Part 3: Finishing strong
With hurting feet and less than 30 miles to go Tom had to make some decisions on how he wanted to finish this race. Here is his recount of the finish:
My feet hurt whether I was walking or running, so I decided with 27 miles to go, as long as the trail wasn’t uphill, I’d run. Running would ultimately hurt less because it’d be faster. I held to that decision for the rest of the race.
I only had one sleepy period during the race, around 7:15 am. In past races, I’ve fallen asleep while running and even had to lie down on the trail to take a nap. I dipped my hat in the next creek, and that rush of cold water took care of it. The morning was gloriously cloudy, and my competitive side intensified. I had just covered 16 miles all on my toes, so I resolved to stick to that plan.
At this point, I was racing, passing anyone I could see. I ran the last five miles back into town in 40 minutes, which were both my fastest miles of this race and any 100M race I’ve run. I crossed in at 27:30, early afternoon on Saturday. I had made up almost 30 places between the turnaround at Jaws and the finish. 300 runners started the race, but only 134 finished, given the weather conditions. Finishing is always a team effort, and I wouldn’t have gotten there without the support I received back home and with pacers and crew on the course.
I’ve won the mental side of 100-mile races and, therefore, finished. I’ve discovered I can cramp for 50 miles. I’ve found I can run through a heat advisory. The guy who started the Leadville 100M race coined the phrase, “you’re stronger than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can.” I’ve taken that to heart. My typical mileage is not up to par with most of the racers, both competitive and recreational. I train hard, but I never feel like I’ve done enough. But I show up believing I can finish, and I do everything in my power to make that a reality. I run every race with messages of encouragement from my wife and kids in my pocket. I want to do well to make them proud. And to teach my kids, it’s possible to do challenging things with the right combination of preparation, effort, and grit.
My best advice for those looking for somewhere to start is to pick an event that sounds fun to them and sign up. Pick a 5K, obstacle race, open water swim, or SUP event. Whatever it might be. Pick that event, put it on your calendar, and work to get to the start line. Use that event as motivation to hold yourself accountable. You’re not competing with anyone else. You’re there to better yourself and see what you can do. You may finish; you may not. But you can reflect on the time you put in and be proud of that effort. Being willing to put yourself out there is already a huge step forward.
Huge congratulations to Tom for completing the 100-mile race!