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Night Pacing: Lessons Learned

So I had this great idea: Pace a speedy friend for the last 50 of his 100, take him to his 100 PR, do my first run-through-the-night, and push it near my own race pace while focusing on someone else's needs and speeds. It would feel light and easy and give me the confidence boost I needed to know my goals for my first 100 were within reason.

doesn't he look tired? too bad his eyes are better
(they were puffy for hours from the salt)
Everyone always shows the happy smiling finish pics,
not the, oh man they look dead pics.
What really happened: I cramped sooner than I ever have, I wanted to call my husband and beg him to drive all the way out just to give me a hug and let me cry, I played loud music to make up for my inability to talk, and I dropped after 39 miles because my finicky knee ain't done healing yet.

OK, I'm not THAT whiney. I kept my mouth shut and trucked along like a good lil ultra runner and made sure everyone took their salt, tums, and correct calorie amounts at the proper times. (I also had the happiest stomach I have EVER had on an ultra distance. I'm finally learning what natural foods I can/can't eat for fuel.) I rode the pain waves, which I didn't expect to have to do on such a "short" "easy" run. I came out of it at first depressed with my performance (or at least the way I felt during it) but grateful because I learned valuable lessons that I can now apply towards my training.

Lesson #1: Training needs to be similar to racing. I know I know, DUH. But all the slow post-holing hours of misery this winter hasn't helped prep my legs for a higher turnover rate. I'm also used to this thing call elevation gain/loss, and pacing was as flat as flat can be. Flats are hard for me. Bryce has 18,000 ft gain + 18,000 of loss. (Yay!) But.. I need to start training even more on the steeps.

Lesson #2: Train for the bad days. I need to do some long runs without nutrition or salt, to cramp and move through it. I need to train for the times it will hurt and I can't do anything about it. It will hurt.

of 6 brands of shoes I own, only 1 brand
came with me. Ran in the Vertical K
and the Helios by La Sportiva.
Lesson #3: Evaluate My Goals: My runner was pretty upset that he didn't hit his time goal. It took a while for him to accept what seems like an easy thing to accept: although missing the time goal by 2 hours is depressing, a PR and 6th place overall despite a bad day is still something to be happy with. I know how easy it is to get fixated on something when your brain has turned to flubber. I originally had some pretty aggressive goals for my first 100. Not that these goals need to be altered or changed, but I want to have back-up plans so I don't get down on myself if things don't go as planned.
the makings for my fuel. ended up eating a LOT of tortillas with avocado and bacon.
my runner stole all my walnut-raisin-cookie bars.

Lesson #4: I've determined there are 3 times of ultra-runners:

  1. Those who are faster than they are smart. These are the runners who can haul on training runs, seem to have boundless energy on the trails, but can't seem to throw together a decent race. It may be a combo of poor training, poor taper, poor pain tolerance, poor strategy... you get the picture. Basically this is the runner who has the potential but none of the game day go.
  2. Those who are smarter than they are fast. I'm in awe of these people, and I train with a few of them. They train at a snail's pace, seem so lax in their prep, but they know what they're doing. Race day comes and a strategy, or simple know-how, or experience, comes out and they put together a race that leaves you scratching your head as to how they raced that fast.
  3. Those who are equally smart and fast. i.e., Karl Meltzer. Dude ran a 14:34 100 mile race. That's like me running a Boston qualifying marathon time for ONE HUNDRED FREAKIN MILES! Seriously! (I whine and make excuses about the 20mph winds, freezing temps, sideways snow, etc etc... but that didn't slow him down one bit...) Guys like this legend put the speed, the focus, and the know how together and it's like magic.
I want to be a #3. (Who doesn't it?) Right now I'm a #1. Sure, I can run fast some times, but I just haven't been able to put things together perfectly for that magic day. So the lesson-- to learn from the #2 runners I know. These people have wisdom radiating from them. I want it. #3 runners are hard to come by, but they're great to glean wisdom from as well.
some of my junk I took

Lesson #5: Train: I need to get serious about training now. I've got 9 1/2 weeks to whip this chubby lil body into tip-top shape. Yes, my knee and compensation injuries are still a bit wonky, and I'll be careful as I begin to start adding the miles. But it's go time. I've got a few new ideas to incorporate into my regular training runs. (Which really means, I'm ready to actually try sometimes and not just frolick through the mountains carrying a water bladder every day).

Lesson #6: Support: I'm not the sappy type. I don't cry at sad movies and I laugh during romantic dramas. Yet from the hours of 1am-3am I was so consumed with missing my husband that other than making sure to take care of my runner, I couldn't talk. It showed me just how vulnerable I was, and how helpful a crew and the fam will be to be out there supporting me. I've been worried about having my husband in the crew truck, I didn't want to get angry at a bad day and lash out at him, but I've learned now that his presence will be help and not a hinderance.

I'm ready to get back out there. If these cranky legs can get loosened up, I'm hoping for a solid 300 miles of training during the month of April. I'm back on the PT (part-time-job) bandwagon to getting the remnants of these injuries healed up, you can see more about what I'm up to here: 

My "warmies" all from Terramar. In love with those wool tights.
Also, a quick shout-out to my new favorite pair of pants... I can't run in wind-proof items for more than a few hours, I sweat like crazy and anything that restricts the airflow can cause major issues in my hydration. When I showed up to pace and it was 24 degrees with 20mph wind.... I was having a bit of dilemma  I ended up running in my Terramar Merino Wool Tights. My legs were never cold, despite the snow and wind. I was a little timid having never run in these and then taking them out for such a long run, but there weren't any chaffing or other issues and I was grateful to have something to keep my injured legs so warm.

....BTW, if you're a #2 runner- WE NEED TO TALK. I'll make you cookies. Help my poor inexperienced self get ready for my first 100! Please? :)


  1. I still think you are a bit insane. But it helps to hear there's method in the madness.

  2. Oh, and happy birthday, btw! I'll call you later. I'll be in town, so maybe we can do a video chat.

  3. Bum knee or not, your pacing me got to the finish in the time it did. Without you I would have lost considerably more time. In a race where not much went right for me you were able to carry me through. Thank you.
    And I had no idea you were hurting until the very end. I thought you were just trying different things to keep my mind occupied. Ha. Thanks again. You were an amazing pacer and I was a crappy racer.

  4. For my first hundo, I had four goals that I gave my crew- fast, med, slow, and oh crap slow. By the end, I was way slower than oh crap slow. What I'm tring to say is, I firmly believe your only goal for the first one should be to finish. Especially on one like Bryce. Start way slower than you think you should and don't speed up for 70 miles. If you somehow feel good at 70 miles, you can consider speeding up and still have a long ways to improve your time. Anyways, that's my unsolicited advice. Good luck!

    1. Thanks Jon. I have A, B, and C goals plotted out. I am pretty sure that I will hit that point that all I want is to see that finish time, regardless of how slow I get there. As a newbie to the 100s, I appreciate any and all unsolicited advice.


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