What an incredible weekend attempting the 48 Dreadmill run followed by the marathon. It all started from an idea among ultra triathlon friends. Steve Harvey (England) mentioned to me that we should do a simultaneous 24-hour run and raise some funds for our respective charities. This would also be good training for our Triple DECA Iron race this Sept. (30 Ironman triathlons in 30 days). My reaction was that many have done 24 hours so let’s try 48 hours. Of course ultra distance athletes all have similar thoughts of pushing the distance and we all concurred 48 hours would be tough, the longer time would increase fund raising, etc. so we were set.
I had done a 24-hour run on the treadmill a few weeks prior to the 48-hour attempt at Vygor Fitness. After covering 100 miles in 22 hours it was clear to me that 48 hours followed by the marathon would be tough especially with trashed feet. However the experience of “time” on the treadmill would help.
I started the run Friday morning at 6:30AM at the Convention Center with the finish to be 6:30AM Sunday. This would allow ample time to walk over to the start of the Marathon for the 7:00AM start. The 4 G&G Fitness treadmills were lined up with tables between for all the various foods and drinks that would be needed for the next several days.
Similar to all endurance events, there would be plenty of highs and lows during this run. The calm before the expo allowed my mind to prepare for the barrage of athletes coming in to get their deals on running gear, packet pick up, etc. Unexpectantly, many media outlets stopped by for interviews and filming on the first day which was good as my mind was still fresh.
The first day of the expo went relatively smoothly as many friends and athletes came by to contribute to Running For Laptops and run a few miles. The miles went by relatively quickly with the conversations. Throughout the day and into the evening, my super crew handled ordering food, preparing energy drinks, etc. which was a huge benefit. The normal blisters were appearing and chafing which is very hard to control with the dry air being inside. Bag Balm helped the feet to some degree but I knew it was inevitable that the feet would become a mess later the next day. One thing about the treadmill is that unlike running outside is the moving belt constantly attacks the feet. It’s very different from running outside on the trails or pavement. Even with the foot issues the first day was the easier day as expected. The miles were clicking by quicker than expected which of course would come back to haunt me later the 2nd day!
The morning of day 2 was difficult before the expo opened to the public. Mentally, I could not wait till 9AM until people started showing up to divert the mind and have some conversations to hear from the runners what their goals were for the half and full marathon. The excitement and electric atmosphere in the convention center was so helpful as I drifted in and out of the “pain zone”. Singing books on the treadmill, listening to the announcer with Michael Wardian’s half marathon treadmill world record attempt, people watching and general conversations made the early hours on Sat. fly by. As the day progressed, I did not realize the amount of energy expelled by all the great conversations and noticed that I was mentally having a hard time thinking through basic math – such as how many miles I had accumulated and what I would expect after adding in the marathon miles from the race on Sunday. Along with the foot pain and blisters, my mind was become mush. I decided to put on some music for a bit just to get my head centered again and refuel and it helped significantly. It was interesting that of all the conversations during the expo there were two questions that everyone asked me: “Do you get a chance to go to the bathroom?” “How do you feel?”. I almost became robotic with my answers when my head was fuzzy. Finally, the next goal was to get till 8PM or so to take a nap.
One item I did not realize was that the expo is completely torn down Sat. evening so it was almost impossible to rest with all the heavy equipment noise. My rest consisted of lying on the treadmill with a blanket. The big benefit was that it was time to rest the feet more than anything else but sleeping was impossible. As expected, Sat. evening through Sunday morning was very difficult mentally and physically and the sleep deprivation was taking a bit of toll as well. With all these long events, the key is to get the mindset of breaking it down into smaller parts. My goal Sat. evening was to get to the morning as I knew it would be a great feeling to get outside and see the sun (I had no access to windows or the outside for 48 hours) and breath in fresh air.
Marathon Sunday had arrived and when I stepped outside to the cool fresh air and the 30,000 runners lining up for the race was sensory overload. The first 10 miles of the marathon went well with a combination of running and walking but I knew after the aid stations closed, the crowds dwindled that it would become a death march. My team that joined along for the marathon slog were amazing. Just a few highlight of the lifetime of memories:
1. Eating Arby’s Roast Beef sandwiches on the wall of the University of Pittsburgh Law School
2. Drinking so much coffee to stay awake and watching my crew running with hot coffee spilling everywhere to catch up to me.
3. Vagabonds digging through empty aid stations for banana’s and gallon jugs of water and Gatorade
4. The continuous conversation, “I think there is a convenience store ahead, we will look for sunglasses, Red Bull, Slim Jims, Water, Ice, Coke.
5. Laying in the grass in Highland Park trying to regroup my brain with 8 miles to go.
6. Carrying the sign the whole way of how many miles were covered and seeing the looks of all the great people we met along the way – who all assumed we were done with the race and just walking back home.
7. The sidewalks – could not believe how difficult walking on uneven payment would be!
8. James, Jan, Steve, David – became a group of Sherpa’s and looked like Vagabonds carrying piles of food in bags.
9. The pizza in Bloomfield that was the added kick of energy to get to the finish.
10. The finish line, seeing everyone still there and just embracing everyone who helped with this journey.
I could not of done this event without all the help from so many individuals. If I forgot anyone, my apologies as my head is still a bit foggy:
Jan (my wife), Steve Harvey (came over from England), William Pruett (came in from Texas), James Archer – Panama City, Panama, Dave Dibella, Clay Abney, Rick Freeman, Ken Lambert – Running for Laptops, G&G Fitness, Philip Westlake, David Murray, the team from Liquid Investments, Hammer Nutrition
As I look back on this event, the memories were definitely from all the incredible people we met along the way. From the expo to the streets in Pittsburgh that’s what I will remember the most. Thanks to everyone who supported me along with your generous contributions to Running For Laptops!