Training & Racing

Why I Run the 100-Miler

Why I Run the 100-Miler

Last weekend, my wife Trish asked me the question, “Why do you run the 100-miler?” and then listened intently to my answer. At first I wasn’t sure how to begin. I have mulled this question over in my head many times in the past so I cleared my thoughts for a moment and this is what I had to say:

The 100-miler is the toughest thing that I have ever done. The training alone keeps me focused on a problem that is difficult to solve. It is the ultimate mind-body challenge. Even though most people that observe the finisher of a 100-miler will say the person looks terrible, in reality the person is going through a strengthening process, something like a metamorphosis. It’s like when you go to the gym and do a weight workout. The working muscles experience micro-miniature tears that when healed or recovered become stronger and are able to work harder during the next lifting session. The 100-miler will cause a certain amount of muscle damage that when healed, makes the person that much stronger and more capable the next time.

Some runners overdo it by running multiple 100-mile events in a short period of time; for instance, the runner who runs four in one summer or 12 in a year. I believe those people are risking irreparable damage to themselves as well as premature aging. Although I may feel and look like crap for a week after a 100-mile finish, I know for the remainder of the year I am going to feel great from the renewed strength I have gained. This is also psychological renewal of strength. The mental benefits from completing a 100-mile run have helped me in my daily life and work routine. I can tolerate stress from an increased work load and a fast changing mission that would have caused the normal person to panic or make irrational and flawed decisions. I have more patience and can more calmly handle household problems as well as unforeseen financial difficulties. I have learned to take my time when working on projects and also how to relax on the weekend instead of always needing to find something to do.

Just knowing consciously and feeling sub-consciously that I have been through the grinder, the jaws of the bear; that I came back from multiple bouts of nausea and leg cramps; that I stayed awake all night even though I was a zombie for hours until sunrise; that I lost 5 of my toe nails; that I cried and still kept going and finished makes it easier to deal with everyday life events. You can’t get this from a marathon, 50 marathons, or even a 50-mile run. Maybe your first 50-mile finish will provide that sense that you just did something that was incredible and tough and that is a true accomplishment. But then just think what would it be like to double that effort?

The 100-miler gets physically tougher with age just as any other athletic endeavor but mentally it begins to get easier. If I don’t do a 100-miler at least once a year I begin to lose touch of that challenge that keeps me strong. I DNF’d my 100-mile attempt last year after a four year finishing streak. I experienced problems that I went into the race with and I ended up walking away without feeling I needed to make amends for it. This year I resolved to get back on that horse and get it done even though as I write this I want to take a nap after an 11-mile run in 100 degree heat; knowing that tomorrow morning I have to run 22 miles and again on Sunday another 13 capping a 75 mile week; still 25 miles short of the 100-mile goal race distance.

I don’t want to grow old wondering if I passed up my best efforts by sitting on the sidelines and reminiscing about a past that no longer exists. Sure, the memories are there and the accomplishments make me what I am today but someday when my time comes to die I want there to be no question that I made the most of my life in the way that I chose to live it. That is why I run the 100-miler.

Why do you want to run the 100-miler?

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This post was written by:

- who has written 5 posts on Trail Running Club.

I moved to Arizona from Minnesota in 1994. I live southeast of Tucson near the 800+ mile Arizona Trail. I have served over 27 years in the military and have a BS in Management. I am currently in the Army National Guard at the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Three. My wife Trish and I have been married 16 years and own a fitness franchise called SNAP 24/7 Fitness. We plan to open in 2013 in Vail, Arizona.

Some of my professional and running career highlights are:
• Certified Army Master Fitness Trainer - I evaluate soldiers who cannot meet physical fitness and/or weight standards, provide a personal training schedule, and monitor their progress. I have overmaxed the Army Physical Fitness Test for the last 23 years with a best 2-mile run time of 9 minutes and 36 seconds.

Event Management and Competition:
• Arizona National Guard Marathon Team Coordinator
• Former Biathlon Coach and Athlete (Cross Country Skiing and Rifle Shooting)
• Captain of 2011 9-person relay team - Placed 4th of 150 teams at Texas Independence 204-mile relay
• Trail running and racing since 1991
• 17-time selection to the All-National Guard Marathon Team
• 34 sub 3-hour marathons
• 2:33 marathon / 1:10 half-marathon personal bests
• Completed over 70-ultra distance trail events

Masters Race Highlights

• 2012 and 2009 Pemberton Trail 50K Master's Champion
• 2011 Tucson Marathon 1st place Age Group 40-44
• 2010 Run Against Breast Cancer 1/2 Marathon - Master's Champion

Trail Highlights:
• Finished 5 100-mile trail races - Western States, Wasatch, Javalina, Bear, Angeles Crest
• 5 time winner of Mica Mountain Trail Marathon (27 mile), 6000 feet ascent/descent
• Previous Crown King 50K and 50-Mile Champion
• Course record holder on multiple Tucson Trail Runs

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