Tuesday, January 3, 2012

100 Miles in 24 Hours

my brief life as a zombie

I used a voice recorder to capture my thoughts during the San Francisco New Year's One Day Race.  So instead of a tedious race report, here is the much more real, humorous and honest unedited transcript.

San Francisco New Year's One Day start/finish, photo by Steve Wyrostok

Running with Daniela
Before 9 a.m. start - It's a beautiful day.  I feel the need to pray, so I don't know if that's a good sign or a bad sign.  Orange sun coming up on the way over.  Clear, pretty nervous, to be expected.  Let's get going.

11 a.m. (13 miles) - All this talk of all the scenery in Crissy Field and all I'm really doing is looking right ten feet in front of me.  But, uh, I think the scenery will be more inspiring.  Super clear day,
shadows on the cliffs of the Marin Headlands.  Clear as I look out to the west.  But I am a little more tired than I thought I'd be two hours into the run.

2 hours into it

Running with Brian Witchel, Daniela
and Nick Burton
11:15 a.m. (15 miles) - First visitor, Joe McGee, my grandfather.  Which is fitting - he was there at the start of everything.  Daniela ran a lap with me.  Perfect pacing.  1/12th of the way done.  Oh My God!  No fractions.

Noon (20 miles) - Staring at that bridge.  I'm a runner by the bridge, runner near the bridge, not quite a runner on the bridge...yet.

There are people who are walking this whole thing.  Can't quite figure that out.  I'll ask them around midnight what their motivation is.  There's a guy with gold sparkly Converse high tops.  I think I need to talk to that guy.  There's another guy running, or rather walking, along with bushy gray hair.  He's got an American River 50 Mile Race jacket on, circa 1982.  He's got pants on, I think.  No pretense of running, he's like a ghost of his former self.  He's kind of freaking me out.

Distractions are key.  Can't wait until friends start to show up to run with.

12:30 p.m. (23 miles) - Oh yeah, this is New Year's Eve.  Surreality has begun. Starting to lose sense of time but I know it's 12:30.  Almost 23 laps.  Caught my shadow at the west end and I looked like Ron Cey or Bill Russell, 1970's LA Dodgers, feathered hair.  

So the hair, everybody wants to know about the hair.  I haven't said much.  Here's the deal with the hair: I haven't cut it since I started training last summer.  Wasn't sure exactly why.  I kind of like having a lot of hair again.  There's one side of the coin where people support others who have cancer by cutting their hair off, kind of a solidarity thing.  That's cool, I understand that but I think if I could talk to Chris he'd say "go for the 'fro".  Yeah, "go for the 'fro".  If you got hair grow it.  If you got legs run.  If you got a sense of humor use it.  So as long as I still have hair I'll let it grow.

late in the day, photo by Steve Wyrostok

Running with Nell Branco, photo by Steve Wyrostok
lost in thought
Running with Eric Schroeder, photo by Steve Wyrostok
Yeah, you smile now..., photo by Steve Wyrostok
With grandfather Joe McGee and daughter Daniela Sebastian, photo by Steve Wyrostok
1 p.m. (26 miles) -  Over the next six hours, the following friends and family came to Crissy Field to run, shout encouragement and lend a helping hand:
Joe McGee
McKee Family - Sue, Andy, Vivi and Lily
Kirsten Wojcik and Mike, Finleigh and Keely Levinson
Erica and Art Andreas
Mimi Downes and Granger and Granger Tripp, Jr. 
Jill Sterrett and Grey Sterrett
Branco Family - Nelson, Nell and Marisa
Davidson Family - Amy, Trent and Aaron
Jonathan Burton and Nick Burton
Anna Simmons and Mike, Owen, Griffin and Isabel Waite
Maria Makela and Neal Benezra
Witchel Family - Stacey, Brian, Isabel and Jake
Kristen Wolcott
Schroeder Family - Eric, Susan, Riley and Georgia
Kenji Hirabayashi
John Krause
Steve Wyrostok
Hank Floyd
Lisa Sebastian and Daniela Sebastian

Thank you - I love you all

When the lights go down in the city..., photo by Steve Wyrostok
Getting psyched for the night
7 p.m. (51 miles) - Seven o'clock and then they were gone.  I just had a steady stream of visitors, lots of people, it was...it just definitely helped with the last...uhm, six hours go by.

Now, sitting on a stool, looking at the bridge, about to eat my dinner of a turkey sandwich, banana and Gatorade.  Legs are super tired, a little tight.  But I'm warm now and it's cool.  No big epiphanies quite yet, but the night is young.  This coffee is the bomb - thank you, Kirsten.

9 p.m. (62 miles) - I just had a good two hour spell.  I figured out that I was running too slow actually.  I was tightening up.  Running faster was actually easier.  And I was wondering where that came from.  Was that you Chris?

10:30 p.m. (66 miles) - Just saw UFO's.  1,2,3.  One left.  Now there's two. Alright, and uh, I know what I was going to say but I forgot...oh, I know this, uh, I know what's going to happen.  I figured it out, epiphany time.  So you don't know, but you will know by the end of...by the end...we're all looking at UFO's...and you'll know by the end of this entry.  I just need to get to 80, that's the plan.

In case we forgot
11:30 p.m. (69 miles) - Just when I think I am out of this race and ready to walk the rest of it, I kind of...rise up.  There's a...I think Chris is messing around with me.  I want Brandi (Chris' wife) to know that people love her and want to do everything they can to help her, including doing crazy things like this.  Maybe that bit of truth is more valuable than the money I'll give her for Headrush.

12:40 a.m. (72 miles) - I have 8 hours and 20 minutes to run 28 miles.  It's doable, crazy that I'm considering that that's a challenge.  That's just two more miles than a marathon, which I usually do in three hours.  Wacky.

1:30 a.m. (76 miles) - Got my routine down: Four laps hard, one lap cool down, stop, sit, eat, one lap warm up, repeat.

2:30 a.m. (80 miles) - My friends Kenji and Krause just showed up with some chicken noodle soup from Susan.  It was the best chicken noodle soup in the world. Earlier I had the best oranges in the world.  I've also had the best cookies, bananas and water in the world.  In this state, everything is now the best in the world.

3 a.m. (82 miles) - My body feels beat up.  Even my brain feels beat up from focusing on this one task for so long.  I'm having trouble thinking straight about anything else than 100 miles.

4 a.m. (86 miles) - I just saw a poodle on the course.  No wait, that was another runner's hairy legs lit up by his headlamp.

5:30 a.m. (91 miles) - For the second time I almost fell asleep in the porta-potty.  I was lucky to have my friend Nelson there to come knock on the door.

7 a.m. (96 miles) - There's this older guy named Rocket who been plugging along the whole time.  I just ran by him and he said, "There he goes, like a metronome.  Jesus Almighty!"  Ah, new friends.  He doesn't realize I'm the same guy when I'm bunched up in sweats walking a slow lap every hour.  To that guy he says, with a pat on the back, "You're doing great."

8 a.m. (99 miles) - 94 laps equals 99.75 miles.  That means I have to do 95.  I ran a quarter of a mile and there was a stop sign.  OK.  The one person I needed to see most came running up to me near the end.  Lisa walked the last half mile with me, which took almost 30 minutes.

Not as miserable as I look on the last mile
January 3rd, 2012 - I made allusions to a surprise, to a plan, to an epiphany. Back in October, I decided I was going to run home after the event as a symbolic gesture.  "Of what?" you ask.  It had something to do with the desire I think we all have to create and be in a place where we are safe.  My epiphany was that if I only made it to 80 miles, I could run the 20 miles home for an even 100.

What was I thinking?  It was a good bit of hubris to believe I could run 100 miles for the first time and then simply tack on another 20.  At the end I felt an exhaustion deeper than I ever felt in my 42 years of living.

But more importantly, I realized I was already home.  When that grand sun came up Sunday morning and I thought back to all the family and friends that came out to help me, I knew I didn't travel those 100 miles alone.  See how many times I referenced friends in the account above?  They fed me, held my hoody up for me, slapped me high-fives, walked with me, ran with me.  I've never been good at asking for help when I need it and that hasn't always served me well.  But you know what?  People like to help, people want to help.  We've all felt the deep satisfaction of being there for someone.  We don't need to look into it in any further.

Everyone who was at Crissy Field, in presence or in heart, lost someone too.  I heard the stories.  Brandi isn't the only one.  There's been more to this whole Headrush/24 hour endeavor than raising money.  It's about us all seeing that we are not alone.  Together we find the strength to carry on beyond 100 miles, whatever our hardship.  It ain't over...

So if home is where the heart is, then here at Crissy Field I don't need to run another step.

8:30 a.m. (100 miles) - I had decided at 2 a.m. that I was going to stop at 100 miles no matter the time.  By 8:35 I was asleep in the best sleeping bag in the world.

And to all, a goodnight...

"Voices from the sky say rely on your best and it'll pull you through.
But even if I wanted to I couldn't really truly because my only friend is you."
Prince, Thieves in the Temple

"No road is too long in the company of a friend." 
Anonymous from the Headrush website (how did I miss that before?)


  1. testing open comments

  2. WOW! You did it!!
    We did one loop between 6 and 7 p.m. walking, of course, but didn't find you. Arthur was so disoriented from the effort, he didn't know it was Lisa I was talking to, till we got in the car. We couldn't imagine what you would be facing (or not) for the next 14 hours. We're glad you were fortified by the best coffee, the best chicken noodle soup, the best oranges, the best water, the best friends and, ultimately, the best sleeping bag in world. However, no doubt, it was Daniella who boosted your morale and Lisa who saw you to the finish line, and, above all, it was Chris who allowed you this monumental accomplishment.

    Erika (and Arthur)


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