It feels weird when I say it out loud, but I’m feeling more pressure than ever to put on my best video game tournament yet.
What started out many years ago as an XBOX party with a couple of friends and a case of beer has somehow evolved into this multi-game marathon, complete with a garage full of TVs and gaming consoles manned by 32 players.
Our most recent tournament raised $2,300 for Extra Life Hershey, which benefits PSU Children’s Hospital. This is a great thing, obviously, but I think it was Notorious B.I.G. who wrote the song, “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” Where I’m going with this is when you experience success and continually establish new high-water marks, you can feel the heat as you ask yourself: How can I do even better next time?
Heightened expectations can have you reaching beyond your comfort zone to make your goals a reality. You might find yourself doing some pretty wild stuff, like taking on an eight-hour endurance run for the first time.
It was somewhat of a spontaneous decision last weekend to plant myself at Spring Meadows Park in Boiling Springs at 6 a.m. on a rainy Sunday morning with the goal of completing as many four-mile loops as I could in an eight-hour span. This was a very bold proposition, especially when considering my extended history of crashing and burning at longer distances.
But Mo Money, Mo Problems, right?
I began running the trails under the glow of the flashlight on my cell phone. I ran non-stop for my first mile, then switched to a 2:1 run-walk ratio for the second mile. I went 1:1 for the third mile, before wrapping up my first loop employing a 2:1 walk-run strategy. Every time I stopped to walk, I made a conscious decision to take in water and Gatorade, even when I didn’t think I was thirsty.
I kept rotating the run-walk ratios after each mile and felt remarkably fresh after two loops, with Martin and Sheep tracking me down on the third circuit. The miles passed easily as we walked and talked smack in video games while making faces in the stroller to Sheep’s baby, Eliza.
Soon, due to hungry baby issues, my only remaining companion was Martin, a well-seasoned ultrarunner. He not only got me through the fourth and fifth loops, but his guidance was crucial to surviving the whole day. While my strategic priority was being cautious on my pacing, he was more focused on me maintaining a constant stream of fueling. Luckily, as a 240-pound ox, eating is my specialty. Over the course of the day I put down five bananas, four PBJs, two cheese sticks, two oversized cookies, one gel, a half can of Pringles, a handful of grapes, plenty of water, and nearly a dozen 12-ounce Gatorades. This proved to be an effective strategy to keep me going on a day where I would burn nearly 7,000 calories.
As Martin departed, my day was just beginning to reach its most excruciating point. Fighting for every step was hard enough, but as I crossed the marathon distance, I felt a wave of sadness and embarassment sweep over me when I went to check my donation total and realized I’d raised a grand total of $0.
I kept plodding forward, though, and before I could settle into any negative self-talk, my phone beeped with a surprise donation of $100. Soon after, a fellow runner pledged $2 for every mile I completed. Those donations were a badly-needed shot of confidence.
Knowing that my suffering now served a purpose, I felt energized. I finished that eighth loop and then I kept powering forward until the final seconds of my eight-hour shift ticked away.
My day ended with a distance PR of 32.33 miles, to go along with fresh PRs in both the marathon and 50K. More importantly, I raised $190 for my cause.
This whole ordeal was painful. Several days later as I’m typing, I’m still hurting. But while my legs are throbbing, my heart is full. I’m so lucky to have the support (and enablement) from my friends, family, and community, as I pursue my wild dreams, both as a runner and a gamer.
1 STEP BACK, 3 STEPS FORWARD
The world of ultra running can chew runners up and spit them out. Rheeanna Walters has been through the ringer enough to know this from experience.
There’s no doubt Waynesboro’s Walters was feeling the pain last weekend at the Pinhoti 100 in Sylacauga, Ala., but after she completed the race in 29:28:15 — more than a full day — she was wearing an ear-to-ear smile and brimming with confidence. Walters got the job done while being crewed by her husband, Jon.
“I couldn’t have done it without him or the support of my great friends checking up on me,” Walters said on Facebook. “What a hard, hot day. Feet are destroyed! Everything hurts! Going back to napping. Thank you all again.”
Greencastle’s Matthew Smith showcased his talents on both the technical trails and the roads. First, at the Boulder Dash 5 Miler in Williamsport, Md., Smith was the race runner-up, blasting through the Pinesburg Quarry in 33:25. He was chased by Chambersburg’s Larry Smith (43:21) and Waynesboro’s Alison Hess (55:07) and Jana Calimer (55:10).
One week later, Smith was running strong once again, this time at the Battlefield Half Marathon in Winchester, Va. He finished as the third Masters runner in 1:36:10, while Cascade’s Maureen Jones crossed the line in 2:33:34.
In Philadelphia, Chambersburg’s father-daughter team of Bill and Carolyn Dann were dominant competing at the Lupus Loop 5K. Bill Dann finished second overall in 20:15, while Carolyn finished as the top female in 23:29.
A pair of Local.News runners dropped sub-4 times at the New York City and Marine Corps Marathons. First, in New York, Chambersburg’s Rachel Lilley blazed to a finish in 3:41:15. In Washington D.C., Waynesboro’s Noah M. Horton was the top area runner at the Marine Corps Marathon. Horton finished in 3:36:34, ahead of Chambersburg’s Matt Kuhns (4:21:51), Mark Ward (4:56:28), and Bethany Gearhart (5:23:02), as well as Waynesboro’s Sarah Stains (6:47:46).
Closer to home, in Shippensburg, Waynesboro’s Noah Bockstie ran away from the field of 54 at the Five Forks Church Autumn Harvest 5K, finishing in 17:48, nearly three minutes ahead of Mont Alto’s Shaun Kipe, who was runner-up in 20:26. Chambersburg’s Kirk Clever finished third in 20:58, while Fayetteville’s Lincoln Vanaman claimed sixth in 22:06. The top female at the race was Fayetteville’s Win Lam Cheung, who broke the tape in 23:48.
The WCPS Employee 5K in Hagerstown saw a Top 10 finish from Smithsburg’s Rob Hovermale, who nailed down the seventh spot in 21:30. Other top times were posted by Greencastle’s Adam Seylar (24:22) and Emily Willingham (27:56), as well as Chambersburg’s Jamille Stanley (27:49).
A number of others were involved in races across the region, including Waynesboro’s Sarah Wagner (53:14 at Boulder Dash 5K) and Jeffrey Hein (2:21:01 at Veterans Half Marathon), Greencastle’s Natalie Logsdon (2:43:24 at River Valley Run Half Marathon) and Ryan Hedrick (29:20 at BG 5K), Fayetteville’s Morgan Neuburger (4:22:08 at Fire on the Mountain 25K), Chambersburg’s Liliana Crawford (31:18 at Seawitch Racing Festival 5K), Richard Myers (3:27:58 at The View 25K), Sara Grove (1:49:54 at Pittsburgh 10 Miler), Cher Shu (29:01 at Hot Cider Hustle 5K), and Brad Etchberger (1:02:12 at Marine Corps 10K).
And now, a look ahead:
Harrisburg Marathon: Sunday, 7:30 a.m., in Harrisburg. This historical race, which starts and ends on City Island and runs along the Susquehanna River, enters its 50th year. Learn more at ymcarun.com.
Greencastle Turkey Trot: Thursday, Nov. 24, 8:30 a.m., in Greencastle. This race has proven to be one of the fastest Turkey Trots in the region. Brad Dodson won last year’s race in 16:59. Register for the event on runsignup.com.
SMT Turkey Trot 5K: Thursday, Nov. 24, in New Cumberland. Challenge yourself with this Turkey Trot, which runs through New Cumberland Borough Park. Look up the race on runsignup.com.
Also: Medal Madness 5K/10K (Saturday, in York); Hawk Hustle 5K (Saturday, in Hanover); Linda Kranias Memorial 5K (Saturday, in Gettysburg); Lions’ Chase 5K (Saturday, in Millersburg); Rocky Run Half Marathon (Saturday, in Philadelphia); Veteran’s Day Run 5K (Saturday, in Duncannon); Valley Trail Run 14 Miler (Saturday, in New Holland); Zombie Fun Run 5K (Saturday, in Mountville); Bucks County Marathon (Sunday, in Washington Crossing); Delaware Canal Half Marathon (Sunday, in Washington Crossing); Run for One Less 5K (Sunday, in Scotland); Give Thanks for Lebanon 5K/10K (Saturday, Nov. 19, in Lebanon); Medal Madness 5K/10K (Saturday, Nov. 19, in Manheim); Philadelphia Marathon Weekend (Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 19-20, in Philadelphia); Carlisle Turkey Trot (Thursday, Nov. 24, in Carlisle); East Berlin Turkey Trot 5K (Thursday, Nov. 24, in East Berlin); Great Turkey Chase 5K (Thursday, Nov. 24, in Elizabethtown); Millersville Turkey Trot 5K (Thursday, Nov. 24, in Millersville); Run for the Diamonds 9 Miler (Thursday, Nov. 24, in Berwick); Shippensburg Turkey Trot 5K (Thursday, Nov. 24, in Shippensburg); Sticks & Biscuits 5K (Thursday, Nov. 24, in Palmyra); Thanksgiving Day Community 5K Turkey Trot (Thursday, Nov. 24, in New Oxford); Thundering Pickle Turkey Trot 5K (Thursday, Nov. 24, in Dillsburg); York YMCA 5K Turkey Trot (Thursday, Nov. 24, in York).
Foot Notes is a self-syndicated column by Central Pa. sportswriter Andy Sandrik that has been “running” since 2016. Andy always follows back on Strava and can be reached by email at [email protected].