I ran 100.78 miles in a two piece business suit

Here I am.  Can't tell you how long I had been at it at this point.  I know I had been going at it more than 24 hours with only 45 minutes of sleep.  I would take another 12 minute nap at some point later in the day.

I look a whole lot more composed than the physical torment I was going through.  I began having issues with my left foot early on.  The struggle began shortly after mile 40, took a lot of mental effort just to get to mile 50.  But that's a longer later story.

For those of you who don't like to read; here's a video to make you feel good about life.

How did we get here?  Especially in a Ministry of Supply two piece?  Matter of fact, where are we?

Let's rewind the clock some 7-8 months earlier.  I began thinking through my fundraising goals for Make-A-Wish AZ, whom I have been fundraising for the past three years now.

First year, I dedicated my 365 day runstreak challenge to fundraising for Make-A-Wish AZ.

Second year, I dedicated my first 100 miler to them.

Sooooo.....  Yeah.  Can't leave me by myself in my head too long or I'll end up in a business suit some 70 miles into a crazed ultra attempt wondering how did this happen?

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So how do we amp up fundraising in 2018?  I began researching the possibility of another crazy distance attempt.  And somewhere in my research I learn or discover there is no known attempts / records of completing a 100 mile ultra in a full costume.

Well I'm not a costume kinda person.  But I do like wearing a tie!  There was nothing I can find anywhere on the internet or within Guinness.  Plus my current work situation doesn't lend itself well to me playing dress-up  often.  Win, Win, Win!  So I commit!

I meet with my fundraising liaison at the Tea and Coffee house nearby and I let her know, "200K in a business suit."  She looks at me kinda crazy.  I even tell her 100 miles is what I was initially thinking but I've done that.  "We need to get people attention", I say enthusiastically.

I don't know if I'm trying to convince her I'm not crazy or myself at this point, but she ekes out an amused "...okay!" 

I reach out to Guinness Book of World records and submit my attempt, only to get a rejection because they only officially acknowledge such feats for marathon distances and shorter only.

😡 @#@* you Guinness I'm still going after my dreams.

I dig in deeper because I was told no.  I recommit.

Further research shows all prior running records in a business suit were achieved wearing Ministry of Supply suits.  So of course, I'm in!  Got my gear!  #letsdothis

Did an initial run in most of the gear at the Javelina Jangover 50K.  Ran 31 miles in shirt, tie, pants, and business casual shoes.  The casual business shoes I would later regret the shoes, as that's where my left foot injury began.

The shoes caused a deep plantar blister that kept returning and eventually would come back to haunt me after the marathon distance on this very day of my 200K attempt in a business suit.

A second run was completed in partial gear on day 1000 of my run streak!  That was a great day running with Henry and watching the sun rise behind the distant mountains.

Work became the usual obstacle when it came to my training, but you ain't here for all the details of the backstory.

Across The Years (ATY) would be venue chosen.  Home turf.  Timed event that doesn't have a cut off time chasing me the entire time, which would allow me opportunity to deal with unknown issues of running this type of distance in a business suit.

The venue itself was the best choice ever.  If you've never had a chance to attend or run ATY, I would recommend you give it a try if you can.  Be warned however, it seems this event draws unusual weather to the valley.  A couple of years ago rain that flooded portions of the course.  This year, unseasonably record cold weather would descend upon participants.

So I arrive home from work a week before the event.  But again, too many details.

Morning of the event, I wake up early.  4 am to be specific. Under the pristine exterior you see I'm compressed with tights to ward off chaffing and to keep my muscles from falling apart.  A tactic that is different from last year (I didn't compress up until after mile 50 last year, but I didn't have a dress suit to deal with a year ago).

As I looked in the mirror and tied the snowman red tie, I thought to myself "this is a stupid idea".  I smiled and continued on.  

New Balance 1080s on deck, a recent addition (within the last week actually).  My body and feet started reacting negatively to my Brooks Ghost 11s I had initially tapped to go the distance.  So I hastily went shoe shopping for new foot gear and the NBs were selected and laced up.

Arrived onsite promptly at 7 am.  Got my registration information.  I knew I was in for a thrill and a day of socializing as everyone began asking all kinds of questions related to my attire.  I am indeed running in this.

Self supporting myself, so I set up camp and stay in the rental until about 20 minutes before the start.

I'm nervous.  I'm under trained, but I'm not injured I think to myself.

As I head out, I noticed the crowd had thicken.  It's day one.  Full six day runners, mixed in with runners of various shorter distances of 24, 48, or 72 hours.  The buzz begins and folks enthusiastically introduce themselves to inquire of my running gear choices.

In short, the decision to run in a business suit works.  Provides an excellent conversation piece to let folks know I'm running to raise awareness and funds for Make-A-Wish AZ.  And like that, we're off.

The course is slightly greater than 1 mile.  Yup, a hamster event.  Round and round and round and round and round...  you get the idea.  It's what makes this event the greatest and the worst at the same time.

Positives of this type of hamster wheel style course:
  • You're always 1 mile away from food, your equipment, and medical staff.  
  • At the halfway point on the backside of the course is a mini aid station with liquids to supplement.  This makes logistics for self crewing and crews easier.  Helps folks who want to come out and visit easy to see runners.  
  • Mentally takes a lot of stress away from being out in the back country 10-15 miles away from help or aid.  
  • Takes the stress out of trying to think through the logistics of drop bags anticipating needs miles into a run.
  • You get to spend time with others on the course.  You get to see everyone and you'll get to spend time and share stories with more folks than you typically do in an ultra.  Most ultras you find yourself alone.  A lot.  
This is the distance course if you want to share time with others.  Loved it.  Needed it.  Enjoyed it!
Negative?  There's one huge one!
  1. You're always 1 mile away from "Fuck this shit! I'm done" when you have your lows when going ultra long distances.  Your mind is always your biggest enemy and with access to get the fuck out of this pain cave so close, the fight and temptation will always be lurking in the recessed corners of your mind waiting to rape your hopes and dreams. 
  2. It gets a little redundant.  The organizers try to resolve this slightly by changing direction every 4 hours.  Fortunately the changing environmental conditions keep the redundancy somewhat at bay.  Somewhat. 

Let's get to my adventure from the get go.

First 25 miles where mostly uneventful, but it's where I began to learn the two major fights I would have.
  1. The suit:  Regulating the temperature was difficult.  It breathe well, but it was easy to push to hard and drive up my inner core temperature.  Sweating in this cold was not going to no bueno.  So I had to learn to hold back on certain sections, be conscience of the wind direction and how the wind impacted my core temperature.  This was going to be a struggle for the next 30 plus hours.  
  2. I noticed an increasingly strange sensation in my left foot where I had injured it during the Javelina Jangover.  I change up my stride slightly as I'm not concerned just yet, but I know two things will take down an ultra attempt real quick.  1-GI distress (stomach issues) and 2 - foot issues / injuries. 
Shortly after the ultra distance I realize that indeed there is a blister developing on my left foot.  Because of my altered stride, my right ankle is starting to take the brunt.  I don't share this info on social media or to others.  I just internalize it and push forward.

Enjoyed the folks, my surroundings, and gave into the atmosphere of the event itself.  And just took it 1 loop at a time.  

Mile 41 is where I hit my first major and most significant dark dog and demons.  I so wanted to give up.  I thought of so many to try and inspire me.  It was sooo cold outside.  The wind was horrendous.  I was getting tired.  I mentally pushed myself to the 50 mile mark when my mind latched on to the idea of McDonald's french fries.

During a rest break I discover a video sent to me by Make-A-Wish AZ kids who were going to come out and see me start but were unable to due to medical reasons.  This gave me additional spark to make it to mile 50.  

I told myself I couldn't get those fries until mile 50.  So what do I do at mile 50?  I get in the rental and I head to the nearby McDonald's to hit them up for a number 7 with a coke.

Yes!  I got in the car.  Drove away from the race.  Went to Mikey D's and got me some food!  That's right son!  I did that ish!

You would have thought I had never had such wonderful potato concoction in my life.  Don't know if it was the salt or the carbs, but it was the best meal of my life!

I sat in the car, trying to wrap my mind around an additional 70 miles (if I was going to get 200K), and it was then I decided I was not going to make it.  My foot was bothering me too much.  So much so, it had become a problem.  I was tired.  The coldness and wind was insufferable.  I needed rest.  So I sat in the back seat and set a timer in order to get some rest and try to sleep.

I manage 45 minutes of sleep, but it's here I decided to tackle the remaining distance of 50 miles, for a total of 100 miles, 5 loops at a time.  The system?  5 loops, 20 minutes rest.  repeat. 

I follow this program pretty much spot on through the remainder of the early morning and through the next day until somewhere after mile 70.

In the morning I did figure out what was going on with my foot.  The prognosis?  My previous blister had come back and redeveloped and harden into what is known as a plantar wart.  A new blister had begun to form under the original.  Yeah, crazy.  But I thought back to the kids in the video.

I thought back to the lil one that make me a painting last year after completing the Daytona 100.  I had to push through even if I had to walk it all.  I had the time.  I just had to push through the pain.

The morning brought with it, new participants.  Fresh faces and Connie and Aaron who where great mental boosters for my spirit as the cold of the early mourning had stolen my soul.  

Somewhere between mile 70 and 75 the darkness descended again. Video link here

The lights were out.  I was in a dark place mentally unlike any darkness before.  It wasn't mile 87 in Dayton universe purpose of life dark, a different evil darkness lurked within.  I told Aaron I was going to try and get some rest and would not join them on the next loop.

I set my timer on my watch.  Before I knew it, I could hear myself snoring.  I observed my dreams.  The timer went off.  I thought to myself I overslept.  It felt as if I slept for over an hour.  A quick look down at my watch and I realize I only had napped for 12 minutes.

Yet that was all the time my body needed.  I was back in the game.  Mentally.  And physically.

Back into my routine.  5 loops.  Rest.

Mile 80ish, had another unexpected visit from Chantha and mema who came out to support and cheer me on for a few.  With them was food from Chick-fila!  Waffle fries from the gods!

As I was finishing up a loop near mile 90 or after 90 (who know folks), I noticed out of the corner of my eye a familiar face.  I didn't know if I was hallucinating or not until I noticed a reaction!  It was Lorraine.  OMG I exclaim!  Or at least I think I did.  I ran over to hug her.  Anwar was there. 

Again, spirit level up!  I headed back out with Amy for another loop

Don't remember much until mile 96 when I found myself sitting in the tent with the full AZ crew.  Everyone was out to cheer me, Aaron, and Connie on!

Anwar was selected to join Connie, Aaron, and myself as we headed out again.  Little did Anwar know he would end up doing 4 miles in jeans!

So here we are.  Mile 98.  Sitting in the heating tent.  Body is spent.  Happy to be among familiar faces and peeps I would consider friends.  Happy spirits.  I'm able to joke and smile with them in the warmth of the tent.  Until my inner spirit exclaimed, let's get this done.

Anwar would accompany me as I went out.  I'm at a fast walk.  I know I'm not going to sit down again until we cross the century mark.  Now there's urgency.  There's purpose.  I've found my soul again.

First mile is warm up mile.  I'm pushing hard as we come in for mile 99.  I take off my jacket as I know I have enough in the tank to actually run this last mile.  I warn Anwar, I'm going after it.

I yell out to the timers "have that buckle ready for me when I get back."  Toss my jacket aside which, I would later find out I left on the course.  And I turn on the jets.

We aren't talking imaginary jets, we are talking saved a lot in the tank to not only run the entire last loop but kill it at speed.

I was so afraid of Daytona's mile 87 I forgot I had overcome my ATY mile 40 and mile 74.  But my fear also left me with so much energy I was able to pull down a sub 11 loop after 99 miles!

The feat which I accomplish didn't really sit in until all the celebrations started.

And oh my did they start.  Lorraine knows how to throw an impromptu party!  Sparklers and all!  In my mental state all I could think about was how dangerous these welding rods were!  :)

At one point I was asked to take a couple of photos from others nearby, with one exclaiming "I want to get a photo with the runner who set the FKT in a full suit". 

Wait, what?  Fastest Known Time?  What did he just say....  I wouldn't process this until the following day.  Why?

Because I was more excited to get the ankle timer off my right ankle more than anything.  The removal of the ankle timer felt like freedom from a self imposed hell in which I was well dressed.

I guess if you're going to go to hell may as well run 100.78 miles there well dressed in a Ministry of Supply suit while setting a Furthest Known Distance (FKD) and a Fastest Known Time (FKT) for completing a 100 mile ultra in a two piece suit.

It's low hanging fruit.  My time is so slow.  Anyone can come along and snatch this FKT and FKD from me and I know it.

But the goals I set out to accomplish were what we're here for.  We raised over 4k for Make-A-Wish AZ kids.  We raised awareness for Make-A-Wish AZ and my annual fundraiser.  And by completing at least 100 miles, it was my middle finger to the Guinness Book of Records and I'm sure Ministry of Supply will be glad to say they created a suit that can go the distance.  (call me MoS - my calendar is open for sponsorship).

Question is, are we going back to complete what we set off to accomplish.  200K 😉   

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