By Wally Azarcon
On May 23-24th, I completed my first 100 miler ultra marathon. It was a Christmas gift from my fiancée because I told her I wanted to do it and I knew I could complete it.
I only had 4 months to train for it, but working a full-time job and my fiancée being pregnant at that time, I knew it was going to be a challenge to find time to train and get the mileage I needed to prepare for a 100 miler.
When my baby girl was born in February, time got more limited to train, but I had to find a way to make it work. So I ran once a week. Either on Saturday or Sunday, I’d wake up at 3am or 4am and go run between 60-80km with a friend of mine. I felt good during those runs and my recovery time was almost instantaneous. The more I ran, the better I felt. During those training runs, I used my SKORA Form and wanted to get used to the feeling of a new minimal running shoe.
Last year, when I ran my first 50 miler, I used a different brand of minimal shoes and my feet started to hurt by 26.2 miles or 42.2km so I had to change to a different pair with more cushioning, but the pain from all the rocks and gravel had already done the damage and I ran the rest of the race in pain. I was a little worried running my 100 miler on a minimal shoe again, but I did my research and found out that the FORM have been worn by other ultra runners and have logged in over 1000kms in them with no problems.
On the day of the 100 miler I knew I was as ready as I’ll ever be especially running only once or twice a week at most, but I knew I was going to complete a 100 miles running, walking, or crawling.
As soon as the race started, I made sure to stay at the back of the pack behind all the 50 milers and the 100 miler racers. I did that because I wanted to run my own pace and not get caught up in going fast in the beginning, which I made a mistake of doing last year during my 50 miler.
I felt good running in my FORMs, they had enough protection against the rocks and gravel and still gave me that minimal feeling that I love. I was able to feel the ground and keep running without jeopardizing my running form and always landing midfoot.
I felt so good, that I kept going and going and only stopping at aid stations to grab a handful of snacks to keep my feeling of hunger satiated and replenished. I didn’t even stop for lunch, but I ran with a hotdog at one point and even ate pasta out of a Ziploc bag. I just wanted to be able to complete the race before the 30 hour cut-off time.
It was around 3 am when I was running between 120km and 140km and my pacer had already joined me for the last leg of the race when things seemed to be discouraging. Two things I failed to prepare for was how cold it was going to be and not having a good quality headlamp made for trail running. I only had a headlamp I use for work (construction) and had split shorts on. The more I ran into the dark, the colder I got and the more my lamp faded because of the cold. The cold got to me at one point that I had to warm up by a bonfire at one of the aid stations and even took a 20 min nap.
When I got up from that nap, my body almost didn’t want to cooperate with me and wanted to stay sleeping, but I forced myself to keep going. And we did! We were about 15km to the checkpoint and we decided to sleep for 2 hours and then run the last 20km in the morning.
Being back in the tent was a bit of a relief, but it was still a frigid night. I didn’t bring a sleeping bag, but my pacer offered me his and he opted to sleep under his jackets he brought.
At around 6:20am we woke up and joined the other runners on their final lap to get the coveted 100-mile belt buckles. Seeing all the other runners trudging their way through the trails was inspiring. Even through the pain and discomfort, nothing was stopping us to finish and we did it. All in all 38 out of 55 runners finished the 100 miler and I felt really accomplished completing the race. I was still able to walk afterwards and didn’t even feel too hungry or tired. I felt like I could’ve gone further.
With that being said, I have three 100 milers scheduled in 2016. I will run the Sulphur Springs 100 miler, Haliburton 100 miler, and the Ottawa 24 hours (100 miler). Those will be my main races next year with some possible filler races in between ranging from full marathons, 50k, and 50 milers. I know I can go farther than 100 miles and I hope to keep running them in my SKORA shoes!
As for my short-term goal for this year, I’m training to qualify for Boston in my next marathon in November. I know I can do it, I know I can. All I have to do is Run Real.
Wally Azarcon aka @calloused_runner
—– It has been such a joy following Wally’s training for the 100 on Instagram and we’re looking forward to seeing what else he can do!
Subscribe to our newsletter & be entered into our monthly free shoe drawing!