Whenever someone finds out I’ve run a 100 mile race, they usually ask two questions; “why?” and “how?” The first question is hard, if not impossible, to answer. If it isn’t immediately obvious why someone would want to do this, then I probably won’t be able to explain. For most people who run these things, it’s about finding your limits and pushing past them, conquering something difficult, and relishing the sheer audacity of the endeavor.
The question of “how” is a little more straightforward. Just don’t stop running. Most hundred mile races are on trails, usually in the mountains. There are aid stations about every five miles stocked with food, water, first aid, and other supplies. The races are uninterrupted so there aren’t any nap breaks. You can stop and rest if you want, but the timer keeps ticking and sitting down makes it pretty hard to stand back up again. The non-stop nature of the race means at least some of it will be run in the dark so a headlamp is a must. And that’s about it. Keep drinking, keep eating, keep moving.
Until very recently, I never would have imagined myself running these things. I grew up with rather debilitating asthma. I have a vivid memory of sitting down in tears during Physical Ed in third grade, wheezing, unable to finish the quarter mile run I’d been assigned. As I grew older, my asthma symptoms lessened. I started to enjoy short jogs, maybe a mile or two. Sometimes further, but never very fast. And I always had to carry my emergency inhaler. Then, about three years ago, I started talking with a friend at work about running. He convinced me to try a 15k and helped me figure out how to train.
After finishing those nine miles (a distance that