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Back when I was wrapping up my first year of writing this blog, I promised you, faithful reader, that I wouldn’t stop entering wacky, senseless, and ridiculous events. Of course, I was careful to note that I wouldn’t be able to maintain my previous pace of entering at least one contest each month.
Even with that footnote as an excuse, I never intended to go four weeks without writing a post—let alone four months. Call it a hiatus, a sabbatical, a spiritual retreat, or plain laziness. No matter what, I’m back, and my next event is another marathon.
Even though I haven’t blogged since June, I haven’t stopped running. In fact, since the Tobacco Road Marathon in March, RunKeeper says I’ve run 568.6 miles, or about 20 miles each week. I’ve used most of that time to somewhat successfully concentrate on not falling face first on the trails at Umstead State Park. During the rest of the time, however, I’ve thought much about my next steps for this blog. Its future has mirrored the highs and lows that go along with long distance running. It’s gone as high as starting my own national egg toss championship and as low as pulling the plug on this whole project.
But for every time I think of one reason to stop blogging, I’m reminded of a dozen reasons to keep at it. Actually, today I was given 10,000 reasons to keep at it. That’s because the Japan Tourism Agency has proposed a campaign to give away 10,000 free roundtrip tickets to Japan, so long as the ticketholders publicize their trip on blogs and social media sites.
So, anybody know of something ridiculous I could enter in Japan?
Maybe a game show?
A little more than a year ago, I read Christopher McDougall’s fantastic book Born to Run about a Mexican tribe of ultra marathon runners. The way McDougall described long-distance running, I was instantly inspired to run a marathon. Only problem: I was in miserable shape. I had never run more than 5 miles at one time and I was carrying a little more than 190 pounds on my 5-feet-9-inch frame.
So when I started my quest to compete in at least one offbeat, obscure, wacky, or just plain ridiculous event each month, I decided to add some more traditional events to the list. A marathon was the ultimate goal.
One year later, I can proudly call myself a 165-pound marathon runner. Not to mention a potato decorator. And a CN Tower Climber. And an idiot, a hollerer, a pack burro racer, a stone skipper, a pepper eater, a warrior, a half marathon runner, a polar plunger, an ugly sweater loser, a doughnut-eating failure, and a national champion egg tosser.
And I owe it all to you. Yes, you, blog reader. Your comments, support, and blog views over the past year have been an incredible source of motivation to run farther than I ever thought I could go (26.2 miles, to be exact), without stopping (not even once), 20 minutes faster than I planned (3:37:21).
Whether you were my adventurous wife/No. 1 fan Carie, who was willing to sacrifice vacation for an opportunity to watch me run with donkeys; my co-national egg toss champion (Mike Hepp); my supportive family; a generous friend who designed my logo (Thushan); a frequent commenter like Rob, Andy, Pumpkin, or Mike M.; a superfan like Jodie, Megan, or Jim; a co-worker who regularly asked about my training; or an anonymous follower—you inspired me to keep going.
And don’t forget to check back later this week for a year-in-review video.
I just finished the Tobacco Road Marathon with an unofficial time of 3 hours, 37 minutes, and 21 seconds.
More to come later, after I replace approximately 5,000 calories from hamburgers, onion rings, and beer.
One year ago today, I published my first post here on Anyone Can Enter.
In the 12 months that followed, I’ve stuck to my mission of competing in at least one offbeat, obscure, wacky, or just plain ridiculous event each month, so long as anyone can enter. Along the way, I have succeeded (winning a national championship in egg tossing) and failed (in nearly everything else). More than anything, I’ve had fun at every step. Even when I was earning the title Last Ass in a pack burro race in Colorado or listening to my friends crack on me for failing to complete the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
The way I see it, this occasion deserves a professionally baked cake. It may seem crazy—buying a cake to celebrate the anniversary of a blog—but is it really any crazier than jumping into a freezing cold lake on New Year’s Day or throwing yourself down a hill after a wheel of cheese? I don’t think so.
Plus, this blog is responsible for more than a series of wacky adventures. Back in that first post, I set a few additional goals. One was to lose about 20 pounds. The other was to run a marathon. I’m happy to say that I have exceeded my weight loss goal and that in four days, I’m running in the Tobacco Road Marathon.
As for next year, I doubt I can stand to lose 20 more pounds and I’m not sure I can continue competing in one event each month. But I do plan to maintain this blog. Sometime after the marathon, expect a more sentimental retrospective, complete with a year-in-review video and a more detailed plan for the future of Anyone Can Enter.
For now, let’s take a look at the first year of Anyone Can Enter by the numbers…
11,975—All-time blog views (not including my own views)
8,667—Miles traveled to and from events
1,776—Stairs climbed at the CN Tower Climb
650—Approximate number of people who endured my attempt to holler at the National Hollerin’ Contest
365—Days my awesome, beautiful wife Carie has had to put up with all this nonsense
350—Most blog views in one day, largely thanks to @darrenrovell
349—Second-most blog views in one day, largely thanks to Penn Holderness
335—Comments you’ve made on the blog
253—Miles I’ve run since October, when I started training for the Tobacco Road Marathon
149—Votes I lost by to the eventual winner of the News & Observer’s Ugly Sweater Contest
86—Percentage of people who voted for me to shave my head for the Warrior Dash
62—Feet between Mike Hepp and I when we completed our winning toss in the National Egg Toss Championship
50—Approximate number of people who jumped into a freezing cold lake with me on New Year’s Day
42—Stone skips registered by Russ Byars at the Pennsylvania Stone Skipping Tournament, 27 more than my best effort
25 (and counting)—pounds I’ve lost since starting this blog
15—Trees we planted during the Asheville Idiotarod
10.5—Doughnuts I managed to eat at the Krispy Kreme Challenge, 1.5 less than the necessary dozen to complete the challenge
10—Men, including me, who entered the Idaho Springs Pack Burro Race
9—Men who finished ahead of me in the Idaho Springs Pack Burro Race
4—Orange habanero peppers I ate during the Bailey Farms Chile Pepper Eating Contest before bowing out to the Toothless Pepper King, who ate 14
3—National champion coaches who declined my request for advice leading up to the National Egg Toss Championship
1—National championship won without the help of national championship coaches
Soon after I rolled out of bed this morning, a sneaky thought crept into my head.
It hit me as I was getting ready for my last substantial run before the Tobacco Road Marathon next Sunday. I put on my white shirt from the City of Oaks Half Marathon and actually studied it for the first time. Right there across the top of the shirt it reads “full marathon and half marathon.”
Immediately I wondered: Why am I wasting valuable sleep time when this shirt almost technically says that I’ve already run a marathon.
It was a fleeting thought. Plus, it was 10:30 in the morning on a gorgeous day. I needed to hit the road.
The truth is, I’m really starting to love running. So much that I now call 8- or 10-mile runs “short.” A year ago, I considered those distances maniacal. Now, I actually look forward to long runs, as they’re an equally fantastic way to clear your mind or solve whatever problems are vexing you. Plus, runner’s high is quite amazing. It sort of reminds me of that blissfully chilling sense of relief one feels when peeing after holding it for what seems like an eternity. Except, better. And without the peeing.
That’s why I’m looking forward to rightfully earning my full marathon shirt next week.
Besides, I’m pretty sure the folks who ran the full City of Oaks Marathon received black shirts. Not white, like mine.
With two weeks until my first marathon, I have completed my longest training run.
Twenty miles long.
Without stopping. And without getting sick and calling someone to pick me up.
Finishing such a long run was certainly satisfying, but it’s hard to imagine going another 6 miles. I think this post-run picture sums up how I feel about the idea.
When you’re simultaneously training for your first marathon and campaigning for sponsorship in your pursuit to win the World Egg Throwing Championship, you have to assume you’re going to hit a few roadblocks along the way.
Knowing that, however, doesn’t make it any easier to overcome rejection. On Wednesday, Tossing For Hunger received its first official rejection from a supermarket chain that shall remain nameless.
(By the way, if you haven’t been to the website yet or watched our YouTube video, check it out now.)
Sure, I was expecting to receive plenty of rejection letters until the perfect sponsor comes through, and the e-mail I received was pleasant enough, but it still hurt to know that a potential sponsor didn’t see the true beauty and potential of our plan.
Or maybe I was still too upset about the events of last weekend.
Last Friday night, I mapped out an 8-mile out, 8-mile back run on the Raleigh Greenway trail—a route that would be my longest training run leading up to the Tobacco Road Marathon on March 20. When I awoke the next morning, however, I nearly coughed up my right lung. Clearly, I had received an unfortunate gift from Carie, who had picked up bronchitis on a recent business trip. Or maybe it was nothing at all. I convinced myself that it was an aberration. That if I filled up my Camelbak with Gatorade and hit the trail, I could literally run away whatever sickness might be festering in my body. Plus, it was a gorgeous day. There was no way I wasn’t going for a run.
Three miles in, I was perfectly fine. Four miles in, I passed another runner who seemed to be in better shape than me. I imagined conversations I would have with friends and coworkers on Monday. “Yeah, I was starting to get sick,” I would tell them. “But then I just ran it out of my system. Infection has no chance against the mighty Jon Page. In fact, next time you get sick, don’t even call your doctor. I’ll come over and take you on a run. Forget medicine, I am your prescription for relief!”
At the halfway point, however, I faced a cause for concern. Normally, on long runs, I don’t start tapping into my water supply until I’ve run at least 6 miles. And no matter how far I go, I usually finish the run with more than half a tank. But 8 miles into this run, my pack felt extremely light. Two miles later, the Gatorade was empty. Worse, I had to stop running to wait for traffic. Once I could cross the street, my legs refused to resume their previous pace. I decided to walk until I was comfortable enough to run. A mile later, I was still walking. After another mile, I considered napping in the grass.
With 4 miles back to the car and absolutely no energy, I finally decided that I should probably call for rescue. I had my phone with me, so I considered calling a cab, but I had no money. I would have called Carie, but she was on a road trip with her mom.
Instead, I surrendered to running failure in the most humiliating way possible for a nearly 30-year-old man—I called my mommy.
I explained my predicament, nearly in tears. Here I was, exactly one month away from my first marathon, and I couldn’t even finish a 16-mile run. How in the world could I expect to run 26.2 miles?
Worse yet, I was calling my mom to rescue me.
When I finally made it home, I slipped into hibernation for 15 of the next 18 hours. Clearly, I was sick. And exhausted.
A week later, I’m happy to say that I’m completely recovered. I’m happier to say that I just finished a 16-mile run, and that I easily could have run another 10 miles. And more than ever, I’m determined to find a sponsor for Tossing For Hunger.
Even if I have to ask my mom for help.
While I have yet to settle on an event for December, today I locked down my registration for two important events in 2011. I’ll be running in the Krispy Kreme Challenge on Feb. 5 and the Tobacco Road Marathon on March 20.
Considering that I’ve never run a marathon, one might imagine that I’d be more nervous about that.
That’s because I’ll be training for the Krispy Kreme Challenge—a contest that challenges runners to scarf down a dozen doughnuts midway through a 4-mile race and finish in less than 1 hour—with my good friend and co-national egg tossing champion Mike Hepp. And Mike, as he told me earlier today, is “in it to win it.”
“I’ve been running 6 miles at an 8-minute per mile pace,” Mike said. “And I’ve always been good at eating. This race was made for me.”
That’s right. Even though last year’s winner finished in 30:20, Mike is convinced that he can be competitive. And when your co-national egg tossing champion thinks he can be competitive in anything, you must follow suit. It’s a rule.
Here’s why this troubles me. Before today, I always imagined that I’d only attempt this foolish challenge once in my lifetime. Perhaps it’s because I recently recovered from a nasty bout of food poisoning and would rather not vomit again anytime in the foreseeable future. Or maybe it’s because I technically retired from the competitive eating circuit after my experience in a hot pepper eating contest this September. Or maybe it’s because I’ve never been able to shake this passage from a 2009 ESPN.com story about the challenge by Greg Garber:
Over the years, I’ve run a number of races, from the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon to various open-water swims to crazy events up mountains and through the woods. But never have I felt like there was a two-pound bass thrashing around in my stomach, trying to get out.
Garber, of course, was describing the feeling of 2,400-calories worth of doughnuts sloshing around his gut during the final 2 miles. Honestly, I don’t see any reason to replicate this feeling more than once. Sure, I’d like to train for the race. But I was thinking that a training run (no, more like a training jog) with a snack of six doughnuts would suffice.
Today he told me that he’s willing to recreate the race before the actual race.
I just hope he’s buying the doughnuts. And cleaning up whatever mess we leave behind.