Three weeks ago I ran 100 miles for the first time. It has taken me a long time to process the entire experience.
The inaugural No Business 100 was held on October 14th. The course is a single loop that starts from the Blue Heron Mining Community near Stearns, Kentucky and traverses the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area through Tennessee and Kentucky. I was drawn to this race due to the beauty of BSF and its close proximity to Nashville, making it logistically easier on my family for my first 100 mile race.
I spent most of my summer training for this race. I put in a very specific 10 week training block leading up to the race in addition to some fitness that I had built up earlier this year from training for a 50k, completing S.C.A.R. (https://cumberlandtransit.com/blogs/general/one-of-our-ambassadors-kyle-jacobson-did-the-smokies-challenge-adventure-run) and some other long adventure runs with friends. The bulk of my training was done at Percy Warner Park here in Nashville. The Warner Parks were a perfect training grounds for NB100 with all of its rolling terrain and mostly runnable trails. I also made a couple of trips to the Smokies this summer and a spent weekend in the Pisgah National Forest in Western North Carolina to keep the training fun.
I arrived for race weekend feeling fit and well tapered. I had managed to get through the summer injury free and trained as consistently as I possible could given life’s constraints. My crew (wife Sara and friends Carrie, Katie, and Ryne) arrived in Stearns for the race briefing Friday evening and then it was back to the campground to get a few hours of sleep before the 5AM start Saturday morning.
The alarm clock went off extremely early and we were quickly in the car heading to the start line. My anxiety from earlier in the week had completely melted away and I was excited about the day. From the start, I settled into a pace that I felt was comfortable and could hold most of the day. My goal was to be consistent as possible throughout the day. I didn’t want to run the first 50 miles too fast and blow up the second 50. After running for a couple of hours in the dark, the sun finally rose and the temperatures quickly started heating up. It was unseasonably warm with the high temperature for the day around 80 degrees and humidity around 80% for most of the day and night.
This is what we had all trained in throughout the summer but had really hoped not to have to race in in the middle of October. I saw my crew for the first time at the Grand Gap Aid Station at Mile 32. It was hard to tell how many people were out in front of me from the start but they told me I was in 6th overall. I felt great at this point. I was sticking to my plan of getting in around 250 calories and not worrying about what others were doing and keeping at a pace that was sustainable for me.
At the Bandy Creek Aid Station (mile 44), I had moved up to third place. I got in some real food at the Aid Station and left roughly the same time as second place. It was an 18 mile gap from Bandy Creek to Pickett State Park where I would next see my crew at mile 62. Miles 45-60 were probably the lowest parts of the race for me mentally. The technicality of the trail started to beat me down. My legs and stomach still felt solid but I couldn’t get into a good running rhythm with all the short trail up and downs and rocky terrain. I kept moving as consistently as possible and made it to Pickett around 20 minutes behind first place, Alondra Moody.
I took my time and ate a ton of food and changed socks before taking off with Ryne who would pace me for the final 40ish miles. We got to enjoy about an hour and a half of daylight before dipping back into the darkness of nighttime. The final 30ish miles in the dark are a bit of a blur. It was probably due to fatigue and darkness but these felt like the most technical and definitely the slowest miles of the course. Ryne did a great job of helping us hold a consistent pace and reminding me to get calories in every 30 minutes or so. Twenty miles later after a nasty, wet and rocky slog up to the top of Peter’s Mountain we finally got to see crew again. I still felt surprising well at that point. It is always a huge adrenaline boost to see crew and friends. I took in a ton of calories again and changed shoes and socks for a final time before moving on. Alondra’s lead had swelled to around 45 minutes at this point. We really had no idea how far behind third place (Tim Hill) was but my goal was to just keep moving consistently.
Ryne continued to do an awesome job keeping us at a consistent pace. Around 11:30PM we saw crew for the final time at the Bald Knob AS at mile 92. At that point, I was loading up on as much caffeine as possible as mental exhaustion was becoming my biggest issue. The final 8-mile stretch felt like about 20 miles. Ryne had to put up with a lot of my complaints about mileage being off and how there could not possibly be any more hills. I swear those were some of the slowest miles I have run/walked in my life. 21 hours 51 minutes and 34 seconds after starting, I crossed back over the Blue Heron Bridge and the finish line in second place. This is a finish that I am immensely proud of. Congrats to everyone who had the courage to step way out of their comfort zone and attempt such an effort on what ended up being a very tough day. Every person who gives a 100 miler a shot should be extremely proud of themselves, finish or not. The technical course and hotter than expected weather conditions resulted in a finisher rate of less than 50%.
What did I learn?
- 100 miles is a really long way (duh). It is hard to grasp the reality of that until you are immersed in it.
- No Business 100 is a fantastic race. This year was the inaugural race and it was run flawlessly by Brian Gajus and his team. Don’t let the “10,837 feet” of elevation gain fool you (I think the gain was closer to 14,000’, but that’s just my opinion). This is a tough and rugged race. I highly recommend it.
- Eat lots of food, drink lots of electrolytes, take care of your feet and keep yourself covered in ice if it is hot.
- Running 100 miles would be impossible without support from so many. My wife Sara who sacrificed so much of her own time as I was out spending a lot of long hours training this year. Friends who spent a lot of those miles on the trails with me. The Race Director and volunteers who spend so
- much time and effort making sure all runners are safe and catering to their every need. Friends and family who sent so many supportive texts and prayers. My parents who made the 5-hour drive to Nashville to watch our 5 month old daughter, Emery, for the weekend. And especially to my crew – Sara, Carrie, Katie and Ryne who sacrificed their weekend and lots of sleep to come out and help to get me to the finish. I am so grateful for all of you. The trail running community is a beautiful group to be a part of.
- Your body is capable of way more than your mind could ever fathom. Go out and chase your dreams, if that is running a 5k, a 50k, or 100 miles. You have to put in the work but anything is possible.