March 06, 2014

Crabby Hits the Jackpot: Cranky Readers are Ultra-Awesome!

photo: sexy77beto

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

By UltraKaz

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?


  1. Replies
    1. Uh - I would add that YOU are pretty amazing, OTF! I've loved reading your comments here at 'Crabby's Corner' :)

  2. AWESOME race report! You perfectly captured the highs and lows that come along with these races. I still can't fathom that a human being can stay in continual forward motion for 100 miles. Just incredible. It was great to see you guys at the race. Huge, huge congrats to both of you!!!

    1. Well, Cory - coming from the Zen Master of terrific race reports, I consider that high praise! Oh - and - readers... just know that Mr. Reese has not only done this feat repeatedly (and under more challenging circumstances) - he remains kind, funny and inspirational. Plus - I can usually find him in the Hostess foods section of the store closest to a race venue. Gotta love that!

  3. that is so totally awesome! And I love that you're 60. It gives me so much to look forward to if I get my own butt in gear. Reading this was fun.... like the books like climbing Mt. Everest that I'm addicted to. I have no desire to ever, ever do it... but I'm so fascinated by it and by the people who do it. It's just mind boggling to me to run for so many hours... How did you feel 3 days later? How many massages did you get?
    Oh, and I've wondered and wondered about who the lovely "Anonymous" was while reading comments here. Thanks for the reveal!

  4. Dear tree peters - If you loved that I'm 60, you'll REALLY like this: my dear sister is 5 years OLDER (still looks younger than I do), is faster and I suspect overall fitter! Unlike me, she stayed 'nice' the whole time we were out there, too! No massages after - but I did use the Stick. We felt great after 24 hours (but you should have seen us trying to walk before that mark)! After that, occasionally tired in a hard to explain way (kind of like jet lag: not all the time, but would sneak up suddenly and we'd want a nap). We also lost our taste buds a bit for about 24 hours (they came back). Thank Crabby for the reveal encouragement :)
    UltraKaz (and, as you can see, I still don't know quite how to de-anonymize my replies without typing my nom de plume underneath :(

  5. I can not even imagine running until my shoes start to wear down. Yikes!! When I go hiking and I get a blister it is time to get out of the woods. I have been on a few of those hikes where you are done and you are 10 km from the car. We call them death marches and we have rules about how to proceed so that there is no permanent damage to bodies or relationships.
    Good on you and your sister that you can tough your way through this.

    1. Dear Cindy -
      Everything's relative, yes? I have days when 10 STEPS are daunting. Really. And sometimes discretion really is the better part of valor where making the decision to not inflict actual, more permanent physical harm is the best choice. Sure would like to hear about your rules! (So maybe I can steal a few...) Don't worry so much about the shoes. I tossed that pic in for dramatic effect. The shoes were actually right on the cusp of being ready to "go", but new ones hadn't been secured yet - so..........

    2. I know those 10 steps they are between the bed and the bathroom and are littered with cat toys and a critter that wants attention NOW!

  6. You are AMAZING, AWESOME, INCREDIBLE and my new hero!!!
    I want to do a 100 mile race but I don't know if it will happen. I attempted a 50 last October and it was an epic fail - I'm trying again in about 2 months!! I'm hoping that everything I learned last time will help. Maybe then I will try a 100 - want to do another????

    1. Gee, Kim - talk about heroes! YOU YOU YOU !!! And, every freakin' day, to boot! Just so you know, it took us a number (won't say how many) of tries at the hundo to get it done. We went in naïve and under-trained those times, but still had fun. The first 50 miler we did (again, it took some trying) ended up being the big confidence booster needed. So - go for it again with gusto in 2 months and let us all know how it went, ok? And - yep, not only WANT to do another, but already signed up! And - get this... it's for the previously elusive 100 miler we will now nail :)

    2. Another?? Ok - let me conquer this 50 and then I'm going for the 100. Now, I just need to find someone crazy enough to sign up with me - I think a partner would help!!

  7. Death Ride GrandmaMarch 6, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Wow! Congratulations Janonymous/anonymous/UltraKaz!!! I have met a couple of people who have run 100 milers and I just cannot imagine how they do it. In fact, I saw one of them at a meeting the day after, and he looked sort of skeletal. Yikes. And you're going to do it again? Amazing! What an accomplishment.

  8. Thanks so much, DRG! You and your exploits have helped keep me motivated along the way, I hope you know! I had trouble imagining doing 100 miles too - before it happened. Me - not so skeletal. In fact, I gained weight. Ah well - less cheesecake next time :)
    PS - There's been far too little mention by me of the influence Crabby has had in all this. She did. Still does. Same goes for that sister of mine!!!!

  9. Reading this post just solidified I've done nothing. Thanks. Crawls back in hole.

    1. No, no! No crawling into holes, please! In my opinion, the REAL challenges are the ones we don't choose, but have to endure nonetheless. Sadly - no medals or ribbons or cheerleaders are present for those moments in life.

      The tough stuff, the grit and determination and stick to it stuff comes to play when the list of demands for attention, time and engagement seem never ending and still we don't get a break. Those moments when we think "Please - not one more thing!" and bam! One more thing. Of course. AND it derails anything else nice we might have wanted to do for ourselves.

      Also, SB - what you don't see in this write up are the days I just said phooey and DID crawl back onto the couch. AND I read about others doing all these wonderful things, so I felt like a complete slug and utter 'failure'. I feel that way still when I hear about all the volunteer things that people do and sort of compare myself. So numerous were the times I did NOT workout that it took quite some time and more than a few swings at this stuff before I hit any marks.

      So, how about we hop off that bus right now and just admit we're already wonderful right this moment? :)
      PS - you already have one up on me for knowing how to blog AND de-anonymize yourself when posting!!

    2. Crabby McSlackerMarch 6, 2014 at 7:17 PM

      I'm with UltraKaz, SB, there are every day "heroics" that don't get officially recognized but are really, really important!

  10. I read so much about these ultra runs on the Hoka FB page since I wear those shoes - so friggin amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have enough probs running 7 miles! ;) Thx for sharing with us!!! CONGRATS!!! AND, thank you for your kind comments to my guest post!

    1. Thanks, Jody!! I gots a lotsa Hoka love, too! I alternate between Hokas and Atras (ok - I'm schizophrenic).

    2. ALTRAS! ALTRAS! ALTRAS! Dang - forgot that "L".

  11. Crabby McSlackerMarch 6, 2014 at 7:13 PM

    So sorry to be late to the party, but I am just in awe of this accomplishment! And of the wonderful people who I'm somehow lucky enough to have gotten to know through this blog. What a supportive fun bunch of people!!!

    I think there's a real difference between heading out for a walk or run or bike or hike and it's fun and pretty and you think... "wow, wouldn't it be fun to just keep doing this for hours?" Versus what it feels like once you're tired and over it and it's only been an hour. So in my IMAGINATION, I might want to do a long-distance trek or ride or run, but the reality is, I only want the fun part and the fantasy that it might continue to be fun.

    So those people who keep going for hours and hours and hours? I have nothing but awe and respect and congratulations.

    1. Thanks, Crabby! I sure appreciated the opportunity to come over here and toot my own horn with such fabulous folk!! Alas, I need to pull the plug on the tube as the day's end approaches. Thanks again, everyone, for this wonderful experience!

  12. You are an inspiration! Next time i don't want to finish that last lap or bit of the exercise video, i'll think of you and do it anyway.

  13. I can't even imagine achieving something so awesome!!! UltraKaz, you R-O-C-K!

  14. Wow! that food looks so delicious and cheesecake is my favorite desert. I want to become an ultra runner myself and run a few marathons so preparing my self for long distance run is one of my goals. I love running so much I can get right out of bed and run with no problem.

  15. What an awesome post & accomplishment. Thank you so much for sharing. I have completed 5Ks but my daughter just did her first Ironman! I'm living vicariously through her (and your) achievements. So thanks for sharing all of it. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I too am working on human interaction aka crankiness. Loved your pictures. Looks like fun! What am I saying - 100 miles! wow!

  16. I get a little tear when I see someone accomplish a big goal like this. GREAT JOB! I don't even know you, but I'm so proud of you!

    And, wow, to have a sister like that, better than any medal.


  17. That is an accomplishment! I'm so glad to hear that your sister is older than I am, not that I want to run anywhere, much less a hundred miles at once, but encouraging nevertheless.
    The only long-distance things I've ever been interested in is walking the Appalachian Trail, and I didn't want to do that all in one go, just segment by segment, until recent decades what I've read has made it sound so appallingly crowded that I would rather stay away.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  18. How do you run a hundred miles? I just don't understand. This is like superhuman. Wow!


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