My first 100 mile run attempt, from Long Beach to San Diego

Last Saturday, June 21, 2014, was my first 100-mile run attempt, from Long Beach to San Diego. This was a solo run, without any crew, pacers or aid stations. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, with a lot of ups and downs. Last week I wrote a post about How I Trained for My First 100 Mile Run, so I’ll skip that part. Below is a recap of my first 100-mile experience. My Strava run details can be found here.

Ultra Running 100 miles

I started my run at 2AM in Downtown Long Beach. My plan was to run all the way south, mostly by the coast, to reach San Diego. Cities in between would include Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar, Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Camp Pendelton, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solona Beach and Del Mar.

I brought along a Go Pro camera, so you’ll get to experience first hand what happened on this adventure. Here is a 9 minute recap video, sorry its pretty long, but I couldn’t leave out more clips without painting a good overall picture of this adventure.

Music by my friend Piers Baron.

RUN DETAILS
Below is a detailed breakdown of the distance and progress at each city along the way. A mile by mile breakdown can be found on my Strava.

10 miles / 16k in 1 hour 21 min – Huntington Beach
15 miles / 24k in 2 hours – Huntington Beach Pier
20 mile / 32k in 2 hours 46 min – Newport Beach
26.2 miles / 42k in 3 hours 40 min – Crystal Cove ** HR higher than I expected
30 miles / 48k in 4 hours 14 min – Laguna Beach
35 miles / 56k in 5 hours – Monarch Beach ** Feels like I’m just getting started
40 miles / 64k in 5 hours 43 min – Dana Point
43.5 miles / 70k in 6 hours 18 min – San Clemente
48 miles / 77k in 7 hours – San Onofre ** Feeling Rough
50 miles / 80k in 7 hours 17 min – San Onofre ** Half way point!
55 miles / 88.5k – Camp Pendelton ** Able to run 5 good miles
61 miles / 98k – Camp Pendelton ** I underestimated this
62.6 miles / 101k in 9 hours 23 min – Camp Pendelton ** Lowest I’ve ever been in running
68 miles / 109k in 10 hours 37 min – Oceanside ** last few miles rough, walking running
71 miles / 114k in 11 hours 22 min – Carlsbad ** Happy!
79 miles / 127k in 13 hours 5 min – Encinitas ** Playing game with myself
85.6 miles / 138k in 14 hours 44 min – Del Mar ** I’m running again!
90 miles / 145k in 16 hours – University of San Diego ** Made it to San Diego!
98.7 miles / 159k in 17 hours 33 min – San Diego ** Ouch ouch a curb, nearly there!
100 miles / 161k in 17 hours 47 min – San Diego Finish ** That was a long one!
Detailed mile by mile breakdown with Heart Rate data on my Strava

3 LESSONS LEARNED

Lesson 1: Pace Yourself, slow down!
Running 100 miles is a long way. During my Long Beach Marathon and Avalon 50 mile race, I held back at the beginning and slightly regretted afterwards that I didn’t start faster. For this 100 mile run, I projected to run 8:15 min / mile at the beginning and finish with 9:45 min / mile + some walk breaks + water stops. I ran the first 50 miles too fast, in only 7 hours 17 minutes. I was overconfident and thought I could keep that pace up, but my legs were pretty beat with 50 miles to go. Then mile 50 – 100 took me 10 hours 30 minutes, more than 3 hours slower than the first half. Don’t start too fast, if you try to shave off 1 minute early on in an Ultra marathon, it might cost you 5 minutes later in your run. My friend Jimmy warned me about this in advance and I had to experience this for myself.

Garmin watch Ultra Running

Lesson 2: Sugar and Caffeine will bring you back alive!
Taking in enough gels, food, water and electrolyte / salt pills is absolutely crucial. In this ultra run preparation, metabolic efficiency was an important part of my training. I’m able to burn body fat very well for energy, however sugar is still a very important fuel source as well. After 50 miles I got sloppy with my Gu Gel intake every 30 minutes and instantly noticed my performance go downhill, energy levels decrease, Heart Rate increase etc. I hit my lowest points at mile 62.7 / 101k and mile 82 / 132k when my glucose levels were depleted. As soon as I drank a Coke, it was if a curtain was lifted. Within 5 minutes I had energy again, my legs felt better and I could continue running again. I had never experienced this before. Next time I’d drink a Coke much earlier on.

Bonking in ultra marathon

A coke will work like magic

Lesson 3: You can achieve the unachievable
A few years ago when I ran my first marathon, I thought I was going to die at mile 20. I never thought it would be possible to run further than a full marathon, 26.2 miles. One day in 2013, after several months of training, I ran 28 miles, another day 35 miles and eventually 50 miles. When I decided to run my first 100 miler, it was a big jump up from 50 miles, however I’ve become less scared to aim beyond what I’m capable of.

The ‘unknown’ makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable and scared. Ask yourself, what am I really afraid of? When you hear your answer out loud, it is often because of uncertainty, and in most cases you don’t have to be afraid of this unknown. Aim beyond what you’re capable of and ignore where your abilities end, amazing things will happen!

Finishing my first 100 mile run

UP NEXT
Running such a massive distance was a great experience and I’m glad I did it. Thank you for the motivation and inspiration Jimmy Dean Freeman, Kate Martini FreemanCoyote friends and Trail Runner Nation crew. It’s been 5 days since my run and my body is still very sore, but it’s starting to feel better. My energy levels will stay low for a few weeks. The impact on your body and energy levels is heavy with a long recovery period.

I enjoy running fast on both road and trails. I don’t have any desire at this point to run another 100 miler, however I could see myself run another 50 miler one day because I can run a much faster pace than a 100 mile run. My next race will be the Boston Marathon in April 2015, I’d like to run it in 2 hours 45 minutes.

In July I’m moving to Holland with my wife and daughter until early November. We’ll hang out with family and run our online businesses Aika Collective and Love vs Design from there.

I’ve started writing an e-book about Running Faster with Less Effort. Also, I’ll be posting several other running articles on this blog in the next few months.

Learn much more about RUNNING FASTER WITH LESS EFFORT! Many exciting articles in the works, be the first to hear about new posts, giveaways and exclusive content.  

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How I trained for my first 100 mile run

When I’m Old and Dying, I plan to look back on my life and say ‘wow, that was an adventure,’ not ‘wow, I sure felt safe’ – Tom Preston

Tomorrow, Saturday, June 21st 2014, I’m attempting to run my first 105 miles / 169 kilometers run. I’ll start at my house in Long Beach at 2am and run down south for 105 miles to San Diego train station. The last train back leaves at 9pm, so 19 hours is my last cut off to run 4 marathons back to back. I’ll be running this solo without any aid stations, crew or pacer.

Running Map

Why run 100+ miles?! Because I want to do the things that my mind initially tells me are unachievable. I want to make this vision of running 100+ miles in one day a reality. I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with an amazing group of Ultra Runners in Los Angeles called The Coyotes. This group has opened my eyes that it is possible to run 100 miles with the right preparation and training, both physically and mentally. I don’t know how my body and mind will react after 8 hours, 12 hours and 16+ hours of running, so I prepared the best I could.

Mt Baldy
Running and hiking up Mt Baldy, the views are of epic proportion!

How I trained

When I decided to run my first 100 miler, I wanted to find out why 20-50% of runners DNF (do not finish) in many of the tough ultras. This info would come in handy for my 10 week training plan. The main reasons are:
– injury, such as twisted ankle, pulled muscle, blisters
– sickness, such as stomach issues, nausea, vomiting, heat stroke
– refusal to go on, no more energy or don’t want to run anymore
– time cutoffs

Blisters from runningA few blisters after running fast miles down Mt Wilson with old shoes and a terrible technique. Learned my lessons and I haven’t had any blisters since.

For my preparation and training I talked to a few Ultra Running friends for advice, thank you very much Jimmy Dean Freeman, David Villalobos, Michael Chamoun and Damien Gomez! I focused on 4 different areas: running high weekly mileage, metabolic efficiency, heat acclimation through sauna and preparing mentally.

RUNNING HIGHER WEEKLY MILAGE

Early April I made the decision that I wanted to run my first 100 miler in June. I picked June 21st because it would give me 2 months of solid higher mileage training, on top of an aerobic base I maintained from training for my Marathon in October 2013 and 50 miler in January 2014.

Time is often a limiting factor for me, since work and family life are priorities over running for me. I found a great way to combine family time and running time by taking my daughter on morning runs by the beach, typically 9 miles a day, 3 to 4 times a week. On the weekends I’d go out for long Back to Back runs to experience running on tired legs. For example one weekend on Saturday morning I’d run an aerobic Marathon in 3 hours 7 min at HR 149, then on Sunday I’d run up Mt Baldy 17 miles with 6k ft climb in 3 hours 39 min.

Westridge morning run

My monthly miles in the last 18 months:
January 2013 – 40 miles / 5 hours
February 2013 – 12 miles / 2 hours
March 2013 – 39 miles / 5 hours
April 2013 – 42 miles / 5 hours
May 2013 – 160 miles / 22 hours
June 2013 – 185 miles / 29 hours
July 2013 – 184 miles / 28 hours
August 2013 – 228 miles / 32 hours
September 2013 – 297 miles / 45 hours
October 2013 – 102 miles / 14 hours
November 2013 – 123 miles / 19 hours
December 2013 – 187 miles / 26 hours
January 2014 – 123 miles / 17 hours
February 2014 – 92 miles / 13 hours
March 2014 – 123 miles / 20 hours
April 2014 – 284 miles / 41 hours
May 2014 – 300 miles / 39 hours
June 2014 – 100 miles / 12 hours

Total 18 months – 2603 miles / 368 hours
More details about my runs can be found on my Strava.

METABOLIC EFFICIENCY

I estimate to burn about 14400 calories on this 105 mile run. (17 to 18 hours x 800 calories an hour). Your body can only handle a limited calorie intake and your stored body fat will have to fill in the gap, eliminating the need to overcompensate with calories. Everyone uses fat and sugar as a energy source to burn calories. In top athletes, up to 80% of energy can come from fat burning during training. If you want optimal endurance performance, you need to burn a high percentage of body fat and a low percentage of sugar. Stored body fat is the best energy source on long endurance runs.

Inspired by Dr. Phil Maffetone, I wanted to get my metabolism as efficient as possible, to get most of my energy from stored body fat to avoid bonking / running out of energy during this 17-18 hour run. The 2 main ways to improve metabolic efficiency are modifying your diet and aerobic HR training.

Eating & Drinking

I’ve cut out most processed sugars, processed foods, coffee and alcohol (with a few In N Out Burger exceptions). I usually eat 5 meals a day, breakfast, early lunch, 2 veggie shakes and dinner. I eat a pretty balanced combination of unprocessed carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. This way my body doesn’t crave sugars for energy fuel. This diet in combination with proper Aerobic HR training significantly improved my metabolic efficiency.

Weekly shopping
My grocery shopping for the week.

Veggie Shakes
Blending veggies with water or Almond milk makes it easy to eat a lot of veggies and it tastes good as well!

Aerobic Heart Rate Monitor

I’ve been training with a HR monitor for 12 months now, and most of my runs are at or below my maximum aerobic HR of 149. Over time, at this heart rate my body learned to use most energy from body fat, instead of from sugars. In the weekends I often run 3 to 5 hours (25- 35 miles) and still feel very energized when I finish. Even after completing a 50 mile ‘training run’ at HR 149 in 6 hours 42 minutes in May, I felt totally fine and knew I could run much further. My max aerobic pace has continued to improve as well, on my last 5 mile MAF test it was 6:44, 6:46, 6:48, 6:53 and 6:57 at 149 bpm.

HEAT ACCLIMATION THROUGH SAUNA

Since this long run is in the summer (June 21st), the temperatures could be anywhere from 60°F to 100+°F (15C° to 37+ C°). Since in May we already experienced 100+°F in Long Beach, so I wanted to acclimate my body to the potential heat.

I found a detailed article about benefits of the sauna for endurance sportsHeat acclimation through sauna use can promote physiological adaptations that result in increased endurance, easier acquisition of muscle mass, and a general increased capacity for stress tolerance. Acclimating your body to heat by using a sauna (“hyperthermic conditioning”) has been shown to enhance endurance by:
– Increasing nutrient delivery to muscles thereby reducing the depletion of glycogen stores.
– Reducing heart rate and reducing core temperature during workload.

In May, I joined the gym to use their dry sauna 3 times a week, first for 15 minutes, eventually after a few weeks for 40 minutes on the hottest setting. I monitored my Heart Rate on a long sauna session:
0 minutes – 48 bpm
5 minutes – 72 bpm
10 minutes – 81 bpm
15 minutes – 90 bpm
20 minutes – 102 bpm
25 minutes – 109 bpm
30 minutes – 114 bpm
35 minutes – 116 bpm
40 minutes – 120 bpm

I was amazed to see my HR at 120 bpm while sitting still. When your body is heat stressed it significantly impacts your HR. After 4 weeks of solid sauna training, I went to the desert to run some soft sand hills in 103 °F / 39 C°. It was crazy to run for an hour in this heat and it felt like it was only 80 °F / 26 C°, this heat acclimation through sauna really helps!

PREPARING MENTALLY

On these very long runs, the mind plays a very important part to continue running or throw in the towel. I’ve never run 105 miles, its very far and a lot of things could go wrong. However I do feel confident going into this run that I’ll finish. I know there will be tough spots that feel uncomfortable and painful so I’ll have to find a way to work through it.

There is going to be a strong 10mph / 16k SW head wind for most of my run and it will be about 80 °F / 26 C° between noon and 5pm, I was initially stressing about the wind, but there is not much I can do about it. “When something doesn’t go how you want it to go, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain!” – Maya Angelou

Running 5 miles is easy, so I’ve told myself to just run 21 short runs of 5 miles, that way the distance sounds way less scary 🙂 When things get very tough and dark, I sometimes start laughing or singing and it makes everything so much better! At the end of the day, having fun doing what you’re doing is one of the most important parts.

MY GEAR

Running Gear

My only drop bag is at Mile 68, a Surf Shop in Oceanside. I only want to eat and drink what I’ve trained with, so I’ll be carrying a lot of Gu gels and a variety of energy bars with me.  Around mile 40, 60 and 80 I’ll call ahead to a Mexican restaurant to prepare a bean / veggie / guacamole burrito to go.  The running route will be a combination of beach paths and side walks, so there should be enough water fill ups around.

I’m excited about this adventure and have no clue how its going to go, that’s the scary part but it will be an epic journey. ** EDIT: See a detailed recap of my first 100 mile run attempt here.

Learn much more about RUNNING FASTER WITH LESS EFFORT! Many exciting articles in the works, be the first to hear about new posts, giveaways and exclusive content.  

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER:

Consult a doctor before doing anything described in this post or on this blog. The material on this blog is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.