So Crabby has coerced... er, let's say "invited" another fun and inspiring blog commenter to share a fitness adventure. And yet again, it was an exciting aspiration to which Crabby herself would say "hell no!" The Jackpot Ultra Marathon is not the sort of thing one approaches in a half-assed fashion, and Crabby rarely employs her entire ass unless absolutely necessary--being chased by angry bears or pursuing fleeing cupcake vendors are the only situations that come immediately to mind.
Anyway, wanna hear how it went? This is the first guest post by UltraKaz but, I'm sure hoping there will be more in the future! UltraKaz has commented on the blog as Anon, and briefly as Janonymous, partly because I poked her with a large pointed stick until she de-Anonyfied herself but never mind that part.
Please welcome... UltraKaz! --Crabby
Don’t mind me… just horning in on Crabby’s territory momentarily and only because I did something recently about which I wish to brag publicly and she has graciously provided the platform.
This thing I did is something I’ve barked out to total strangers in the grocery store, such is my over-the-top pride about it. I ran 100 miles. All at once. I’m 60 years old.
I sure didn't do it alone and I didn't do it without TONS of help, support, love and good wishes. So, did “I” really do this? Maybe not so much and maybe that’s the best part of all! Along with the fact that my sister and I ran this together along with every step of the training that preceded it.
The good juju began even before we got to the start line when we bumped into Cory Reese – aka “Fast Corey” at the packet pickup! I like to call him Mr. Nice Guy, because he is.
Some of the pictures you’ll see here – like this one - were taken by him. Contrary to anything he might say, he actually IS quite fast, having run the entire 100 miles in 22 hours and change!
So – now, off to the actual start of the race! You know that saying “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”? Well, not so much this time.
These lovely ladies were kind enough to show up at the start of our event and really give it that certain “je ne sais quoi”.
As with any athletic endeavor, there is training. And there’s staging!
What we may have lacked in actual training, we made up for in ORGANIZATION! I was pretty diligent in the labeling of things, and my sister came up with the idea of a table cloth, which she also spent time actually wiping off. Gee - are OCD tendencies genetic?
Other wonderful people offered genuine encouragement and real help just at the right times and in unexpected and meaningful ways both as we prepared for this endeavor and during the event itself. I just hope they all know who they are and that they have my heartfelt gratitude!
Here’s just some of the great stuff that popped up along the way:
Can anyone say “cheesecake”?
Yes, indeed… this was THE perfect serendipity of burning evil food / calories off
even as they were ingested. Does it get any better than that? I think not.
But, wait! What the heck are HEATERS doing out in the Las Vegas desert?!
Because it is actually very nice to huddle under these in the middle of the night when it got
cold! Cold enough to layer on jackets, hats, gloves, space blankets fastened in a kind of
sarong style and even garbage bags to stay warm. Quite the fashion statement, yes - and
no, you won’t see any photographic evidence of THAT.
Speaking of comfort…
Speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
Maybe you've heard that hallucinations are common for folks doing ultras? That’s true - but this ain’t one!
Meet The Jester – Ed Ettinghausen. This fellow has completed a bazillion of the gnarliest ultra marathons on the planet. All in this outfit.
Here he is cranking out 100 miles after doing 2 other 100 milers and a MULTI DAY during the preceding month and a half. Plus, he’s a really nice, friendly, encouraging guy. I don’t even know what to say about that.
Apparently the race directors sensed that a few of us whiners, slackers and slightly less stalwart types would hit some rough patches….
And if that wasn’t enough to keep folks putting one foot in front of the other, check this out:
Just when the day was feeling long and old – these great kids showed up and cheered
on every single runner. What if this happened to each of us in every day life?
While there WAS a boat-load of support, help, cheer and love along the way – the fact is that I did perform the actual moving/running part and it was no small thing. Here’s what the heels of my shoes looked like after 100 continuous miles:
What I found out in the wearing down of those rubber soles is that the joy of a big accomplishment is so much greater when it is shared. I’m sure other people probably discover this at a much earlier age. Still, at least this realization has now finally sunk in to my bones. Think Grinch - when he finally gets it.
Of all the stuff I could write about this experience of running 100 miles (and believe me – I’ve started a veritable encyclopedic opus in my head on just the factual aspects), it still inevitably comes down to the fact that I sort of rode in on all the help I got from folks I love dearly, from folks I know and from strangers, and from people I now still only sort of know.
Really – right now, the happy after-glow is as much about everyone and everything that got me to the finish line - which looked like this:
Oh – and did I mention that my dear sister was WAY ahead as she charged up to that finish line, and stopped – yes stopped - and WAITED for me so we could also cross the line together? There are no words adequate to describe the meaning of that gesture for me…. and it was simply an example of how it was all along the way.
It was like this, too:
We didn't even KNOW these folks before the race. After finishing off their OWN 24 hour and 100 mile races, did they go chow down and turn into bed for well earned rest? No. They came back to cheer us (the almost very last placers) in to the finish line!
And despite all this wonderfulness, I still got grumpy, cranky, surly and downright awful to be around at times and I’m not bragging to total strangers in the grocery store about THAT. I was hoping the memory of those moments might disappear from my memory once I crossed the finish.
But, no. Much like the blisters acquired during the race, they are still with me. I am still me. And I still react certain ways under stress. I’m also guessing this is kind of normal. We sometimes get cranky when tired.
Much as in real life, apparently, there are times when it doesn't take much to set me off. One time I fumed silently for almost a mile because someone (another exhausted racer) jostled me ever so slightly at the water table causing me to get my hands wet. Sheesh – really?! Another time, I was simply not in the mood for company, and my sister asked me a simple question. She wasn't looking to tell me her life story or even wanting any actual conversation. She just asked a really small question and I snapped back at her like a highly stretched rubber band. And then the Garmin acted up a little. The list goes on and on… and includes my rather stubborn and dismissive reaction to folks who offered what was some truly helpful advice, (“you need electrolytes”) which had I actually listened to and acted upon would have immediately helped. But, no. Of course I didn't. I knew better!
With any luck, though, I've gained some humility and a thicker skin (figuratively as well as literally) and will be better able to tolerate those small inconveniences (aka – actual human interactions) that set me off before and listen to helpful advice when it’s offered.
Yes – I still am hugely and unabashedly proud of this accomplishment. AND, still grateful beyond words for the love, support and help I received along the way.
Many who have done a 100 mile run or ultra marathon talk about it being a life changing experience. I didn’t so much experience that singular moment during this run. But I suppose the insights that it’s so great to have all that unsolicited, freely given love and help no matter how insufferable I become along with realizing that I need to work on rounding off my edges a bit might qualify as slightly life changing? Or, will if I remember and act on this information.
What about you? Do you have something huge that you've accomplished, a dream realized where there were unexpected, wonderful benefits or unintended consequences?