Thursday, September 13, 2018

38 Miles for 38 Years

I've been wanting to try to do this. I'd heard of people who run their age every year on their birthday, and it sounds like a cool idea. The last couple of years, my birthday has fallen near a race or on a day I was busy, but this was the one; a Friday birthday. So my kids and wife were at school and it was my day off; I could totally knock out 38 miles.

I decided to take the day slowly, run then rest, then run again. It was another hot 95 degree day and I knew it would be a long one. I didn't expect it would be that long.

38 miles isn't that far, I figured. I've run 100 miles, multiple 100k's, and several marathons and 50k distances. So this wouldn't be too bad. What I underestimated was how different it is to run in a race versus my own planned run. There were no other people, no volunteers, no aid stations, and no stakes. It was just me trying to do something I was stupid enough to announce on Facebook. In fact, at mile 14 I looked down at my watch and thought, "If I hadn't told everyone I was doing this, I'd quit right now." To my credit, that's why I posted about it. I knew it would force me to finish.

The run started awkwardly. The kids went to school and I spent a little time fighting crime on Arkham Knight, as I only get time to do on my days off. I figured I'd start around 10am and so I took my time drinking coffee and eating a little. At about 10 I was getting my running stuff on when the doorbell rang. Jason - a friend - had offered to run some with me and was ready to go long before I was. So I grabbed my stuff and we took off. I wasn't quite prepared but I wasn't going to miss out on company. Jason is a good runner who has tended to finish ahead of me in local 5k's and 10k's. I knew this would be a slow run for him since I was planning to go all day. We took off and I immediately had stomach problems. The nerves were hitting me as I questioned whether or not I could complete this, and was frazzled from not being quite ready to go. But 8 miles with Jason was great. We ran a little too fast for what I was doing but definitely slow for his kind of training. We made our way back to my house by 8 miles so I could hydrate and he could get back to his house with a 10 mile total run.

After a little cooling off and getting my bottles full of Tailwind, I took off for the next set of miles. I'd take my nice route out of town around Celebration Park. It would usually end up around 9 miles and would get me a little further in my total. I was trying to get 26 miles done before 3:30pm when my friend Matt was going to run with me for the last 12 miles as he trains for his first marathon. This was not going to happen as I planned.

My solo run was rough. It was getting hotter outside and I was feeling the miles in my legs. I don't think I'd run further than 13 miles since May when I ran the Booneville Backroads 100k in the heat. I really wasn't physically trained for this run.

When I got back to my house at around mile 17, I was over this idea. I'd already considered quitting so I took about an hour to eat some lunch, drink a lot, and cool off on the floor. Finally I convinced myself it was time to go again.

The next section was a route I often run to get about 7.5-8 miles by running to Moonlight Rd, then past Grandstar Elementary to the trail at Gardner Rd. I hit halfway just before the school and couldn't believe how much further I had to go. After Grandstar I found a spot of shade and sat down to rest and cool while looking pathetic as bus drivers waved on their way by. (Shout out to Christelle who saw me and had her bus kids ready to yell "Happy birthday!" on their way back by.)

As I reached the Gardner trail turnaround by I35, I got a text from Matt. He was home from work and ready to go, with Jolie on her bike to join us. I was only a few blocks from their house but I wasn't going to be at 26 miles. I was only at 21.5 miles at that point, so I would owe 4.5 miles to the roads even after Matt's 12. We got together and took off for a slow slow run. We ran back to my house to meet up with my son Carson who wanted to do some miles with us.
Then we hit the Greenway trail, which was great for a little shade, and then a hot run to the high school and back. By this time, I was needing occasional walk breaks and just wanted it to be over. Also, it was getting late for dinner and our tradition of going out to eat was in jeopardy.

So I had an idea... We'd finish Matt's 12 miles at his house, Katie would pick me up, and we'd clean up to go to KC Joe's BBQ. Then, after we got home, I'd knock out the last 4.5 miles when the sun had gone down.

Joe's was a wasted trip. I mean, it was good company and everyone else had a great meal, but I was too nauseous to eat much. Running all day in the heat had taken too much out of me.

When we returned home, Katie decided she would go with me for the last bit of running. I always love having her with me to finish, so it was a great idea. But unfortunately the break from the heat wasn't coming. Though the sun had gone down, the humidity had gone nowhere. Katie and I ran a humid, difficult last 4.5 miles to finish my day at about 10:30pm.

It was just under 7 hours of running separated by cool downs, bottle refills, and BBQ. But I had done it. 38 miles on my 38th birthday. And one major question was answered: could I go further than 26.2 miles in my Vibram FiveFingers on concrete. My V-Trains kept my feet comfortable and blister-free all day, even on hot blacktop and concrete.

Maybe next year I'll run my age in kilometers instead. ;)

PS. I'm so proud of my son Carson, who a week later ran his age on his 12th birthday. He killed it.

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