Whites 100 FKT. Big Pain. Based on official AT distance, this is 100.6 miles. I imagine that’s like wheeled distance? Maybe GPS just doesn’t work on such thick forested terrain with such windy kinked trails? Or this is actually 90-95.
This was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Someone will eventually go sub 24 but that’s going to be so heinous. Because I haven’t ran a race effort since my previous attempt in the fall, save a couple of short efforts in October/November, I really didn’t understand how this would feel or how to pace it properly. I stuck well with my splits until they were untenable. They were just very fast. I underestimated how hard sub 24 would be.
Last time this effort was thwarted by trench foot, this time I did sock/shoe changes at Washington (31) and Liberty Springs TH (69). Feet felt fine.
I most probably came out too fast, but I am not sure how much that affected my finish time. Towards the end, I could still climb well on steep terrain or run well on the flats, but technical downhills became extremely difficult. I just lacked the strength in my quads to control the impact, in my hamstrings to plant my foot well, and in my stabilizing muscles to keep everything together. It was incredible to watch my last pacer, Jordan Fields, effortlessly bomb down sections I had to hand over hand lower myself down. Fortunately, I only fell once on the entire effort, and that was into my pacer while getting some aid.
Another factor I poorly anticipated was the heat. Because I trained mainly in the spring and always without a vest, I had like 0 heat acclimation. I think the high on Washington was 54 and it was like 75 at 1200 ft. Super intense heat coming off the sun. Osgood climb was so awful it was unbelievable. No joke a wind out of the east and I was heading west, so clouds were moving with me. There was single hole/small break in the clouds that just hovered over me for about an hour going up Osgood. I ran out of water and almost died lol. Below treeline so no wind but no canopy directly over the trail so I just roasted. Fortunately, I was able to commandeer a trash gatorade bottle from Madison to give me enough water to get to Washington. Always got ice in my vest starting at Washington and that was a game changer.
Another problem was my nutrition. I planned to eat 100 calories every 15 minutes. Three Maurten per hour, one Muir energy per hour, and 100 calories of Tailwind coming out of each aid station. Every other Muir 90 mg caffeine. I just became so sick of the Maurten. I never got sick but I wanted to vomit every time I forced one down. I ended up mixing in some GoMacro bars at the end, some ProBar gummies, honey stinger gummies, and it was all good. In the future, I will just mix it up way more. Also, I think more caffeine.
Something that kinda ruined the whole experience was the fact I let this route/distance really get in my head. I was so intimidated the in the couple days prior and all throughout the effort until I got to Galehead/mile 58. I think part of that is better coping strategies, part of it is just running farther speed efforts.
I think I may have benefited from more running volume going into this. I’d say relative to October, I was a worse runner yesterday but a better climber. Which makes sense cause all I did all winter was climb. A couple of extra weeks at peak volume (26 hours/110/35-40k gain outdoor gain) would have been beneficial.
As much as I want to lament poor pacing of the effort (going too hard in heat) and less than perfect training, I think I was more lucky than unlucky. First, Jordan was only able to pace this last second, he ended up being huge. Second, I never fell, only once I tripped into Kelsey when she was giving me some candy. There were some more lucky breaks but those are the two I can think of.
Huge thank you to my crew:
My parents who drove up and met me at every aid station (minus Galehead)
Andrew Drummond was huge and was such a supporter for this effort. Ran with me a ton of sections while filming, gave me aid he randomly had on him, helped me so much in the weeks/months prior.
Zach McCarthy was going to pace but broke his collar bone. He instead managed crew from afar and managed my social media.
Ben Judson paced me from the start to Pinkham
Larsen Ojala from Pinkham to Washington
Will Peterson from Washington to Wiley
Kelsey Rex from Galehead to Liberty Springs TH. So great seeing her after crossing the universe from Wiley. Collapsed and sobbed on her for like three minutes coming down Liberty.
Jordan Fields from Liberty Springs TH to the finish. Jordan was incredible. I had no idea how much a good pacer could enable success. He muled all my nutrition and just was so on top of the game.