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Long Haul 100 Race Report

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Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  wrichman on Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:16 am

Warning: This is a very long report (it is 100 miles after all), so if you don't want to read the whole thing here's the short version:
My first 100 mile race. It went better than I expected. Finished in 17:38:24. New female course record by 6+ hours. 1st female, 3rd OA. I am still in disbelief.

long version:

Long Haul 100 Race Report

Prerace: After a good race at JFK 50 in November, I decided to try a 100 mile race. I choose the Long Haul 100 miler in Wesley Chapel, Florida for a few reasons. One, it is an “easy” 100 – meaning that it’s a flat and fast course with a mix of trail, asphalt, sugar sand, and pine needles. I had a good chance of finishing (compared to a tougher one). Living in Chicago, I could also train well for it vs. a more mountainous race. Two, I was in peak shape to run a 100 and Long Haul is one of the few 100s in the winter. JFK was 9 weeks before, and I could jump back into 100+ mile weeks as soon as my body was ready after JFK, do a few more back-to-back long runs, and then run the 100. Three, the Long Haul 100 is an event put on entirely to raise money and awareness for the charity Praxis Haiti. Jen Pearson started the race after to raise money to help the people put their lives back together in Haiti. She adopted two boys from Haiti, and all the proceeds from the race go to the charity.

In December I ran 100+ mile weeks with back to back runs of 30/20 6 weeks before the race, 40/20 4 weeks before the race, and 20/20 2 weeks before the race. It would be a lot warmer and humid in Florida, so I did one 20 mile run on the treadmill in full winter gear to remind my body what it’s like to sweat a lot when running. Fourteen days before the race I started walking around and do low impact aerobic-type stuff in the sauna and steam room once a day and then stopped 4 days before the race. The first day I made it 22 minutes. The last day I was up to one hour.

In the week leading up to the race I did not feel well physically or mentally. To put it nicely, I felt like crap. I was nauseous a lot, I had trouble sleeping, and I was very fatigued. A five mile taper run felt like an effort. I was worried, and very nervous about the unknown miles. Mentally I was flat. I’m usually excited about a race, but I wasn’t excited for this one. I felt ashamed. I was running the biggest race of my life thus far – how could I not be excited? I kept thinking that I “should” feel excited and happy about the race, but instead I was scared and intimidated. I hoped that when I got to Florida my mindset would change, but it didn’t. Even at packet pick-up I felt “meh”. I shared my worries and anxiety with the race director, Jen, who had just completed her first 100 miler a month earlier. She eased many of my worries and gave me some great advice - the race doesn’t start until mile 70. She also warned me about the armadillos, poisonous rattlesnakes, and wild hogs on my! I hadn’t talked to anyone about how I was feeling except for my husband who was very supportive and a good sounding board. I finally emailed a good running friend, Kim, about how I was feeling the night before the race, and she told me what I needed to hear - that I trained for this, I can do this, and I’ll regret it if I don’t go for it. Thank you, Kim (and Amy). I had a fitful few hours of sleep and my stomach was in knots.

Race morning: I got a ride to the start with Steve, who was running the 100k. My husband slept in and would come to the race around noon since he was going to be out there all night crewing for me. There were about 50 runners for the 100 mile. I met a woman in line for the bathroom, and she gave me some great advice – she said to always have a sense of humor throughout the race. Jen explained the course was seven laps of 14.3 miles. Run from start/finish ½ mile to a crew area, run the south loop back to crew area, run north loop back to crew area, run south loop again back to crew area then to start/finish. Do that six more times. They had colored rubber bracelets for each lap, so every time you finish a lap you get a new color. Standing at the start line I tried not to think of what I was about to endure. 14.3 miles. One lap at a time. That seems much more manageable than 100.1 miles. I had a few goals for the race – to finish and run under 24 hours. My secret goal for the race was to run sub 20 hours. I read that most people run the second 50 of the 100 in 1.5 times the first 50. Based on my training and previous races, I knew it was a possibility, but I also knew that so many thing could go wrong. My plan was to run each lap around 2 hours 40 min (including bathroom, fixing feet, eating, etc.). That would give me a little cushion in case I had some issues. I would run a comfortable pace and take 1-2 minutes walk breaks if I felt like my heart rate was getting too high. At 7:00 a.m. we were off.

Lap 1 - miles 0-14.3, 2:12 into race, 10th
I started out at an easy pace, around 9 minute miles. The South loop was flat fire road in a mostly open grassy area. After the first South loop, about 4 miles into the race, I moved into first place female. From the crew area to aid station 2 there was about ¾ mile of paved path, and then two miles on a pretty trail with pine needles and soft sugar sand. The second aid station was on ½ mile of paved path, and then there was a 3 mile lollipop loop in the pine needle forest again. It was very runnable except for the back section of the loop where the wild hogs tramp trough. That part was little mounds of sand and pine needles. I ran through it the first loop and decided I’d probably walk that section for the other loops. It was a recipe for blisters especially with the sand. At the split of the lollipop there was a volunteer directing runners. I ran past him and two seconds later realized it was Mike Morton. Yes, 24 American record holder Mike Morton. Awesome. He lives in the area and had set the male course record for the race the previous year (13:18:58). I was disappointed that he wasn’t there when I got back to the spot because I wanted to shake his hand. I ran back to aid station 2, back to crew area, ran the South loop again, and then back to the start/finish. One lap done in 2:12:14. It was faster than I planned, but I physically felt good. I try and listen to my body when I run races, and it was telling me I was feeling ok. I also wanted to get most of the miles in before the sun went down because I questioned my ability to run at night on the trail. I exchanged bracelets, grabbed my sunglasses and iPod from my drop bag and set out for lap 2.

Lap 2 – miles 14.3 – 28.6, 2:17 lap, 4:29 into race, 8th
I don’t remember much about this lap except that there were more runners because the 100k started 30 minutes after the 100 mile and it was getting warmer out. I was carrying my water bottle and eating something (a few peanut M&Ms or pretzels) and drinking some HEED each time I passed an aid station. I was also taking one salt pill every hour and eating half a ginger chew whenever my stomach felt uneasy even in the slightest bit. I wanted to stay ahead of the issues. I remember looking at my watch at mile 25 and thinking I had to do that three more times. It was about four hours in. I wondered how I would feel 10 hours later. Then I told myself not to worry about it and just run. This may have been the lap that Mike Morton was running the course for a training run with a friend. They flew by me and missed the turn off for the trail. When they double backed I jokingly asked them if they were lost. He told me that he shouldn’t be because he marked the course himself. I love that he makes time to help out at local races even though he’s a pro.

Lap 3 – miles 28.6 – 42.9, 2:25, 6:55 into race, 5th overall
Again, I don’t remember much about this lap. I tried to assess where the other runners were behind me. It was hard to figure out sometimes because we ran the South loop twice during each lap. I figured the 2nd female was 20 minutes behind me. This loop it was getting hot and more humid. I was hoping Jon would show up soon with my running cap so I could put ice in it on top of my head. My toes were starting to hurt and I could feel the blisters beginning to grow. I decided when Jon got there I would assess my feet and change socks and shoes. My lower back started to ache also. Joy.

Lap 4 – miles 42.9 – 57.2, 2:42 lap, 9:37 into race, 5th overall

I left the start/finish area for lap 4 and ran to the crew area where Jon set up shop. He asked me what my mileage was. I told him 42 or so. It was about 6:55 into the race. I was running fast for a 100 and his face told me so. I sat in a chair to change socks and shoes. I had a few blisters on my toes that I drained, put more Vaseline on my feet and put on a new pair of toe socks. I also switched to a wider pair of shoes. The whole process was frustrating and I felt like it was taking too long – 10-15 minutes. I asked Jon for a few things, and he wasn’t very familiar with where it all was (I showed him the night before, but admiditly I did have a lot of stuff). He gave me the wider pair of shoes to put on but they weren’t untied and ready to put on which annoyed me (As a disclaimer, he really did do a great job the whole day and was anticipating my needs pretty well). I apologized for being snippy. While I was sitting in the chair he told me that the second place female was about 10-15 minutes behind me and she was asking people where I was. He said she ran through the crew area on a mission to catch me. I strapped on my hydration pack and took off on the North loop. About half a mile later I realized that I screwed up and skipped the first South loop of lap 4. I told the first runners I passed because I didn’t want them to think I was cheating. I was hoping Jen would let me run the South loop twice to make it up. It was now 1:00 p.m, hot, sunny, and humid out. I didn’t want my heart rate to get too high so when I was up near the hog area I took a 5 minute walk break (the longest one of the race) with Jodi, the woman who told me to have a sense of humor before the race. She was awesome and very funny. I shared my nerves about the last 30 miles of the race and the pressure I felt to run well. She told me to run my own race and not worry about what anyone else is doing or thinks because they’re not here going through the race. Well said. I said good-bye and good luck to her and headed back to the crew area. On the way back I ran into Jen who told me that Mike Melton, my pacer, would be arriving around 7pm. I explained my missed lap, and she assured me that I could do the South lap two times in a row and it would be fine. That kind of sucked because there were a lot of un-shaded parts of this section and I had to do it two times in a row.

Lap 5 – miles 57.2 – 71.5, 2:43 lap, 12:20:42 into race, 4th overall
During this lap the sun started to go down, and it cooled off a little bit. It was still very humid, though. My toes were hurting a lot so I stopped and drained a few more blisters, put on more Vaseline, and put on a pair of double lined Drymax socks. One of the best decisions I made was changing into these socks. My feet were much happier. I ran up to aid station 2 on the North loop, grabbed some peanut M&Ms and drank some ginger ale. A guy was sitting there and he got up and started running with me. He was Andrei from Miami and he ran 100+ milers often. He was very friendly and fun to talk to. We ran the hog lollipop loop together as the sun went down. I wore one headlamp around my waist to help with depth perception and one on my head. This combination worked well for a clumsy runner like myself. I’ve heard people say when the sun goes down it can be mentally very difficult, but I felt good. In fact, I felt really good. For the first time all day I felt like going after it (whatever IT was). I started estimating possible finish times if I ran or even had to walk the last 20-30 miles. I realized that I had 7 ½ hours to run 28.5 miles if I wanted to break 20 hours. That’s when I realized I could possibly run sub 18 hours. Holy crap! I figured if I could run 30 miles in a training run in 4 ½ hours, then I could probably run 28.5 miles in 5 ½ hours now. Jon pointed out that I had run 70 miles in about 12 hours, which was 4 more miles than I ran at Hawthorn Half Day 12 hour. I was hopeful for the next 30 miles, but I had to remember that I still had quite a distance to go, and even though I felt good one minute, I could feel awful the next. I’ve heard of people dropping out at mile 90 or even 95. Nothing is for sure.


Lap 6 – miles 71.5 – 85.8, 2:39 lap, 14:59 into race, 3rd overall

I met my pacer, Mike Melton, at the start of lap 6. Mike lives in Florida and is a race director of some good ultras (Strolling Jim 40 Mile, Ancient Oaks 100, Lost 118) and provided the timing clock for the race. He responded to my request for a pacer on the Ultra list serve. He was coming to helping out at the race anyway, so he offered to run at night with me if he could keep up (his words, not mine). I ran the first South loop without him and then he ran the North loop with me. I saw the second female up ahead during the first South loop and I purposely ran by her fast and strong, said, “nice job” and didn’t look back. I wanted her to know I felt good and she wasn’t going to catch me. Mike was awesome – he was great to talk to and really encouraging. He kept joking that I was giving him a work out. We ran back to the crew area, I took some Midol, and I did the south loop again while he took a break. My right foot started cramping in the arch and I walked it off for two minutes until it felt ok. I didn’t want something like that stopping me from finishing. I remember assessing how my body felt and being glad that I had done those back-to-back long runs because my body felt like it did during the second long run in training. I got through those runs, so I could get through this one. At some point I managed to trip on a root and fall on my face, but nothing bad. I still felt pretty good (sweaty and disgusting, but good). I ran back to the start/finish for my final bracelet.

Lap 7 – miles 85.8 – 100.1, 2:39 lap, 17:38 into race, 3rd overall

The final lap! Mike ran with me to the crew area and talked to Jon while I ran the South loop. Mike and I took off for the last time going North, and I asked him what time it was (My Garmin died 8 hours into the race so I wasn’t keeping track of the time). He told me 10:45 p.m. I had a little over 2 hours to run 10 miles for a sub 18 hour finish. I was actually going to sleep tonight! When we got to the top of the hog loop we passed a guy named Richard who was walking. He asked if I was first female, and Mike said I was. Then he said that I was now in second place overall because I just passed him. The three of us walked through the hog section and talked. He was also running his first 100 miler, but he had never run more than a 50k! He was kicking butt! We became fast friends and he ended up running with us almost to the crew section. When we left the hog loop I yelled, “No more hogs!” and we all cheered. I saw Jon for the last time, grabbed a tootsie roll and my water bottle and took off for the final 3 mile South loop. Jon said he’d see me at the finish. Of course I had to pee ½ mile later, so Mike went ahead and I dropped my shorts and peed a few feet away from the trail. I’m pretty sure I gave another runner coming towards me a show, but I really didn’t care at that point. It’s like Vegas – what happens on the trail stays on the trail. About 1.5 miles from the finish Richard blew by us and urged me to join him. I let him go ahead – a. He was flying. b. I knew I was going to win the female race, and I didn’t want to finish right before or after him and take his first 100 mile finish away from him. When Mike and I made the final turn for the finish on the pavement I took off like a bullet. I felt like I just started a 5k. Mike stayed with me for ¼ mile and I thanked him for all his help. When we saw the finish he yelled ahead that I was coming in, and then he told me to go get it. I broke the tape and was stunned. 17:38:24. Jen was very exited and said I broke the female course record by over six hours! I knew I would break it, but I didn’t know it would be by that much. She gave me all of the colored bracelets from every lap, and told me that I’d get my belt buckle at the awards later that day. Richard had finished 2 minutes before me. Apparently they thought he was me (it’s dark and all) and had the tape up for him. He almost had to stop short of the finish not to break it. There were pictures and hugs. And some grilled cheese.

17:38:24, 10:35 overall pace, 1st female, 3rd overall

My watch died 8 hours in, but my rough estimate is that I ran the first 50 in 8 ½ hours and the second 50 in 9 hours. If I had known the two guys in front of me were fading (they finished 25 minutes and 2 minutes in front of me), I would have gone after them. Second place female was 3+ hours behind me. Jen said every one was watching me and waiting to see if I’d blow up. I kind of assumed that – I would be too if I was watching. I was very surprised I finished so well. My feet are still swollen and blistered. Close-toed shoes are an issue right now. It was totally worth it. Very Happy
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  T Miller on Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:37 am

Great report Whitney. Wendy and I were watching on facebook while your husband was posting your lap times. We were discussing how you must have felt after each post and noting how well you were doing on each successive lap. It was really great to follow you since we are both just getting into ultras and we each plan to run our first 50 in the spring. You did a fantastic job and I wish you continued success in your future races.
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Alex Kubacki on Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:49 am

We've got another star on the board. That's phenominal. I'd like to be able to run 50M in that time. Congrats.
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Diego on Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:48 am

Simply spectacular training and race Whitney! I'm not sure why you felt flat before the race, but it sure didn't show. Great job!
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:18 pm

Damn girl, you are amazing!!!!! I am in total awe. You have accomplished something that is just unfathomable to me. And if you ever want to run Badwater - let me know as I have crewed there twice.

And thank you so much for the "Hips of Death" workouts. I can already tell that they are helping as I get back into shape.

Again, congratulations - you're an animal (in a great way of course!).
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Julie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:57 pm

I agree with Michele! You are amazing! Wow. Big congratulations to you!
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Mark B on Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:42 pm

Wow! Congratulations on a great race!

Thanks for such a detailed report. It gives those of us just starting ultra distances a ton of useful information. Very Happy
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  JohnP on Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:22 pm

All I did was read the short version so far and see that this was an amazing job. Now to read the long...
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Jeff F on Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:48 pm

WOW! Amazing accomplishment for your first 100 miler...I look forward to following your continued success as an ultra runner. Thanks for sharing your experience!
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  mountandog on Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:25 pm

I fall at your feet in awe. How you can remember all those details over such a long time baffles me. My brain would be mush. Congrats!!!!!!
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  John Kilpatrick on Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:48 am

Good Gosh Whit - I too am in awe. You are some athlete. Congratulations on the win, course record and even finishing a 100 miler. Wow!!!

Thanks for sharing your experience too with a great report.

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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Jerry on Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:03 pm

Scary. Great job, Whit. This is something you can brag about your whole life!
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  fostever on Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:54 pm

What a fantastic debut! Congrats congrats congrats! You represent CARA pacer volunteers well, whew! I can't wrap my mind around that distance.
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Chris Coleman on Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:44 am

What an amazing story! I enjoyed reading it more than any fiction. I'm sure it's impossible to get a true feel for what it's like to run a fast 100-miler, or any 100-miler, without actually doing it, but I felt I was with you all the way, impossible though that would be.
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Dave Wolfe on Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:50 am

Wow!! Just amazing.
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  wrichman on Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:52 am

Thank you guys for the nice words and congrats. A week later and I'm still on a race high. The longer the race, the longer the race high?

@T Miller wrote:Great report Whitney. Wendy and I were watching on facebook while your husband was posting your lap times. We were discussing how you must have felt after each post and noting how well you were doing on each successive lap. It was really great to follow you since we are both just getting into ultras and we each plan to run our first 50 in the spring. You did a fantastic job and I wish you continued success in your future races.

Thanks Tim! Best of luck to you and Wendy in your training and running the 50. Embrace the suck Smile

@Diego wrote:Simply spectacular training and race Whitney! I'm not sure why you felt flat before the race, but it sure didn't show. Great job!

Thank you Diego - I think it was mostly nerves and mental burn out (I've been studying for a major exam since November. Exam is this Thursday. Not great timing with the race. oops)

@Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Damn girl, you are amazing!!!!! I am in total awe. You have accomplished something that is just unfathomable to me. And if you ever want to run Badwater - let me know as I have crewed there twice.

And thank you so much for the "Hips of Death" workouts. I can already tell that they are helping as I get back into shape.

Again, congratulations - you're an animal (in a great way of course!).

Thank you Michelle! I don't know if I ever want to subject myself to that. Then again, about a year ago I said I wouldn't do a 100 miler, and look how that turned out. tongue I happy to hear the hips of death are helping! Great news!

@fostever wrote:What a fantastic debut! Congrats congrats congrats! You represent CARA pacer volunteers well, whew! I can't wrap my mind around that distance.

Thanks. I'm really going to scare those marathon runners off this year! I got some weird looks last year when I told them about my 50 milers. They might run in the other direction. Smile
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  KBFitz on Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:16 pm

It is very gratifying to see you put your deep endurance talent to the test and smash a course record to boot! Best of luck with your exam - go knock it out of the park.

Three cheers!
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Chris M on Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:25 am

This is one I read a few days ago and thought "WOW" and then needed to think more about for a while. But I've still got nothing more than "WOW. I can't wrap my mind around the 100 mile distance but the concept of running it competitively and hard for the win is then adding a whole additional level of, well, WOW to it. This is like one of those feats you see on TV like walking on a tightrope across Niagra Falls or something like that and you just marvel at it without being able to relate to the talent level and achievement at all. Amazing. Congratulations on such an incredible race.
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  wrichman on Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:00 am

@KBFitz wrote:It is very gratifying to see you put your deep endurance talent to the test and smash a course record to boot! Best of luck with your exam - go knock it out of the park.

Three cheers!

Thank you, Kevin. Hopefully this is just the beginning with the ultras and the end with the exam (well, in 2 days).

@Chris M wrote:This is one I read a few days ago and thought "WOW" and then needed to think more about for a while. But I've still got nothing more than "WOW. I can't wrap my mind around the 100 mile distance but the concept of running it competitively and hard for the win is then adding a whole additional level of, well, WOW to it. This is like one of those feats you see on TV like walking on a tightrope across Niagra Falls or something like that and you just marvel at it without being able to relate to the talent level and achievement at all. Amazing. Congratulations on such an incredible race.

Thanks Chris. For the record, I will never try tightrope walking.
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  ounce on Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:42 pm

Wickedly nice!
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  dot520 on Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:57 am

Just this morning I was able to spend time reading your report! Wow, wow, wow! Thanks so much for the details, it was great fun to vicariously run this 100 miler with you. CONGRATULATIONS!! You are just a machine, a beast....really incredible!
Question: You mention that you grabbed just a few little m&m's and such at the aid stations as well as liquids, but is that all the nutrition you really ate over that whole time or were the liquids somewhat more substantial calorie wise.
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Ben Z on Sun Feb 10, 2013 2:21 pm

Having been CARA pacers together five years ago do I get any credit for your ultra success? Wink

I'm in awe Whitney. You are a rock star! I apologize in advance for my forthcoming emails asking for ultra training advice Smile
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  wrichman on Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:01 am

@Ben Z wrote:Having been CARA pacers together five years ago do I get any credit for your ultra success? Wink

I'm in awe Whitney. You are a rock star! I apologize in advance for my forthcoming emails asking for ultra training advice Smile

Any questions I'm happy to answer, although in the world of ultras I'm just a newbie.
I was just in LA for 3 days and ran some real trails and canyons...loved it but my quads are so sore! I need some elevation in Chicago!
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Seth Harrison on Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:02 am

Getting to your report late. What an incredible accomplishment...and a fantastic report! I was riveted!
Congratulations! I hope you've recovered well.
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

Post  Ken Cushing on Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:16 am

@Chris M wrote:This is one I read a few days ago and thought "WOW" and then needed to think more about for a while.  But I've still got nothing more than "WOW.  I can't wrap my mind around the 100 mile distance but the concept of running it competitively and hard for the win is then adding a whole additional level of, well, WOW to it.  This is like one of those feats you see on TV like walking on a tightrope across Niagra Falls or something like that and you just marvel at it without being able to relate to the talent level and achievement at all.   Amazing.  Congratulations on such an incredible race.

What he said. I've run 100's, but still can't fathom that talent level. It took me a few months to post I was in such awe. Smile
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Re: Long Haul 100 Race Report

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