Here’s a short history of how I’ve managed to knock almost 6 hours off my 100 mile time.
Oil Creek 100 (26:25:42.7) – 10/10/15 – Age 43
Nice thing about the first race at a distance is you’re guaranteed a PR. Well, if you finish that is.
C&O Canal 100 Mile (26:20:47) – 4/30/16 – Age 44
5 minute improvement. All it took was 17k less elevation gain. Oof. Probably shouldn’t quit my day job.
Umstead 100 Mile (22:07:59) – 4/1/17- Age 45
4 hour, 12 minute improvement. A hot day plus 8k elevation gain makes this my best race performance to date.
NJ Trail Series One Day (100 miles, 22:03:58) – 11/10/18 – Age 46
4 minute improvement. Didn’t do much training for this. Disappointed I stopped at 100 miles instead of continuing for the full 24 hours.
Pine Creek 100 Mile (21:32:31) – 9/12/20 – Age 48
31 minute improvement. After almost 2 years, I was beginning to wonder if 22 hours was my absolute limit.
C&O Canal 100 Mile (20:42:58) – 4/24/21 – Age 49
50 minute improvement. This includes an extra 25 minutes sitting in Brunswick towards the end plus 10-15 minutes climbing that stupid hill back up to the start/finish after each lap.
Looking back over this list, I’m a little surprised by the steady improvement over the years. Obviously, lots of my races don’t show up on this list, but that’s because they were much harder course profiles where PRs just aren’t going to be possible (I’m looking at you Eastern States). Burning River (2018, 26 hours) and Long Haul (2020, 23 hours) are really the only races where I fell well short on PR possible courses.
I would say my faster times are based equally on higher volume training and more experience. I’m running about 25-30% more miles over the past couple years than when I started out. I also think the increased walking that I do is paying dividends in the later miles. While all my experience has helped out with better pacing, my nutrition has vastly improved as well considering my low periods are very short and I’m able to bounce back rather quickly.
At some point, my days of new 100 mile PRs will be over. C&O Canal has me more convinced than ever that I have a 20 hour race in me. That might be a weather/course/fitness stars aligned type race though. It’s possible that 20:42 is the fastest I’ll ever run one. And if that’s the case, I would be totally fine with that. I don’t do these races for fast times. I do them for the pure challenge of moving my body continually for 100 miles. Well, that and the buckles. Can’t forget about those.