I have signed up to run GAX 100 Miles in 2022 – even though I’m far from ready to run such distance.
My ultra running experience is based on two races with 50 km (31 miles) and 45 km through tough terrain that took me 6 hours in total. That’s not enough to come even close to be prepared for a 100 miler. Usually you would at least aim for a distance in-between like 50 miles (80 km) or 100 km (62 miles).
All that is true if you want logical steps in the ultra running ladder, but is it really necessary? My thought process said no – it’s completely fine to aim for 100 miles right away and so I did (sort of).
Let’s take a look back where it all started and what happened since…
My growing interest in GAX 100
After completing Idre Fjällmaraton 45 in august 2021 I was hooked to aim higher and I wanted more. I was hungry! Maybe not straight away, but after 2-3 days when the body no longer feels that beaten down.
I never wrote a race report on Idre Fjällmaraton 45 but it’s basically a very technical race in the Swedish mountains with 1 400 m (4 600 feet) elevation over 45 km (28 miles). I remember hating myself for signing up about half way through the race. It was more technical than I had imagined with wet lands sinking my energy even when I was not heading up the mountain.
I was very satisfied crossing the finish line in 6 hours 2 minutes and proud for my accomplishment. In about 2 days I was thinking about what my next adventure would be. After a week I was even considering that going back another year would be satisfying (the human brain forgets pain way too quickly).
It didn’t take long until I stumbled upon The GAX 100 Miles and I started fantasizing about running it. It’s a local race (1 hour away with car) for me and goes through trails and landscape I’m a little bit familiar with. It’s also quite small with 100 registered runners for 2022.
It’s now September and the race would be in July, so I would have plenty of time to train for it. All slots were sold out so I was just going to train and hope I could pick up someone else’s spot when the race got closer.
In my mind a good 8 months of training could put me in a good enough shape to try running 100 miles.
I also had a local 50 km race coming up in November and another one in February (which could be upgraded to 50 miles/100k). So I went on with the goal thinking that was good stepping stones…
The unexpected speed bumps
As usually training plans never go completely according to plan and that is ok – life happens and you have to adjust.
In October I had a couple of stressful weeks related to job and I dealt with that badly, getting less sleep and still pushing my training on. I even successfully got my first training week ever with a volume of 100 km.
Unfortunately that was also when I started noticing symptoms that I relate to overtraining syndrome. Learning by previous experiences I literally stopped training, took some rest days and lowered my training a lot while focusing on good sleep and less stress for several weeks dealing with that. I also skipped my 50 k race.
November was gone with very little training while recovering from this. December was more a rebuild phase but I only got to a weekly volume of 64 km until I got influenza as a family present at Christmas Eve.
It was a rocky influenza that took almost 2 weeks to get completely rid off. I felt really beaten trying to train after that but slowly got to rebuild for 2 weeks until I got covid-19. Mild symptoms but still a week until I started to train slowly again.
The race in February was now also another DNS in my record but these are things you can’t really prepare yourself for, at least not influenza and other viruses.
It was now starting to feel like the time window to progress my running and prepare myself for 100 miles was getting a lot smaller. I made a quick training plan from early spring to the race and realized I could not afford any more setbacks.
One thing I have learnt over the years is to never create a training plan that requires perfect executions based on dreams and no room for setbacks.
After 4 weeks of training after covid-19 I got sick again. Fever, coughing and other symptoms… I was gone almost 2 more weeks.
At this time I was thinking that it was good that I never got one of the spots.
GAX releasing 30 more spots…
A few weeks later when I had more or less given up on running GAX 100 this year, the organizers came out with a message about releasing 30 more spots for the race.
At first I didn’t want to register for the race as my planning had gone so wrong and how could I possibly prepare for 100 miles!? It’s too late and I have my recurring problems with pain in tendons over the knee and in the calf. It’s just not worth it…
But the thought grew on me and I eventually landed in a new conclusion. How about trying to run the race even though it’s very likely it will end in DNF?
Very few people run their first 100 miles and it goes exactly according to plan anyway. Energy intake, stomach reactions, mental challenges and so on is hard to predict beforehand. The experience you get from running longer is very valuable for future races. Why would I assume that I can’t start a race even though DNF is very likely?
So I started thinking if it would be possible to train and be in good enough shape to feel like half the distance (50 miles) was doable. Could I reach a point where I felt it was likely that I would reach 80 km? It would be a 60% increased distance record for me – not a bad personal achievement at all!
As you might have guessed, I ended up thinking that it might actually be possible. During the registration process I bailed out though. I thought that maybe it was better to just pick up someone else’s spot a few weeks before the race and don’t feel pressure by being registered.
I went out and when I rechecked all the spots where taken – making the choice easy for me… until I checked my mail where a reminder of finishing my registration in the next 30 minutes or losing the temporary hold on it…
So I’m now obviously runner 100 out of 100 in GAX 100 Miles 2022… 🙈
My goals for GAX 100
My mind can’t deal with a scenario where no goals exist for a race. Ignoring that fact would just end up fooling myself into getting goals based on dreams or worse…
So yes I have goals for GAX 100 and I’m going to share them with you now when it’s about 6 weeks left to the race.
I tend to push goals forward and that’s a problem. Let’s say I would aim to run a 10 km race in 45 minutes but during my training I realize that maybe there is a small chance of doing 44 minutes – at that point I move the needle and my goals. This can repeat itself and it’s very likely that I would be disappointed in the results even though I beat my original goal – a goal I no longer remember. Do you know what I mean?
I share these goals publicly so I can’t change them that easily. And they will stay here to remind me about what I’m actually aiming for.
- I aim to beat my distance record of 50 km
- Get as much experience as possible while doing so
- Reach drop bag 2, half way point (50 miles / 80 km)
- If no worrying pain, continue on from that
- Reach 100 km
I can’t really imagine running further than 100 km and I would be surprised if my body allows me to even reach that. I fear that my joints and tendons will start to ache with a pain slowly increasing to a point where I fear injury. I won’t be able to shake that feeling and my knees and calves have reminded me of that this spring as well.
I’m hoping to reach my secondary goals but that is as far as my plan goes – everything else must be a bonus.
DNF is something that I for the first time will have with me as part of my game plan. Whatever happens, I will try to have fun and enjoy the journey.
I found my love for running in early 2016. Since then I have used social media to get inspired and eventually inspire others. I have continued to use running as a great way to stay in good mental and physical shape. I have also found out that I’m apparently mortal and can get injuries.