Experience From - Gene Thibault , Larry Gassen ,
Subject: How Do You Do That?
From: Suzi T's 100's Newsletter, edition #12 1994
I approach this years Arkansas Traveler 100 with some dread. I had put in adequate training and felt injury free, yet I hadn't run more than 38 miles in three years. How was I going to run the extra 62 miles? Suzi and I have always believed that more people drop out of 100 milers because of mistakes on the day of the race rather than any lack of training. Therefore, I had to rely on this premise to get me through. It did! I had a very good race even though I trained less for these than any others. As a matter of fact, my hardest training led to my only 100 DNF, but that is another story. What follows are some ideas, strategies, and tricks that may help in your next 100 miler. You can either accept them in full, in part, or reject them all together.
What to take along for the trip?
Although Arkansas has excellent and close aid stations, I decided to carry my two bottle Ultimate pack. It is light weight and fits snugly. I kept the weight down but didn't want to be in trouble between aid stations and not have what I needed. Some aid stations that are only 5 miles apart may mean 1 1/2 hours or more towards the end of a race. My basic pack contained:
For most of us, the most difficult task during a 100 miler is getting sufficient fuel to fire the quads and not blast the stomach. I require electrolytes often. I prefer Exceed but can tolerate most anything, if necessary. Test the drink before leaving the aid station. Some aid station crews mix it entirely too strong. I often leave with half strength and it seems to work for me. Check your urine, often. Mine is usually clear for the first 50 miles and then it tends to cloud up some. If you can't pee, DRINK! The temperature has much to do with the amounts of fluid you should consume but, even cold days will dehydrate you as will elevation. I find that I drink more when carrying the bottle in my hand and not in the pack.
Food is a more interesting subject. You have to have it. No food, no go. At Arkansas I had planned to have Metabol at every drop. After 30 miles I realized that I couldn't force it down. I had opted for soup and carried it in my wide mouth bottle. I could then have plenty of it and ti was not too hot. Did you ever burn your mouth with hot soup? I could also wait until walking up hill to eat. I even had pumpkin pie and turkey sandwiches. Suzi had small microwave chili con carne. In a sense any food that you can get down and keep down is better than high energy food that you can't.
It seems that I usually have splits written down some place and then once into the race, I can't adjust to the pace I have set. I prefer to run as I feel (the Zen Runner). Of the seven 100 milers I've done (one DNF), three of the best have followed the same scenario. I tend to go out comfortably but running without caution. If it feels good I just go with it. This usually lasts for the first third of the race. Somewhere around mile 35 the legs start to say "You've had your fun, now watch out!" At that point I tend to take very good care of myself. I walk most of the up hills and coast on the downs. This is where the walking I do during training comes into play. Unless you are one of the big guns and I mean very big, practice your walking. The flats are runable but, I haven't found many flat sections on the courses I've done. This reasoning lasts through the middle of the race. At the 70 mile mark or so it is gut check time. This is the point of the run to dig down and finish the damn thing. I find by 70 miles I have invested too much too say quit and besides I can begin to hear the Fat Lady warming up. A good pacer sure helps during those last 30 miles (thanks Rick!). It can get lonely, dark, and cold.
Another aspect of strategy is the proper use of aid stations. The old motto "BEWARE THE CHAIR" becomes doubly important at a race like Vermont with over 30 stops. I enter an aid station knowing what I need. I get it, say thanks, and go. I can eat while leaving or pack food to go. On the other hand if you need to get something done, this is the place to do it. The operative word is need. I stopped for a blister at 70 miles of Arkansas and was out of the chair within 5 minutes. Oh yes, when you leave an aid post always leave them smiling. This is supposed to be fun isn't it?
Night running should be no different than running in the light. I actually enjoy it. There seem to be a time warp what comes with cool darkness. A good light and good company can make the experience Magic.
To summarize my long winded thoughts, go into a 100 miler expecting the unexpected. Know that somewhere out there you will come face to face with something gruesome and have the presence of mind to deal with it. Blisters? You've got Second Skin. Cramping? More fluids and salt. Stomach crashes? Try salt, Rolaids, or change food. Cold and raining? You have a plastic bag and good drop bags. No problem. These events are taking enough even when you are ready. Don't bluff you way through. Be a good scout and be prepared.
Subject: Manly Man's Corner
From Suzi T's Trails 100's Newsletter VIII, January 1993
For those among us who hate to read manuals, VCR assembly guides etc. I will summarize the main points now:
Oh what to wear. Calendar time does not make the season. Summer starts at 65 and goes up until you fall over. Winter begins at 65 and heads downward until you grind to a frozen stop.
I like hats, winter or summer. I am especially fond of my A-16 Hawg Hat. These all-cotton wonders are very comfy over a wide temperature range, as the flap keeps warmth in on cooler days, and suna out in blazing sun. When the weather turns cold and when nights falls in the mountains I have especially good luck with the Patagonia Synchilla-pile balaclava. It can be thermally customized and is (seamlessly) comfortable. It made a long night at Wasatch much nicer.
For hot weather I prefer white cotton T-shirts one size larger than what I normally wear. If they have silk-screened images on them I make sure that the image area is small on the back (large logos etc. act asheat sink), and small-to-none on the front. Sleeveless Ts enhance ventillation, and the larger format reduces Dreaded Nipple Chafe (along with globs of Vaseline). I tuck in the shirt to reduce pack-rub. A men's long sleeve white shirt worn over this is also useful for sunny or breezy days to reduce exposure and dehydration.
In cooler weather I will start with long sleeve-cotton for the mid 40s-50s dry weather, and move into light-to-medium weight Capilene pull-over long sleeve shirts.
Sorts are generally Hind or RoadRunner supplex, with the tags removed. In the winter I will wear tights underneath the shorts, which is good to about 30, depending on wind and rain. Socks are Thorlos, extra padding. I noticed 1/16" neoprene socks in the new Early Winters catalog.
For wet weather the options range from garbage bags, "breathable" Gore-Tex* (see footnote) and really waterproof gear. My choice is definitely "waterproof". I like Seconds Outlet Patagonia product. Their gear have things garbage bags don't; zippers, beefy seams, deep sippered pockets, and roomy hoods. The main consideration here is waterproof. Pick and choose between pull-over and zip-up jackets, with several weights and colors. Zippered pockets are important for keeping a pair of polypro golves and a balaclava for changeable mountin weather. The most compact way to carry these two is to zip the jacket, pull the sleeves inside the shell. Fold the trousers in thirds lenghwise, thight roll it in from the hood, then lash it to the pac.
Nights in the mountains are cold. When it rains its worse. Have heavy tights, "fuzzy" (polar fleece type) pants, vest and jacket at the ready by your first-anticipated aid station drop-bag, and the two other night-time drops. I prefer Polar-fleece for its vapor wicking properties. At Wasatch I napped trail side at 1 AM out under the open sky in mid 40's in this gear, awakening to the sounds of another runner gasping and swearing to stay awake. When morning comes you can ditch it all at waiting drop bags, and change into clean shirt.
Other details: I like D Cell Maglights with wrist looped tied off to the (optional) d-ringed butt caps. I'll have AA and D batteries for the Mini and the BigFella in all drop bags after 45 miles. I prefer D Cell Mags for the brighter light, longer battery life, durability and weather proof design.
* GoreTex and You. I will unilaterally say here and now that for running, GoreTex is a fraud. Either something is waterproof, or it isn't. GoreTex is not waterproof, it is water resistant, directly declining the longer you wear it. GoreTex is based on the theory that water vapor is smaller than actual water drops. Body heat is humid, and this is accelerated in exertion. GoreTex fabric is a molecular screen, shedding water while theoretically allowing vapor to escape. Thus the wearer stays relatively dry. Short of having a 12" chimney with a fan coming off the top of your rain gear there is no real way to let all the heat vapor escape through the pores. These touted benefits are minimal at best. GoreTex fabric is fragile. It is degradable due to body oils, perspiration and abrasion. The laminates break down and one fine wet day you discover that your $200 suit is worthless.