“It’s the journey and not the distance…”
my 100 Mile National Ultra Trail Race
By Jeff Boswell – Ultra Trail runner
The 100 Mile National Track and Field Trail Race is held in Huntsville, TX state park and is called Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile. I’ve been preparing for this type of 100 mile race distance mentally and physically for quite some years with races. This was my 2nd 100 Mile distance race. This year my race goals were based on a crazy goal plan: race in 3 specific Ultra distance trail races to gather points for Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) and also Western States lottery and a chance to race in the some of the most prestigious trail races in the world in 2018 as my journey. Those point races are 100K Bandera National, Rocky Raccoon National 100 Miler, and Zion 100 Miler in April. Yes, and Body Business is an integral part of my physical and mental preparation with rotation sessions of both Tribe Fit and Core classes for this journey.
Starting the year running in the the Bandera National 100K trail race in early January, it prepared me for the 100 Miler in Huntsville Feb 4-5th just a month prior. Regular runs during the week and twice a week Tribe workouts formed my fitness long range plan. At 56 years old there is always aches and pains and this year there was a rare ankle sprain I sustained one week after Bandera 100K on a trail run. One more to add and it was just 80% healed leading into Huntsville 100K. I know my body and I figured I could overcome and adapt just as I have with Achilles tendonitis and degenerative spinal disk all along.
The 100 milers are hard to explain what you go through with 3 states—physical, mental, spirit. I’ve run 20 marathons and some people hit “The Wall” at 20 Miles or so in 26.2 mile race, however in a 100 mile race you must be prepared for 3-4 walls to bust through. Their just low points you have to come out of through your mind preparation and proper nutrition and hydration. I tell people the 1st 50 miles is physical. The next 50-75 miles of the 100 is mental. But – get ready – that last 75-100 miles is your SPIRIT. It’s your inner soul pulling and pushing you beyond mental and physical boundaries and what you are capable of. For me it’s like a American Indian spirit quest sort of journey!
The race in Huntsville kicked off Feb 4th at 6:00 am and there were five 20 mile loops. Like everything in life that is a long and daunting challenge, my best advice is to break it down to small achievable sections and that’s what I did. Each loop had 5 aid stations at about 4-7 miles apart on breakdown. It’s not 5 loops, it’s 4 loops with a victory lap on a breakdown! I was allowed 2 duffel bags for supplies at stations spread out. The stations had food and water with something similar to Gatorade. It’s an eating race folks with burning 400 calories and hour. I did the 1st two 20 Mile loops in 8 hours stopping rarely at aid stations, as I run with a race vest stuffed with food nutrition bars and hydration pack. The 3rd loop, I felt some small blisters on my small toes and had it doctored up in medical tent. My ankle sprain felt fine. The tree roots in the piney woods of Huntsville seemed to keep growing taller each and every 20 mile loop. The 4th loop I can have a pacer to keep me company at night we power walked and ran. She joined me talking with me about life’s many stories. It was early during this loop I tripped up several times on those growing tree roots and sustained a right hip flexor strain. It was painful but not torn and I knew I had to “suck it up, buttercup” as I say! Thank god, I knew in my duffel bag at that next aid station I had my running poles. Like ski poles, I then compensated and adapted taking some weight off your legs and injured hip. All those Tribe Body Business work outs with Rachel and Larry had strengthened my core and shoulders working with the poles on every stride for the last 40 miles.
For the last 5th 20 mile loop, my pacer dropped off due to blisters on her feet. I continued with the sun rising and energizing my mind and pushed through the pain. I finished the 5th and final loop crossing in 28 hours 40 min and in 3rd place in my 5 year age group! My son and friends were waiting. It was special time as this was the first time for my 26 year old son to watch one of my crazy ultra-races. He placed the Track and Field national medal on my head and gave me the coveted 100 Miler belt buckle you earn when you finish 100K or 100 Milers. Crossing the finish line is overwhelming and you let go of your inner strength and emotions. I ended up fainting my friends and son said and luckily they caught me. It’s the journey and not the distance.
…Now on to next race and Zion 100 Miler preparation!
Thanks Body Business and Tribe session workouts!!!