Day512 long format runs

I was just thinking while showering, why I run 100 miles.

This has been explored before. I can’t think of the post and too lazy to search, but I am sure I talked/wrote about this probably in one of my race reports, e.g. SM-2021. Intetestingly, here now on the eve of another Stone Mill Run, I reflect on why I’m doing this.

I reread all my 100 mi race reports, and I didn’t mention it. Maybe it was assumed I know why I wanted to run long races before even signing up those big races. So here is it why I want to do them, kind of a summary.

For the challenge. I like running long races because they are hard. Maybe I feel happy when I overcome them.

Marathons no longer give me the same challenge like a 100 mile race does because with the time given in a marathon usually ranges from 6.5 hours to 7 hours, I can finish it without any worries. I run a marathon between 4.5-5 hours. Only on a very bad day do I need 5.5 hours. The chance of where I don’t finish is pretty small. So far, my record is perfect.

I moved onto 50K and I ran 50 milers hoping they would be harder. They are a bit harder but 99% of the time, I would finish those just like I would for marathons.

50K, I can run a 50K between 6-8 hours. My average is usually 7 hours. My most recent one on a moderately hard trail took me 8:45 hours and I finished just within the 9 hr cutoff, and that was an exception. I think most races give about 7-8 hours.

Fifty mile runs are much harder. I have done about 5-6 of these, I am confident I could finish any of them. Not as much of a leeway as a marathon, but I have not had any 50 miler killing me unless it was the very first one. Running the distance is not a problem for me. I finish them usually between 12-13 hours. I did not finish a recent one (Iron Mountain) because the time limit was only 12 hours, but I was very close in getting it. I was 20 minutes late. Most 50 milers I did, gave about 13 hours. I think that is the norm. As you see, I am pushing against the cutoff but usually I could do it.

I conclude that I could do a marathon or any distances up to 50 miles at any time. I could do them week after week without feeling too exhausting.

I generally don’t run two races within a given weekend, but I did it before, a marathon on Saturday and another on Sunday.

That is the reason, I want to attempt even longer distance, something that I can feel fear when I go into it. I mean I still get jittery when I do a marathon, but now about those 100 mile races, they are what I find challenging.

A 100 mile run gives the feel of desperation because the likelihood of failure increases many times over. It is weird to say this, but I want to feel afraid of a race. If you ask me about MMT, yes that race scares the living shadow out of me. I wasn’t afraid at the time, but now if you ask me if I am ready to do it again, I would have to pause, and say, let me think about that. Because the chance of not finishing is real.

There is the dread going into a race knowing likely you won’t make it out in time.

To-date, I only completed 2 one-hundred-mile races out of 5 attempts (GSER 1 &2, RockyRaccoon, RimtoRiver, MMT). That’s a 40% chance. Not a good odd compares to my other shorter distance races. Of those two times I did finish, I swore I wouldn’t try again. I guess I am addicted to the pain, so I have signed up again and again. I think I mentioned the trick I did was to sign up for the next one before running the current one. It is really another level harder.

No matter how confident I went in, in the middle of the race, there is a real temptation to tap out when you are offered a quick way to end it. I tapped out in the MMT and the Devil Dog. This is not the case for a marathon.

The longer format also has a different feel besides fear. It feels almost magical and even mystical. Yes there is the desperation too but when you see the sunrise and later the sunset and you are not even halfway through, I feel a sense of largeness / and being in an epic adventure. There is an other worldly feeling. It is an awesome feeling. I’m sure probably from the runner high or something, but there is the mystery of running through the night and darkeness. Maybe it is a feeling of loneliness and abandonment when the rest of the world is asleep. In the end, might be a bunch of emotions mixing up due to fatigue as well as sense of accomplishment as I get near to the finish. A 100 mile let you experience all the emotions over a long period. It is certainly an unforgetable feeling to see both the sunset and the sunrise during the whole 24 hrs.

Is there anything else? There are other things like having the bragging right of been there done that. Until I see the horizon, it was hard to say I am an ultra runner. I think I mentioned in some other post, about feeling belonging to a special group of people who did what I did. I did not get the same feel when I did a 50 mile as when I did a 100 miler. I have not done a 200 mile, so I don’t know how that feels. I can imagine how special that is. On one hand, there is nothing to brag about, but on another, it is a significant distance.

Along with being proud about it, there is also a sense of friendship (community) shared between those who did the race or finished that distance. There is a wide range of difficulty in 100 mile races, but still it is like in the community, we know what it takes to finish one. In a sense, it can be said the same about those who did a marathon or even a 5K. It makes me realize there are people (like my mom) who dream if they could finish a 5k.

There are probably other reasons like I just like being alone out there. I like to escape from my daily life and worries. I like to travel. I like to combine both things I like (hiking/camping with running). These are reasons I rarely think about but they are true of why I love the longer format so much. All the reasons are the same as given im a previous post on why I run – day502.

It is also a privilege. I met other marathoners, like Sanjay from my recent marathon, when I asked if he is aiming for a 50 states quest. He said he is old and not like me. We joked a bit of him never too old. It is what I fear too that age is creeping up on me. It is a prvilege my body can still allow me to do things that I might not be able to do some day not too distance away.

I haven’t even mentioned about the financial aspect. I could only do the things I do, because I have money side taken care of. Indeed, it is a priviledge. Plus time and opportunity. I think I mentioned somewhere, that I am glad to not being tied down by a family. Not that those having family can’t run, but it does make my training schedule a bit easier. All these factors remind me to always to be thankful, when I get to stand at the starting line of a race and even more thankful when I reach the end of it.

What are we suppose to learn from it? I was asking myself, how can I do better? This year, I failed three different races, a 100K (devil dog), a 100 mile (MMT), and a 50 mile (Iron Mountain), which was my first time of not being able to finish a race. They have been analyzed in many posts. I write race reports.

Yes, the races were hard to me. I was not adaquately trained. If I were a little stronger, etc. They were somehow beyond me. But have I considered what can I do differently next time to get them done? I wrote out a template in each of those reports, how I can tackle them next time. I even reassured myself, that I failed because I chose hard races that were designed to hit my limit.

As far as (life) lessons I can draw from a race, this is a tough question. I don’t really have an answer. I want to run and forget about them. Maybe one day when I can no longer run, I then can sit down and think about it more. The answer has to do with bigger question of why I am doing this and what it means to finish or not finish. I am grasping straws here.

I want to run even farther than a 100 mile. I know there are way longer distances out there. Some say, I haven’t really know what ultra distance is unless I try those longer ones. I have heard they are a world apart from the 100. I so far haven’t had the gut to step into a 200 mile world. I think once I did that, I would be fully initiated. Truth is I don’t know when I will be ready (initially I thought by next year, I should be ready). Many people are content to just stay at the 100 distance. Not sure if the 200 mile races are for me.

There are longer distances than 200. I want to run across Tennessee in real life (I have done it virtually for three years in a row). I think once you step into a distance measures in weeks, it becomes something else. Las’ races like HOTs and LAVS are something I dream of doing.

I also want to run/hike across the country. I wrote about this couple times this year. Initially it was my secret new year resolution (D479: self-talk), but now I believe I have to bring it a step closer to reality by having it in the open. Ultimately, I hope some day, I get to try running around the world (there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) others who attempted or finished). Just saying, I won’t be the first. I know the chance for me to do so is low, maybe very low, but still it is a dream if one day I can. It’s A bucket list thing — need to get luck (opportunity), ability, time and money together.

For those who don’t follow my blog, yes, I am couple months away from finish a virtual version of running around the world, called the CRAW (it deserves a separate post). I know it is not the same but it is like maybe 1 percent of the real thing, and is many times easier because there is no logistics to handle, but it really expanded my horizon to sense the vastness of the distance. It allows me to see the distance in a more concrete term, to know, whether it can be realistically done. I think if in real life, it would take about 10 years to walk/run around the world (it took us 3 years with 10 people each doing a portion). It feeds my dream to do the real thing.

The reason for running such long runs (multi day runs), no longer because of the physical challenge but for being a wanderlust. I feel the reason I would do something like that is to explore places and to go to places. Yes, running probably is least efficient way to accomplish it. The reason I would still choose running is to be out there as long as possible.

Of course, I run long races, because I enjoy doing them. Even if I fail to finish, I found them to be exhilarating.

PS. I just looked at a race Heart Land 100. They offer a 125 mi option and I am tempted to sign up for next year or one after. It is the wanderlust in me.

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