Running 100 Miles: What Makes People Do Things?

My husband is gearing up to run a 100 mile race. Yeah, that's right. 100 crazy-shoes miles. And I want to know why. What could possibly call you so strongly that you've gotta spend 30+ hours pounding through the mountains, despite not being able to feel your legs, remember your name, and having your sweat-glands jump-ship 20 miles in? Despite, even, the fact that your wife has informed you that if anything like death happens to you on this run, your friendship with her is over? What?

And the thing is, Honorable Crazypants Husband is not going to be satisfied with the 100 miler. You'd think he would be, but he won't. I know this because he started out doing 10 K's. And, oh! How fabulous and fulfilling were they! Invigorating. You could train for those without taking more than 45 minutes out of your lunch hour (well, HE could.) No interruption in family life. Awesome.

But wait! What's that? A poster for a half marathon? Well shucky-duckies! I could do that! I mean the 10 K? Psh. That's nothing. That's just running in a straight line for a few minutes. THIS thing? This has turns! And twists! I might even have to knock on someone's door in the course of it and ask to borrow their bathroom! How amazing would that be? But that's all I'll need. No really. I don't need to push further than that. I'll be fulfilled. And I've figured it all out: it won't take any longer to train.

That was a-stinkin'-mazing! But if I can run a HALF marathon, surely I can run a WHOLE. I mean, what is it? 13 more miles? Whatev. I run more than that just following people around the office making sure they get their stuff done. I can totally do 26.2 miles. Of course I'll need new running shoes. And more technical clothing. And a hat. Probably a jacket too. And maybe some gu, and nip-guards, and glucose tablets, and salt tablets, and friction sticks, and tape for the inevitable plantar fasciitis. Oooh! And one of those camel-back thingies, you know, so I can carry my own water. Yeah!

But I promise. I won't run any farther than 26.2 miles. I mean, why would I? This will totally fulfill me. And I promise, it won't take any longer to train.

Ohhh, but now that I've run over 10 marathons, and a 32 miler, I realize that I'm kind of tired of pavement. I mean it's just pound, pound, pound, on hard asphalt for 26.2 miles. That jars a guy, you know? That 32 miler was in the mountains. Yeah, I nearly died, but so what? That was just a fluke. Won't happen again. I'm pretty sure I could do a 50 miler. And besides, I'll be 50 next year. It's fitting that I run 50 miles through the mountains. It will only take 11 or 12 hours. No big. And they've got like helicopters flying overhead in case you drop dead get tired or something. It'll be no problem I promise. And I won't escalate it from here. No really. This is all I need. I won't do any more. I'll just be satisfied with my little life here, running around town. It will be fine. And it won't take any longer to tr–hey. Where are you going? You look kind of pink. Or maybe red-ish. Maybe you should lie down.

See? See? I survived. I did great, in fact. I am fulfilled. I need nothing more. And I'll be even more fulfilled when I run that Wasatch 100 miler next Fall. And I am not even joking because I don't joke: I will absolutely NOT run anything longer than the 100 miler EVER IN MY WHOLE LIFE. Why would I need to? I promise. And it won't take any longer to–Janiel? Where are you going? The kids? They're at school. Why? Why do you need the van and all that chocolate and that suitcase? Where are you going? Well of course my mother would like to see the kids. For 5 months? Why? Well, in theory I'm sure she'd love to see them. But why do you ask? Janiel? Okay. Well. I'll see you later tonight then. I'll have burgers on. And hey, maybe afterward we can go look at some arctic-rated jackets. There's this marathon at the . . . hon? Hellloooooo . . . . 

Yeah. So. I ask again. What makes people do things? Why don't you meet me for lunch and we'll talk about it. I'll be in Paris. For the next 5 months.

About Janiel 432 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.


  1. Oh, Janiel- I do so sympathize with your husband! And my poor husband can’t figure why I want to do it either. Trail running espcially calls to my like a Siren. Of, course, I’ve only done one half marathon in the past two years – but spring is in the air. To some people that means gardens- to me it’s – where and how far do I want to run? Good luck to you. Maybe you could get a bike and ride beside him? My husband sometimes follows be around on a motor cylce. ha ha..

  2. Yep, all the whackdoodle people can sympathize with each other. 🙂

    I have actually run a marathon and used to do my fair share of 5 and 10 K’s. But I was a dancer. Running is sheer discipline for me. I find it boring. There’s no freedom of movement or variety, and it doesn’t reach a creative climax or involve every body part the way dancing does. Most critically, there is no leaping or spinning. If I could dance a marathon, I’d totally do that. But I can’t. So I run. Slowly. And not with my husband. He has a way of making you run 10 miles farther than you ever planned to.

    I totally get the running on trails-thing, though. It’s much more fun than just road running.

    I do not, however, get the 100 miles.

  3. There’s more than one kind of marathon. I’m sure there are those wonder why someone would want to spend 2 years or more working on the same novel . . .

  4. You know, Maegan, you are right. We are in a marathon, and we are just as whackadoo as my husband. Never thought of it that way.

    Maleah – the race is toward the end of September. Not sure of the exact dates. I’ve blocked them from my mind.

  5. the hubby’s eyes light up whenever he sees a running poster with “ultra” and “trail” in the same title. for some reason the prospect of an accident, like you know, tripping over rocks and stuff during any of the 100 miles… or even the idea that they might die… becomes nothing, and looking at the race is just summed up with the words “that’s gotta be fun”.


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