First, some background, I sit 15 feet away from a recent NCAA division one 400 meter hurdler. She happened to forward me Kelsey's blog one day because I am known, in part, around the office as the guy that ran all day and all night, more than once. One thing led to another and it's last Friday night and somehow I managed to sign up for a sleep deprived weekend of driving 17 miles an hour, navigating, posting to someone else's Instagram, and enrolling in AirBNB at 9 PM Saturday when we couldn't find a hotel within an hour of the finish point. Quite the adventure...
I'm going to go behind the Instagram posts, each one, and describe in better detail what I was thinking and what was actually happening.
|Friday 8:36 PM|
|I need a haircut.|
What am I doing?! And I need a haircut. And Jessop is so fast! That's about what I was thinking.
|Saturday 4:15 AM|
|8:44 PM (Worcester, Wisconsin!)|
|Sunday 12:36 AM|
We spent all of waking Sunday from about noon until 9 PM driving back across the state. Kind of funny, I don't think we ever took a group picture.
What are some of the lessons I learned doing this? I mean, learning something that might help in my future races was the initial reason I was interested in helping with this.
- One must stay hydrated! It's a fine line between encouraging yourself to drink more, and forcing yourself to drink more, but dehydration and heat stroke are not great ways to make a good pace.
- I know a lot more about ultras than I knew I knew. I knew what to look for, like checking her skin for sweat, asking her questions to make sure she was mentally present, and keeping her a little more motivated, hydrated, and cool.
- Eating and drinking is a very personal thing. Different things work for different people. When I threw up, at the 24 hour world championship in Italy in April it was because I wasn't listening to my body, but what other people were telling me. Similarly, Kelsey, a gluten free, vegan who doesn't drink coffee has a different diet than I do. I focused on encouraging her to eat and drink, and offering her things, like salt pills, but I never "forced" her to consume anything, because doing that can have very negative consequences, as I experienced. It worked, she averaged 17.2 miles an hour for 380 miles.
- People are generally very supportive of stuff like this, I get asked several times a week about returning to Everest or my next adventure, but when you get to the nitty gritty details of driving 17 mph behind someone for 22 hours, people aren't as interested in stuff like this. It's hard to support an ultra! Thank you Mom and Berea for flying to Italy in April and supporting what I will admit is my most painful race ever!
- I like the story. Ultras are a microcosm for an athletic career, and life, there are high points and low points, doubt, tears, smiles and laughter. They take a long time to develop and so give a better perspective on life than a 5k. In other words, you can watch the highlights of the Tour de France or the baseball playoffs, but watching the whole race or every game of the season provides a much richer context to those highlights. Similarly, you just see these Instagram posts, and read some of my thoughts, but you don't have the whole picture because you weren't there to live through some of the painful communication moments, or the nervous anticipation of wondering if Kelsey is drinking enough. I like that there is something simple and tangible, if a 380 mile bicycle ride or 24 hour run can be called either of those, that is so detailed and complex. I already knew I liked the story, having lived through my own adventures, but seeing it from the other side reinforced that I do like the story.