Altra Solstice: First Look

I do the overwhelming majority of my running in Altra shoes. There are a handful of reasons for this that I’ll get into later. For the time being it should suffice for me to note a couple of the biggest reasons: the wide forefoot shape and the 0mm drop. In fact the only running I do these days that isn’t in a pair of Altras is instead in a pair of shoes by Topo Athletic that sport a similar wide forefoot shape (though they have a 3mm drop).

A few months ago some articles started circling the web about some new product offerings from Altra in late 2017 and early 2018. Among them some new casual shoes, an actual bonafide racing flat, and a new low cost (for Altra) road shoe called the Solstice that would be exclusive to jackrabbit.com for the first few weeks of its availability.

As it turns out, my favorite pair of road shoes, a bright yellow pair of the Altra One V3, are quickly getting to the point of being completely worn out (they’ve somehow managed to hang on for over 400 miles but will probably be dead by 500). I have a backup pair of Ones, as well as a pair of Escalantes (and a backup pair of those as well), but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give something new a try. That and I’m kind of like a kid in a candy store when it comes to shoe shopping.

A few days ago I went to jackrabbit.com and ordered a pair and today my shiny new pair of Solstices showed up.

First Impressions

NOTE: I’ll primarily be using theĀ  One V3 and the Escalante as points of comparison given that they’re the closest to the Solstice in Altra’s current lineup. The Instinct is also pretty close, but I don’t have a pair of those to use as a point of comparison.

I really like the look of the Solstice. It’s considerably less aggressive in appearance than the One V3 and it looks more like a running shoe than the Escalante (which kind of resemble a pair of Airwalks made in the 90s). Not that the Escalante is a bad looking shoe or anything, but it doesn’t exactly look like a running shoe unless you get the Boston or Limited Edition colorway (and even then, just barely). Anyway, it looks like Altra has started paying a little more attention to what’s trendy in running shoes with the Solstice, at least in the looks department.

At first glance, the construction seems to be on par with other Altras I have laying around. Basically I don’t see any immediate cause for concern. On the inside, there’s a pretty obvious seam where the front half of the upper is “welded” to the back half. This contrasts with my other Altra road shoes, but doesn’t seem considerably different than what’s found in the Superior 3.0. After I put the shoes on, I couldn’t feel an obvious seam there, so perhaps it’ll be a non-issue. Besides, these are supposed to be the inexpensive, everyman’s Altra so I suppose compromises like this were inevitable.

One thing I noticed right off the bat that I rather do not like is that most of the grip on the bottom of the shoe is made from the same blown rubber material that the midsole is made from. This is also something I really didn’t like on the One V3 (it wears out quickly), but there are two pretty big considerations here: 1) The One V3 has a bit more hard rubber than the Solstice; and 2) the material on the Solstice is considerably more dense than on the One V3. I’ll have to wait until I’m a hundred or so miles into these before I can shed some light as to whether or not this is an actual issue.

Only two other thoughts really go in with the first impressions. The first is that it’s nice that Altra has paired the Solstice up with shoeslaces that are a reasonable length. The second is that I think I’m going to get a fair number of rocks stuck in the slit on the bottom. Regarding the shoelaces, at least for me and my size 11 foot, most shoelaces included with Altras are at the extreme lower limit for acceptable length so it’s nice to see a change here.

Trying Them On

The fit is closer to the One V3 than the Escalante, but the forefoot seems to be a little wider than either. That’s not a bad thing, but I’m not sure if it’s a good thing either. I guess I’ll know in a hundred or so miles.

This is definitely a firmer shoe than the One V3 (which is considerably firmer than the Escalante). Very quickly after I started running I developed a preference for running in firmer shoes, something I’ve had to let go of a bit after switching to Altra, so I’m quite excited to see how the Solstice feels when running.

The shoe is admirably breathable. To test this I stepped outside where the temperature is well below freezing. My feet were immediately cold and I didn’t waste any time getting back inside. They do seem to be more breathable than the One V3 and the Escalante as well as any of my trail shoes. I think the only shoes I have that are more breathable are some Adidas and Mizuno racing flats.

As to negatives, one big thing I noticed is that there’s a stitch seam toward the base of the tongue on the inside that puts some pressure on the top of the foot. Note that this isn’t the same seam I mentioned above. I spent close to a month recovering from extensor tendinitis toward the middle of last year so this is an immediate cause for concern. In fact I relaced my Ones and my Superiors to put less lace pressure on the top of my foot as a result of this. Given that in the Solstice it’s a stitch seam that’s causing the pressure, I doubt changing lacing will have much of an impact if it does start upsetting the extensor tendons. The seam itself is in the same general area as the seam that connects the front and back of the upper so that part of the upper doesn’t seem to stretch at all. I’ll find out well before I reach 100 miles in these if this is going to cause an issue. The Escalante, on the other hand, is basically the perfect shoe in this regard so it’s interesting to see the amount of contrast in Altra’s lineup.

The shoes are generally comfier than the One V3 and a bit less comfy than the Escalante, at least out of the box. We’ll see how they fare when I have some miles on them. I should note that I have no problem doing longer runs in the One V3, in fact I ran my first official road marathon in them, so I don’t suspect I’ll have any problems doing longer runs in the Solstice unless they jack up my extensor tendons.

Other Thoughts

One thing I should definitely mention is that the Solstice is lighter than either the One V3 or the Escalante. My food scale lists both the One V3 and Escalante at about 9 ounces and the Solstice at about 8 ounces, all size 11. I’m not sure how accurate that scale is, but it has proven accurate relative to itself in the past so I trust it to tell me when item A weighs more than item B.

Also, I get that this is a “less expensive Altra” rather than a “budget Altra” but it’s still hard to stomach $90 for a pair of “less expensive” running shoes. This is especially true considering the One V3 lists for $100 and is often cheaper on Amazon, though typically for less desirable colors. That said, the One V3 is at the low end of the spectrum regarding Altra pricing. The Escalantes list for $130 and their higher priced trail shoes come in at $150 and $160. Their most expensive shoe is a “smart shoe” coming in at $220. When put in perspective, $90 really is pretty good considering the cost of entry with practically every other model. But still, it’s $90 for a “less expensive” running shoe, which is a bit hard to stomach.

What’s Next

Well, I actually need to go running in the Solstice before I can comment further. Unfortunately doing so isn’t the easiest thing at the moment. We had a snowstorm last night and I’m resting up for a trail race this Saturday anyway, so we’ll be looking at Sunday or Monday at the earliest. Also that might have to be on the treadmill if the roads and sidewalks are still bad (I’m crossing my fingers they won’t be).

Until then, be well.

Race Report: Charleston Marathon

Race Information

What: Charleston Marathon

When: January 13th 2018

Where: Charleston, SC

Goals

Goal Realistic? Accomplished?
New PR Absolutely realistic. Yes
3:20 As long as I don’t screw up. Yes
3:15 If everything goes perfectly. No

Background

How I ended up in Charleston is pretty well summed up in this post, but here’s the short version:

  • Friend/training parter Ryan is thinking about running Charleston
  • Misgivings about it being the weekend before a 30k trail race
  • Screw it, do it anyway, we care more about my road marathon PRs than trail 30k PRs
  • Train, train, train, train, train…..

Training

I really only had the month of December to train hard for Charleston. In late November I had the Dreadmill Endurance Challenge, before which I had the Tryon Half Marathon, before which I had a pretty nasty respiratory infection. I suppose technically I had the first 12 days of January, but I wanted to make sure to get in a good taper as I knew I’d be chasing a PR, hopefully by a considerable margin.

My training plan was simple. If you want the nitty gritty it’s all on my Strava, but after the Dreadmill I did no more to recover than a 10k treadmill run a few days later and then I was right back at it with a fast 5k race and a 50k long run the following weekend. Right after that I spent a couple of weeks doing short, high intensity intervals and tempo runs above target race pace. Then I traded the short intervals for much longer ones and shifted my focus to logging a lot of miles at or around target race pace.

I peaked at 70 miles during the week before Christmas, and then did a 60 mile week right after. I was feeling good and decided to start my taper about two weeks out, which pretty well coincided with the new year.

I decided on an “A” goal of 3:15 with a “B” goal of 3:20. Really I’d be happy with a new PR, in this case anything faster than 3:32:01. Based on my training, I didn’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be able to hold a 7:25 pace on a super flat course, provided there were no environmental obstacles.

Pre-Race

Immediately after registering for Charleston, I had taken the day before off from work. Charleston is a 3.5 hour drive with minimal traffic with most trips taking closer to 4 hours when accounting for restroom stops, road construction, traffic, etc. Also, packet pickup was at an expo the day before, which shut down at 8:00 PM, so there was simply no way for me to work a full day and being able to make it in time. Fortunately my wife Rachel, a sociology lecturer, didn’t have any Friday classes so she was able to make it work pretty easily.

The drive down was pretty nasty. Rachel and I were in one car while Ryan was in his car right behind us. It was raining, sometimes extremely hard, for almost the entire drive, and in the first hour we had to negotiate passing six oversize loads. The rain let off a bit once we got within the vicinity of the I-26/I-95 interchange and stayed about the same until we got into Downtown Charleston. Once we arrived at our respective hotels, we took an hour before meeting outside to walk to the expo.

The expo was about a 10 minute walk from the hotel and was nicely organized, though pretty typical for this sort of thing. Ryan and I picked up our packets and then walked around for 10 minutes or so looking at the various booths. I didn’t see anything that caught my fancy, but Rachel bought a ball bearing massager for her neck and Ryan picked up a pair of Hokas that were on sale as his current pair had over 400 miles on them already.

I had been texting back and forth with my neighbor, Rob, from a couple of streets over who was also running. He and a friend from Asheville had driven down together and I had mentioned going out for dinner the night before the race. We ended up running into them right before leaving the expo and hitting a local pizza place with vegan options before heading back to the hotel to wind down for the evening.

Race morning I was up at 5:00 sharp and immediately sent a text to Ryan to make sure he was up as well. I started snacking on some whole wheat penne pasta I had prepared before the drive down in order to pack in a few last minute carbs and started getting ready.

The air temperature wasn’t bad, high 30’s, maybe 40 ish and there didn’t seem to be any wind, at least not in between the hotel buildings where we were staying. I dressed appropriately for the temperature: a short sleeve, lined running shorts, and a pullover that I could leave in the car before lining up in the corral. Temperatures in the high 30’s and low 40’s are pretty much my sweet spot.

As it turns out, I was pretty much dead wrong about the wind. Evidently there not being wind when you’re surrounded by four story buildings on three sides doesn’t mean anything when you’re out in the open. The wind was blowing very hard and was very cold. Maybe I’d leave that pullover on afterall.

We had about an hour and 15 minutes before the race started. Ryan and I had planned to wander around and mingle, but ended up spending the vast majority of that time sitting in the car with the heat on. At about 7:40, we got out and Ryan jogged around for about 10 minutes to warm up. I decided that I would do just as well to warm up during the race and immediately went to the corral.

Start to Mile 3 – The warmup.

Getting started, the race was kind of nice outside of a strong crosswind at the very beginning. We were generally traveling southeast along the perimeter of the city. I didn’t have to pass too many people, and not too many people had to pass me, both good signs that people had lined up in the corral appropriate to their relative paces. I should note that the half marathon and the full marathon shared a start time and location so everyone was running together at this point and it was smooth sailing…but not for long. So far I was ahead of my target pace and feeling good. Target was 7:25 and I was putting down 7:10 miles.

3 to 9.6 – The Headwind of Death – Part 1

As soon as we made the turn onto King Street the head north, it became evident that we had been running with a bit of a tailwind. Initially the headwind after the turn didn’t seem that bad, but there was an awful lot of cover from the buildings. A mile or so up King Street and it got worse and worse, very much to the point that it was visibly slowing people down in some cases. I, rather stupidly I might add, had neglected to bring my gloves so my hands were quickly going numb. The longer I spent in the headwind, the more draining it was, but I managed to keep up the 7:10 pace against my better judgement.

The wind prsented an additional hurdle: nutrition. Turns out it’s really difficult to dig out gels, open them, and consume them efficiently when you can barely feel your hands. I started out carrying five gels in the pouch of a Nathan handheld (filled with the same sports drink the aid stations were serving) and on the very first one I knew it was going to be a struggle for the entire race.

9.6 to 12.2 – Respite

At mile 9.6, the half and full marathon courses diverged and the full took a turn south toward a marina. We were running exactly the opposite direction of the strongest winds from when we were traveling north so we got to briefly enjoy a very nice tailwind. My pace increased to about 7:00 flat, sometimes peaking a little faster, and I was doing so with considerably less effort than what it took to maintain the slower pace when traveling north.

In a quick turnaround leg, I saw my neighbor Rob who was a bit ahead of me and looking strong, then I saw Ryan who was also ahead of me but showing signs of exhaustion. After the turnaround leg we continued south to the marina.

Coming up on the marina turnaround, Rob had gained a little bit of ground and had put another 15 seconds or so between he and I. On the other hand, I had completely closed the gap betwen me and Ryan and he was mere seconds in front of me.

12.2 to 20.3 – The Headwind of Death – Part 2

After the marina turnaround, we were running directly into the wind again. Perhaps due to the lack of buildings or perhaps due to the physical exertion at this point, the wind seemed considerably stronger than it had been during the earlier miles. And it was relentless.

My pace immediately started falling. Not by much, but by enough. First it was 7:15, then I held on at 7:30 for a while. At somewhere around mile 17 we started getting into some neighborhoods that had some building and tree cover, but the wind was still bad enough to be an issue. Mile 20 ended up being my slowest yet and I was really feeling it as I had put a lot more effort into the race at this point than I had trained for.

20.3 to Finish- Hanging On

Shortly after mile 20, the course turned out of the worst of the wind and it then seemed like more of a normal cool morning run, excepting the fact that I had just run the bulk of 20 miles into a nasty headwind. I sucked it up and kept slogging along at about a 7:45 pace for the next couple of miles.

At this point, the cloud cover was clearing and I was getting some sunshine. Combined with the wind no longer blowing directly into me and I started to warm up very quickly. There was a mostly self-serve water stop shortly after mile 23 where I grabbed two cups and downed them both, and right after mile 24 I had to slow down and remove my pullover as it became unbearable to keep it on.

Shortly thereafter was the final “fully manned” aid station. I tried to ask for two cups of the sports drink they were serving, but I think I caught the volunteer by surprise. She asked if I wanted the sports drink and I replied with a semi-loud “two”. She looked confused and pulled back as if nobody had given her that answer to that question. To be fair, it’s entirely probably that nobody had so I don’t blame her, I was probably incomprehensible anyway. Regardless I had to slow down almost to a stop and grab two cups off the table, after which I walked for a few seconds to make sure I got more in me than on me.

It sucked losing some time during that mile to jacket removal and aid station confusion, but I really was burning up and I didn’t want to throw away what was assuredly a PR finish by bonking hard with only a mile or two left. I got rolling again at about an 8:00 pace and grabbed two cups of water as I ran by the final water stop before the final push to the finish line.

I saw Rachel yelling and waving as I was coming up on the finish line and I tried to smile in her general direction. I’m not sure as to whether or not I actually succeeded in that regard. I crossed the finish in 3:18:20 gun time and later found out my official chip time was 3:18:12, beating my old PR by almost 14 minutes.

Post-race

After being handed my finisher medal, I grabbed a couple of bottles of water and a couple of bananas before meeting Rachel and finding somewhere to sit.

Rob found me within a few minutes. He had run 3:12 for a massive improvement to his PR and he got his first BQ as well. We exchanged congratulations, chatted for a minute, and waited for his traveling companion, RJ who finished in 3:30, and Ryan who crossed the line in 3:41.

I was excited given that I had run as well as I had in all the wind. My stretch goal was 3:15, which I was very much shooting for, but given the conditions I’ll happily take 3:18.

We all hung out for a few minutes and Ryan was the first to depart. He hitched a ride with another friend back to his car at the starting line. Shortly thereafter, Rachel and I drove Rob and RJ back to their hotel before we headed back to ours so I could clean up and spend most of the afternoon sleeping.

I’m very happy to have run Charleston and I’m actually quite happy that it was as windy as it was. It showed me that I can perform well in sub-optimal circumstances.

I think it’ll be a while before my next road marathon. Not only am I pretty much fully booked through May, I want to use the summer months primarily for trail running. Ryan will be running Charlotte next November so if I do another one this year, it’ll probably be that one. I may think about Charleston again next year, or perhaps Hilton Head, presuming of course that none of that gets in the way of bigger plans.

Official Results

Strava Activity

Race Report: Dreadmill 48 Hour Endurance Challenge

Race Information

What: Dreadmill 48 Hour Endurance Challenge

When: November 24th 2017

Where: Technically anywhere, but Hendersonville, NC

Goals

Goal Realistic? Accomplished?
Finish Absolutely No Idea Yes
Sub 24 Absolutely No Idea Yes
Sub 20 Absolutely No Idea No

Background

In life, every once in a blue moon you run across something so outlandish you know that if you don’t give it a try you’ll regret it for a long time. That was the exact sensation that overtook me one evening a few months ago while perusing Ultrasignup.com looking for winter races. I happened across an event with this as the opening paragraph:

Too cold outside? Wind blowing too hard? Tired of sitting around? How about something different? 100 miles on a treadmill! What no treadmill at home? Split it up over two days! 48 hours to do 100 Miles (yes all on a treadmill). Welcome to the Dreadmill 48 Hour Endurance Challenge!

And just like that I was hooked. I have no idea how or why, but I knew that one way or another I was going to end up running 100 miles on a treadmill.

I didn’t register right away. This was obviously a virtual event, but it advertised that runners could complete it anytime during the month of December, which would be a bit difficult for me. I was really looking for something I could run over the weekend following Thanksgiving. Coming from a particularly large family, it’s difficult to get anything done around the holidays and I had projects I didn’t feel comfortable leaving undone at work so I didn’t want to take additional time off. I thought about it for a week or so, deliberated whether or not such a thing was realistic, much less possible (before this my longest run had been the Steep Canyon 50k). Eventually I mustered up the courage to email the race director.

The race director, Bobby, got back to me quickly and cheerfully answered my questions. We shot a couple of messages back and forth before I asked if it would be cool for me to run the event a little early. Turns out it would work out to Bobby’s benefit to have something of a “pilot runner” to test the whole thingĀ  with photo submissions of mileage and whatnot so I pulled out my debit card and registered.

Training

When your longest run is a 50k, how do you physically prepare for 100 miles? Turns out there’s not really a good answer to that question. While I haven’t encountered a single ultrarunner silly enough to delude themselves into thinking there’s anything reasonable about the distances the sport entails, it’s a heck of lot less unreasonable to make the jump to 100 miles from running 100k events or perhaps even 50 mile events in some cases.

The best answer I could find was that if you can realistically last 50 miles, the rest is mental. I can’t recall exactly where I read this as I came across minor variations of the same sentiment in several places from several unique sources.

Steep Canyon is 3 times around a loop that is just shy of 11 miles. After adding in some stumbling around at the aid stations, I actually measured pretty close to 11 miles exactly for each loop. When I finished, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could have run a 4th loop. My knees would have hated it and I wouldn’t have run it nearly as quickly as the first three loops, but I could have made it and still been in good enough shape to drive home. Going into the Dreadmill 48 Hour, I knew I could handle 44 miles of singletrack and steep asphalt. It wasn’t quite 50 miles, but it was close enough that I felt I could skip any special training.

I was significantly less worried about my mental state. Years ago I used to work strenuous 16+ hour shifts on a loading dock. These days I keep myself occupied staring at code for hours on end. I’m pretty good at tuning the world out and focusing on the task at hand. I figured as long as I had some sort of distration I could fall back on from time to time, I would probably be pretty okay. About a month before the event, I ran a treadmill marathon to see how it would go and it did nothing but solidify my confidence that I could mentally handle 100 miles on a treadmill.

Pre-Race

After registering I made it a point to swing by the gym where I’m a member and make sure they were good with me occupying a treadmill for an entire day (it’s a 24 hour gym). The manager said it was cool and that I could pretty much lay claim to one of them so long as I picked one closer to the back, which I tend to do anyway out of proximity to the mens locker room.

My wife was good with the whole thing. Mostly she was curious as to why I would pick the day after Thanksgiving as we normally hit up the local pub on Thanksgiving after leaving the various family gatherings we’re obligated to attend. She agreed to stop in and check on me a couple of times and I rounded up some other friends and family to stop in periodically.

The biggest thing I was worried about was which shoes to wear. I knew that like in every race I was going to wear a white Nike Pro short sleeve shirt and my favorite Salomon shorts. This time around I was trading out the normal sock choices for some Injinji compression socks for blister prevention, but I was completely stuck when it came to shoes.

I’m pretty much all aboard the Altra train with the occasional outing in a pair of Topos I keep for gravel and mixed terrain (a hole in Altra’s lineup). Pretty much all of my road and treadmill running is done in a pair of Altra shoes called the One v3, however that particular model isn’t particularly well endowed in the cushion department. I’ve run marathons in them (which they’re great for), but I don’t know that I would trust them past 50k to not absolutely ruin my feet.

My affinity for the One v3 has almost everything to do with it being firm and lacking cushion. I did a fair bit of minimalist shoe running early on and I generally preferred racing flats for road running up until I starting running in Altras. This was a problem as the only road shoes I owned with any amount of cushion were a pair of Altra Escalantes I picked up to use as daily drivers. Ultimately it was the Escalantes that would go on to be my shoes for the Dreadmill Challenge as I didn’t think that I would be happy with something more heavily cushioned. Also the Escalantes are super comfy.

Beyond that I prepared my standard race fare, just more of it and stuffed into a backpack instead of my mouth. I had an entire box of whole wheat pasta (cooked), a couple boxes of Larabars, a big bag of Tailwind, a bottle of Carbsport, some juice packets, electrolyte tablets, etc, etc.

My only other concern was having some kind of distraction. Outside I don’t run with any music or anything and I typically leave my phone in the car unless I’m planning a particularly long endeavor. At the gym I typically used some fitness oriented Bluetooth headphones paired with my phone for music, but I didn’t trust the battery life of something like that in a 100 mile event. A quick perusal of Amazon and I had some wired earbuds heading my way along with an inexpensive refurbushed tablet that I could load up with stuff from Netflix.

On race day I woke up early as normal to pack in some last minute carbs and put down a couple cups of coffee. I was planning an 8:30 AM start and I arrived with plenty of time to get settled before starting. I picked my favorite treadmill, number 49, all the way at the end of the second row. It gets good airflow from a giant overhead fan and has stair machines behind it so I think it’s actually the closest treadmill to the locker room, though I’d have to measure to be sure. I was as ready as I could be.

Start through mile 39

I got crackin’ on the whole ordeal without much fanfare and the early miles seemed to fly by. I was listening to favorite playlists in between episodes of a Netflix TV show while maintaining a pace that fluctuated between 8:30 and 9:00. I saw and briefly chatted with my friend Ben, a pretty solid 5k runner but down due to injury. My friend Paul also showed up and we talked for a good half hour while he made use of the immediately adjacent treadmill.

I stopped at a couple of points to take a few minutes to put down calories, use the restroom, stretch the legs, etc. My father and step-mother stopped in, as did my brother, bringing me beverages such as coconut water (high in potassium) and Red Bull (an exception to my diet I’ll make only during ultras). Rachel, my wife, was able to stop in at mile 37, took a video as I crossed over to mile 38, and stayed while I took my break at mile 39.

This was, obviously and predictably, the easy part.

Miles 39 through 63

It stayed pretty easy through mile 47 when I took another quick calorie/restroom break. During the break I realized how sore my legs were and rubbed them down with Icy Hot (which helped quite a bit). Getting going again wasn’t quite a chore, but it was close. I reeled my pace back as I could no longer stay where I was without my form suffering dramatically (which can lead to injury).

I had some other visitors come through. My frequent training partner Ryan stopped in, as did my friend Devin (who also runs). My father and step-mother made another stop as did Rachel at about mile 52.

This was about the point where I started becoming extremely bored with the show I was watching. I powered through a couple of documentaries and tried (and failed) to start another show. At some point I realized that eventually the electronics just weren’t going to be doing it for me so I made up my mind to cherish what time I had left.

I hit 63 miles in 11 hours and 7 minutes.

Miles 63 through 80

This was, far and away, the lonliest section of the entire thing. I was hitting my limit with the “entertainment” I had on the tablet, my favorite music was running the risk of becoming hated, and my visitors all decided that sleep was maybe somewhat more important than checking in on a crazy person with a rather strange addiction to treadmill running.

I had a couple of segments where I didn’t get more than 2 or 3 miles between breaks. By mile 80 I felt like my legs were completely shot. The stretch between miles 75 and 80 was definitely the low point of the whole ordeal. The only redeeming qualities being that I was so close to being done that the light at the end of the tunnel was a bit more blinding and that the attendant at the gym was more enthusiastic about the potential of me finishing than I was.

When I breaked for mile 80 I knew I was going to finish, but it wasn’t going to be pretty.

Miles 80 through 100

After a slightly longer than normal break I got back to it, but this time sans video and sans music. I rallied pretty good for a couple of miles and then settled into an aggressive walking pace. It was maybe mile 85 when I realized that I could pull this whole thing off in under 24 hours if I kept breaks to a minimum and didn’t slack on the pace.

I enlisted the assistance of the gym attendant who was happy to refill my water bottles with Tailwind and Carbsport and my break at mile 87 was no more than a minute: just enough to grease up the legs with some more Icy Hot. I took my final break at mile 94. It was another quick one and I skipped any additional hydration or nutrition as I was just walking and not really consuming much of anything.

The last miles went quickly. Entertainment and distraction no longer held any meaning. There was but one thing: the finish.

23 hours, 25 minutes, and 36 seconds.

Mile 100 came without any fanfare. I raised my arms in celebration for half a moment before snapping the mandatory mileage pic and grabbing my things before heading for the locker room. The enthusiastic gym attendant had finished his shift half an hour or so before finishing and I was greeted by much of the same staff that was there the day before.

Post-race

One of the gym attendants was a little worried about my ability to drive home so she offered me a free spin on one of the massage beds typically reserved for premium members. The massage bed was rather nice and it certainly helped loosen things up. I drove home maybe half an hour later after putting down most of what was left of the pasta. Rachel left a cute sign on the door that I was sure to see when I walked in. I hopped in the shower and then went upstairs to bed.

It was during the shower that I realized how completely destroyed my feet were. The combination of Injinji compression socks and Altra Escalantes had kept me completely blister free, but my feet were almost obnoxiously swollen and red. I knew they’d be sore, but I wasn’t prepared for this.

I ended up sleeping for almost 24 hours straight. I had two brief wakup periods where I hit the restroom and actually hobbled to the pub for a beer (maybe an hour awake, tops), but otherwise I was down for a solid 24 hours.

After resting and waking properly, I felt pretty good in spite of the fact that my lower body wished I was dead. It took three solid days for the foot swelling and redness to subside, then another couple of days before it wasn’t painful to walk. I actually hit the treadmill for a quick 10k before my feet felt completely normal, which was probably a good decision, if only to keep things moing.

A couple of weeks later and I received my 100 mile finisher buckle. I don’t know that I’ve ever been as proud of an athletic accomplishment as I am of this one. It was both a great and terrible experience and I’m on the fence about going for it again next year.

Strava Activity


I just wanted to throw in a postscript noting that this event is technically a “get as many miles as you can in 48 hours” type of event rather than “get to 100 miles as quickly as possible”. I spoke with the RD a few weeks after running and checked the event’s Facebook page and it turns out most runners similarly stopped at 100 with only a couple of them going for any significant distance past the 100 mark. Due to some scheduling issues, some runners had to postpone their attempts into January so official results will likely not be posted for another few weeks.

It was also noted that most runners (even seasoned 100 mile veterans) had similarly wrecked feet, many having some pretty gnarly blistering going on as well. The RD offered the insight that when running outside, there are constant variations to one’s gait to accommodate the terrain whereas a treadmill pretty much demands the same gait the entire time, thus stressing certain parts of the feet more than in a non-treadmill event.