100 miles from comfort to discovery

The distance from Baltimore, MD to Fredericksburg, Va. From New York City to Atlantic City, NJ. 100 Miles is the distance between these two cities. By car it would take about two hours to complete this trip. However I’m hoping to travel that distance through the Virginian Appalachian Mountains in under 40 hours.

In the CrossFit space, we usually operate in time domains from about 2 minutes to an hour. Anything in that time frame, and we have an idea of what to expect. We know how to pace it, and we know the discomfort that awaits us. However, anything north of that and confusion tends to set in. How fast should I go? How do I need to break it up? Wait, I need to eat too?

Many people recognize this and see it as a challenge, so most of them decide to sign up for a marathon. A race that, for most of us, will be between 4-6 hours and will expose us to a different stimulus than we are accustomed to within the walls of our box or garage. Completing a marathon is a great achievement in and of its own right, but us being the kind of people we are, the question after that is always, what’s next? Since the sport CrossFit is supposed to prepare us for the unknown and unknowable, what could be the next step into the further unknown? The ultra-endurance world answers the call.

This is where the physical and mental unknowns live, including Iron distance triathlons to 50k, 100k, and 100-mile trail races. This is what has attracted me to these undertakings. In September of 2019, I completed IRONMAN Maryland, and it was the single most physically demanding day I’ve ever been through, but I was expecting that. What I wasn’t expecting was the mental gymnastics my brain went through. I went from being happy, to sad, to confused, and even found myself randomly starting to cry about 12 hours in. The incredibly random place my mind went to was what took me by surprise. I finished in just under 14 hours.

Now here I am 2 years later, and I’m in the middle of training for a 100-mile trail race with nearly 25,000 ft. of elevation gain through the mountains of Virginia to search for that new test of the unknown. This race has a 40-hour cut-off. The race will start on a Saturday morning, and hopefully, I will move through the night and finish sometime on Sunday afternoon. My training will consist of two long runs on back-to-back days each week to acclimate my body to the idea of being on my feet for that long, and then following a rest day, the remainder of my training will be CompTrain.

I will modify the training each day depending on how I feel as the running volume increases, but I will be doing the CompTrain daily programming to supplement my run training. The extreme repetition of movement patterns will cause imbalances that our CompTrain programming will help balance out. It will also help me toe the line as a more well-put-together human to absorb the demands of a 30-40 hour foot race.

This search for discomfort has led me here, and this may check the box of giving me the stimulus that I am looking for. I’m looking to see just how far I can push my body and mind to see what the far edges of discomfort are like. I also am well aware that with finish rates typically under 60%, I may not finish this race. However, if that is what happens and I don’t complete the full 100 miles, I can assure you that I will not look at it as a failure, rather an experience of finding my current limits. And if that does happen, regardless of how many times I may say I wouldn’t try again, I’m a sucker for a good challenge.

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