Joggling Lap 3
Within the first 2 miles of the third lap, I thought I’d passed the girl in green. Her biking friends were stopped at a bathroom and I just assumed she was in there. But Kikta pointed her out up ahead. Damn, she’s good.
And speaking of good, as I entered mile 38, the first place runner passed me on his way back. He was over 2 hours faster than me. I was just happy he never lapped me.
I joggled along taking deep breaths to reduce muscle pain and juggling my attention between the Ante Up! podcast in my ear, the conversation with my bike spotters, and the comments of other runners and onlookers as I passed.
“You should use chain saws next time!”
“Are you chewing gum!?”
“There is something seriously wrong with you!”
Yes, but then again there is something seriously wrong with everyone, right?
At a refueling station I saw Running Jayhawk. She asked whether I was still on pace for the record. I was. I asked about her blisters. She said they were bad. I hope she finished. It was impressive that she was still making progress despite her obvious pain. This kind of exchange wouldn’t happen in a regular marathon. Those “short gallops” are all about speed.
When I met my cheering station for the third time there were a whole new crop of people. It was just great. When you see people cheering you on, it energizes you like you wouldn’t believe. I gulped some Gatorade, drank water, ate a few licorice pieces, took a couple more painkillers and joggled on. Less than 2 hours and this race would be done. I was looking forward to that.
On my third trip around the island I saw the girl in green again. She was almost 2 miles ahead of me now. Damn, she’s good. Catching her was unlikely. But there were a couple of guys in my sites. I focused on catching them. First up was a short guy in black. He was walking so I knew it was just a matter of time. Once you start walking a race it’s near impossible to restart. At least it is for me. I soon joggled past him and set my sites on the next guy. He was running faster than me but also taking walking breaks. We exchanged places between miles 40 and 46 until his walking breaks eventually gave me too much of a lead. I never saw him again.
When we passed Soldier Field for the last time John Kelly says, “Hey Perry, you know what mile you’re on?…44!”
It made me smile. It also messed with my brain because I saw another runner approaching and said, “Speaking of 44, look at this guy’s number.” It was 62. Yeah, I was a bit out of it.
The final approach to my cheering section led to my third drop. A gust of wind and a momentary lapse of attention spoiled my longest unblemished juggling streak of over 4 hours. This one was caught in pictures. I picked it up and felt pain pulsing up and down my arms. Ouch! I drank another Gatorade, took a mushy cough drop from my pocket and was off to finish. They were all going to meet me at the finish.
The last 4 miles were a blur. I did everything to distract myself from the pain. Singing along to ELO songs, joking with people we passed, calculating the number of miles left based on the street addresses on the path. Running over 7 and a half hours makes your brain buzz.
With less than 2 miles to go, I came around a curve and had my fourth and final drop. Wind can kill a perfect pattern. Two old people sitting on a bench looked over and smiled. I joked, “Guess I have to start over now!”
I recovered the bag and made my final push. I skipped the last refueling station and pushed through. You gotta finish these races in style. As we came into the final stretch my iPod gave out. Apparently, they last exactly 8 hours and 10 minutes on a full charge. My friend John Kelly started singing a song based on the classic “Go Cubs Go” tune. It went…
It was great. I zoomed around the last curve and saw my whole cheering section scattered along the route, my parents, my siblings, my friends, my wife…it was exhilarating. When I crossed the finish line, I was elated. 8:23:42 was the time on my watch. I had completed a 50 mile ultra marathon and now had the world record for the fastest one joggling at that distance. At least for that moment, no one in the existence of human kind had ever done it faster. One in 6.6 billion.
Now, at least for a little while, I’m not only rare…I’m unique.