Run your own race. Everybody hears this all the time, but how many people really follow this rule? Keying off somebody else is common in shorter races and I did this all the time in the years I competed in Nordic skiing and triathlon. The 100 is different...it just is, at least for me. I followed this rule very well, most of the time, but there was one time at about the 80 mile mark, three runners encouraged me to stay with them and I paid dearly for it. I ended up walking the next 10 miles after pushing myself to run somebody else's pace. I found that my body had highs and lows and when I flexed with the way I felt, everything seemed to work itself out. I had to let the three runners go on ahead but because I slowed down and worked through the low, I was able to run again and actually passed them with about 3 miles to go.
Ice is good. In a hot race, ice is your best friend. Ice in your hat. Ice in a bandanna. Ice in your shorts. Ice in your water bottle. As Adam mentioned in his blog...ice in your Moeben arm sleeves. Ice is good.
Be flexible in your nutrition plan, but have a plan. I was able to stay on plan most of the time but the heat caused me to stray slightly in that I needed to take in most of my calories in liquid or gel form. Ensure meal replacement drink worked very well, but I would try it on training runs first to make sure your stomach handles it. It has 250 calories per serving and I had no problems drinking the entire serving. As the race progressed I had a hard time with the gels or anything sweet. Solid foods like grilled cheese and pancakes went down well once the temps moderated. Chicken noodle soup was a fantastic night time snack. I also drank less of my Succeed energy drinks and more water as the race went on. However, I was able to "force" gels and energy drinks down out of necessity and they never upset my stomach and always gave me the even energy I was looking for. I found that when my gut felt a little empty and my energy fell just slightly, it was a signal to take in, at minimum, a gel and some water or energy drink. These signals for me were very subtle, and to some degree I guess I have learned my nutritional needs from past races, but I believe it helped me in this longer race.
When you think you can't run anymore...you really can, you just don't know it yet. Just keep moving forward and soon enough your energy will come back to you...hopefully. At about the 85 mile mark I was resigned to the fact that I would be trying to power walk the rest of the way home. This is what I did for 10 miles, but two well placed aid stations( with soup and "pigs in a blanket") and the fact that the sun was coming up, helped me to get my energy back and I actually ran the last five miles at a decent pace. I would never have believed 10 miles earlier that I would be running again...so you may be able to sneak in a few more miles even when it seems impossible.
It is not scary to run in the woods at night and trees do make a sound when they fall. I found that the headlamp I was using was adequate for running on trail and in some cases fairly technical trail. Some of the "foot grabbers" were difficult to distinguish with L.E.D. light and in my case light shining from eye level. I read somewhere that a handheld can help the rocks in the trail stand out a little more because the light is shinning from a lower plane across the tops, creating better shadows. I had a handheld in my pack in case of technical issues but I never had to use it. It seemed like I was running in a world about 6 feet wide and 15 feet long the entire night. It was difficult to see the terrain changes and I never seemed to know how long a hill was (could be a good thing at the Sawtooth 100). And yes, trees do make a sound when they fall in the woods. I heard a very big one fall at about 1:30am and it was way too close for comfort.
Boudreaux's Butt Paste + compression shorts + 100 miles + huge volumes of rain = no chaffing!
Blisters suck! Yes they do, and when your feet look like prunes from the rain that just won't stop falling, it is pretty hard to dry them out and tape them properly. I know now that I have a problem area on the ball of my left foot that will need to be taped in certain conditions. In this case, I would have pre-taped my foot before the race and prayed that it would stay on through 16 hours (4pm-8am) of rain and wet trails. I also had 4 shoe changes if I needed (I only used 2 because it just kept on a rainnin') , and I actually talked to one runner who had 7 and used them all. My recommendation would be to put together a good foot kit and buy John Vonhof's- Fixing Your Feet. Learn and be ready...it could save your race.
Lesson #8 Never underestimate having a good crew. My crew was vital to my performance out on the trail. They always had what I needed, ready and waiting at the "crew accessed" aid stations. My crew happened to be my wife Michelle, my son Jakob (15) and my daughter Hanna (3.5), but it could be anybody who is interested in helping you. In my case, at the 62 mile mark, after being at one of my lowest points in the race, tired, sore and chilled standing in the rain preparing for what I knew was going to be a long cold wet night, it was my crew who walked me back out on the course and got me going again. Thanks crew, you guys are awesome!
I may think of more but these are the lessons that stand out from my first 100 mile experience.
One thing I will say...everyone is different and what works for me may not necessarily work for others. Hopefully this gives some ideas to try before or during your next event.