The 100 Mile Stare

There's a look. You can't coach it, you can't will it. You either have it or you don't. I've gone into races with it and without it. Its one of the single most important factors to succeeding in 100 milers...or ultras in general. To run 100 miles you have to want it more. You can get your way through a marathon on little to no training...I've watched my sister finish a marathon on literally no training. But 100 miles is different. You can log the miles and still not have that well to dig into to finish. Because 100 miles is going to hurt, there are going to be lows and no amount of training will guarantee you can pull out of those lows to finish.

In 2015 when I DNFd Run Rabbit Run that look was missing for me. Sure there were a multitude of things that went wrong that day, but ultimately I wasn't ready to dig deep when it got tough. I saw a lot of these missing looks a couple weekends ago at RRR. I have a feeling somewhere along Flash of Gold or the Wyo Trail you might find a lot of them strewn across the trail. I wasn't sure Dan had it when he started. I knew he could finish and he could push through some lows, but did he have it when it got bad?

This year RRR was soul crushing to a lot of people. I was amazed at the DNF rate and the people I saw dropping who I never imagined dropping a race. Ever. It was longer. It was harder. It was longer and harder than advertised. Dan went in thinking he could finish around 30 hrs...I thought the same thing. But as the night wore on it was clear he was looking at a 34-35 hr finish...not because he was hurt or something went terribly wrong, but that was the course with his current fitness level. I haven't seen any stats on it, but I would guess there were more finishes in the 34-36 hr range than ever before. And more finishes in that range from really strong runners than is typical. Dan didn't have that well for a full extra day on the trails. I'm guessing a lot of people felt the same way.

I learned a lot from that 2015 DNF. But most importantly that I have to know I have the look. That race time is my time. I can't be focused on anything else. For some their kids are their motivators. For me if I think too much about them its a for sure DNF. The last few miles I can think about them and it'll motivate me faster to the finish line, but definitely once I've passed that last aid station. Before that nope, can't risk it. So time to dust off that look from 2017 and prepare for 2019. Because when I toe those starting lines you can bet your ass I've learned that I will have that look.


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