What a Journey!

What a day yesterday was and one that will always be remembered.  I’m not gonna lie… I was deeply concerned the night before as to whether I could run the 59 miles the way I wanted to.  With no ultramarathon experience to fall back on, I really had no clue what to expect from my body after mile 30 or so.  The night before the run, I took a few minutes to close my eyes and concentrate on what the next day was going to bring.  I figured that if I kept a steady pace and fueled my body correctly, I would run for as long as possible and then figure out a gameplan once I couldn’t run anymore.  With the intense heat, heavy pack, and extremely long distance, I really just hoped for the best.  After finishing in under 11 hours and only a few minutes behind the leader, I was ecstatic to say the least.  I finished second overall which I am really proud of.  I trained extensively over the past few months and was happy to see all of the hard work pay off in the final results.  One thing I learned was that with the proper nutrition and mental frame of mind, you can get a lot more out of your body than you expect.  I pretty much ran the entire race and besides some additional soreness afterwards, by body didn’t feel much different than it normally does on a 10 or 20 mile run.  The most important reason for this is keeping it fueled correctly.  Throughout the 10 hours, I consumed 3 Clif Bars, 3 Gu Energy Gels, and boat loads of Perpetuem, which is an endurance formula that is mixed with water and packs a large amount of calories.  For the race, I would estimate that I consumed approximately 2000 calories.  From a mental standpoint, I just tried to think of it as a long day out at the park.  Anyone who runs knows how much expectations shape how you feel.  If you expect to run 5 miles and it ends of being 10, it feels like the longest thing in the world, but if you expect to run 10 and only run 7, it makes it feel like a cinch.  Everytime I reached a checkpoint, I would give myself an imaginary time to get to the next one by, always longer than I really needed.  This helped me to manage expectations and made it a treat when I reached the checkpoint in a shorter amount of time that I had set for myself.

Crossing that finish line brought such a sense of accomplishment, but also relief that I was done!  Besides a symbolic 5k run to the Pyramids tomorrow, all of the heavy stuff is over.  Sleeping in the sand for five days in the heat of the desert is both physically and mentally draining so it was nice to know that I will be sleeping in a bed soon and eating real food.

All of my tentmates did a great job on the course as well.  Malcolm, the running and fitness guru, placed 15th yesterday which was unbelievable, and most of the tent was back in camp by around midnight.  I truly admire their fierce passion and determination to finish an event like this.  My tentmates and the rest of the competitors here have taught me an important lesson about not giving in to adversity, whether it be in relationships, family, work, or in their case, blisters the size of plums on their feet.  I can’t explain what people’s feet look like here.  The fact that they somehow found a way to run through it astonishes me!

Another thing I have learned is how awesome all of you are.  The emails and blog posts I have received have gone above and beyond anything I could have expected.  There are too many people to shout out everyone but please know that I read every comment that came through and each one is a huge deal to me.  I want to give a special thanks to my family and friends for keeping close tabs on me, to so many of many Marriott colleagues for chiming in, and to Christina for sharing my story with her class.  So many of them sent messages which was great to see!

We have a few more hours in camp today and will be waking up tomorrow morning to take a short ride to Giza for the final leg of the race.  I have flies swarming all over me, am completely filthy and am sweating like there is no tomorrow, but I know that a chance to see the pyramids, a cold shower, and a burger and a beer are not too far away!  Thanks again to all!


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