race stopped to say hi, but i couldn’t carry on conversation, I felt my blood pressure dropping.  I sat down, tried to eat a couple crackers. I felt better, got up, only to take 5 steps and ran out of steam and feel dizzy again. I sat on a bench for probably 5-10 minutes until I was able to slowly walk 200 yards to the hotel. I knew if I got in the shower I would most likely collapse. So I ate some grapes and drank water and fell asleep on the bed waking up a couple times hearing finish line cheers and smelling my own stink . After a 3 hour nap I was able to get in the shower. Also woke up to find out that I won my AG and Dave collected my award.

A strong pacer is priceless!  Thank you for your dedication and support, Carissa!

What an adventure! My first Western States ticket!

Mohican 100 next year?

What went well:

  1. Having an amazing and strong pacer who was there for me the whole 50 miles and could really understand what was going on without me even saying a word.  Thank you Carissa, it still makes me cry every time I think about everything you did for me!
  1. Starting out slow.  It is really tricky during Burning River, because the first miles are very runable and the hardest sections come at night in the later part of the race.
  1. My nutrition: what can I say: Tailwind is magic, and so are SportLegs.  Go get some! To avoid palate fatigue I switched between 3 flavors (Naked, Green Tea, and Mandarin Orange).
  1. My mind: I never really thought about quitting.  I thought about my training, my daughter, my husband, and my friends who supported me in this crazy adventure.  I did a lot of yoga and meditation leading into the race, and I think it made a difference.


What did I learn:

  1. You will use every single muscle and will be sore in places you didn’t expect.  Even though I hurt , I was glad I did a lot of cross training in the months prior to the race (hours of Pilates on the reformer and – even though I hate it – I did quite a bit of weight lifting too).
  1. Even if you think you nailed something in training, it might not work during the race.  My feel bruised and blistered and my ankle swell up even though I did exactly what I did during my 50 mile training run (aka Mohican 50).
  1. Compression socks at mile 72: it is another workout! Calf sleeves would have been better.
  1. I should have rested and slept more in the days before the race. But since it didn’t work out that way, it was best not to think about it, because I couldn’t change it.  If I dwelled over it would have been wasted energy.
  1. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”


Nettie was an absolute rockstar, crushing her first 100 miler placing – 10th overall female and first in her age group!  She is proof that hard work and a relentless positive attitude pay off!

What are some lessons you’ve learned in your last race or two that you ca apply to future races and training?  Do you have the itch to take on a 100 miler in 2017?

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