In the May/June 2007 issue of Marathon and Beyond magazine Gay Renouf describes a crucial lesson she learned a bit after mile 50:
... I fall in with three other runners, Paul, Paul, and Kevin, all of whom are feeling nauseated like me. Talking with Kevin, a 100-mile guru, is especially enlightening. I learn that experienced 100-mile runners don't whine about the conditions or how they are feeling. They figure out what their problem is and solve it as best as they can.
Kevin: "So, how are you feeling, Gay?"
Gay: "Ooh, not so good. Sick stomach. Hot, really hot."
Kevin: "What do you think it's from?"
Gay: "Well, I've been drinking a lot, so I think it's salt. At first, I thought it was not enough salt, but now I think it might actually be too much salt. I've been eating a lot of salty stuff, plus taking two Succeeds an hour, and that might be high for someone my size (110 pounds). Every time I wash down another Succeed, that's when I feel worst."
Kevin: "Well, what are you doing about it?"
My conversation with Kevin is a turning point in learning how to run such a long race. What am I going to do about it? Things might be bad now, but they will improve. This is a chance to solve my problem. So I start walking much more (about 50 percent), reduce the Succeeds to one an hour, and take a piece of ginger. By the time I get to the next aid station, it is almost dark, and I'm feeling pretty good. That's the secret, I figure. Get through the bad spots as best as I can by reasoning and fixing the problem, and eventually, eventually, a good spot will come. I am also cheered, as I will be many more times that night, by the voice in the darkness coming out of Coyote Camp. "Ath-a-letes comin' in. Eeee-lite ath-a-letes comin' in." Well, elite we aren't, but, yes, we are comin' in.
That's such a lovely summary of how to live when, as they always do, problems arise: figure out what's going wrong, and solve it as best you can, given conditions you face and resources at hand. "Things might be bad now, but they will improve. This is a chance to solve my problem."