Here’s my race recap for the 2023 Blackbeard’s Revenge 100 miler!
Why I ran
I signed up for Blackbeard’s Revenge 100 after reading The Comfort Crisis by Michael Easter.
In his book, he describes the concept of “misogi”.
Misogi is a Japanese term that broadly means taking on a challenge that pushes you to your limits and forces you to confront your fears, doubts, and weaknesses.
I trained for this race back in 2020 and it was COVID-canceled a week prior.
Ended up doing it virtually (here’s my recap, which includes an audio journal on my now-retired podcast).
This year wasn’t necessary for redemption; I was satisfied with my virtual experience.
It was about doing something hard on purpose.
I followed a 14 week schedule that included a 50 mile ultra and two marathons.
Note: I was already in marathon shape when I began this schedule.
If you’re going from zero, you’d need to budget 8-10 additional weeks with guidance from a coach or trainer.
I ran Kiawah Island the first week of December, rested for one week (no running at all), then jumped right into this:
Yep, it’s pretty low volume but I’ve believed long runs are detrimental ever since attending a CrossFit Endurance (RIP) seminar in 2012.
Purist runner types wont have any of that but Camille Herron says so too…and she’s got actual credibility as the 100 mile world record holder!
For me, scheduling a handful of races as long runs is a “hack” that gets the job done.
As a byproduct, within this training block I BQed twice and PRed my marathon with 3:20 at Oak Island!
Ran with two other women for the first hour or so.
One of them had done this race before and gave some great advice I would use later in the day related to digestion (drink of water, then bite into solid food, let it get nice and soggy before swallowing).
Hindsight is 20/20, but the longest I’d ever gone with healthy digestion prior to this was 85 miles (during the 2020 virtual).
This time? I was able to eat and drink the entire time with no issue.
You can be as physically fit as you’d like, but if you can’t take in calories, your race will end early.
Most ultramarathoners DNF (“did not finish”) due to stomach issues or blistered feet. It’s not for lack of physical preparation.
I never once thought about this as a 100 miler.
Mentally, I split the race into 10 x 10.
Did my best to stay inside those 10 miles and not think of anything beyond.
This is a strategy that, while challenging, works every time.
If a task is seemingly impossible, break it down into smaller more manageable pieces.
The weather was warmer than forecasted- beginning around 60 degrees and climbing into the 70s.
Further, wind throughout the day ranged between 20-30 mph. And it was headwind.
Ideal? Absolutely not.
If you do this race, accept it will be windy. That’s the Outer Banks.
It would be really uncommon if it wasn’t double digit windy.
Straight up? It’s added resistance and I don’t know how you would train for it. I certainly didn’t.
Maybe pray for a tailwind??
If you run this race (or the 100K, relay options), make sure you bring your own water supply on course.
I missed this memo. Like a chump.
Alas, had the good fortune of running into crew members for other runners, who gave me Gatorade between aid stations.
My own crew, my Husband Trey and college pal Doc, were there to greet me at the mile 38 aid and gave me a water bottle to hold the rest of the race.
To this point, I had been running 9:1 run walk ratios.
This approach is called the Galloway Method and has been shown to aid recovery while producing similar times (as steady state running) in marathon and above distances.
Cute plan, bro 🤣
It all went out the window when I got to Basnight Bridge.
30 mph winds on a 2.8 mile long bridge is pure chaos!
Cars were swerving with big gusts (blessedly, the shoulder is wide).
There were bird carcasses everywhere (pelicans, seagulls, like really big birds!).
Runners were walking the whole thing and I joined them; it felt more stable.
I got through it, but was SHOOK afterward.
Got back into a groove here, but not back to original run walk ratios.
Probably 5:5 (walk:run).
Winds were still really heavy and the long stretch of sand dunes made for an interesting time.
Ever been slapped in the face by sand?
Yeah. It ain’t great.
Another f-ing bridge. 2.4 miles this time.
Terror, mayhem. Pain cave.
Anyone around heard me whimpering “make it stop” out loud the whole time.
Saw my crew for the final time of the evening, which was a mental lift.
Don’t ever underestimate what a hug from someone you love can do when you feel down.
I got a second wind when I saw the sky change colors and sun set.
It was just so beautiful and my exhaustion sort of shifted to elation.
Like, woah- I’ve been running all day and I’m still moving! What a blessing!
Changed shoes for the third and final time, happy to see my feet were still healthy.
I often get asked what I do to avoid boredom when running.
By mile 80, I listened to ten Peloton guided runs, prayed, had conversations with other participants, and listened to three audiobooks:
• Love, Pamela by Pamela Anderson – classy, eh?! Whatever, I liked the Netflix documentary and my library had it available!
• I Take My Coffee Black by Tyler Merritt – highly recommend, I laughed and cried and learned a lot. Gave it five stars on Goodreads, which only happens once every 90 or so books for me!
• The Longest Race by Kara Goucher – woah, this was juicy! I felt guilty about the Nike shoes I was wearing in that moment and, no, I won’t be buying more on principal. Read this book and you’ll dump yours too.
It was pitch black at this point and the course was quite isolated.
Wheels were falling off at this point.
When I did see another participant they were walking.
And so was I.
My self talk sounded like this:
“Forward motion, Suzy. Just keep moving”
I crossed the finish line in 24:25:49, securing 7th female and 21st overall.
The sheer distance in those conditions? Much more challenging than 2020.
Believe me when I tell you this was, by a long measure, the hardest thing I’ve ever done (and I’m raising triplets!).
It was a true misogi.
Thank you for a great event, Trivium Racing.
Next up for me? Boston Marathon!
This will be my 5th and my hope is I can heal enough to do the race with no pain.
Ruled out a fracture or tear in my Achilles with an X-ray (48 hours post race), but one of my heels is beyond swollen so I’m staying off until it feels completely normal.
Side note: this is not shocking. I knew something would happen.
I’ve retained all my toenails, but didn’t escape completely unharmed.
After Boston, I’m going to focus on strength this summer. After a 2X bodyweight deadlift and 1.5X squat.
You can find my running adventures and general ramblings on Instagram. Let’s connect!