2021 Ultra #1 – Neighborhood 100 Miler

Inspiration, serendipity – must be a secret link between the two. I was planning to kick off 2021 with a self-supported, use-the-car-as-an-aid-station 50K in the local trails, until I saw Katherine Fischer’s Around the Block 100M in one of the Strava emails. And lo and behold, just a week prior to the New year, the Neighborhood 100 Miler came together in a hurry. The Hundo distance has been on my mind for sometime now, but always dragged my feet waiting for some sort of calling. Here’s my Strava activity for the first 90 miles before my Ambit3 ran out of battery:

Neighborhood 100 Miler

I mapped out three different routes around my house, but venturing no more than 0.5 miles away. While the distance itself is downright nuts (tried not to think about that too much), there was a certain comfort knowing everything I needed was just a few minutes away. My wife was joking that walking the dog had to be part of this run if she was going to crew me 🙂 I’ve been running fairly consistent. About ~70 miles/week for most of this year and was confident that the body was going to come through. Having heard about the “wall, pit and abyss” on these distances, not to mention hallucinations from sleep deprivation, I have to say I was more curious what the mind was going to do.

Aid Station

I had plenty of simple carbs/sugar laid out on the drive way, not to mention layers to keep me warm through the night (low 30’s). My wife even made an aid station sign for me!

Here’re all the goodies that I had “packed” for the run:

  • Two 32oz gatorade bottles with 5 scoops of Tailwind each
    • Ended up going through 4 of them through the run
  • Pitted dates covered in coconut (from Nob Hill groceries)
    • Licked this one clean by the end of the run
  • 8x Field Roast vegan sausages, sliced
    • Went through 5 of them
  • Pringle chips
    • Finished half of a container
  • 6 pack coke (always my fav towards the end miles of an ultra)
    • Downed 4 of them
  • Half a dozen bananas
  • 3x Ramen noodles (6pm, 11pm and for breakfast)
  • Miso soup for the night in a Yeti Rambler

Every lap, I would take a sip of the Tailwind and use the hourly reminder to make sure I was ingesting solids too. Looking back, I’m incredulous that I had no cramping, bonking, GI issues nor dehydration. I was also jotting down my weight every 2 hours and it never dropped 2 lbs below my pre-run weight.

The first 25 Miles

I started right at 2pm on New Year’s eve. The weather was just gorgeous in the low 50’s and the early miles went by quick. Kept the pace around 8:30 to 9:00 min/mile and was in no hurry whatsoever. Every lap, I added to the tally on the clipboard (which became a ritual of sorts and something to “attain” at the end of each lap, especially in the later miles), took a sip of Tailwind and kept going.

Earlier in the day, my wife had reached out to some neighbors and friends to potentially join me for a few (socially distanced) laps. Of the 23:35 hours that it took, I was alone for just 6 hours or so in the wee hours of the morning. It takes a village to pull something like this off and I truly appreciated all of the company. My buddy Jens surprised me at the end of this segment and joined me for a few laps. 25 miles done in 4’ish hours and took a short break to slurp up some Ramen that my wife made.

Miles 25-50

I’m mostly a shorts-all-year kind of runner, but I went ahead and splurged on a Smartwool Base Layer to stay warm at night. I knew there was going to be walking involved in the later miles and I wouldn’t be able to maintain core temperature by just walking. It was worth it. There was a series of “handoffs” in these miles, with my wife + dog walking a lap, then my neighbor Sheri walking a couple of laps, followed by another neighbor Richard (a marathoner) running 7+ laps and then my younger son doing another 3 laps. Our friends, the Ho’s showed up as a family at some point and we were all reminded of the walkathon fund-raisers when our kids were in kinder. 🙂 A hole-puncher and “gifts” for reaching milestone laps would’ve been funny! One more ramen break soon after I finished up mile 50 around 11:00pm.

Miles 50-75 – Solo Miles

After a few solo laps, the Ho kids showed up right around midnight to walk a lap with me and to wish us Happy New Year. It was starting to get chilly and I intentionally didn’t wear my vest to force me to run more (to stay warm) than I wanted to. I think I went in for a potty break at mile 57ish and my wife had gotten the couch all ready for me to take a nap if I needed one. I was seriously tempted and had to force myself out again! Some things I remember from these miles:

  • Sporadic fireworks around the neighborhood well past midnight
  • Watching the Orion constellation transit the skies (super cool)
  • Noise from the highway making me think there was a car coming behind me
  • Double shadows of myself from the streetlights
  • The taste of warm miso soup from the Yeti Rambler at mile 70
  • Watching the body weight hold steady
  • Sips of coke + Pringle chips nudging me along on the walk/run laps
  • Obsessing on mile 75 as a milestone to get to

My mind was clear, I was focused and moving “well”, as well as one can be for this long.

Miles 75-100 – Home Stretch

One more break for miso soup at mile 78ish. Smiled at the sunrise around 6am then noticed the lights had come on in my house. My wife was up early and decided to walk with me. Temperature had dropped to 37 degrees. I was mostly walking now. After a few laps, our neighbor Sheri joined me again and we ended up going to a school nearby to walk the dirt tracks. My feet were trashed from pounding the Asphalt.

Another series of much appreciated handoffs, my older son woke up early to join me, the Sancheti’s came in around 9am, Andre and Sabine at 10:15am, then my older son again with his friend Tommy and finally the Olson’s with their dog Sutter. At around mile 90, I got a really nasty knot on my upper left calf, likely because my hip was out of alignment (has happened before). Everything else screamed of the usual ultra fatigue and tiredness, but this was debilitating to the point I was hobbling. But this far in, had to finish. With the help of everyone, made that last lap and finished in 23:35!

The Aftermath

As soon as I got into the house, crashed on the couch for a couple of hours, body depleted and shivering despite the heater. Woke up, showered and napped again. Right after a pasta dinner made by my boys, I was down in bed by 8:30pm and got 11 hours of sleep. When I woke up, the left hamstring and the left calf were super tight but slowly stretched out during the day. At this point, it’s back to “usual” post-ultra soreness. Just incredibly appreciative of everyone that came in and supported me. And a hundo checked off of the bucket list.

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