A new year! Woop Woop! We made it. Maybe with a few more wrinkles, but we made it.
My biggest lesson of 2014: Chicken strips at mile 150 are da’ bomb!
Okay, that really wasn’t my biggest lesson, but I’m saving my existential angst post for another day. You know, the one about growing older, getting wiser, figuring out that Oprah probably yells at her television while she is on the treadmill, too. The big lessons.
But for today, I am talking about chicken strips. And hot dogs. And quesadillas. Yum.
As promised, at Across the Years 72 Hours, I had fun (mostly – I will explain). I ran until it sucked, then I slept, and then repeated. I ate whatever was offered to me, avoided (eventually) anything remotely “runner-ish” like gels and sports drink, and chatted with anyone who was willing (and frankly, probably some who just wanted me to shut the hell up and move on). I loved every minute of it.
And most surprisingly, I won. Trust me, I’m as shocked as you are.
The first day, honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. So, with no better plan, I started running like it was a 24 Hour event – taking fluids and fuel every 30 minutes, setting “goals” (You can pee at hour 4. You can walk a loop at hour 8, etc.) And it sucked. What was going wrong? I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself about distance or speed. I was running relaxed. The weather was great. I couldn’t figure out the problem.
Then, as I was hitting hour 12, my son, Spencer, walked a couple of loops with me. I
whined about explained my dilemma.
“You know, Mom, it seems to me you’re not really having fun OR racing. You’re just hanging around in the middle. Didn’t you say this was all about having fun?”
“Eureka!” I shouted at the top of my lungs (okay, I didn’t, because he is 18 years old and getting him to walk around the course with me was a little like trying to keep a skittish deer from bolting off into the woods – one false move and I’d be out there alone again).
“You’re right,” I actually said. “I just don’t really know exactly how to do this.”
“Well, what do you feel like doing right now?”
“Sleeping,” I said.
“Then that’s what you should do.”
And with that, we bundled up my stuff, went out to dinner, and went back to the hotel. Sweet!
The next morning, I suited back up and went back to the course. I’d only put in 58 miles the day before AND I hadn’t even enjoyed them. Today was going to be different. I was going to enjoy myself even if it killed me.
And I did. And it didn’t kill me. Win, win.
I began by ignoring everything I brought with me – no more water bottles, Endurolytes, tomato juice. Nada. If it wasn’t available at the aid station or from a paper bag brought to me by family from a nearby restaurant, I didn’t touch it. I was a race glutton on a quest to enjoy the splendors of the aid station buffet. I’m not sure volunteers had ever seen anyone get teary-eyed at a hot dog before. They appeared slightly frightened and confused.
I also started running joyfully and then slowing (or speeding up) to chat whenever I saw someone I wanted to talk to. This was so much fun. I made all kinds of new friends and spent many loops whiling away the miles with the most fascinating people. I spent many, many miles running with the amazing Sue Scholl, who won the women’s 6 Day with 438 miles (Dang!). I’d heard of Sue many times before, but had never had the pleasure of meeting her. Over Day 2 and 3, I ran more miles with Sue than anyone else, and it was the highlight of my race. She is funny, bright, and a tough-as-nails runner.
Some other fun runners I got to spend some time with were Ed Ettinghausen (The Jester), Dan Baglione (the 85 year old wunderkind who ran 110 miles in two days!!!! and set a new American Record), Dave Johnston (the Alaskan Iditarod champ who is a total badass and nicest guy on the planet all rolled up into one), and Geoff Foote (a super nice guy who kept me moving towards a goal of 200 miles, just so we could say we did it). I even got to meet M, from ReadEatWriteRun, who I adore on Twitter and now adore in real life. It was a new-friendpalooza! As you can see, Day 2 and Day 3 were more of a social event than a race. Perfect.
Anyway, once I started having fun, everything clicked and I was able to run the way I like – relaxed, focused, goofily, chattily, hungrily. And when I hit 200 miles, it was with a big smile and a question: “What’s for lunch?”
Food Index (Some of the stuff I consumed over the three days):
1 hot dog
6 quesadilla triangles
3 M&M pancakes
2 chicken strips with fries
1 full turkey dinner (stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans)
3 cups of soup (chicken, potato, noodle)
tomato juice (Day 1 only)
Boost (Day 1)
Gatorade (Day 1)
2 GUs (Day 1)
Steak and baked potato
5 dinner salads with ranch dressing
Wendy’s Hamburger and fries
Taco Bell taco
Taco Bell Bean Burrito
Subway tuna sandwich with potato chips
Much of my gustatory satisfaction was a direct result of the Coury brothers of Aravaipa Running always having the best aid stations on the planet and my husband and sons being willing to bring me all the fast food I could consume in a 72 Hour period (true love).
I don’t know if I will do another 72 Hours, but it really felt good to run for fun again. The win was an unexpected bonus, but just being out there, outside, doing what I love, through the passing into a new year was a memory I will cherish for a lifetime. To new friends, new adventures, and of course, new food in the new year!