Miles to Go
Don't know which is more impressive, the race or the report. Amazing !!!
Last: 3/5 - Little Rock HM
Next: 7/23 - Great Alaska Running Cruise, Juneau HM
Definitely inspiring Katrina. You are awesome, thanks for another great RR.
Mind boggling! It is nice that you have found a place to fit in, for many never do. A 100 mile race should be in a category of its own though, as a 50k is also called an ultra. There is an extreme understatement there!
A half marathon is a shake out run for you. Incredible!
D, Thanks! As for running at night to get used to the issues I'll face during my next 100-miler, that's a good idea, but I can't simulate race conditions. I've run quite a bit at night, including through the entire night in some "shorter" races, and I had no issues. I had mental lows in my first 100-miler, but I was never actually sleepy--but I had a pacer the entire time it was dark except the first couple hours. There's something with the combination of moving all day and then having it get dark and being alone that is my problem. The cold might have something to do with it too; it wasn't as cold in my first 100 as my last two, so maybe that also contributed.
Brad, I train for 100-milers by running "a lot" (although likely not as much as you would think). I think there's the perception that since people put in 40-80 miles a week in marathon training that in order to run a 100 that people are putting in 150+ miles a week. A few elites do this, but even they tend to top out a bit lower. (For reference, Mike Morton, who is one of the top ultrarunners in the country right now and current 24-hour record holder has been averaging under 120/week.) Also, unlike in marathons and shorter distances where there are certain "cardinal" rules that *most* people tend to agree with, I really don't know of any of those in ultras. The spectrum of how people train, race, fuel, recover, etc. all vary so much. I know people who never go over 20 miles a week (yes, a week) on non-race weeks and they still do ultras, even 100-milers. Training for my first 100-miler in February, in the couple months leading up to it, my longest runs were a 50-miler and two marathons; my weekly mileage was about 50-70 with a peak of 80ish once. In the six weeks between my first and second 100s, I got very conflicting advice from two people I respect: One told me to spend the majority of time recovering and now running and that my max run should be an 18-miler and that shouldn't be until the 3rd of 4th week. The other person told me to take it easy for a week and then to ramp my mileage back up and taper for no more than two weeks. I wanted to take a leap of faith, so I followed the second guy's advice. I ran an 19-miler two weeks after my 100 and quickly built my mileage back up to 72 before doing a ~10 day taper. I PR'd by almost 4.5 hours. Between my second and third 100s, I honestly lost my focus because I didn't add the next race to my schedule until about 2 weeks prior to it, just in time to taper. In the five weeks I had between these two races, I ran, but nothing significant or focused, including a few mid-teen runs and a 32-mile run/walk (only about 10 miles of running included and the rest was walking) 12 days before the race. I was prepared for my third 100 to go poorly, but it went a lot better than I'd hoped. Not a PR, but I did alright. My third and fourth 100s are spaced five weeks apart, although there are only four weeks left now. I hope to peak at at least 60 between now and then before tapering, but I'm listening to my body too. I can tell they're starting to take a toll on me, so I might rest more, even though I don't like it. This is one of the many times I'll go seek advice from people much wiser and more experienced than me because there's no use trying to be stubborn and figure it all out on my own. I am grateful that I've developed friendships with some awesome people who always seem willing to give me their perspective on things.
George, Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad Ian's coaching is working out for you. I absolutely loved him as a coach and I'm appreciative for all of the guidance he provided me. I have definitely stepped outside of my comfort zone in recent months. Finishing my first 100-miler was outside of my comfort zone. But since then, I've been testing my limits beyond that. I've gotten lots of little indicators, some I've noticed myself and others that other people have pointed out to me (or called me out on in some instances, haha) that tell me I have more potential. I know that the more I push it, the more likely I am to have an "epic" failure at some point, but I've become okay with that. The alternative is to take things easy and set safe goals, and that just isn't appealing to be right now. One of the things Eric C told me when I wasn't sure how to train for my second 100 was this: "I would say this once train hard and go into the race like a demon. What's the worst that can happen? You get wiped out and DNF. Big deal. Or you could run hours faster than you ever expected. Bigger deal." I followed his guidance and PR'd by almost 4.5 hours. It's now two 100s later, but I still keep this in mind. And I *know* I'll eventually fail, but as long as I'm having continuous "success," I know I'm not at my limit yet.
Traci, Thanks! All of the Calico Racing awards are unique. Last year at this race in the 50-miler, I got a little cactus and the planter had info about the race hand-painted onto it. At another race last year, a 12-hour race, I got a nice little hour glass with the race info painted on it as well. Joyce, the RD, also offers an additional incentive for her races called a "Slam." There's a Slam, Half Slam, Progressive Slam, and Ultra Slam. In a given year, you are eligible for a Slam if you do 4 Calico marathons, a Half Slam if you do 2 Calico half marathons, a Progressive Slam if you do 4 Calico races of increasing distance, and an Ultra Slam if you do 4 Calico ultras (although one ultra can be subbed with a marathon). At the completion of the Slam, you get a stone slate with your name, the slam you got, and all of your races and dates of them--and it's all done by hand. Very neat touch
Randy, That photo cracked me up. Thanks.
Amy, I was surprised to have *any*one *volunteer* to pace me, let alone an elite. I don't think I'll ever fully understand why he decided to help me out, but it's one of those things that I couldn't believe until it actually happened. The night before the race, I even mentioned on Facebook that I might have a pacer for miles 44-66. After the race, Dave responded to that and said, "I told you I would " I see it as an instance where someone does something they don't think much about it, but its impact continues to ripple for quite some time. And that's what's funny is that even after he spent almost 7 hours total pacing me, he was reluctant to let me take him to the airport because he didn't want to inconvenience me. Seriously? Haha. He's a really great person. I hope we can stay in touch, but only time will tell.
H4L, Thank you!
Julie, Thank you. There's really nothing "special" about what I've done, though. I'm just an average (or actually below average, haha) speed runner who gradually worked her way up in distance. I know that not everyone wants to run long distances (and "long" is up for interpretation), but I do believe most people are *capable* of running long if it is something they truly want to do and are willing to put in the necessary time and effort. I was looking through old race reports yesterday, and know I've come a long way. But it further emphasized to me that people are capable of way more than they think. Reading my early race reports, there's no way people could read them and deduce that I would ever run ultras, let alone 100-milers.
Lily, You are so kind, thank you! It's kind of funny because I went through a period of a few years (and I've only been running 5 years!) where I was content running and just finishing races--and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this as I don't think there are "right" and "wrong" motivations or goals in running. It's only been in the last year and a half or so that I've decided to actually see what I can do. I've been so blessed to have such supportive friends (and a coach for 15 months, although I don't work with him anymore) who have encouraged me to do things I didn't think were possible. In a lot of respects, I've been my own biggest obstacle. I've getting better, but there's still room for improvement. I'm so appreciative of the people who have helped push me along when I, alone, might have been inclined to just settle.
Van, I don't think 100s will ever be "just another run." They each deserve respect, and even being prepared, they are still humbling. As far as going beyond 100 miles, the next "logical"(?) step would be something like Badwater, but that really doesn't appeal to me. I’d love to go back and crew/pace there again, but running the whole distance just doesn't sounds fun... although I *have* met the bare minimum requirements to *apply* for BW. But no, I won't. One race that really does interest me, though, and I have put on my bucket list of races is the Vol State 500k. I totally blame my friend Josh. He's super nice and inspiring. I met him last month and crossed paths with him again last weekend. He ran the 500k twice and had some interesting stuff to say about it. I also read his race reports from both years, and the lengths of his RRs rival mine, so they're very detailed. The reports made it sound challenging--almost impossible actually... but with a slim chance of success. It really intrigues me. It's put on by the same guy who does the Barkley Marathons (if you're familiar with that), so not surprisingly the reward for finishing is... nothing. However, on the bright side, the entry fee is... free!
JBS, Thank you!
Susan, Thanks! You are so kind! I definitely remember hobbling around with you in the middle of the night. But at least I had company! And I had a similar experience last year with Angela C.
Oski, You're funny! Glad you liked my nails; I stood in line at Walmart for about 30 minutes late the night before the race to get the yellow one because that's one color I didn't have. Maybe not the best use of time, but I couldn't *not* paint my nails like that!
Jerry, Thank you! Writing the reports afterward sometimes seems like a more daunting task than actually running the race. SO much happens that it's difficult to put it into words, but I do my best.
Luke, Thank you!
LRB, Thanks. It is funny that "ultra" encompasses such a large spectrum of distances, but I've never really heard of people complaining about this. One thing that stands out to me in ultras in particular is that people are more focused on their own running than feeling threatened by what other people do, how they're labeled, etc. In this instance, I don't personally think, or know of anyone who thinks, that people who "only" runs shorter ultras are less deserving of the title. Those kinds of delineations would tear our community apart instead of bringing people together. Likewise, the people who finish toward the front of ultras don’t look down on the people who finish at the end, even though they get the same rewards (minus prizes if there are awards) at the end of the day. In talking to some elites, I've noted that there is a lot of respect that goes both ways. While I am in awe of the fact that some of them can cover the distances at such fast paces, they seem to be equally in awe of the fact that people can be out there for so much longer (sometimes double the time or even longer). It's because of things like this that I feel welcome in the ultra community. Everyone is so kind, accepting, and generous.
Katrina, you're not only an amazing long distance runner, but you're also an amazingly sweet person. Thank you for taking the time to write all those comments!
PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013
Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013
18 marathons, 18 BQs since 2010
Lily, It's important for me to make an effort to respond to everything I can, particularly when people have questions; sometimes I fail to do this, but it's always my goal.
I do this because I know what I big impact very small gestures, even just words online, have had on my life, including with regard to running. I can look back to certain points where my running path would have taken a different path, or perhaps ended, without other people's responses. For example, if David Horton had not responded to my email about whether or not he thought I could do an ultra, I may never have even tried one (ever). If someone on the ultra board at RWOL (Melanie, who is now a nationally ranked ultrarunner) had not given specific advice to a person who had only one or two posts (since I created a new screen name to keep my first ultra a secret) to ease my fears of getting lost on the trails during that first 50k, I might not have pursued it. If other people had not taken the time to respond to seemingly trivial questions of mine, I might not have stayed on the path I've taken.
I've also learned that my race reports and private messages I've exchanged with people have had similar impacts on their own running. People have told me that they signed up for their first ultra (or race!) because of something I said or because of a report I've written; one of my pacers in my first 100-miler is someone who chose her first ultra 4 years ago based on a race report I posted on RWOL (and we met at that race and became friends). Others have told me they had the confidence to do a race because of some encouragement I gave them; one such instance was an exchange I didn't even remember until months later when someone messaged me the night before their first 50-miler thanking me (which was perfect timing as I was starting to freak out about my first 100-miler the following morning). Other people have told me that my words have inspired them to do more in some way... I don't take these things lightly.
My point is that people never know the impact their simple words will have on someone else, so they can live like it doesn't matter, or they can act as if it all matters. Of course I'm not under the delusion that everything I say will inspire someone. But I don't know when those critical moments are, so I'd rather treat them all as importantly as I can than risk losing an opportunity. It's also a matter of paying it forward. I've experienced extreme amounts of generosity from other runners, and I want to pass that on. I can't count the number of times I've "pestered" people who I don't really have business contacting, yet they're always willing to help. Who am I to not do the same? Of course I'm not an expert, but that doesn't meant I can't help somehow.
uʍop ǝpᴉsdn sǝʇᴉɹʍ ʇI
Jeesh! Your RRs always leave me speechless!
Barking Mad To Run
even though the shadow of my hat covers most of my face. Well, shoot, Katrina, who looks at your face?
Wow, I did not think it was possible, since you were in great shape when you lived here in San Antonio, but you are even in BETTER shape now, and it looks like you have toned quite a bit! You look fantastic! I guess all this ultra running agrees with you! You are really putting in the miles, lady, you have become QUITE the runner!
Congrats on yet another ultra for you! And another one coming up? You crazy person you....
I see the South African Comrades in your future..... http://www.comrades.com/
"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt
Wow. Just wow. You are truly superhuman (along with the rest of your ultra community). It's almost a completely different sport than marathoning. And you look beautiful in all your photos.
To me, the fascinating part of ultra runners is the combination of extreme physical & mental toughness. I sometimes wonder which is more important, but from reading your RR it seems to be more or less equal parts of both, each becoming more important at different points in the race.
Jack, lol, thanks?
Scotty, Awww, I miss you and your "charm" You need to come out to Vegas sometime. There are lots of races out here. www.calicoracing.com and http://www.lvtc.org/images/lvtc_race-schedule.pdf have a bunch of options. And our guest room is still free! Thank you for your kind words.
Dave, You are very sweet. As far as what's more important, while I think physical attributes are perhaps more important to competitively run ultras (i.e. to win), but to finish them, I definitely think mental toughness is more important. In an ultra, even a 100, if you keep moving forward, you will eventually finish, assuming you meet the cutoffs... The key is to keep moving forward.
I break all of my races (and training runs) into smaller manageable pieces, and in my first 100, I started out easily being able to look ahead from aid station to aid station, since they were 3-6 miles apart. However, late in the race when I was reduced to just a walk due to really bad blisters, even 3 miles seemed too far to comprehend (as it was taking over an hour). I recalled something I'd heard Gordy Ainsleigh say in one of his interviews... Gordy was the pioneer of the Western States 100-mile foot race. It started as a horse race, and one year, his horse was lame, so he ran it (among the hourses); he got to one point where he "knew" there was no way to make it to the end because the distance was just too great. So he broke it down into just taking one more step because he could always take just one more step. This is exactly what I resorted to. I just focused on taking one more step, and then one more step after that. I figured I wouldn't worry about the whole distance I still had to cover--I would just taking one more step until I couldn't do it anymore, then I would come up with another gameplan. But the key is that I was always able to take another step.
I do think that ultras, particularly the longer ones, are considerably different from shorter races (including marathons). Things can go wrong in shorter races, but a missed gel, a pebble in one's shoe, inadequate sleep the night before, rain, etc. don't have the same opportunity to wreak havoc over the span of hours and hours (or a day or more). Shorter races are more predictable. It's easier to create a plan and stick to it, and while things might not go perfectly, it's reasonable to expect that if you do A, B, and C, the result should be D. But there is so much time for things to go wrong in ultras that oftentimes, it becomes more a matter of who is best at adapting to circumstances on the fly than it is following the plan. That's part of the adventure, though. There is tons of unpredictability.
Unlike in a marathon where a person may go through a single low point, in ultras, it can happen several times. I've been in lows for 3-7 hours before. 100-milers in particular, from my three experiences, really expose everyone's vulnerabilities, but I think that is why people bond together so much during them. All the superficial stuff in daily life doesn't matter. People are stripped of all of their labels and details by which humans tend to categorize one another and judge them by. All that matters in that moment, 15-20 hours (or more) into a race, is that there are other humans who have endured similar obstacles in that race, and you connect over those commonalities. You know your journeys may have differed, but they've led you to the same place and you're in pursuit of the same goal.
I've run 9 marathons and I've never experienced anything like this; in marathons and shorter races, I can do the entire race in my own little bubble without truly (meaningfully) interacting with anyone else. This just doesn't happen in ultras. I've come away from EVERY single ultra (all 17 of them, ranging from 50k to 100M) with at LEAST one new friend who I keep in touch with and truly feel connected to. I'm sure it sounds strange, but almost all of my closest friends are people I rarely see offline but who I've met and shared a few hours with in the middle of races. I can bond with people more in a few hours of shared hardships in a race than I oftentimes can having nearly daily contact in a "normal" environment (like an office) over months and months.
Awesome. To think that such a sweet-looking girl is as tough as nails!
If you weren't so far away, I would come keep you company during the night for a race. It broke my heart to read how difficult the dark and loneliness become.
You have the best race reports ever! Congrats on another amazing race. I can't even imagine running that distance in one race. You're awesome!
My running blog
Goals | sub-18 5k | sub-3 marathon
It took me over 2 days to read this but I'm glad I got to the end! Amazing job!!! Sounds like such a cool community to be a part of. I cannot even begin to fathom doing this. I still think the thought of doing a marathon is crazy, let alone nearly 4x's the distance! I am in awe of you!!!
PS- I swear, swear, swear long before you said anything about thinking you looked chubby in your pictures I had been thinking how fit and awesome you looked!!!! Love the pink and purple too!
PRs: 5K- 28:16 (5/5/13) 10K- 1:00:13 (10/27/13) 4M- 41:43 (9/7/13) 15K- 1:34:25 (8/17/13) 10M- 1:56:30 (4/6/14) HM- 2:20:16 (4/13/14) Full- 5:55:33 (11/1/15)
I started a blog about running :) Check it out if you care to
PhillieFan, You are so sweet! The nighttime (early morning) is bad for me, but it's all part of the experience. At least at this point in time, I do feel that the way I can do my best is with a pacer (which I don't like to admit, haha), although hopefully that'll change someday when I accumulate some more experience. I likely won't end up with a pacer for my upcoming 100-miler, but that's okay. I'll survive.
Dave, Thanks! If it's any consolation, I can't imagine running as fast as you do for any distance!
Kristin, You are kind! Thanks for taking the time to read my report. I know the distance *sounds* crazy. And honestly, even when I look up my results in an ultra database, I'm still surprised for a moment to see "100M" anywhere on my profile because it looks weird. I really don't go out and think, "I'm going to run 100 miles and won't sleep for the next day or so until it's done!" as that would be way too overwhelming. For this one, I broke it up into out-and-backs and then aid stations within them. And I knew I only had to go out and back twice before I got my pacer. Then after that I only had one full out-and back. Then just a smaller one. I break everything down into parts. My mind can't comprehend 100 miles... but it can (usually) understand "run to the next aid station 5.5 miles away."
YAYpril - B-Plus
I've said this before and I know I'll say it again, but you're amazing. Congratulations on an incredible race.