Ashley Walsh and Jimmy Dean open Pandora's Box

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Scott & Don

Is running 100 mile races for everyone?  What are you getting into when you open that box to begin training for and racing 100 mile races?  What sacrifices will you need to make?

In a recent syncro-blog, a few 100-mile veterans weigh in on these and other questions.  Here are their blogs:

As we are entering the new year and many runners finding out they have been accepted into different 100-mile events or planning their race schedule, we invited Jimmy Dean Freeman (aka thick mozzarella on a Chicago pizza pie) and Ashley Walsh to discuss the reasons why they run 100-mile races.

Here are a couple entertaining videos making fun of ourselves: VIDEO 1   VIDEO 2

Be sure to listen for the “secret phrase” somewhere in the podcast, if you are the first person to post the phrase on the comments below, we’ll send you some Performance Enhancing Kokopellis.

Closing Song: “Go it Alone” by Beck

You can find us on iTunes or listen by using the player below.

Join the discussion

  • I may be the only one to make it the whole 2 hours while cleaning base boards today, but thats the equivalent of having your mom listen to the whole thing, I might not count. Marbles and Glass Balls

  • I enjoyed listening to the podcast on my iPod as much as I did participating live. Jimmy is a riot. His timing is ridiculous. And Ashley, no one is going to push her around.

    Looking forward to the next topic. Any suggestions? WE will tackle your suggestions head on~!

  • I will be running my first 100 next summer at Western States. I have bouncing off the walls every day all day with excitement and each morning I wake up like an eight year old Christmas morning, then I listened to the first half of this podcast during my 5 mile run this afternoon and you all have me in a funk thinking what the heck have I gotten myself into!!! Do I have a why? If I do is it a big enough why to get me to Auburn? What is a why? Why should I have a why? HOW DO I GET A WHY? Now I am freaking out. I am scared to continue with the second half of the podcast. I may just skip it at what Unbreakable and A Run for the Soul a few times tonight to get my mojo back.

    • Whoooow!! Slow down DT. YOU have the WHY. The excitement of the first 100 is the magic. You stated above, I am the “Eight year old on Christmas morning” and I find myself “Bouncing of the walls with excitement” THAT’S IT. Ride that wave, don’t put your feet on the ground until you reach the start line in Squaw.

      Now, when you sign up for your second, third, forth and more 100M you will have to search for another legit WHY. You will find you will qualify your new WHY with the WHY you hold today. The WHY that wakes you up and bounces you off the wall. Veteran runners will want to get around you in hope that some of “Your” WHY rubs off on them. It’s a symbiotic relationship, you need to get around the veteran runners to make sure you gather the essential intel to get your “Eight year old” body down that hill and into Auburn.

      In the meantime, enjoy your WHY. It may be the best WHY you will ever find. The WHY you hold today is THE question deep inside each one of us on our first 100M. It’s a very load voice that repeats over and over again, “Am I tough enough, smart enough, do I carry the fitness level I need, are other around me stronger, will I make cut-offs, is silver possible? Oh David how lucky you are to have such a great WHY.

      • Don, Thanks, you have calmed my fears. Well, I am still afraid because it is 100 miles, and it is going to be painful, and I want to finish really bad. I am super excited. Western States has been my dream and goal since (like Jimmy F) a friend gave me Dean Karnazes book “Ultra Marathon Man…” To read. I have been preparing for my first 100 for three years and feel blessed to have WS be my first. I now just need to do the proper training and not injure myself. Your past and future podcasts will be my guide. I already know what shirt I am wearing on June 29th, the Trail Runner Nation shirt I just ordered. Keep up the great work.

        • You may not know now, how much you will appreciate that you had this opportunity (to run “the Holy Grail” of ultra-running). I have wanted to since MAY OF 2005 and the JUNE 2013 will be the 9th States scheduled in that time (8th that happens, since 2009 was cancelled). I’ve been “to the BIG dance” once. That was the race my WHY really was untouchable. I had some of my lowest lows there (in the 108-degree canyons) but never doubted for a second that I’d continue to put one foot in front of another.

          We are ALL rooting for you. Get out there and BEAT Don Freeman!!! *wink*

          • *correction, I ran it in 2009, I was in the 2008 race that was cancelled due to fires (the only cancellation in the then 35-year history of the race).

            SOAK UP EVERY MOMENT. Especially the joyful journey in training towards that starting line. Race day will be here in a zip and then fly by. I hope to see/high-5 you up in Squaw Valley!

  • Scott nailed the most important part – MENTAL prep. Most people hyper-fixate on the physical prep and totally neglect working to strengthen the mind/thoughts. Visualization is very, very effective.

  • I listened to the podcast yesterday morning and intended to get home and write a comment. But as things go…busy as soon as I got in the door. Then a holiday party last night.

    But had wanted to say that you guys had lost your marbles…or glass balls….or Scott’s glass balls…etc.

  • This was a great podcast. I just finished listening to it while doing a recovery walk from a 50k race yesterday. I’ve recently found myself reflecting a great deal on how running fits into my life, and this podcast helped confirm its value to me.

    I just finished my 10th year of ultrarunning. I’m still young, only 27. I ran my first 50 miler, self-supported and alone, at age 16. I ran my first 100 miler at age 17. I’ve since finished 13 more. Hopefully, next summer I’ll finish the Cascade Crest 100 for the tenth time. I still don’t know exactly why I started running them and continue to do so. The best 100 mile races are the ones in which I’ve never felt compelled to answer the question “why?” Sure, the first few were about a new experience, and the challenge, and proving my endurance to myself. Those first few races shaped the person I am today. The next few 100s were about trying to rediscover the initial experience, and increasing my proficiency. After about the 6th or 7th, the question of “if” I could finish was no longer a persistent worry. It was about just getting it done and maybe seeing some new mountain scenery. The last few have been far more introspective, and they’ve been the hardest 100s for that reason. I don’t want to find myself justifying it. I want to give myself permission to stop running 100s when I get tired, but that’ll be hard to do, because it’s fundamentally been who I am for the last 10 years. Sometimes, I want not to race, just to run them for enjoyment. At my last 100 this year, some physical issues forced me to slow down considerably during the night and just focus on moving forward. I realized, after all these 100 milers, why I run them: the 100 mile experience is just so hard that, no matter who you are, you will at some point lose yourself and completely submit to the experience. For at least a few hours, the 100 miler filters out all other distractions. It forces you to prioritize severely. When I come out the other side, I find a strengthened ability to focus and put things in perspective. I’ve never found that in shorter distances. Even a 50 miler is short enough it’s possible to be distracted. Not the 100 miler. Short distances can be fun. The 100 is always life-changing.

    Can’t wait for the next podcast.

    • Phil, are you sure your not 107 years old? Those are very WISE comments. I really enjoyed reading them and being inspired by them. You are NATION! Thank you.

      • Scott,
        WISDOM doesn’t come from AGE, but rather, from perspective shaped most often by experience (but not always). Wise people always seem to be courageous and have rather good judgment. Like Mark Twain once said,

        “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”

        I look forward to bumping into you on the trails sometime, Phil. Or even running with/after you.

        What Phil would intentionally fail to mention is that in his 9 finishes at Cascade Crest, he’s won it twice and never finished lower than 5th (typically finishing in the Top 3). He’s a Cascade Crest legend, going for his 10th finish before the age of 30. And congrats on your 50k WIN this past weekend, Phil (another intentional omission).

        Scotty & Don, you need to get Phil on to talk about ultra running, in general. Or we’ll just make up a topic because he’s got something insightful and profound to say about just about anything, I’m sure. (that wasn’t meant to come across as a sarcastic crack).

        • Thanks Jimmy. if only wisdom were more easily attained. Say, around mile 25. I’d save a lot on shoes.

          It would be awesome to run with you one of these days. Gotta get down to southern California at some point.. Bringing along the podcast is about as close as it gets to making new running friends on the trail. It’s like a knitting group for the Christmas sweaters of our running lives (?) Metaphor taken one step too far.

  • This was one of the top five TrailRunnerNation podcasts I’ve listened to. Loved the format and the topic. Perfect length to help carry me through a night of brewing beer. 🙂

    Oh yes, and marbles.

  • I was very impressed with the podcast. Finally got a chance to listen to it. You guys went for all the marbles on that one. I would Love to go run with you guys. You must have stones of brass while I only have glass balls. You guys really knit together a fine podcast. Like a Christmas sweater. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • “knit together like a Christmas sweater” ?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Oh, yea, believe me. . . that is going on the sound-bite repetition! I won’t let Don live that metaphor down!

  • I have never run a 100 Miles, then again, marbles and Glass balls don’t come up much in my life either!. I am crewing for some friends in th Bear 100 in Sept 2013, loved the Podcast had a lot of fun in my car on the way to work. The “why” for the 100’s is always hard part. Not sure if my buddies have that part worked out yet!.

  • TRN,
    What an awesome Podcast, I listen to them while doing training runs and have had some good laughs along the way, and some strange looks as well, anyway I just want to say this was probably one of your best yet next to the one were one of the Freeman lads had to “take a nap” on the side of the trail.
    Keep them coming, they sure help me in some dark times.

  • I think every runner 5k-ultra faces this question. We’ve all been 6 hours into a Sunday morning run in the middle of nowhere thinking why am I out here? The why is very important for me running has become a way of life, it consumes most aspects of my life. I can understand Ashley’s point of view. To train year after year to become an elite athlete is very time consuming. We talk about the time running 20 hours seems to be where most elites hover but factor in the time spent driving to a trailhead (30 min for me 1 way). On top of that what about your time in the gym cross training, the effort you put into eating the right foods for performance, researching course profiles, researching gear and keeping up with the ultra community. I would not doubt that I come out to close to 30 hours of ultra research or running a week. That kind of time causes us all to make sacrifices. I’m blessed with a girlfriend that has not only put up with my insanity for 2 years but has now set a goal to finish her first 50k. But others who don’t have a significant other who is as into fitness how do you share that with them? How much harder is it to train at 4am on a Sunday when your other half is reminding you of everything else you could be doing. Ashley I was mad at you while I was listening to the podcast asking myself how could you come into the community and then openly bash a sport that has given my life a pretty big why. Then I sat back and realized that you came into our sport learned and grew from it and choose other priorities perhaps your wiser than all of us. However I am still resolute in my choice to run it gives me so much. I greatly enjoy showing people the trails and getting more people into the sport. Ultra running gives me and everyone else who runs these events a day to be a frickin ROCKSTAR and that is pretty cool. I don’t care is run 100 in 13 hours or if your fighting cut off your amazing in my book!

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