Running Misadventures

(July 7th, 2014)

Today's guest blogger: Matt Russell

Four years ago I ran completed a 50-mile ultra marathon. Now, one of you is probably thinking, “Wow that’s quite an accomplishment.” The rest of you, more appropriately I might add, are thinking, “Wow, you’re quite the idiot.” In the spirit of long distance running and helping Andy out with his blog, I decided to use my guest blogger status to recount my thoughts and experiences during that “race” for you, mile by mile, so you can smile at the misfortunes of myself and others of similar sub-optimal intelligence. The event in question took place in October in the Texas hill country and was my first ultra. Needless to say, I was undertrained and ill prepared.

Mile 1: it’s very early in the morning and very dark and the route starts very uphill, complete with large rocks and cactus. Confusing and scary and lots of people are going pretty fast.
Mile 2: someone points out that my shoe is untied, unaware that I intentionally left it untied as an additional challenge.
Mile 3: it’s starting to get light. Which is great, because my headlamp is not helpful in avoiding whatever kind of razor plants they grow in Texas. I think my legs are bleeding.
Mile 4: basically the same as miles 1-3 but without the headlamp.
Mile 5: make it to the first aid station and triumphantly sign in. It feels like this should be the end of the race but there’s still 45 miles to go. 
Mile 6: wishing I were still at the aid station.
Mile 7: starting to warm up, take off my jacket.
Mile 8: getting in the zone, feeling good.
Mile 9: I can do this all day
Mile 10: second aid station. I drop off my jacket and forge on, confident that the remaining 40 miles will be as easy as the last 5.
Mile 11-15: probably the best part of the race, not too cold, not too hot, feeling like I’m actually prepared for this race (probably because I basically only trained to run 15 miles…)
Mile 16: well, the good feelings are gone
Mile 17: clothesline myself on a metal cable strung across the trail. Why wouldn’t there be a metal cable at nose height?  Now my legs and nose are bleeding.
Mile 18: looking for good cliffs to fall off of so I can honorably withdraw from the race.
Mile 19: turn on the iPod.  Bruce might have been Born to Run but I sure wasn’t.
Mile 20: oh great, only 30 more miles, should finish within the week…
Mile 21-24: still looking for that cliff but only finding more fist size rocks, razor plants, and not an inch of flat ground.
Mile 25: finally, the halfway point! Also it’s hot now. Things are not looking up for the second half.
Mile 26: feeling rejuvenated from my quick rest break at the halfway point. Not immediately daunted by the fact that the course is 25 miles one-way so I now have to run the exact 25 miles I just ran in reverse.
Mile 27: starting to feel daunted by the fact that the course is 25 miles one-way so I now have to run the exact 25 miles I just ran in reverse.
Mile 28: why couldn’t they find a 50-mile loop out here in the middle of nowhere?
Mile 29: seriously this is feeling like deja-vu all over again…
Mile 30: feeling pretty sorry for myself, iPod goes back in. Realize that I should have put more than one song on said iPod. Change the lyrics to Streets of Fire to Feet’s on Fire in my head. Check and make sure my feet are not actually on fire.  Not necessarily to relieved to see that they aren’t.
Mile 31-34: a bunch of really dark moments that I don’t like to remember. Dark in the terrible sense, not because of lack of light.  The sun was still up.
Mile 35: sit down at the aid station, huge mistake. Have to walk for a mile until my legs work again.
Mile 36-39: walking is becoming the predominate mode of transportation.
Mile 40: man it’s late in the day. How long have I been doing this?
Mile 41-44: the last “dark” place in the race as the sun disappears. I’ve probably earned a good three or four months off from working out after this…
Mile 45: annnnd the sun is officially gone but the razor plants are not. Time to pull out the headlamp.
Mile 46: mentally moving on from exhaustion and defeat to a sort of gallows humor view on the whole thing.  Four miles seems really far.
Mile 47: encounter a group of women going the opposite way because they already completed 50 miles and are starting their third loop out of four to complete the 100-mile event. Not feeling super manly.
Mile 48: realize that the third person my training partner and I are running with is not an illusion but another poor, below-average-intelligence soul like us. Glad we’re not the only two imbeciles stumbling through the night out here.
Mile 49: we’re actually gonna finish this race. We’re awesome!
Mile 50: we’re finally finished. Official photographs and medals with a lizard on them. Hard to top that as compensation for destroying your leg muscles, possible kidney damage plus facial and leg lacerations.
Mile 50 + 1 hour: back at the motel. Realize room is on second floor. And this isn’t a nice, ADA compliant motel with an elevator. People in the parking lot stare at grown men pulling themselves hand over hand up a stair railing. Too bad no one took video.
Mile 50 + 15 hours: multiple people in a restaurant ask me what happened as I limp and stumble from the table to the bathroom and back.
Mile 50 + 2 days: I am neither a doctor nor an X-ray machine but according to Web MD I have stress fractures in my feet.
Mile 50 + 2 weeks: that race was easy, we should do that again!

Thanks for reading, happy trails and stay light on your feet!

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