Normally I'd start with how this came about, but.. man, that was 4 months ago, in the middle of the throes of a pandemic. How could I possibly remember?
At some point near the end of April, Lazarus Lake
, infamous race director for such insane races as the Barkley Marathons
and Big's Backyard Marathon, put forth the idea of a virtual race across Tennessee. 1000k of running or walking which had to be done between May 1 and August 31. I'm not sure how many people they expected to sign up when they floated the idea, but it probably wasn't the 19,000 people who ultimately ended up registering. Clearly people needed Something to get them through this pandemic summer, and this seemed like the perfect candidate.
It came to the attention of our little Yeti insanity crew, and pretty quickly everyone else was on board.
I had some reservations. At first I thought it was 1000 miles, which.. yeah, no. I consider it a good month when I hit 100 miles of running for the month. To bump that up to 250 miles per month for 4 months was not a recipe for health and sanity. Then I realized it was 1000k, which is still ~155 miles per month, which I could maybe swing for ONE month? But probably not 4 in a row. But then it became clear that you could either run OR walk the miles, and in fact some people, including the race director himself, would be walking the ENTIRE thing, no running at all. I figured if I threw some walking in there, I could probably manage to get to 1000k in 4 months. Or at least I was willing to try.
And then I ran a lot!
That's not true. I ran 1 mile on day 1. Solid start, huh? But then on day 2, I ran 31 miles!
To keep ourselves from getting too bored, we did a series of "stupid ideas", some virtual races, some just free suffering we created ourselves.
On day 2, I ran 31 self-supported miles as 10 5k loops around my neighborhood, for the Mirage 50k virtual race
.I was undertrained for this. My Garmin said "Overreaching" when I was done with the run, and I was like "I KNOW."
And then on day 3 I ran/walked 0 miles, because I didn't realize that ultimately I would only end up taking one other 0-mile day during the whole 4 months. At least I broke the entire idea of streaking right off the bat there.
Other stupid ideas that we implemented to keep ourselves entertained during the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee (gvrat) were:
- Goggins 4x4x48 mile virtual race
, running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours. That added a nice chunk of miles in late May.
- The TripleRona, 3 half marathons in 3 days. Not an actual event of any kind, just a dumb idea I threw out to Trista and she was totally on board, so we named it. Secretly hoping this was a springboard to eventually get her to do another triple marathon with me.
- Dopey Challenge! I mean, not officially in any way. But in mid-July, I needed something fun and different, so I suggested to Trista that we do our own Dopey Challenge, which is a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon, then a full marathon on consecutive days. Sounds fun, right?! Well, Trista didn't think so. She said it sounded easier, and more like it would fit in her schedule, to do it the OPPOSITE way, starting with the marathon and working down to the 5k. We dubbed this version the yepod (dopey backward), and she did the yepod while I did the Dopey. Remember when I said it sounds like fun? A marathon in mid July in Texas is not fun. Ugh.It was miserable, but I was DONE, so I could fake a smile.
After Dopey, I was kinda spent. At this point, I had accumulated enough miles to know I could do the 635 miles required (1000k in Lazarus Lake math is more like 1022k) well before the end of August, and I decided I was done with Heroic Efforts. I didn't want to run any time past 8 or 9am anymore, if I could help it. Yeti put out another fun-sounding event that was like that Yeti 50k we'd done, but the 50 mile version. Love to do it. Refuse to do it in July or August. Goggins and Dopey proved to me that it was just too hard on the body to run those distance in the middle of a summer day.
And so I plodded methodically through the remainder of my 635 miles to get to the virtual finish line on the other side of Tennessee. Even when Trista and Meredith fought it out at the end to see who could finish first (Trista proved her insanity is greater than any of ours), I just kept running the miles I was already planning on running, finishing at my own pace a couple days after them.
79 days after crossing the start line, I crossed the 1000k finish line on July 18th.
Most of that 635 was running, but there was definitely plenty of walking in there. The rules stated that only "deliberate walking" counted. That means if you walk the dogs, it counts. If you're mowing the lawn, you can't count those miles. You can't just throw in whatever your fitbit says you walked in mileage in your day, just by existing. I had never really done much "deliberate walking", and after this race, I'm not sure it's really going to become part of my repertoire.
It definitely had its upsides, though. For one, I got Matt to do a lot of the walking with me. Those were the good walks. For a solid month there, we basically walked everywhere we needed to go (which wasn't many places, because pandemic). Walgreens for a prescription? 2 mile walk. Corner store for beer? 3 mile walk. Sewed some masks and need to drop them at sister's and at mom's? 4 mile walk. And we'd generally pad those walks with some extra distance, too. It's half a mile to get breakfast tacos, but we'd go walk 3 miles and pick up tacos at the end, then walk them home to eat.
Those were fun miles. Somehow even though we're spending 24/7 in the same house and never going anywhere else, we're still enjoying being around each other, and we had some good chats during those walks. Eventually, though, we got to the deadly part of summer, where it's just too hot to walk any time after 10am or so. And the walks tapered off and then stopped.
As did my walks to the gym! I had the brilliant idea of walking to my gym to swim in the little lake we get access to. 3.5 miles there, 3.5 miles back, with a swim in the middle. Solid workout, and 7 miles for gvrat. But it just got too hot and there's too little shade for much of that walk. So I may do that again in the future, because I'm loving using our car so little. But my last walk-swim-walk adventure ended up being in mid-July.Nice way to break up a walk.
I continued to do some solo early morning walks, but those are so boring, and so slow, and so lonely, and so after I finished the 1000k, I cut way back on my walking, and ramped up my running more.I don't carry my phone when I run, so never have mid-run photos. I got some when I walked, though!
Because the race didn't have to stop at 1000k. That's the end of the OG race, but you could continue on with a goal of 800 miles! Or you could run 1000 miles, and get a PIN! Or you could run 1000k there, and then 1000k all the way back! Some people ran across Tennessee SEVEN TIMES before the end of August. Those people are insane, clearly, and I am envious of their insanity.
Once you finish the 1000k, you get an email offering to let you pay a second, smaller race fee to continue on. Finishing in mid July didn't really leave me enough time to run another 1000k back before August 31, at least not without Heroic Effort, but it was possible to run 1000 miles, maybe, in that time. The remaining time in the remaining distance would be just over 8 miles a day for over a month. That sounded pretty intimidating, especially since I DON'T run every day. But if I did some shorter runs during the week and longer runs on the weekend, maybe I could pull this off. More importantly, I had nothing better to do than try. So I signed up to attempt the 1000 miles.
This is where my No Heroic Efforts really became important. I was pretty tired of running. I was definitely tired of getting up early every day. Of never having an off day. My off-running days still had me getting up early to walk. So no marathons. No Yeti-style runs. Just a lot of middling runs and a lot of consistency. I settled into a pattern of running 10-7-10, 10 miles Tuesday, 7 miles Wednesday, 10 miles Thursday. The 10 milers required waking up at 4am (before then working a whole day). The 7 miler in the middle split it up, seeming "short" between two longer runs, and letting me sleep an extra 45 minutes. I did manage to do some longer runs that weren't so terribly long that they lasted past 8am: a couple 15s and 17s. And slowly the miles added up.
One of my secondary goals at this point was to complete the original 1000k (635 miles) goal with just pure running. For the race, I was tracking the combo of running and walking miles, but for my personal logging, I wasn't logging the walking, just the running. So I knew exactly how many miles I was running, and it was a pretty big deal to me to hit that 635 mile mark of pure running on day 99. I had added walking because I didn't think I could do it without walking, but now I had.
And then on August 22, 114 days after leaving the start line, I completed 1000 miles for the gvrat.
On day 115, a Sunday, I slept in. It was amazing. And then I got up and it was somehow still only 71 degrees outside, so I went for a 3 mile run, because why not.
At that point, I had a decision to make. I could be done. I could never run again. I could finish out August without running anymore. I could settle into just running every couple days.
But then I looked at my log, and I had a lot of miles for the month of August. I had felt like I had dialed it back after finishing the 1000k, but if I just kept running like I had been, I was on course to run more miles than I had in July. Which had been the most miles I'd ever run in a month. I thought. Long story short, I kept running, albeit fewer miles, for the next week and a half, through the end of August, and ran even more miles than I ran in July. Which I thought was a monthly run distance PR: 228 miles! Yeah, THEN I looked more closely, dug deeper, and discovered I'd run 240 miles while training for Rocky 100. Oops. If I'd known, would I have run more? I did take August 30th off. Slept in, didn't run, didn't walk. My 2nd of only 2 0-mile days for that entire 4 months. Trista wanted me to go back out that last day, the last day of August, and run another 20 miles, but I was having none of that. I'm super proud of my 228.
And I'm proud of the fact that over the course of 4 months, I covered 1057 miles.
And I'm MOST proud of the fact that over the course of 4 months, I RAN 808.55 miles. That averages to 202 miles a month, which is more than I've ever run before over that period. (In reality, the months were 194.49, 169.02, 216.74, 228.30.) AND I tried to be as smart as possible, and as healthy as possible, so I didn't end up injured or dead, and I actually came out the other side feeling BETTER than I did going in. Or at least with less hamstring pain.Matt took a picture of me during the Dopey marathon, to prove to Trista that I was still alive. I was, but only barely.
It was a great reminder that we can do more than we think we can, if we just give ourselves the chance.
And of those 19,000 people who registered, more than 13,700 finished the 1000k by the last day of August. That's an amazing success rate. (And many of those did way, way more than 1000k.)Buckle and sticker for 1000k, pin for 1000 miles.
I'm simultaneously so glad it's over, and also sad to now have no goal. It was a fun way to spend the summer.
I say that like we don't have 2 more months of summer here in Texas.
Special thanks to my stupidity crew, some of whom went a lot further, a LOT faster. We shared a lot of memes and smack talk that helped get us through this stupid idea.
And as always, thanks to my biggest supporter Matt. If it weren't for him, I'd have to say that I ran every mile of those 808.55 miles by myself. Instead, thanks to Matt, I had bike support for several of my Goggins runs in the terrible heat of the day, and for the second half of my Dopey marathon. Cold water, and not having to CARRY water, makes a huge difference in that heat.Bike escort extraordinare!
But more than that, he fed the dogs when, even though I started my runs at 4, I still ran past their breakfast time. He walked miles in the 90-100 degree Texas heat to get milkshakes with me.I loved our milkshake dates, even if it was 100 degrees.
He tolerated my 9pm bedtimes and 4am waketimes without complaint. And he always told me he was proud of me. Hopefully we can still do some of those walks together, if the summer heat ever ends.My favorite.