I had an incredible experience running the Buffalo 100 last month. The race threw a few curve balls at us with severe wind and cold temperatures to deal with, but overall it was an awesome experience and you can read my full trip report here on Refuse2quit Buffalo 100.
I have now had 3 weeks to fully process the race and I have given it a lot of thought. There are so many things that have run through my mind and I'll share a few of them:
What I could have done better:
Looking back I realize that I wasted so much time at the aid stations even though one of my goals going in was to do the opposite. Some of that was due to the weather, but I wasn't very efficient with my clothing and gear and lost several minutes messing around getting in and out if tights, gaiters, shoes and all of those tasks become much more difficult when you're cold and getting stiff. I really should have left my tights on for the whole race and limited my first long stop at the Start/Finish aid at mile 19. I believe I would have come in closer to 9:20-9:30 on the front 50 without all of the gear stops. I spent 40 minutes alone on the front 50 at aid stations messing with my clothes or trying to warm up as a result of that and I'm sure being cold slowed me down on the Mountain View trail
I need to do a better job of pushing myself. On the back 50 I got too comfortable hiking the hills. I told myself I was saving my legs, but looking back I wish I would have pushed it a little bit harder. I also spent way too much time on the back 50 trying to get warm at aid stations. I could blame the weather for that, but the bottom line is I didn't push hard enough and wasn't mentally as strong as I should have been.
What I did well:
One thing I have learned to do very well is compartmentalize the race into sections from a mental perspective. I break the distance down into 5-6 sections that I know I can complete. Before the race starts I think about everything I want to accomplish during those sections, what I need to do and then prepare as well as I can to get it done. 100 miles is just a long distance and there are so many things that are going to come up that you are not expecting or planning on, so getting yourself in a good mental place is imperative in order to keep moving forward. Inevitably you are going to have issues that come up. Something is going to start to hurt and if you start thinking something like "I can't do this for 60 more miles" you are setting yourself up for a DNF. A good example of this for me in this race was my low point at mile 38. I was very cold and my knees were really starting to bother me. I came into the Lower Frary aid station to change my clothes and one of my pacers, Nate was waiting there for me. I talked to him after the race and he said that I looked horrible and he was thinking there was no way I would be able to go another 62 miles. It kind of shocked me when he said that because at the time I wasn't even thinking about going 62 more miles, I was thinking about getting warmed up, getting back into a good rhythm and making it to the 50 mile mark where I could pick up a pacer. To me I was only thinking the next short section and when he saw me 6 miles later at the next aid station he said I was a completely different person and at that point he knew I could do it.
I also think I did an excellent job of fueling and hydrating. I felt like I had energy the entire race and I never felt bonky at all. I would eat 1-2 gels between each aid station and then eat whatever I could get down at the aid stops. I mostly ate salted potatoes, cookies and Mountain Dew. I only used one water bottle the entire 100 miles that would top off at every aid stop.
What really sucked:
The wind and the cold have been talked about ad nauseam and for good reason. They were horrible. I can make excuses about how they cost me my sub 23 hour goal, but in the end every 100 miler is going to have unforeseen challenges and you just have to get over them and get it done.
My knees hurt. I haven't had any knee issues at all in the last two years and I certainly wasn't planning on having any out there, but I did and it really made this race more challenging for me.
What was really awesome:
The race. Jim Skagg's puts on an excellent race. It is very well organized, a sweet course and a really fun event to be a part of.
The volunteers. Wow! I can't say enough about the volunteers out there. Bart and Jason at the Elephant Head were incredible, Sarah McCloskey helped save me at mile 38 and all the other volunteers were outstanding as well.
Having my family there cheering me on and seeing me finish.
My pacers. These guys took a day out of their lives, froze their butts off and helped me in so many ways out there. I can't thank them enough and they helped make the 100 miles awesome.
Here are a few pictures from the race:
|Kristel, Craig, me and MattVH|
|The only time I could 'hang' with Metlzer|
|Me and my pacer Nate at mile 50|
|At mile 93ish|
|Finishing with my pacer, Rob and daughter, Julia|
|Me with my pacers and the buckle|