How to run for 8.5 hours (my way)

7am start with coffee and muesli at your favourite coffee shop. Have good friends wake up at ungodly hour to join you. Tour de France is a strong motivator for people to wake up at this time.

Reach alleged trail parking lot. Disguise your dread for the task ahead with essential delays: choosing socks, bathroom break, apply Vaseline (you don’t need to know where), add electrolytes to water, ensure bear spray is secure in pack, bathroom break, add layer, remove layer, change hats, bathroom break.

Start running 500m. Realize you don’t have emergency water purification drops in pack. Drop pack. Return to car. Bathroom break. Resume running.

Look for trail which you read about in book. Book says nothing about a creek. Cross a creek approximately 20 times on quest for trail. Note: you don’t actually need to know what your toes feel like to run. Instead, allow the crisp cool touch of glacier water to numb your feet after river crossing number 14 (approximately). Enjoy the scenery because the place you’re standing is hard to get to, and is legitimately really beautiful.

(icy fresh water)

Decide the book you are following is completely and irreversibly incorrect about said trail. Turn around. Repeat river crossing experiences. Bask in the sunlight because even though you’re not where you meant to be, the place you are is sunny and gorgeous and the people you’re with are one in a billion. Enjoy life. Reach car. Bathroom break.

Chalk up delays to ‘such is life’ and stop in town for lunch and coffee. Enjoy delicious egg salad sandwich, contemplate how you would feel if you decided to call it a day. Decide it would feel absolutely amazing, you could go to a movie, snuggle in bed, have a picnic, knowing you DID complete an 11km morning run (albeit way shorter than intended). For some unknown ridiculous reason, ignore those thoughts (and impending rain clouds) and resume running.

Internally decide there is no possible way you are completing the rest of this run since you have about 55km to go, and spend 7km contemplating how to break this to running partner. Pause for a moment so you can truly embrace being an ultrarunner: puke up your lunch in a mud puddle. Feel even worse knowing you’re not truly an ultrarunner because a true ultrarunner would know to puke off the trail into the trees as a courtesy. Search running partners face for any ounce of sympathy, find none. Running partner has seen much worse and is not phased by your loss of lunch.

Come to terms with the ‘out’ portion of your out-and-back run. Learn that losing your lunch can be a benefit -  you feel 100% better and manage to keep up. Make an effort to chat with running partner as you’ve just spent 45 minutes being an ultra-bitch who feels sorry for herself. Enjoy the scenery, because you’re in the trees in a National Park running beside a river, and it’s really, truly, beautiful.

As you near your turn-around point, feel a few light refreshing raindrops land on your face. Appreciate nature.

Stop at large comfy hotel lobby to refill water bottles and change socks. Look outside and see torrential downpour. Hate nature. Subconsciously repeat delay techniques from earlier in the day, and secretly hope the plan will change from “run final 20+km to car” to “get cab to drive us final 20+km to car.” Have zero luck with that, find yourself back outside, running in a torrential downpour.

Spend a few moments reminding yourself how lucky you are that your biggest problem right now is being stuck in the rain, surrounded by the most beautiful scenery in the world, doing a run at your own free will with a healthy heart and healthy legs that allow you to continue running.

Stop dead in your tracks when friend up ahead spots a Moose and calf. A Moose and calf!!! Stare in awe at how large said Moose is and how protective of said calf said Moose is. Ask dumb questions like “does bear spray work on a Moose”  and “what do I do when I get charged by a Moose,” ignoring friend’s eyerolls at you for not being more nature-saavy. Leave enough time and space for the Moose and calf to peacefully return to the magical forest. Resume running.

For the final 2 hours of your run, grind like you have never grinded before. Try to forget the gradual uphill nature of the final 18kms, follow the footsteps in front of you. Make lots of noise to avoid any more animal encounters, realizing that you are just too exhausted to deal with any potential encounters. Just yell. A lot.

Make it to the end of the trail and breathe a sigh of relief that the worst is over. Try to come to terms with a final 4km road run to get back to car. Secretly scan parking lot in the hopes of getting a ride down the road with someone. Hide death stare you feel towards running partner who says it’s time to start the final run down the road. Run 1km-ish. Try not to burst into tears of joy when mini-bus of high school students stops beside you, opens the door, and outdoorsy-type teacher driving the bus says “want a ride?” Jump into bus with more gratitude than anyone has ever felt for anything, ever.

Reach car. Shoes off. Collapse into seat. Close eyes for a moment and realize you just finished the farthest and longest run you have ever done in your entire life.

Be grateful for the multitude of setbacks along the way, because you learned the value of perseverance, you realized what you are capable of, and you’ll be a stronger runner because of it.

Shower. Eat pizza. Drink water. Crawl into comfy bed. Smile. Close eyes. Sleep.


4 Responses to How to run for 8.5 hours (my way)

  1. Deirdre July 19, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    SO enjoyed this blog entry Chels! I felt like I was with you all the way!
    Definitely awe-inspiring Sweetie!

  2. Katie Lockley July 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    I love this and you for writing it. I forgot to mention that you’ve inspired me to start running again. :) thanks.

    • Chels July 18, 2012 at 11:54 am #

      Thank you Katie! That is incredibly sweet, and means so much. Good for you starting running – can’t say it’s ever easy but…benefits outweigh the bad moments :) Keep me updated on how it goes.

  3. Crystal July 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Chels…..I think you smoked too much crack growing up. ‘-)

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