On a gorgeous North Carolina day, your 2010 U.S. National Egg Toss Champions officially began practicing for the World Egg Throwing Championship. No, we don’t have a sponsor yet for Tossing For Hunger, but we do have a few positive leads.

Mike and I are admittedly somewhat rusty. Just ask Mike’s company truck, which took the brunt of a long, errant throw on my part. After that bad toss, we looked pretty good. Our final throw measured more than 90 feet, about 30 feet longer than our winning throw at last year’s national championship.

The best part about practice, however, is that we saved a few eggs. Which means I’m eating eggs for dinner. And breakfast, of course.

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.

Today, I’m officially launching one of my most ambitious pursuits yet.

Along with my good friend and co-National Egg Toss Champion Mike Hepp, we’re seeking sponsorship to help us attend the World Egg Throwing Championship this June in England. Along the way, we’re also hoping to raise money for hunger-related charities.

Part of our pitch to potential egg-related sponsors is www.TossingForHunger.com. Right now, the site is merely a shell of our vision. With a sponsor’s help, we hope to make it a full-fledged site, complete with a fundraising page and blog.

We realize it may be a long shot, but we’re tossing everything we’ve got at this project. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be reaching out to potential sponsors and asking them to help make this dream a reality. Of course, we’ll also be eating eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. At least two each day.

In the mean time, please visit the site and watch our video, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and feel free to tell anyone and everyone you know about our mission.

Enjoy. And may God bless America and her delicious, nutritious eggs.

A big announcement is coming next week from America’s top tossers.


 

Initially, the idea seemed like digestive and cardiovascular double suicide.

Run about 2 miles.

Eat not one but 12 Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnuts. All 2,280 calories of them.

Run back.

And do it all in less than one hour.

However, given time and a steady running routine, my anxiety about competing in the Krispy Kreme Challenge wore off. I am, after all, training for a marathon, so a 4.77-mile run hardly scares me. Eating a dozen doughnuts isn’t something I attempt on a regular basis, but that would take care of itself. I’d starve myself the night before the race so that I’d be hungry for a race-day sugar rush. All I’d really need was about 20 minutes to polish off the doughnuts.

Two minutes into the race, I say as much to my friend and Krispy Kreme Challenge veteran Adam Pfanmiller.

“I don’t see why it’s such a big deal,” I say. “You pace yourself to get there in about 20 minutes, eat your doughnuts in about 20 minutes, and then run back in the final 20.”

If only that eating part was so easy.

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Started as a dare between N.C. State University students in 2004, the Krispy Kreme Challenge is now a full-blown fundraising event that draws 7,500 entrants and benefits the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.

Two months before the race, I attempted a training run with Adam and Mike Hepp. I ate five doughnuts when we recreated the race. The only other time I ate doughnuts was about a week before the race when I smushed a dozen doughnuts into one piece, just to see what it would look like.

While smushing together a dozen doughnuts may seem silly, several friends who have successfully completed the challenge suggested smushing two or three doughnuts together at a time. They also suggested that I eat very little the night before the race, so I ignored my hamburger craving and opted for a bowl of cereal and some fruit.

A nearly empty bowel, I assumed, would help me stuff down all those doughnuts. Forget about the gluttonous act of pigging out on a whole box of doughnuts. I’d probably be so hungry that I might start a second dozen. With cream filling.

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All week, the weatherman called for temperatures in the upper 30s and showers.

He was right.

Fifteen minutes before the race, Adam, Mike, and I finally leave the shelter of my car and subject ourselves to the elements. The rain isn’t pouring, but it’s steady enough to be annoying, especially in tandem with the frigid temperature.

We approach the start line just before the race begins. Surrounded by thousands of costumed- and ponchod-racers, I realize that I’ll never find John Palko (my brother-in-law) and Jacob Palko (my nephew), who are competing as Casual Runners (meaning that they’re not intending to eat all 12 doughnuts).

Mike, who has been approaching this race like a title fight, immediately sprints ahead of us, so Adam and I glide to Krispy Kreme at a nice 10-minute-per-mile pace.

Once we arrive, we grab our doughnut boxes and wade through one of the stranger scenes I’ve ever seen. Hundreds of fit, well-conditioned athletes are crammed into a parking lot and city street, some of them sitting on the ground, silently shoveling empty calories into their mouth.

Moments later, I join them in a doughnut-inspired Twilight Zone.

I follow Adam’s lead and smush three doughnuts together. I take a giant bite, awake my jaws from an unusually long slumber, chew as fast as I can, and savor the taste of sugar. Then, I repeat.

But it doesn’t take long for me to realize that I’m only halfway through my first three doughnuts by the time Adam is starting his second cycle. I try to eat faster, but I feel like my mouth is moving in slow motion while Adam’s is chugging along at warp speed. I try to take bigger bites, but it doesn’t help.

Nearby, another racer vomits.

Soon, Adam finishes eating, and I’m still working on my second set of doughnuts. I tell him to go ahead without me, that I’ll be fine.

But my stopwatch disagrees. We started eating our doughnuts about 24 minutes after we left the Bell Tower and it’s taken me 12 minutes to eat six doughnuts. The latest I could leave to make it back would be when my stopwatch reads 44 minutes. And that’s assuming I can run with that much dough hopping around in my stomach.

At this point, I make a huge mistake: I look at the stack of doughnuts I’m eating.

For the first part of this exercise, I’ve been taking bites and staring off at nothing. I’ve been eating, but haven’t really been thinking about what I’m actually putting into my body. Now that I look down and see the layers of dough, I start to think about those 2,280 calories and what they’ll be doing in my body. Settling in to a nice place exactly where I button my jeans, that’s what.

Finally, I fight an urge to puke.

The feeling passes, but I doubt myself. I tell Carie, who’s filming this pathetic display, that I don’t understand how competitive eaters do it. She tells me to stop talking and eat. At one point, she even tells me to “be a man.” I’m so beaten by the doughnuts, however, that I don’t seem to care that my wife is challenging my manhood. I simply want it all to be over. I want a dry sweatshirt and a soft, cozy couch in a dark, quiet room.

For a moment, I’m motivated by the sight of John and Jacob. They’ve finished eating a combined 13 doughnuts and are ready to start running. Since they’re not running as Challengers, like me, I assume they might stick around and root me on for my final doughnuts. Instead, they decide they’d rather finish with a better time than me, and I’m back in a doughnut ditch.

I’m almost finished with the third set of doughnuts when I decide to smush them together with the final set of three doughnuts. For a minute, this gives me hope. I think there’s a chance I may actually finish in time to race back and complete the challenge. But my bites are giving way to nibbles and pecks.

I survey the parking lot and notice that strewn-about empty boxes now outnumber people.

I look at my watch. It reads 48 minutes and change.

Completing the challenge is hopeless, so I ponder the benefits of saying that I at least finished the doughnuts. In my right hand, I’m clinging to a mushed up ball of dough. Later, when I review the video, I’ll see that it only equates to a measly two doughnuts. But right now, it must weigh a pound. And there’s no way it’s going to fit in my stomach.

So I chuck it and start running back to finish a challenge I’ve already failed.

Strangely enough, I don’t feel bad about it.

•     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •

To make this a better story, I’d like to tell you that as soon as I threw away that doughnut ball, I was overcome by a Rudy-like determination to finish what I’d started. That I dug it out of the nearest trash pile and forced it down my throat while a crowd of onlookers chanted my name.

At the very least, I’d like to tell you that I barfed.

Or that I ran back in 10 minutes.

None of that is true. (Although I did pass John and Jacob.)

Instead, I had a pleasant return run. Sure, the first couple of steps were a little dicey, but I never felt sick.

The worst part was enduring some trash talking from Adam, who completed the challenge in 56:48, and Mike, who was only 11 minutes off the winning pace at 40:37.

But even that wasn’t so bad. Honestly, it was funny.

Plus, I’m actually quite proud to say that I’m a lousy doughnut eater. I’d much rather be good at a more worthwhile pursuit.

Something that really makes a difference.

Something that will define me.

Now, if only I could find a miniature doughnut eating challenge.

This morning, I failed to fulfill the Krispy Kreme Challenge. I finished the run, but I couldn’t finish the doughnuts.

In retrospect, I probably should have spent less time taking pictures of doughnuts during the past two weeks and more time actually eating doughnuts. Rookie mistake.

Check back soon for a full report and video.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I would close this project with my all-time favorite breakfast food.

If you assumed that was anything other than eggs, you obviously forgot that I’m a national champion in egg tossing. Also, maybe you just forgot that eggs are awesome.

That’s enough about eggs. For now.

It’s time for me to go stretch my legs and stuff my gut with doughnuts at the Krispy Kreme Challenge.

Looking at this picture actually makes me excited about eating a dozen doughnuts in one sitting. I don’t think I could handle eating a dozen cups of yogurt.

I’ll be completing this side project on race day with my all-time favorite breakfast food. Care to guess what that is?

 

 

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