You were super fit, probably the best block of training you’ve ever had, and you avoided injury. You nailed some tough training runs and felt strong and confident. You thought a podium finish was well within reach. Your plan was to be efficient, patient, and stay hungry late in the race for a strong finish.
Here’s what really happened. You were about as patient as a squirrel on a busy highway. You were supposed to run the first 50 miles relaxed and then start racing. Instead, you got off course early on and then pushed too hard to make up time during the hottest part of the day. You didn’t respect the altitude. You didn’t really care about anything the last 20 miles. And then you finished.
Having a solid race plan is a good thing, but it’s just a vessel to hold whatever you can pour into it on race day. The real lesson here is that you don’t really know anything. You’re a newb at this. You have more learning to do.
Bighorn was crazy hot, especially for your pansy PNW thermostat. But you got wet at every stream crossing. This was huge. You managed the heat really well. If you’re racing in the heat again, get wet at every opportunity. It’s worth the small time penalty. And don’t forget to eat lots of salt if it’s hot. That’s what works for you.
Your nutrition was solid. You tried a bunch of new things in training but nothing seemed to work better than the standard. So you ate 67 gels. That fucking sucked. But it worked. You also had broth, lots of oranges, and a few bars thanks to the efforts of generous volunteers. The stomach stayed OK and you never puked. You did somehow manage to carry meager calories during a long and steep nighttime section. The resulting bonk was concussive. You licked wrappers. It was sad, and really dumb. Lots of wasted time. Always be willing to boyscout extras whenever you’re not sure.
You carried two Simple bottles the whole race. Running hands free and being quick at aid station transitions is a big advantage. Thank you Simple Hydration. The other stuff in your kit worked really well too. Altra Olympus, Injinji socks. No blisters. No fuss.
And finally, here’s the most important takeaway. In the end, racing 100 miles isn’t really about racing at all. Nobody cares about your time or place or your ego massage anyway. At Bighorn you shared an adventure with a community of amazing runners and supporters, weaving your own experience into a larger collective fabric. Your brother was there with you, driving, crewing, pacing, and continuing the long thread of running that you’ve shared together for most of your lives. In the end, running 100 miles through the Bighorn mountains was mostly about just seeing the bigger picture.
|Chillin' in Missoula before the race.|
|Now that's a tent! Setting up at the high school in Dayton, Wyoming.|
|Bighorn eve. Stormy skies to the north.|
|Race time. (photo: Patrick Donnelly)|
|Gearing up for some night running at the turnaround (~mile 50). |
|A final lesson. Next time don't bother with an elevation tattoo. You didn't look at it once.|