Sunday, May 3, 2020

24 Hours of Friends

Today, there is one last square to cross off on my 906 Adventure Bingo card- write an adventure story. At first I thought this one would be hard, since travel is restricted, races are cancelled and it's hard to get friends together for these adventures. But since I ran for 24 hours from my house yesterday, I guess that counts as an adventure.

The adventure started at 8am, just Big E and I in the front yard for the send off. The first 5 laps were a cruise, which is unusual for me. It usually takes me 20 miles just to warm up! I tried hard not to push the pace too hard, knowing that this high definitely wouldn't last if I started too fast. Of course, as the heat kicked in midday, I started to feel it and instead of feeling warmed up and ready to run at mile 20, I hit that point feeling hot and a little crabby, which Big E found out.
Pizza between laps 5 and 6.

A few laps later, after the running into Ray Ray and his cowbell on the trail, the heat finally took its toll. I'd stayed under the pace need to run 24 laps at that point, but when I returned from lap 10, I knew I needed to rest, deal with my already throbbing feet and get out of the sun for a bit if I was going to make it through the night. After a quick shower to rinse off any ticks, I tossed and turned on the couch for an hour before abandoning my hopes of sleep. I added some gel arches to my shoes to try to stop the arch pain and headed back out to get a sunset lap in before Ridge, my first escort, showed up.

In the meantime, Big E set up quite the base camp in the front yard to entertain friends who came to escort and cheer. 

It was a welcome sight at the end of lap 9 to come home to a fire, friends and little boys who attacked me with nerf guns. After a quick restock of fuel, I headed out with Ridge for the first lap in the dark. At this point, I'd quickly shifted focus from trying to run 24 laps to just surviving the night. With all the isolation in the last few weeks, I was much happier hiking and chatting with friends than I would've been trying to push the pace for 12 more hours. So, we pretty much hiked two laps and got out all the words stored in us for weeks, stopping in between laps so I could refuel with a pizza s'more. That's right. Marshmallows and pizza actually go well together, at least when you've been moving for 13 hours.

We returned to one last nerf gun attack around 10:30pm.  After a brat by the fire, which instantly made me dizzy as the blood rushed to my stomach to digest it, Dustin, who ended up riding 250 miles round trip to partake in the festivities, headed out to escort me for a lap on Big E's bike. His own rig was a bit packed for a lap on trail.
More chatting ensued and we finished lap 14 about 12:20. My next escort wasn't scheduled until 1am so I headed inside to attempt another quick nap, which again ended in just some tossing and turning.

Thankfully, Lisa Lisa arrived to escort me and keep me awake for 2 more laps. Again, more chatting and hiking. It was at this point where I realized that while I thought for sure I was "power hiking", a glance at my escorts proved that really we were moving more at a "wandering" pace. By the end of lap 16, the wandering started to become sleep walking so after a quick picture, I headed inside to hopefully actually get a nap before heading out for the always coveted "dawn lap".
Since I needed another shower to remove any ticks I had to take my socks off, which led to something I always try to avoid during ultra running-seeing my own feet.  I knew my left pinky toe was hurting, but the sock removal revealed the entire toe had become a blister. After some quick blister drainage, I laid down just after 4, hoping sleep would come quickly since I needed to be up by 5 to get out the door to catch the sunrise and fit in two more laps, which would push me over 70 miles. Thankfully, exhaustion finally allowed me some shut eye and when the alarm went off it ripped me out of a deep sleep. Of course, my first thought was, "Hell no, I just want to sleep and no one is making me do this."  Somehow I pushed it away and got dressed to hike in the now cooler weather. My toe was now so sore I could barely put shoes on so I had no hopes of running. I choked down some of Eddie's tar coffee and limped up the street to the trail.
Honestly, at this point I had no idea how I was going to suffer through two more laps while limping. For some reason, at the first downhill, I convinced myself that running might just push the pain in my foot over the top and make it hurt less.  Of course, for some other weird reason, this actually worked, probably because it just made everything else hurt more so I could ignore my foot. It didn't really matter. I was just happy to be making faster time so I wouldn't be cutting it close to fit my final lap in. I finished lap 17 faster than any lap since lap 10. Of course, this meant I was completely overdressed so I took off some layers and bid goodbye to Big E for the final lap.
The running high didn't last long and finally, with two miles to go in my final lap, my body flipped me the bird. My eyes would shut without warning and I'd find myself swerving. By the last downhill, I was seeing dead people coming out of the trees and the last turn onto the street revealed a zombie in the neighbor's driveway. A few moments later, the whole thing ended how it started, with Big E and I in the driveway.  I barely made it onto the stump one last time to record my final lap time at 23:47:47. As we headed inside, I saw my cooler, which I'd decorated for the occasion.
I tapped it and said, "That's right, I'm the storm." Then I laughed as Eddie had to help me into the house, where I collapsed on the kitchen floor to try to extract my feet from my shoes.
In the end, not nearly as many laps were done as I thought I could handle, but clearly I pushed myself to my current limit and more importantly, I connected with friends, which was sorely needed and much better for my soul than running 24 laps. Sometimes having a conversation, hearing a friend ringing a cowbell, playing with friends' kids and getting a hug are the most important things.