Strange is good.
Sometimes… I’ve had some questionable encounters…
Tomorrow’s Strange But Good link up will certainly be good! I hope you guys will all come check it out and link up a dish you’ve had lately that may seem strange, but it quite good. In case you missed it, click here for details/rules.
In the meantime, Kat is back today with her bi-weekly guest spot. This post is all about something I think is strange: running 50 miles. LOL! Clearly, a good thing. I totally admire her, and all of you endurance athletes out there!
As I finished up my finals week and went into finishing my papers, I thought a lot about my study breaks and writing for fun. I realized that these past couple of weeks have been a lot about pacing myself and doing just what I need to keep going and do my best from start to finish. These past couple of weeks have really reminded me what it takes to run 50 miles.
Everything I say in this post will be a metaphor for life. There is
probably definitely a way to apply every principle from a 50 mile race into life because a 50 mile race IS living. You feel every possible human emotion, even ones that you didn’t know existed or that you can’t describe, you meet a ton of people along the way who help you in some way, and you learn both your limits and how strong you can be.
I’ve only done it once, but it was awesome. September 22, this year, I ran the Georgia Jewel, the 50-mile option. When you wake up way before daylight to run through the woods, and will encounter obstacles you can’t even anticipate, there are a ton of feelings. You don’t know when the ups and downs (oh, and the hills), the obstacles yet to come will be or how long it will take you, so the only thing you can really feel is excitement, nervousness, and anticipation, both good and bad. You don’t know what kind of people you will meet, or whether you will spend a lot of time out there alone or with others, so all you can do is just… GO. (apply to life)
I mostly knew I was determined to have a great time and enjoy the ride, so I took a lot of pictures… (Editor’s note: clearly Kat was meant to be a blogger.)
At the start of the race, you clearly need to be fueled, but not too full. It’s best to take it easy, but make sure you get a good placement so you don’t get lost in the back. I’ll talk about the nutrition and what I ate toward the end of the post… it’s vital to surviving this kind of race. Be fueled, but don’t overdo it.
So we started. It was DARK for the first few hours. You can’t see all the rocks, or even your feet, so all you can really do is be careful, and follow single-file on the single-track trail. I spent a great deal of this time listening to the voice of the person in front of me, getting to know them, and just kept going. I had to remind myself not to go too fast, even though excitement told me otherwise. I was so excited at the beginning. I was laughing, talking, and definitely had a pep in my step. Then at mile 10, we took in a little nutrition, and kept on going! This is the first time where you can really pass or fall back, make a move, hang back, get your bearings, and back onto the trails.
The next 7 miles for me were great… I met someone who I felt like I could really open up to and be real with, talk to about raw, real experiences and the depths of who I am. He was someone I could expose myself to, knowing I may or may not ever see him again. I mostly passed other people during this part of the race, while getting real with myself about how I was feeling, and what I thought my limits might be, even though I wasn’t really sure since it was early on (insert metaphor for life).
After a quick change of socks at mile 17, I kept going. I hit mile 18 – the farthest I had ever run before – and I kept going. AMAZING. Around mile 19, I hooked up with someone else who made me feel really good about myself, and we stuck together through the toughest hill of the race up to mile 25. We hiked up to the half way point together, laughing and talking, and when we got there, we felt AMAZING. This was followed by a very disappointing first couple of steps down. We made it to the highest elevation point of the race and I all of the sudden was afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish (insert life metaphor) because my knee got in my way.
I had to make a conscious and deliberate decision to push my limits, and I kept going, on my own. Along the next 5 miles, to avoid thinking about my own pain, I spent my time encouraging every other runner/hiker/human I saw. I just kept cheering with a smile on my face, hoping I wouldn’t be able to think about my own pain (this is SUCH a me thing to do). I spent the next several miles running by myself, and running into people who were really starting to struggle, but I kept it up.
At mile 32, another rest stop, I was greeted by some amazing SAG people. They helped me to sit for a minute, and asked me what I wanted. I had just been going and going, trying to feel nothing, unsure of myself, and I had no idea. I got it together, and put in my iPod for the first time, and there was nothing to do but try to finish! This is when it got REALLY hard.
By mile 41, I really thought I would not finish. I was 10 hours into this race, and my knee was killing me. Then a stranger came along. This stranger for whatever reason, believed I wasn’t done, and basically convinced me to come with him. The last ten miles are pretty hard to believe. I can only tell you, I saw one really angry man (a friend of mine), another man I barely knew cry, another man throw up, and another man so distraught because his kids might not see him finish because he wasn’t sure he could. I didn’t feel so hot myself, and we were all in it together. It was RAW. At mile 48.5, I sat down in the middle of the trail. Yep, sat. I still didn’t think I could do it. People started to pass me. (insert and remind yourself of the life metaphor again)
Although the 12 hours of trails had gotten me down, something inside me realized I was stronger than I thought I was. I reminded myself of the light inside me and began to skip. Skipping was way less painful than running, AND it put a smile on my face. After over 12.5 hours, I skipped across the finish line with a smile on my face, and received my award. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Now I know, and was able to prove it to myself.
I carry this race into my daily life, and have signed up for an even more intense challenge to learn even more about myself. The Georgia Death Race. 60 miles & 30,000 feet of elevation change. It will likely take me longer and beat me down more than the Jewel, but hopefully only to make me even stronger.
Now, probably the more informative, and less life-changing portion (or maybe it is) — the Nutrition.
For 12 hours, you have to think that you’re eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus some for all the calories you burn. No, I personally don’t break it down to a science because of my go-with-the-flow-ness… BUT I fuel as I go.
Throughout the day, I ate the following:
- Breakfast: Shake w/ Juice, Greek Yogurt, and Protein Power + small cup of coffee
- Mile 7ish: small 90 calorie Lara Bar
- Mile 10: 3 M&Ms, a handful of chips, and about 4 oz of electrolyte replacement drink
- Mile 17: a couple of small potatoes dipped in salt, a few M&Ms, and about 1/2 of a fuji apple (about 4 oz of electrolyte replacement)
- Mile 21.5: GU gel
- Mile 25: a couple of small potatoes dipped in salt, one apple slice.
- Mile 32: a full Lara bar and a couple of apple slices, some electrolyte replacement
- Mile 37ish: forced myself to have about a half of a GU
- Mile 41: some coconut water and a couple potato chips (I was SICK of food by now)
- Mile 45: some ginger chews (I was nauseated)
- WATER CONSUMPTION: approximately 20oz every 7 miles… slow and steady flow of water throughout the day. I just kept one hand-held water bottle.
Like I said, it was NOT scientific, but it felt perfect for my body giving me sugars, carbs, salt, and electrolytes, as protein is not easily digestible and used for fuel. (Editor’s note: the ginger chew idea is brilliant!) I ended the day with some simple grilled chicken with nothing on it, and a soy café au lait (Editor’s note: why am I not surprised you had a coffee?). It’s all I had in me to drink/eat.
Sorry this post was so long, but running 50 miles is long! Cheers to 50-mile life races!!
Work hard, and it pays off. Enough said. (Editor’s note: True story.)
I’m convinced there’s nothing Kat can’t do… and I’m REALLY excited to be one of her SAGs for the Death Race!
What challenges have changed your life?
What is your favorite metaphor for life?