Secrets To Running 100 Miles Under 24 Hours

In 2018, I made a big deal out of my goal to run a hundred mile ultramarathon in less than 24 hours. I told everyone who stopped long enough to hear: runners, friends, family, grocery store clerks, hairdressers, baristas, toddlers, other people’s pets, you name it. Would making my sub-24 loud, proud, and public hold me accountable? I seriously didn’t know.

Secret #1: Public accountability

On the flip side, there’s a TEDx talk about this (what isn’t there a TED talk about, these days…). In it, Derek Sivers (one of my favorite thinking seekers on the planet) says declaring your intent to achieve a goal often backfires because just by saying it out loud you get approval and an emotional reward. By getting your emotional reward FIRST, it is possible that you could be completely derailed from actually achieving your goal. Yikes. Derek suggests, in fact, that you might consider keeping your goal to yourself. I think both theories are right: it just depends on YOUR personality. Maybe it even depends on the goal itself.

Fighters vs The Rest Of Us

There are some folks who really truly will FIGHT and achieve that which people said they could not. Many movie plots are based on this, and it makes for a great rallying storyline. They told her no way could she be a skateboard hero, and look how she showed everyone!!! But honestly, I think there are also many of us (myself included) who take criticism to heart, shrinking under naysayers. We tend to thrive in a supportive and encouraging environment, with a literal or metaphorical crowd cheering us in all the way to the finish line.

I don’t often declare goals publicly, so this was an experiment. In a way it was casting the net wide, allowing other people to partake in either my success or failure along with me. After all, if I told no one of my goal, no one would know if I failed. My tail would be firmly planted between my legs and I’d mope around alone. Failing in public actually has a lot of tangible benefits. Humans are natural caretakers; when we see a wounded creature we want to help or at least murmur our sympathies. We are a sucker for vulnerability, and that’s not a bad trait to have.

In this case and despite Derek’s theory, I think being public worked. But only because of reason #2:

Secret #2: Luck Favors The Prepared

Stagecoach 100 2018 1st Masters woman

Salt encrusted shirts are THE BEST.

As a matter of fact, this goal of sub-24 for the Stagecoach 100, in September of 2018, was not a far-fetched goal to proclaim. I had more than a year of consistent mileage and almost no injuries to speak of. I was lean (almost too much, but that’s another topic) and at my “fighting” shape.

In the end, it DID work. Luck gave be good weather and no bodily mishaps during the event. At the end, I not only got my sub-24 but I finished 1st Masters woman (over 40) and 6th overall in the race. I felt sustainably good almost the whole way (relatively speaking for a 100 mile event), and was able to chat with and maybe even help pull along a few people. (And my fitness continued to pull me along to additional racing feats for months to come…)

Miss Tenacity: The Podcast?

Miss Tenacity, as part of my own personality, was born out of a love of trails. And the idea of tenacity has grown, as we all have, into something more expansive and embracing. This kind of tenacity is about women who run trails and often run really dang long trails. This flavor of tenacity is about athletes who balance families and societal norms and self-expectations and come out stronger.

This kind of tenacity is the community of female ultra runners and trail bad-ass women, and the friendships, trust, and knowledge that can be shared between us all. We are like a pride of lions, independent yet still cohesive. We are supportive of the group and value the accrued wisdom therein. If we function as a pride, we even recognize when the group needs to branch out and grow for its own survival.

Tenacious Flowers

And, yeah, we are PROUD of being ultra women. We’ve battled our schedules, other people’s expectations, our own inner demons, and a dozen other “maybe not’s” before we found ourselves HERE. We are runners, drawn to the self-unraveling that towers over us during long days on trail. When our emotional defenses topple in the middle of the night; when our bodies are ready to collapse in the heat of the 2nd day, THAT is when we have the chance to gather our smoldering embers and use our inner fire to finish what we started.

We trail and ultra women are special. We are like the guys in some ways: we’re tough, we are resilient, we are drawn to this strange kind of discomfort….

A long, long time ago in an ultra-world far, far away . . . One dude postulated that men run ultras because they envy childbirth. They envy the struggle, the pain, the final emergence into success and exhausted rapture. Well . . . perhaps. Could that explain women like me who run ultras and never plan to have children? Again, perhaps.

And yet. We are very different from the rest of the ultrarunning crowd, too. We need different gear, different nutrition, different attitudes. And that’s how we are coming together to make Miss Tenacity, the podcast.

Yes, you read that right. Miss Tenacity is about endurance women. It’s a thing. It’s a podcast. It’s coming.

You are your own Miss Tenacity. And I want you to be part of my tribe.