By Mike Smith
This is not a genius plan. Or at least it’s not my genius plan. No, I saw it on YouTube by a guy from Australia who has made backyard outdoor adventure his thing. Having spent the better part of his adult youth kayaking around the southern tip of Africa, across Bass Straight to Tasmania, running the Australian Alps and also being a professor (a Doctor I might add) of Outdoor Education, now married with a child he looks to invest a bit more energy within his local confines.
Me, on the other hand, haven’t had nearly as colorful a life, and I’m not a doctor of any kind, and I’ve spent most of my time here on Earth within seven miles of where I grew up, eventually becoming a man. Sure I made forays here and there, but never for very long and always returning to within spitting distance of where most of my foundational experiences have occurred.
While maybe I’ve wished to have a bit more excitement in my life from time to time, I’ve always seemed to find things to occupy me locally and to make the most of when I step beyond the comforts of home and experience things that aren’t very local. However I’m pretty sure as local as this is, it’s not going to be very comfortable.
But whether this is a dumb plan is yet to be seen. The plan is to run a mile an hour, beginning on March 25th at 3pm, and continue through to 2pm on March 26th, my birthday. Somewhere along the way I look to pick up an additional 2.2 miles so I can round it up to a marathon over the span of a day. I plan to run the vast majority, and maybe all on the school campus, with the exception of the last mile, where I intend to end up back at the house, where a cool beverage and warm meal and bed may greet me.
Over the last couple weeks I’ve been able to work through my recent ankle injury and wonky hamstring, and even my broken toe while still swollen is no longer interrupting my gait or my training. And with six weeks to train, I feel fairly confident and somewhat comfortable that I’ll be able to finish what I start so I made the call and planned it for my birthday weekend. I seem to have a penchant for that as when I hit the four decade mark I decided to run a kilometer for every year on the planet, meaning 40 kilometers, or just under 25 miles. So I guess a similar task, one I look to spread over 24 hours that I completed 15 years ago in just over 3 and a half hours.
While 15 years ago I looked at the endeavor as a physical challenge, much like I looked at most of my challenges back then. Nowadays it seems navigating the stairs in the morning before the joints warm up is enough of a challenge such that the more recent challenges are meant to change my perspective, to see things from a different angle.
Not that this won’t get physical. Probably the biggest hurdle isn’t the running part but more the not running part. It will be one thing to run 24 times in a day, but more so the trick will be the beginning to run 24 times in a day. These days once I’m done a run I tighten up and eventually loosen up after about a mile during the next run. Considering I’ll be getting to that point at the end of each hour’s challenge, this could be brutal.
Not to mention trying to navigate through 24 hours. I’ll definitely need to sleep, which is sometimes tough for me anyway. On top of that I’ll have just finished up a week of school and when I lace up for the first time I’ll be six hours away from my usual bedtime and 12 hours from the time I woke up. And this is my starting point. Cat naps have never been my specialty, nor has sleeping well before an early morning. So the lack of sleep will certainly color the 24 hours of activities.
Which leads to the question of why? What do I expect to get from this effort? Truth be told, I have no idea. And while saying that, I know exactly what I expect to get from it. Really the intended outcome is no different than it was 15 years ago. Let’s face it, when I ran 40 kilometers on my 40th birthday it wasn’t a matter of whether I could or couldn’t. Barring getting run over or bit by a dog (which happened) I was certainly capable of running 25 miles. Just like I’m capable of running a mile an hour for 24 hours. The goal is the experience, and that experience is still yet to be determined.
But there will be an experience. Good, bad, likely both good and bad I suppose. Not being something I’ve done before, I expect there will be some incredible highs along with some pretty low lows. What will I feel like at 3am as I approach the halfway point, at a time I’m usually beginning to shake the cobwebs from my head and get ready for work? Can’t say for sure but I know I’ll feel something, and it will likely be something different.
Will there be suffering? My guess is yes and no. I’m certain there will be times where if I’m being totally honest with myself, I will not be in my happy place. At the same time, it will be an experience I’ve never had before, pushing on through the night while everything in my body screams for sleep.
I also expect that there will be some experiences not likely recreated through the normal channels in life. Things that happen when most sane people are sleeping can often be fanciful and potentially seen through a slightly mind-altered state, giving us the opportunity to see things through a different lens. Maybe I’ll talk to aliens, or people from my past, or people significant from back in history. Whatever happens will certainly be new and unique.
And since I’ve announced I’ll be taking on this task I have friends and acquaintances that want to get in on my stupidity in some way, shape or form. Maybe they want to run a few laps with me. Maybe they want to hang out for those low periods, when the sun isn’t up, in an effort to help me along. Or maybe they’re some of my athletes, recognizing this is part of the journey, and wanting to be a part of it.
And I welcome them fully. This is a journey of experience. Experiences not limited to me, but available to everyone. We can all take on these small challenges to see what we can accomplish. Maybe it’s great things. Maybe it’s stupid things. But it’s definitely things. And things can be important. For things like this we learn about ourselves. Where our limits are. How hard we can push. What we’re willing to feel, to experience, what we are willing to give up. We learn to become comfortable being uncomfortable. And this is super helpful as we navigate this crazy thing we call life. So what do I truly want from this experience?
Exactly that. An experience. And the ability to feel what it is like.
Good on ya’ mate!
Please feel free to join me on this journey by stopping by, giving your condolences, running a lap or two, sitting around shooting the bull, or donating to the Booster Club’s fundraiser based on my experience. I’ll be stationed in the parking area back by the STEM building (my science classroom) trying to grab a few minutes of shut eye on March 25th, from 3pm on Friday through 2pm on Saturday.