Author Archives: Chris M

Hi my name is Chris AKA Across the Years 2013-14 Race Report Part 3

Hi my name is Chris
I need help
Will you talk to me
Will you help me?

Being at 78 miles felt good (meaning I had less than a quarter of the way to go) but it also felt like a long long way and I was hurting. I actually remember it feeling like an eternal length to go as soon as I hit that distance. I was just so slow and I knew the night was coming and the ensuing cold and and I wanted to get it over with as soon as I could but I knew that it would take many hours. It did begin to feel somewhat surreal..  there was only one thing on my mind (getting to 100) but there was also these 100 thoughts clouding my head at some points and then long stretches of thinking of nothing at all….

Not even moving forward…
Just nothing at all.
It was perfect.
And exactly why I came out there.

I got to mile 80 and it was a nice feeling, but I really didn’t know how I would make it. I was moving but so slowly and it was not any fun at all at this point… but then I think the tough parts of almost all races aren’t any fun. They really aren’t… whether it is an 800m to a 6 Day.. racing isn’t fun… it is tough and sometimes (as I was experiencing at this point in my race) quite horrible.

Thinking about it now as I write this… I have been really trying my best (and I think generally doing a reasonable job) of describing my feelings as I went through this race but I don’t think it is possible to completely do so. The last 20 miles (and especially the last 10) were tough and unpleasant in a way that we never get in our real lives (or in a shorter distance race) and the further I get away from it, the more like a dream those last 20 miles seem… but they were so very real.

To be honest from about 6:00pm to Midnight is somewhat of a blur… I don’t know exactly when I hit certain miles (oh as an aside.. when I got home my Garmin had completely lost this entire race! And actually about a months worth of workouts before it. I believe that it has to do with there being so much information captured during the race that it couldn’t store it all and so just didn’t save it… which kind of stinks but..) and exactly what order certain things happened (there is the whole being up for over 36 hours at that point thing…) but I remember the major events that had any impact and that is what I will put down here.

I remember quite distinctly two separate male runners expressing shock and sincere admiration that I was still out there plugging away late that night because of how slow I was and the obvious effort I was putting into my miles. One of them is shown below

Runner that I helped continue at Across the Years race

He was a super sweet guy (I will probably never know his name) and lived in Phoenix and I had talked to him a bit the first day and a half but the first time that he saw me this second night (maybe around 8:30pm) he said

Wow you are still out here? That is so awesome! You just keep going! I am impressed. I told my wife about how determined you looked and we wondered if you would still keep going.

Yeah there was no way that I came all the way out here, spent all the money, put in all the training and effort and was going to miss my goal by a few miles. Oh and Thanks.

Then about 3 hours later, I saw him again with a big smile on his face (alternating with the grimace of the effort he was putting in) and he said that he discussed it with his wife and while he was seriously thinking about packing it in and going back to his house (I think that decision was probably easier to contemplate because he lived in Phoenix)…

If you are still out here, then I am going to stay out here and do my best to hit 100!

That is so great man! That truly makes me feel good (for a few good minutes until the struggle kicks back in) and gives even more worth to what I am trying to do. To know that I had an impact like that is something that I will take with me from this race.

If I remember right (and unfortunately I don’t know his name or his bib number so that I can look it up), he was about 12 miles behind me at that point so I don’t know if he hit 100 or not but I know that he accomplished one hell of a lot by continuing to be out there giving it his best!

I forgot to write earlier that right before the sun went down (and I don’t remember exactly how the question came up but) there was a girl and another male runner and he asked what day of the week it was and we literally didn’t know and couldn’t figure it out. We both said “I don’t know”. I knew that is was either Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday but that was it! That was a great moment that helped to encapsulate the gentle insanity that all 3 of us were living through and one that I will always remember 🙂

Around 10:00pm, I saw Z again (if you missed Part 1 please refer to it for info on Z) and he was walking slowly. He went again to his course-side table with his wife and hugged her and kissed her for support, sat down in his chair and sort of hunched over (in obvious pain and exhaustion). As I was moving slowly anyway, I just sort of shuffled over a bit closer to his table and waited for him to raise his head and briefly stared at him expressionless and then slightly shook my head. I am certain that I saw a barely perceptible sigh and dropping of his shoulders before I moved on.

I guess running a 48 Hour race isn’t easy after all huh Z!!

One of the few things that kept me going at that point (besides this just relentless desire to keep going) was the expectation of the upcoming New Years Eve celebration! I knew that there would be one from the website before I came out to the race, but I didn’t know how much of a motivating source it would be at 10:00pm on my second night. I just wanted to stay out there on the course until that celebration (and I knew it would easily be one of the most memorable New Years Eve’s for me ever) and then figure out how the rest of the morning was going to go.

At about 11:35pm, I had finished another loop and had to decide whether or not to go out for one more because I knew how slow I was doing them and I really really didn’t want to miss being there at midnight. I decided that I was more scared of losing that 25 minutes to hitting my goal and so went out for one more loop before the celebration. About a third of the way into the loop I started to get nervous though because I wasn’t sure that I would make it… so I sped up to an 18:00 – 20:00 minute pace (it is so funny to write that I sped up to 3 MPH pace but it is the reality of where a lot of us were at at that point) and it was hard and uncomfortable (as if much of anything was comfortable at that point) but I made it with about 4 minutes to spare. The tables were set up

New Years Celebration at Across the Years

with both champagne and sparkling cider to celebrate. I decided on the cider because I was entirely too terrified at that point of drinking the champagne and having it put me to sleep. What was so awesome was that everyone from all of the races (whether or not those races had already been completed, were in progress or had yet to start) were invited to come back down for the New Years Eve celebration and I would say most of them did. The whole area was packed with runners and it was fun. Suddenly the quiet of night was broken up by a raft of activity and chatter. They set off some horns at the stroke of midnight and we all had a glass of whatever we were having and then as a group (all together and at approximately the same pace) did one loop together. That was really special and so very cool. What an awesome event I was apart of that would think to do something like that. There weren’t any fireworks set off by the race itself but maybe a mile or two outside of the field (at a couple different venues I think) there were fireworks going off the entire time we did the loop. So cool!!

That fun feeling really helped and made me feel better for about 15 minutes of that loop, but then things got to their toughest point of the race.

It was about 12:30, I had 15 miles left and it was at this point where what I felt was mostly agony… it was also at this point when I found that on top of everything else that they did right to put on an amazing event… the Race Directors also were magicians because they had made the course 4 times as long! Every turn to get to that next short straightaway of the loop felt like a literal eternity to get to.. it is a feeling that is really hard to understand not having been there but trying to start another loop was a horrible prospect because it took so long to get it done and I was such a wreck.

It was with about a Half Marathon to go (which ended up taking longer than I could actually make it take now.. unless I just stopped every few miles to take a long break and crawled it) that a really talented Masters runner stopped me for a bit to talk.

Victor Vella at Across the Years Race 2013

He is on the right with the white shirt and I later learned his name is Victor Vella. I assumed he was Italian from his accent, but it was confirmed that he was from Rome when I looked at the race results. I also thought him to be a bit older than I, but could not have guessed that he was 60 years old. I guess staying in shape does help keep you looking younger!

Anyway, he was a nice guy who liked to talk to anyone that would listen and we had this conversation that went basically like this…

So how are you doing?

Well I am moving but I am hurting pretty bad and going slow. Not able to really run anymore but at least I am moving forward.

Did you go out too fast?

No I didn’t go out too fast! I am just at mile 87, have been out here for almost 40 hours and am really beat up. This is my first 48 Hour or 100 Miler and it is just really hard for me. I said with a bit of shaking of my head like Am I supposed to feel fresh if I didn’t go out too fast? I wasn’t offended and know he meant nothing by asking that because he was genuinely a nice guy… he just couldn’t really grasp how someone would be hurting after 87 miles.

You seem like a real natural at this running thing. When he was running he seemed light as a feather and with perfect form. Are you having fun?

Yes I have a real gift, but I don’t actually like running (funny there are a lot of times when I can relate to that.. the not liking running part not the “gift” part) but after many years decided that I should do something with that gift and so I am pursuing breaking a World Record. 

Wow that is great! Amazing to be able to be that gifted that you can do attempt something like without a passion for doing it.

Well there aren’t too many at my age doing these multi day things, and so I just thought I should try for a World Record. I need to start running more though but I am having too much fun talking with everyone… these type of events are so social.

Yeah I know what you mean. Well best of luck! That is very cool.

Victor ended up with 300 miles in the 6 Day and I don’t know if that is a WR or not, but it is damned awesome to me. He was fun having out on the course and really interesting to me that he didn’t like running yet was doing it.

So…. I had been up for about 46 hours at this point (since I woke up at 3:00am on Monday morning) and I will say that it was starting to have an impact on my visual interpretation of the outside world. I can’t say that I actually saw things that weren’t there (although honestly for a few moments here or there I was waiting for that lion to jump out of the bush.. I was pretty twitchy) but what I did see was much more “pronounced”. The lights were a really unique shade of white and/or red (depending on the light), the silver of the chained link fence and the specks in the small rocks were all different. Almost impossible to fully describe (because it was that unusual) but the intensity and hue of the colors were displayed to me in a way that I had never experienced… and may never again. This happened quite suddenly and forcefully. I wasn’t shaken by it as I was actually expecting something even more serious, but it was quite memorable and lasted for about an hour and a half.. until my vision actually got “duller”. That is the only way I can describe the remaining hours sights.

As I started the lap that would have me cross into mile 90, things entered “even worse” territory. I was averaging about 35:00 min pace and was not moving forward well but more of a left to right progress with some forward movement. I also got incredibly tired and really annoyed. My emotions were at their lowest point yet. I wasn’t sad or feeling sorry for myself.. I was pissed off. Pissed about nothing really in particular (wanting to get off the course was a definite thought that went through my head a lot at that point… never quitting.. I never did entertain the thought of quitting once.. but I definitely thought about the idea if somehow I could just stop and still get the 100 miles I would have been fine with it 🙂 but just really annoyed). I was in a heavy and sudden emotional and physical bonk. I didn’t know what to do, but I really wanted someone to make it all better somehow. I didn’t think I had an opportunity for that to happen, but it was my desire.

I noticed the halfway point aid station up ahead (a faint light in the darkness of that point in the course) and had this completely overwhelming desire for that becoming this magical place where I would get somehow reborn. It was a desperate thought but I was in a desperate state. When I got nearer to it, I noticed what seemed like a nice woman sitting there and she smiled as she saw me…
Hi my name is Chris
I need help
Will you talk to me
Will you help me?

We talked about my desire to hit my goal of 100 and she kept telling me how great I would feel when I did it, but then I would tell her how incredibly awful I felt and how much I didn’t want to keep going but at the same time was definitely not going to stop until I reached my goal..

What should I do?
I really don’t know what to do at this point.
I am worried to try to sleep for fear of not waking up and having the race be over, but at the same time I am in the utter throes of a zombie death march and am very unhappy and barely moving.

You look really frazzled and I think you should take a nap. You have enough time and it will do you good. You are going to make it. It will be so great!

I then sat there and talked with her for a few more minutes (mostly to attempt to stave off the impending getting off of the chair and attempting to move again thing) and definitely had calmed down. I still didn’t know what I was going to do or how I was going to do it, but I felt better enough to try and move forward. Without talking with her… I am not sure what I would have done at mile 90. I don’t know if I will ever know exactly how it may have played out, but I will always be grateful to that women at the aid station who talked to me when I really needed someone to talk to.

I got up with the greatest of difficulty (and really didn’t want to leave the relative comfort of that tent) and tried to move again… but it was horrible. I remember feeling like I literally wasn’t making any forward progress at all (when the reality was I was going forward just not in a straight line and very slowly) and pretty quickly the extreme annoyance came back.

Things weren’t working and I needed to talk with someone again. I sort of felt like I was in Kindergarten and desperately needed the comfort of an adult to tell me everything was going to be ok.

When I finally did make it back around to finish that loop, I came back to the aid station to try and get something to eat and drink and my court jester friend Ed was there. I told him how I was feeling and he asked if I was in “Zombie mode” (how many other groups of people ever have that question come up amongst themselves in a legitimate fashion). I told him “Yes. Definitely.” and he said to take a couple hour nap. That I simply must and I will feel better and more like myself again. That the time I take out to take that nap will more than make up for itself in my being able to get out there and get my movement back. I thanked him so much for the advice and was finally willing to take it because it came from a much better and more experienced runner than myself. I guess I needed that (to be told to rest from someone I really respected athletically) to finally be able to attempt it. I hope to interview Ed soon and will tell him how much I appreciated his kind approach and thoughtful advice. It helped me more than he will know.

I really thought I needed to be around other people to try and sleep (I recognize how odd that sounds) because I was simply too worried to attempt to go to my tent and sleep with the serious possibility of sleeping too much. It had also been my experience from the night before that it was almost impossible to sleep in my tent and wanted to attempt to get at least an hour… so I went to the “hot tent” (which I had been to a few times previously) to try and get some rest in. I wasn’t sure yet if it would be an hour of just laying there (which in and of itself might help) or if it would be actual sleep.

I want to try and describe what that tent was like at this point in the race… because I don’t think you experience anything like it almost anywhere else. And the best way I can describe it is a MASH tent without the bloodied bodies.

MASH tent 2013 - 2014 Across the Years Race

It was just so eerily quiet and like walking into a place where the almost dead went to try and rest from the battle… Ok in some ways that is exactly what it actually was. There was a big industrial propane heated heater on the ground in the middle and most were huddled around it. Some were just lying on the floor in a fetal position right next to it, others were on chairs either slumped over asleep or just staring off into the distance… every now and again a few would talk but it was kind of quiet/loud. An eerie quiet from no one talking but also the sound of the heater and the rustling of the tent itself. It was a welcome refuge from what we were faced with outside of the tent but not a place that you ever would choose to be. Big enough for many to be in there (there were probably 10) and the look on everyone’s eyes was varying degrees of suffering. If you see a zombie horror movie and those that are being chased by the zombies finally find refuge in a long abandoned part of a building and just sit there and stare out into space from utter exhaustion and almost helplessness… then you get a sense of how that room felt.

All that having been written… I am very thankful that it was there because it was a necessary part of my being able to continue on.

I looked around for a good place to sit and sat down near the heater where most others were. I just sat there in a semi-broken state at first hoping for some sort of miracle that would make me somewhat whole again. Then (as I usually do.. just social I guess.. talking sort of helps me) I started up a conversation with a woman across the circle of us that had just walked in with her 100 Mile buckle.

Yay! That is so awesome! Congratulations! Is it your first (100)?

No. I have completed 7 but this one was really tough in its own way. I am taking a long break and then going to determine if I want to go out again for some more miles.

This is my first attempt and I am intensely beat up. It seems to be getting harder. I have heard that the last 10 miles are the hardest?

Yes they always are! You so desperately want to finish but you just have to go on. They can be terrible, but you get an adrenaline rush with about 6 miles to go (I was hoping for one but it never came… just an intense desire to get it over with… it sounded like something to look forward to when she said it though) and it is worth it!

My feet feel swollen (I wasn’t sure because I hadn’t taken my shoes or socks off since the one time that I did it the day before.. but I was pretty certain they were because they felt like it). Have you ever had anything like that?

Mine are swollen right now and they usually get swollen at 100’s.

What should I do when I am done with this to help? ( I knew about ice.. but didn’t expect that I would be willing to do that after the race)

Elevate your legs for 3 days whenever you can. After one race I didn’t and I went to see the doctor and my Achilles almost ruptured because of the pressure (wow… scary!). And ice helps too.

Ok I will definitely make sure to try and keep it elevated. Thanks. And it is nice to know that I am not the only one that feels like the last 10 miles are utter brutality.

Barefoot Jake Brown was in the tent too and it was really cool to see him (I don’t know… sort of felt like a “barefoot” brother and was just comforting somehow… I tried to latch onto any source of comfort that I could) and he was talking about how he had gotten really bad cramps and had to call it quits much earlier than he wanted to. That was a not uncommon theme at the race.. runners not hitting their goals for various reasons and it being harder than they expected.

I had already decided to take a nap (my goal being one of an hour or less.. I would have accepted it if I was out for two hours but definitely couldn’t be any longer… the thought of being out for any longer was just more and more terrifying because of it’s potential to impact my being able to hit my goal by 9:00am) so I tried to think of a way to help ensure that I woke up in a half hour. I had my phone with me and I could have used the alarm on it but I was kind of nervous relying on it because it was relatively low on batteries and I wasn’t certain that it would wake me up… if you aren’t sensing it yet… nerves were something that I was overflowing with in that tent… the combination of complete physical and emotional exhaustion and desperately wanting to hit my goal compounded them. I happened to notice what looked like (and turned out to be) a really nice woman at the other end of the tent talking with a few runners (Barefoot Jake being one of them if I remember right) and she seemed (I suppose because she wasn’t in running gear and didn’t look overly destroyed) to be a member of the aid crew… but that was just a guess initially.

I asked her if she was a member of the crew and if so if there was any type of alarm they might have. She said she was working at the aid station and that she would be more than happy to wake me up whenever I wished to be woken up. I thanked her (probably more than necessary because of the state I was in) but said I didn’t want to trouble her to have to remember to do that (and to be honest the second reason was that I was just so nervous about sleeping too long that I didn’t want her remembering to be the only guarantee of my waking up… it wasn’t anything personal at all just a sign of my desperation at that moment) but did she possibly have any kind of alarm available that I could borrow? I thought it was a real long shot but she said that she did have a timer that they used in the kitchen and that I could borrow that. She went to get it and showed me how to use it (twice because I was so out of it 🙂 ) and I set it for 1 hour and put it on this table next to my chair (a reclining chair that I had found in the back of the tent that had a blanket already set into it… the most comfortable looking chair in the tent… and one that I was later to find out when I came back for another rest was someone’s chair.. he let me know in no uncertain terms… Sorry! I didn’t know..). I didn’t think that the table was close enough so I actually laid the timer on my chest so as to have the ringing as close to my ears as I could. I cannot say enough about the kindness of this woman. I couldn’t find a picture of her in the race photos, but she is one more woman that I will never forget and helped me so much more than she knows. She was just a wonderfully sweet and kind woman and truly went above and beyond the call of duty for me (and I am sure for many other runners).

Before I attempted to sleep, I checked my phone again to see if there were any cool tweets or texts or emails from friends and followers. An email came through from a good friend of mine fellow St. Louis Ultrarunner Mike Linkogel. We had been writing each other for a few months prior to the race talking about strategy and training etc. He is a more accomplished runner than I and has run many 100 milers. Right as I was about to try and sleep an email from him came through…

Subject:  NOW!!!!
Been following you online.  Read twitter posts.  Says to the point each lap takes everything you have got.
Now is the time my friend.  When all you have got is gone and you still take the next step.  This is where you find something totally new!!
Lots of time.  Get them done!!!

Well to say that this was a fantastic email to get at that time was an understatement! The thought of not continuing on had never entered my mind, but I was in a very very tough place and every lap was taking everything that I had. I l knew that he was right but it was just so awesome to have him be up and following me and thinking to write that out meant a lot (both then and now). It was cool to have him in my corner right then.

I emailed back…

I’ll have a lot more to write to you on the weeks ahead.. But I am taking care of it. A few more loops and it’s in the bag.
I was about to write some type of thoughts on it… But honestly not sure what to say yet except…
I am one relentless bastard!

Then I put my phone away, checked the alarm to make sure that it was set for one hour and laid there trying to fall asleep but it wasn’t happening quickly. I remember just looking over the others that were there, taking in the back and forth of the warmth and cold, the utter stillness of the room and feeling of isolation even with the dozen or so runners there. I tried to adjust my legs above my head but not too much… I wanted my feet to drain a bit but was also worried about how my legs were going to be when I had to start moving again. I was really worried about that… it was hard enough to get moving again when I took a 5-10 minute break but what would it be like after an hour?

I pulled my hat down over my eyes so that I could only barely see and I was finally able to go in and out of sleep for about a half hour. Then I looked back at the alarm and it had about 5 minutes to go and I decided that I had had enough and was ready to try and get moving again. At this point it probably goes without saying that getting out of that chair was horrible, but it was horrible! I looked back at the rest of the runners in the tent as I got close to the entrance and just sort of nodded that I would see them again soon.

There were these two latches on the part of the tent that opens up to let us in and out… it was just common courtesy to relatch those latches when you got in or left because it helped keep the warmth in. Every time from that point forward when I went to take those latches off to get back outside my heart sank for a moment… because I knew that it would immediately be cold again and I would have to start the next loop.

At the midpoint aid station of that next loop, I saw the sweet lady that had talked to me a couple of hours before.. and she had received a propane heater and had actually nodded off. I was happy that they had got her a heater because it was really cold (especially just sitting) but seeing her sleeping there somehow made me feel the craziness of my situation that much more… I mean it was early in the morning on January 1st… people should either be partying or asleep.. but not walking like a partially dead person around a baseball field.

I remember seeing the runner below at the beginning of the race (I don’t know her name or how well she ended up doing unfortunately) and seeing her many times over the course of the two days, but there was a short conversation at around mile 96 that a couple next to me had as she was going by and they remarked on how fast she continued to walk and her seeming so effortless. It was really impressive and a great lesson (I wrote about walking being important at the beginning of my training posts last summer but didn’t do nearly enough of it.. which is kind of funny.. I knew that it was important but still didn’t do it very much) that being a great walker can take you very far in an ultra! Your ability to walk can have a profound impact especially in a multiday. Yes there are a select minority that can run most of the time they are out during their multidays, but for the vast majority there will be significant periods (more as the days go on) of walking and if you can maintain a 15:00 min pace walking deep into your race you will obviously end up with more miles than if you walking is reduced to a slugs pace. She looked good and just kept hammering out the miles. Like I wrote… I don’t know how many more miles she got than me but my guess is at least 20 -30. I really think walking should be a serious part of ones training for a multiday. If I ever do another one of these, it will be a big part of my training. I mean if you can maintain a 15:00 min pace for a couple of days… you would be among the top! It was cool to watch her and while I may never see her again.. my hats off!
Strong walker at Across the Years race

As I had written when I wrote about the conversation with the lady in the tent who said that you generally get an adrenaline rush with around 7 – 8 miles to go… it never happened for me. I just got an intense (no the word intense doesn’t cut it… overwhelming is perhaps better) desire to be done. Each loop after 90 I would take another short break in the hot tent and then work up the courage to get back out there.. and each time I really wanted it to be over. I don’t remember too much of consequence from miles 95 – 100 except learning that I had to get over 100 miles to get my buckle. I had thought that when I reached the loop where I hit in the middle of 99 miles that I could do an out and back (like I had been able to do at other timed races) to hit the 100 miles… well I was told that it didn’t work that way and that I had to do another full loop. I know that that doesn’t sound like such a big deal perhaps, but at the time each loop was a massive and long struggle and the thought of having to do one more than I anticipated was a serious punch to the gut but rules are rules and I was going to abide by them like everyone else.

Throughout the couple of days that I was out there, I remembered that the race directors would start ringing cowbells when someone had reached their goal. I thought that was really awesome and was looking forward to it on my last loop. As I turned the second to last corner (I remember I was going counter clockwise on that loop) I was calling out to anyone that would listen that

I am about to finish my first 100 miler!!

and there was a really nice woman who was crewing for her husband (who was taking a break with her) who cheered me on and I thanked her very much and asked her if she would take a picture of me before I crossed the line… but it was right then that I noticed that my phone was dead!! 🙁 I was overcome for a few seconds. She said no problem that she would take the pictures with her phone and text them to me. Awesome! That initial photo is below

Hitting 100 miles at Across the Years 2013

I also asked (rather disappointed at the time to be honest) where the cowbells were since I was about to finish my 100 mile lap? She said that each runners crew would alert the RD’s to their runner hitting their goal (or the runner could alert them the lap before they hit their goal) and I said that I didn’t have a crew.. well then she took off to the finish line to tell them and as I was about 100 feet away the cowbells came out! It felt really amazing to hear them I have to say and I am so thankful for that woman to tell them (there were so many amazing people out at that race!).

I then asked her to take a picture of me at the finish… I really had a lot of reflective clothing on 🙂

Hitting 100 miles under the clock at Across the Years

I then asked Jamil (he is such a cool guy) if he would be willing to take a picture with me of his handing me my 1st 100 mile buckle over (my shoes look like I was just in a trail race 🙂 it was that dusty out there)

Receiving my 100 mile belt buckle from Jamil at Across the Years - Chris Mavromatis

I had finally received my buckle! Yay! And then I was instantly ready to leave! Immediately!

I knew that my tent was locked and I just wanted to go. So that is what I did. I made a straight line for my car. On the way there, another runner asked me if I was ok to drive and I said yes I was fine and my hotel was only a couple of miles away. She insisted that she would be happy driving me and I could pick up my car later, and I insisted that I was fine to drive and needed to go. It was nice of her to offer but at the time my desire to lay in my hotel room bed outdid any possible worry about an inability to drive. It was humorous grabbing onto the hood of the car and sort of swinging into it (because my legs were not having anything of it) but once I got driving I was fine.

On the other hand… getting out of the car and staring at the 4 inch curb that I had to step up onto to get to the door of the hotel was incredibly frightening. There was nothing to grab onto to steady myself and I literally stared at it for at least two minutes trying to figure out what to do. I genuinely was worried… worried that I would lift my leg to step up and without anything to steady myself I would fall right over onto the concrete. I found a signpost about 20 feet down the parking lot and shuffled over to it and lifted my leg up and attempted to grab the post. The thing was that that post was farther back than I anticipated and I had to sort of catch it. Oh good grief that was horrifying… but I did and then I pulled my other leg up and made it. Wow.

Luckily everything was flat from that point on to my room. There was some type of major high school baseball tournament going on and a lot of those associated with it were staying at the hotel.. at least a dozen of them saw me on the way up to my room and almost all had a half shocked look on their faces.

Don’t mind me. Just a shuffling zombie trying to get to his room to die. Thanks!

I got to my room and there was nothing to be done but try to get to bed. As I passed through the doors I entered a new phase of the journey though.. it was at that point that it felt done. I had really done it and it had sunk in. No one could take this away from me. I was done.

I laid there for a bit wondering if I could possibly start sleeping after all of that at 7:00am in the morning. I got overwhelmingly hungry within a few minutes and debated back and forth going down to the hotel lobby to try and buy something. I wanted to eat really badly but I also really didn’t want to get up (for fear of falling). I called the lobby to ask if they had anything and they said they did have all sorts of different snack food and drinks. I decided to go down and bought three ice cream bars, a Gatorade, a big bag of cashews and some potato chips. I devoured them as soon as I got back to my room. Damn they were good.

I then fell asleep pretty quickly and slept for 4 hours.

When I got up I was really hungry and thirsty and thought it would be a perfect time to just devour anything I wanted and have 3-4 beers at one of those good restaurants a couple of miles away. But then I thought about the fact that I would have to walk down to my car and drive to those restaurants and that was just way too scary. I literally did not think I could do that as much as I wanted to.. just wasn’t worth the pain and the risk… so I called up the hotel concierge to see if any pizza places delivered and he read off a couple that did and recommended a local New York style pizza place. I called them and ordered a large Supreme, 12 chicken wings and a two liter of Dr. Pepper (they didn’t have much of a drink selection and even though I don’t drink soda much at all I was looking forward to it).

I still laugh when I think about this, but… as soon as I hung up the phone I started going to the door of the room! I was really worried that if I laid in bed that they would knock and I would try to tell them that I was coming and they would leave by the time I got there 🙂 So I crawled to the door and just sat there waiting for the order. I devoured everything within an hour and never felt particularly full.

I then had a terrifying thought around how in the world I was going to get the stuff out of my tent the next day to take back with me. I had a lot of expensive stuff in there, but it would have literally been impossible to pack it up and take it back to my car at that point. There was simply no way. I knew that asking for help was a possibility, but I felt like it was so much work (so many trips) that I would have felt like a jerk (for some reason). I really didn’t know how that was going to work. For a couple of hours I just laid on the couch at the front of the room and watched some UFC fights on Fox Sports One. I don’t remember doing much else that afternoon. I went back to bed around 6:00pm and went to sleep until the morning… sleeping maybe 11 hours.

I was able to walk slightly better when I woke up. Quite slow still for certain but with reasonably improved stability. That was a good feeling because I thought that I could possibly get to my tent and get everything out.

On my way out of the hotel to my car, I noticed my new ultra friend Kelly and asked him how everything went for his race?

I won!

That is fantastic! I have to say that that makes me so happy!

I then went onto describe the dinner I had had with Z the night before my race started, my general disgust with him and asked him he had seen him out on the course?

I did. I had never heard of him or met him before but he started talking to me near at the start before the race. He was telling me about this race he won in Jersey and how great he was. He really came off like a loud mouth jerk right before the race started. As a matter of fact (and this was just too cool) he dictated the first 24 Hours of my race for me. I wanted to be seriously ahead of him by the 24 Hour mark. I went out and ran a 22 min first 5K and had lapped him by the 4th loop! I was so far ahead of him at the 24 Hour mark that he wasn’t a concern.

It is hard for me to describe just how awesome that is!

He then went on to say how they had told him when he was approaching 200 miles (he hit it with over 7 hours left in his 48 hour!) that he was on pace to be able to get in the top 10 in the world if he went the full 48 hours.. but when he had won and also hit the 200 mile mark… he was just done. He had that goal and he was done. If his goal had been to complete the full 48 with as many miles as possible then he would have done that.

I understood that (not the part about being on world record pace 🙂 ) but the idea of being done when you were done. If I would have done two more loops (and I had more than enough time to get 4 or more in) I would have gone up about 25 places in the standings… but there was no way that it was going to happen… I was done at mile 85 mentally so when I hit the 100 I was leaving. No way in the world I could have been convinced to do more loops.


Oh and good old Z… well he ended up more than 50 miles behind him (not saying it was 50 miles and not giving away his identity by writing 50 because it was simply more than 50)… hard to believe I know my friends but I guess things can happen when attempting to run for 48 hours that don’t make it a walk in the park. Poor Z…..


His holding the silver 200 mile buckle.

Kelly Agnew Across the Years 2013

Then I went back to the course and was able to slowly move the stuff from my tent back to my car (thank god). Took me a lot of trips but I got everything out and that was a relief.

I then had some time, so I walked out to the course to watch me some more running!

There were actually a small percentage of runners left on the course because at this point it was mostly just the 6 Day’ers. I saw both Joe and Yiannis go by and went to check there tallies…. they were only a few miles apart! Unbelievable.

I noticed a bearded man helping Joe and I went to talk with him. He was his main coach Richard Shiek (sp?) and he told me that Joe had come to him a few years ago to learn how to train more efficiently. Richard has been an ultrarunner for a few decades and is a renowned coach.

The things I remember him telling me of interest were that Joe trains mostly on roads but comes to run the trails with him a couple weekends a month (less often I think over the last year) and finds them really challenging. He likes the road and track but doesn’t have the same speed or endurance on the trails. He is an ultrarunner that doesn’t really like the trails but feels more at home on the roads (and he is world class in the ultra distances on the roads and track). That was so cool to hear, because (while I am not world class or much of any class 🙂 ) I also gravitate towards the roads and track and am not as comfortable and generally don’t enjoy the trails as much… and Joe is one damn incredible ultrarunner! You don’t have to love the trails to be an ultrarunner… just that simple! I found an interview with Joe that they did right after he finished (and I am going to try and contact him to see if I can get an interview… he seemed like a very cool guy). It is very much worth a view!

Yiannis also came off as a very sweet guy and I will admit that I was rooting for a fellow Greek but Joe seems like a great guy and what an unbelievable race they put forth together… just unfreaking real! After 6 days of racing they both ran over 550 miles and ended only 5 miles apart! I was witness to a race of legend. That is just the truth.

And my new friend Ed finished in 3rd with over 450 miles! Way to go Ed and thanks again for the help!

The rest of my time there was uneventful but my attempting to get home was a nightmare.. because of the storms that weekend I was stuck in 4 different airports for 36 hours (without sleep… that was exactly what I wanted after that race)…. but in the big scheme of things that didn’t matter at all.

A very special thank you and shout out to my sponsor Fitletic. Their support before, during and after the race helped me very much and I am honored to be an Ambassador of their brand.

My Across the Years 2013-2014 48 Hour experience was wonderful, horrible, exhilarating, dreadful, brilliant, frightening and fantastic… but ultimately it was simply a lot more than I was expecting and I was expecting a lot. It proved to me how tough I am and gave me memories that will last me a lifetime and are completely mine.

I absolutely loved it.

They say you can go into a room of 30 people and almost invariably no one will have run 100 miles… well not if I am in the room!

Chris Mavromatis on course at Aross the Years race

Chris Mavromatis on course at Aross the Years race two

<— Part 2