A number of years ago now, I had this idea that turned into a goal which has morphed into an obsession. That being to finish a hundred 100 mile races (100×100=10k). It was a completely delusional idea since at the time I had never even finished an ultra marathon let alone a hundred mile race. But I didn’t let that stop me from getting started.
When starting up an undertaking of this magnitude it’s best to have a plan. I wasn’t sure exactly how long it would take, but I figured I wasn’t going to be able to knock this out in a couple years. If I was going to be able to accomplish this, then it was going to be a 25-30 project. My back of the envelop math had me doing 3 per year for the first 10 years or so then increasing to 5-6 for the next 10-15 years.
And things were going according to plan until COVID came along. I’ve knocked out 3 per year in each of the 4 preceding years. 2018 was quite a challenge as I had to overcome a DNF at Bighorn and the cancellation of Eastern States, but I was able to pivot and find and finish 2 replacements. This year I was able to find several plan Bs (including Pine Creek), however the cancellation of NJ Devil was just too much for me to overcome without travelling too far. While the RD gave us a virtual option, that’s just not appetizing to me. The camaraderie and community of these races is a large part of the draw for me and that’s completely lacking if it’s just me by myself. So I’m going to end up taking my first stepback in my quest for 10K.
But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty minor stumble. While I like to think linearly, it was unrealistic to think I would smoothly tick off finish after finish on my way to a hundred buckles. There’s bound to be many more hurdles for me to overcome. And frankly, I’ll be lucky if having a couple races cancelled on me is the worst thing that happens.
As I see it, there are three legs to my Chasing 10K tripod:
- Physical Health
- Mental Health
- Family Support
It seems completely obvious, but if I don’t stay healthy then I’m never going to finish a hundred races let alone that many 100s. In practice, I try and always take the lower risk option. If I feel a niggle, then I stop pushing things. I’ll still run, but I’ll dial back the intensity until I feel 100% again. I’ll also try and add in some strengthening exercises to combat any imbalances that crop up. Sleep is an area of focus for me. I average almost 9 hours a night and after long workouts or races, I’ll go 10-12 hours. Now my nutrition could definitely be better, but it’s not complete garbage (i.e. salads for lunch).
But the ability to run long distances isn’t everything. I have to want to keep doing this as well. I’m not sure how I’ve been able to maintain my stoke, but it’s as strong today as it was when I started out. If anything, my obsession may have grown even be stronger. I’m sure only doing a couple races a year has helped with this. I’d be willing to bet that I would have burned out long ago if I was out racing every other weekend.
So like everything in life, balance is key. Too little training and you can’t complete the distance, while too much and you’ll either injure or burn yourself out. Everyone has a different line they have to walk and that the line probably moves as we age and the years move along.
And probably the most important consideration for me is that my wife and son support this crazy lifestyle of mine. Without that solid underpinning, I wouldn’t be able to train the amount of hours that I do. Or I’d end up feeling guilty of the time I spend doing it. This is really what allows me to have the physical and mental balance to keep me Chasing 10K.