Sunday, January 1, 2017

I ran a marathon at 12:01am, Jan 1

I blew up the social media with my announcement at about 4:20 this morning, so people are probably tired of hearing about it by now. "Oh look at you. You ran a marathon at midnight New Years. Shut up and eat a cake."

I can't help it. It was an extra crazy thing. Even for me.

I first got the idea when the LUNAR group created an event to run a virtual race in January to promote VHL research. Von Hippel-Lindau is what LUNAR's founder, Shawn, has been battling. He is a powerful inspiration and the group he created has motivated hundreds of people to run more. It is only fair for us to give back!

The event was to run a half-marathon (or shorter). The entry fee was a $1 donation for each mile you wanted to run. I put in 26, because it was a good cause. And then I thought, "well, ok, I guess that means I have to run a marathon?" And because I'm a jerk, I figured I should be the first person to complete the race.

So, I'm generous, but also I'm an a$$hole. Sounds about right.

I went to a New Year's Eve party at a friend's house that's about 18 miles from my house. I figured if I threw in a few extra miles, that would work out pretty great. So I was that crazy guy who brought running clothes to a party. There's always someone like that at every party. AmIright?
The same guy who puts on nipple tape at parties.
Photo cr. Alex

My friend who threw the party (and also the same friend who gave me Haiko, my awesome kokeshi running companion!) made me a ton of coffee. She thought I was insane, but you can't talk down an insane person. Just drench them with caffeine I guess. Before long everyone wanted to know about this ridiculous run, even though I just wanted to sit on the couch and stare at the clock!

Haiko's smiles conceals her judgment when I don't run...

I changed into my clothes at about 11:30, kilt included. And at 12:01, while my sister was singing Old Lang Syne, I shouted "Happy New Years!" and ran out the door. I tried to avoid breaking my legs on the steep stairs, because that would've been embarrassing. Then I was running in the middle of street, aglow with my headlamp and Geoffrey's running vest.

The roads were clear. The weather was perfect. And even though it was New Year's, the few drivers I encountered gave me a wide berth. Maybe they thought hitting me would infect them with the same insanity I apparently suffer from.

I hadn't tapered for this run at all. I had been off work all week. For most people that means eating lots of chicken and pie. For me it means exercising three times as much. Just a few hours previously I had swam and bicycled. The two days prior I ran a total of 18 intense miles. So no, I was not fresh.
Before pic. Cr. Alex

The run was glorious. There's something about running in the middle of the night that's... visceral. I felt like an animal. An animal covered in blinking lights. I just ran and ran, winding up the miles.

I'd tried not to think too much about the run beforehand, because thinking always screws me up. When I hit about 10 miles, I remembered that marathons were, like, hard. And I didn't have any food, water, fellow runners, or cheering spectators. Just me, all by myself, alternately sweating and freezing. I was sore and tired, but I didn't have anything else to do other than keep running.

Usually I manage to keep my mind occupied on long runs, but I was too tired to think. I felt every long mile. Every 5 miles I took off my glove and txted a few people to let them know I was alive. My brother stayed up and replied with encouraging comments. Meghan woke up every time her phone dinged. My best friend D passed out after mile 5. My Russian translator, Maddie, slept blissfully through the whole thing.

Mostly it was just me in the dark, running for a very long time. I thought about why I was doing it. There's really no reason to! I can just eat donuts and drive everywhere like the vast majority of people. And they get by fine. They have health insurance and alcohol. It's fine. There's no reason to torture yourself.

Finally, after a very long time, I saw the brightly lit Lowe's in my home town. I've never been that happy to see it. I'd already run for about 23 miles. I'd like to say I sprinted the rest, but I was exhausted. And I overshot the distance, so I ended up with 27 miles. I stopped in the middle of Main St., the drunken New Year's Eve party-goers had long since gone home to sleep off their hangovers.

Well there was one guy out at 4am, appearing confused as to why everyone else was gone.

My brother Alex was sitting on the couch, waiting for me to get home. The one guy at the finish line cheering me on. It was pretty awesome. Really awesome really. I can't do what I do without the amazing people in my life constantly motivating and encouraging me.

After pic. Cr. Alex

I climbed into my car that Alex had driven back for me, shivering violently as I blasted heat on myself. My body hurt. It took me about 20 minutes before I could drive home. Plenty of time to annoy the world via social media.

I barely slept.

I love adventure. Life can be boring. It can very easily be boring. And I get why people like boring. It's comfortable. It's easy. It's reasonably pain free. And there's plenty of drugs to make us feel good so we don't notice the boring. TV, smart phones, booze, food, whatever. But.... I just can't do that. There's always a moment, when you look up from staring at your phone while driving. That moment when you accidentally glance at yourself in the mirror.

That one moment is all I need to remind myself why I seek the adventure. And the many hours outside in the dark gives me plenty of time to think, "yeah, I'm f@#king doing this." It's quite exhilarating. I. Am. LIVING.

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