The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000K

Fri May 1 - Mon August 31 Memphis, TN 37920 US
wisdom from laz

Check back for insightful commentary from the master story teller

August 13

Two big things happened this morning....
Actually One big thing happened, and the other just got really close. 1) The buzzard has less than 100 miles to go. The dirty bird has her eyes on the prize now, and I predict that her pace will not waver from here to the finish. 2) There are now 11,992 RATs ahead of the buzzard. I have been watching this number grow every day, as the hard charging RATS try to close the deal. Tomorrow I expect to see 12,000 of us in front. Can we push that number past 13,000 in the next 18 days? One more big HURRAH for the next thousand RATs behind the buzzard.... this is your shining hour of greatness, and all eyes are on you. YOU CAN DO IT!!!

July 31

So I persevered to reach 310 for the month today. I did not add any additional miles over 10 a day because: a) I am tired; B) despite the cheery forecasts of thunderstorms all we got was cruel humidity and brutal sun ()on the bright side, I put some eggs in my pockets before I started out, and will have them hardboiled for lunch); C) Once you have done a 900+ mile month all the 300s are the same.
Pictures about real tennessee
1) a tiny box turtle. You dont see those too often.
2) A turkey feather. This is moulting time for turkeys also... If you recall, the buzzards moult all year, starting with the long primaries in late summer, while the previous year's moult is not finished and they are still losing downy feathers. The turkeys, however, do their whole moult in about 10 weeks... Why the difference? The buzzard can never afford a time he cannot fly. So they lose their flight feathers slowly, and replace them as they go... The turkey can get along perfectly well without being able to fly for a while, so they get their moult all done at once.
3) Raccoon poop: Maybe you have wondered why your dog is so interested in poop (besides wanting to eat it for the undigested nutrients). Well, poop tells you a lot about what is going on. What animals are there, what is nutritious right now, even how they are doing.... raccoon poop is a signpost, as they eat about whatever is in season and have a very inefficient digestive tract. There is a shit ton (no pun intended) of raccoon poop around right now, and it all says the same thing.... corn is abundant!!!
4) A hint about what is coming up on our schedule.... I will fill you in tomorrow. (making ourselves an exception to the no promotion of other events rule!)

August 7

In the morning news; a bird met its demise over on short creek road yesterday, last night or this morning. The evidence? a lot of feathers scattered around, mostly just the long feathers (i should have taken more pictures) and a gnawed off wing.
The most likely time: sometime before I passed this morning. The feathers had not scattered and the meat in the gnawed off part looked still fresh. The birds had not yet gotten real active, but they can be taken right off their roost.
The most likely culprit: bobcat.
Cooper Hawks eat birds. But they are diurnal hunters and tend to take their prey to a roost to eat. There were no trees around close. The clincher is the lack of underfeathers scattered around. Hawks pluck their prey. And the wing would have appeared more cut off than gnawed off. Skunks will eat birds, but this was not a ground nesting bird. Coyotes eat birds, but canids also pluck. A weasel is a remote possibility, but I think more carcass would be left... only one wing means it was only partly eaten here. Raccoons eat birds, but I have never seen raccoon sign near this area, it is pretty exposed... and i think the raccoons are pretty much focused on corn right now. This leaves a bobcat as the most likely possibility. Given they are also known to eat part of their prey on the spot and carry the rest off to eat elsewhere, that is going to be my guess. Not enough to get a conviction in a court of law, but good enough for me.
My dad could have pinned it down for sure. He grew up hunting game for the table... and my grandfather could have told you the life story of both prey and predator. His woodsman skills were incredible. I am afraid with each passing generation those abilities are lost a little more.
But that was just a diversion during my morning miles. The real news is that I am at 905 miles now. I can smell the 1000 from here. As always, in any long run, the last hundred miles feels like you are almost home. Anyone else go thru times when it seems like the home stretch will never come?

August 3

choose to win.
Looking at the RAT map, I see the buzzard is at 485 miles, just North of Knoxville. While I don't have exact numbers, there are at least a thousand people still hanging within easy catching distance in the vicinity of Knoxville. I think there are another thousand short of Knoxville, who have the ability to run that feather duster down.
Being realistic, anyone within 100 miles of the Buzzard today has the ability to put him away. For you people living in that no man's land between 385 and 485, this is for you.
I know the field is making a strong move going into August, because the buzzard has already been pushed back to 11, 830st place! Every one of you in no man's land has the ability to push him back one more spot.
To make this easy, I am going to do the math for the poor souls at 385 miles. They have the biggest task ahead of them.
First, I suggest looking back at that nearly 800 runners back around Chattanooga. Ponder their situation for a moment. They have run all the way from that far away beanfield on the Tennessee-Arkansas border to Chattanooga... and for what? Just to quit. Just to give up. Isn't that a little sad? Doesn't it leave you wondering why they would do all that, and then let it go with the finish within reach?
Is that you? Do you want that to be you? It is your choice. Today is the day you can choose to be a winner. For the next 28 days you will have to make that choice again... every day.
At 385 miles, you have 250 miles to go. There are 28 days left in the race, basically 4 weeks. More importantly 4 weekends.
The averages come out to 62.5 miles a week; or 9 miles a day.
Time restrictions now become a big factor in how you approach the next month out of your life. If you have a job that limits your running time during the week, it has to be made up on the weekends. The ideal situation is being able to do as many miles in a day as you want.
If you have that freedom, you automatically would fix on getting that 9 miles every day. While that is doable, it leaves you with no flexibility. Every time you come up short you lose ground that has to be made up. And the time you have to make up distance is now shrinking at a rapidly increasing rate. If you are a mile short today, you add 0.04 miles to every remaining day. A week from now being a mile short adds 0.08. The next week it adds 0.17.
I suggest, again, dividing the days up into blocks. Instead of 9 every day, do two 8 mile days and then a 12. Or two 7 mile days, and then a 14.... If you have a job that leaves only the weekends with free time, doing 8 miles a day means you need 23 over the weekend. 7 miles a day means you need 28.
Consistency is now more important than ever. A zero tomorrow adds a third of a mile to every remaining day. A zero a week from tomorrow adds a half mile per day.
This is the ideal approach. It is surely more feasible now than it was 3 months ago. If you have had any consistency at all you are in better physical condition than you were 3 months ago.
Realistically, you don't have to make it all up at once. You cannot afford to fall further behind. You cannot afford not to make up at least some ground. You have to understand, tho, that every mile less than 25 that you make up has to be added to that last week. The final weekend falls on the 29th and 30th. And when you hit that point there is no longer anything to hold back for. If you come out of the last 3 days too exhausted to walk even one mile., it does not matter. You can rest in September. SO, essentially all you have to do is shrink the deficit over the next 3 weeks to an amount you can pull out in one gargantuan final push. If you make up only 10 miles a week over the nest 3 weeks, you will have to make up 70 on the last weekend. Make up 20 a week and you only need 40. Whatever you believe you can do on that final weekend, take that amount and add half that again. that is the number you have to get your deficit down to. Because if you get this race to the final weekend, you will be able to do more than you think possible to close it out.
Now, that is the math for a worst case scenario. The one where you will need the heart of a lion to make a final surge to victory... to literally snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
You can apply the same math to your personal deficit, and create your own plan. The thing is, this is the time. I am no longer counseling restraint. We are now in the final lap.
This doesn't mean go crazy, and make up your entire deficit in one week. It does mean make up something. A week from now you want to be closer than you are today. You want to use this part of the final lap to put yourself within reach of one, final, closing surge.
It doesn't really matter how you got here. Some of you are at this point because you started out on an impossible quest, and have gradually improved from losing ground to making ground up. You are stronger than you ever thought you could be, and covering more ground than you ever dreamed you could cover. Some of you have made mistakes, or suffered misfortunes. Your road to this point has not been smooth and you have not gotten where you could be. Some of you have simply done less than you were capable of doing. Excuses or self recrimination are equally useless. What is done is done, and the situation is what it is.
It does not really matter, because you are here. If you weren't here, you would not be reading this. And now we are in the 4th lap. The lap of champions. This is when you get to really show who you are. This is when you get to choose to be a winner. The last 3 months are what they are. But, your race will be defined by what you do in August.
Pity the people who reached their goals with time to spare. Because they miss the ultimate. Asking yourself for more than you think you have to give... and finding that it is there.
That person you see in the mirror every morning; you think you know them. you think you know their potential. You think you know their limits. But, every one of you has greatness in you. You have the ability to do more and achieve more than you ever imagined. Those of you who are way in the hole, and trying to fight back.... lay out your plan. Go out every day, and win that day. No matter how daunting the moment, live it, experience it, conquer it. The physical discomfort will only last for 28 more days. The choice you make will be with you forever.
Choose to be a winner.

July 25

6 days in july....
Somehow it always seems to come down to this. The last few yards of the third lap. You cannot win your race here, but you can lose it.
With only 6 days remaining in July there is a tangible sag among the RATS. The last week has seen me climb in the rankings at a surprising speed. I only made the top 2000 a few days ago. This morning I was at 1891. The RAT buzzard has passed a couple of hundred people in just the last few days. A lot of people's races are on the line. No matter what it is they are chasing.
What has happened to the RATs?
They have reached the critical point of their race.
Just when we always knew it would come. Just when it always comes. The final stages of the third lap. Out here, that is the last 6 days in July.
When you start to near the end, "just enough" looks for all the world like "not quite enough". Back in May it sounded exciting to catch that buzzard on August 31. What got lost along the way was that meant spending the last part of July and the beginning of August with the sense that you were going to come up short. That during the last 6 days in July, every weakness in you would be calling out for you to quit. It is all the more hard to keep pushing, when it seems inevitable you will come up short. When you don't want to get up early any more. Don't want to run every day any more. Don't want to put in those extra miles any more.
Instead of being the time to let up, this is the time to press on.
It comes down to all the things we have talked about from the very beginning. Especially the one; Win today. These next 6 days you will not win your race. But, you can lose it. Too much has gone into getting here, to let it get away during 6 days in July.
August 1, we can pull out the pencil and paper to start doing the calculations on how we close this thing out. But tomorrow there is nothing magic. The answers are not to be found with a pencil and paper. The answers are to be found in hard, dirty work. We are tired and weary. Maybe discouraged. It is not a time to think long term. It is a time to get up, and go out, and put in a solid day. Not 6 solid days. Just one solid day.... and then next day to do it again....6 times.
This 6 days is what you came here for. You wanted to put yourself in this situation, to see if you could answer. You came to find the greatness in yourself. You have it in you, but you have to call on it. Greatness is not glorious , like in the movies. Greatness is hard. It is keeping on keeping on; when you don't want to do it any more.
It does not matter what anyone else has done. It does not matter what anyone else will do. What matters is how you respond, today. Today, when it is hard. Today when it is dirty. Today, when you are tired.... Today, when you can think of a thousand reasons to let up, and maybe the only reason to push on is because that is what you came to do. This is when you discover the greatness that is in you.
During 6 days in July.



July 5

I am so sorry that I cannot answer them all. The runners who are finishing the RAT get an e-mail to give them their link to enter the BAT, and to ask if they want a buckle, or a medal (save those in Europe and Asia/Pacific who get a buckle).
So many of them write, to tell me what this event has meant to them. It is impossible to answer them all, but I read every one. And they make my heart sing. One after another, they are the stories of people who entered this race for a variety of reasons. Some because they knew this was an amount of distance they would cover in four months anyway. Others because it presented a challenge to do more than they had ever tried before. A few, because they wanted a buckle or a medal. A goodly portion entered just because their friends had entered...
What they discovered was a race that was both easier and more difficult than they expected. And they discovered they had greatness in themselves that they did not know was there.
Covering distance was the easy part. We are built to cover distance. Sure, for those not used to it there were some aches and pains during the breaking in period. But we adapt quickly. And if there is anything we humans are good at, it is covering pure distance.
The hard part is becoming a runner. Not just a person who runs, but a runner. (No disrespect to those who walk, because it is the same thing, only slower). Somehow, they had to stick with it through the transition from thinking; "Will I run today?" to thinking; "When will I run today?" The race is inextricably intertwined with life. Family issues... "When will I run today?" Work issues..."When will I run today?" Don't feel good... "When will I run today?" This is not like blocking out a day or a weekend, and tolerating the discomfort long enough to finish. This is taking your life and injecting a race into it with no end in sight.
As a race director, I think the job is not about providing trinkets and baubles. It is about providing a venue for your runners to find the greatness in themselves. You cannot force greatness on them, nor lure them into it. Every one of us has greatness inside. But, we have to call on it to discover it. When the race begins, the runner is the one who encounters the obstacles. They are the ones who must reach inside, for something they never knew was there.
And the obstacles in the RAT are many and insidious. The tedium of finding the time to go out, day after day and week after week... hell, month after month. Creating the challenge for yourself. How easy is it to decide that the RAT is easily achievable, and cruise home. This is not the path chosen by most of the RATS. They catch one buzzard... and then fix their hungry eyes on the next. People who started out wondering if they could finish the 1000 Km are chasing 1000 miles. People now, who are finishing the RAT in over half the time are setting out to try and run negative splits on their summer and capture the BAT.
After these 50 something years, it would be easy for running to get old. But seeing it thru the eyes of so many people who are discovering the greatness in themselves makes it fresh and new every day. Down to the last person, catching the last buzzard, on the last day, the excitement never fades. It is you people who are inspiring me.
Someone remarked about the buckles; " If everyone gets a buckle, then it is no longer special." But that is not true at all. No buckle is special by itself. These buckles we have are just pieces of fancy metal. The magic in them is put there by the runners, For those who have reached deep inside to get them, those buckles will always be special.

June 16

it is not fun any more

In a few more hours we will all be in the second half of June. For the past 46 days, it has been a race every day.

It really doesn't matter how you approach this race, Some have blown the 1000 Kilometers away, only to find that the Great RAT is like a nesting doll. Open one, and there is another inside. Others battle on, day after day, swapping blows with a relentless buzzard, their goal within reach, but out of sight. Returning day after day to buy the chance to do it all again tomorrow. Everyone is faced with a personal battle, to achieve the most they can achieve.... in four long months.

There have been some broken bodies along the way. But most of us have hardened our machines on the crucibles of roads, trails, and treadmills. And slowly we have come to realize that this is not a physical contest, it is a challenge of the mind.

Every day we go out, and win today. But the buzzards never stop. They never slow. They never let up. Tomorrow we must go out and win again, or we will be chasing our buzzard from behind. Some will fall by the wayside. Many will fall by the wayside. This is not an easy game...

"It is not fun any more." No; sometimes it is not fun. Sometimes we have to work to squeeze out the time, when life tries to derail our long chase. Sometimes, and I hate to say this, but sometimes all of us would like a day off. A day off that does not cost us valuable ground.

"It is not fun any more." It sounds so mundane. So ordinary. Yet, this is the real opponent of greatness, This is what every great athlete must face. It is not dramatic, it is not glamorous, it is not scintillating. They will never make movies about it. But this is the enemy that every great athlete must overcome. Do you think that when Tom Brady and Peyton manning went to the film room while every other quarterback was taking off, that there was never a day that they thought; "This is not fun any more." Do you think when Larry Bird was heading to the gym to shoot on Christmas day he never thought; "This is not fun any more."

It is the same in every hundred miler, or multi day. There comes that point when; "This is not fun any more." The winners. The ones who cross the finish line, with tears of Joy... Can it really be that simple. For all the training. For all the obstacles, the high mountains, the river crossings, all those breathtaking challenges that the long runners face, that is not the enemy. That the defensive linemen trying to take off a quarterback's head, or the defensive geniuses trying to disguise the defenses, those are not what stands in the way. For every Magic Johnson or Karl Malone seeking to thwart them, that it all came down to something as basic as putting on our shoes and going out the door when; "This isn't fun any more"?

The funny thing (or maybe not), it is fun. I have watched the corn being planted, and grow to head height. I will get to watch it tassel, and grow ears. I will see it turn brown, and eventually feed the combine, leaving an empty field just like the one I saw when all this started. I listened to the birds, as they staked out their territories, watched them build nests. I will see the babies learn to fly, and head out on their own. I get to watch the flowers come and go, each with their own particular piece of the summer. I have seen the fawns, calves, and colts when they were so tiny they lay hidden in the grass, and now i see them following their mothers. By the end of the summer they will be young deer, cows, and horses. Take out the earplugs and turn off the podcasts. Running is not a boring activity unless you let it be. Open your eyes and ears; see and hear the world around you. It does not matter where you live, your world has its own rhythms. The runner can become a part of that world in a way that no one else can.

That is the real secret of the great ones. Manning and Brady, once in the film room, feel the joy of finding that tiny weakness to exploit. Larry Bird, shooting in the lonely gym, feels the incomparable sensation of getting his shots in a rhythm. The ball, like an extension of himself flowing from his fingertips and arching thru the net without touching the rim. No music is sweeter than the sound of the ball swishing thru the net. And you and I, when we realize that the miles have been melting away under our feet with no conscious effort, and we are just riding the wave and experiencing the world around us.

Every day is a victory, but every tomorrow is another race. And this is only June. But it is halfway thru, and a couple more weeks will bring us to July. July when the race will hit its bitter apogee. When the heat is the hottest. the fatigue the tiredest, the ennui the most overwhelming,the temptation to simply quit sings its sweetest siren song. No one will blame you if you stop. This race makes no logical sense.

Except that August is still waiting. August is the reward. August is the playoffs and August 31st is the championships. They are there, but only for the strongest of will.

August is when you catch the first whiffs of the barn, and the smell grows stronger every day, until you finally see the soft, sweet hay inside. August is when you see the dim glow on the horizon, that grows brighter every day, until you finally emerge under the bright lights. August is when you first glimpse the mountains, a faint line that you think might just be clouds, until they grow clearer and clearer... until the day you climb to the very summit.

And when you are asked; "How did you ever climb this mountain?" You cannot answer. How could an outsider ever understand? Climbing the mountain was nothing. Reaching that mountain. That was the crux of your race. Your race was not won on August 31.

It was those lonely days in June. When; "It was not fun any more."....

And you put on your shoes and went out anyway.

June 1

dam you, noradrenergic neurons!

i finished up May with 253 miles. Slightly over a quarter of the way to my goal, with slightly over a quarter of the race complete... June has only 30 days,

I have to say I have been amazed, and inspired by the performances out there; across the board.

When we first started this thing, and realized that many thousands of people were going to come and play, me and durb speculated on how many finishers we could expect... We figured maybe 5,000 out of 19,000. A thousand kilometer summer sounds fun and exciting. But when the muscles got sore we expected a lot of people to back away from the discomfort. When the day after day grind got hard, we expected a lot of people to choose the sofa. When the buzzard stayed out there in front, we thought a lot of people would give up.

The RATs are not like that. Sure, we have lost some. But there are nearly 12,000 runners still ahead of the buzzard. There have to be 2,000 runners chasing the buzzard, with an excellent chance of catching him. It seems like people catch the buzzard every day. One month in, the RATS have defied all expectations.

But now we are starting the second hardest month. June is going to be a big test. For those of us in the northern hemisphere the heat is coming. Everyone knows about the challenges that come with heat. Hydration. Electrolytes. Heat illness.... But the weak point that heat attacks the most is the least mentioned. Your mind. This whole game is really a contest between our body (including the brain) and our mind. Humans stand alone among the rest of the animal kingdom in one way. Our mind can force our body to do things beyond its capacity. At the point where other animals would give up, lay down, and die, humans are not halfway to what they can endure.

The reason we are capable of so much more is that we can consciously override the natural responses of the brain. And giving up has a biological basis. Knowing when to give up is one of the more basic behaviors of animals. Much like fatigue, surrender is a defense mechanism, preventing animals from wasting resources on a hopeless task. And here is how it works:

There are neurons called norandrenergic neurons that detect fruitless activity. (Norandrenergic neurons also function in avoidance behavior) and send a signal to a type of glial cell called Astrocytes that trigger giving up. (another cool thing, glial means "glue", as it was once thought the glial cells just sort of held the brain together.)

In an experiment, fish were put in a tank where the sides were video screens, and when they swam, the video made it look like they were going backwards. Eventually, if swimming did not result in forward progress, the Norandrenergic neurons would send a signal, and the Astrocytes would kick in and the fish would stop swimming. When the Astrocytes were destroyed by laser, the fish would never give up.

Why does any of this matter? Well, I think it is interesting for one thing. But more so, it puts giving up in a different light. It is not a personal weakness, it is hardwired. And understanding how it works makes it easier to overcome the urge to quit.

What is your brain going to tell you, in order to convince you to give up? It is going to tell you that you are out of shape. Look how slow you are going! Look how quickly you tire! Look how hard it is to get the miles you need to stay ahead of your buzzard! The truth is, you are in good shape. You did the work to get yourself ready in May. But it is simply harder to run in the heat. This is when it is even more important to keep the discipline to go out every day. Because your body has remarkable abilities to adapt. You will sweat more quickly, and lose less electrolytes. You will develop more capillaries near the surface so that more blood will reach that evaporative cooling to keep your core temperature down. What destroyed you early in the hot weather will become manageable later. The more you face up to it, the sooner you will adapt. And August temperatures that would have nearly destroyed you in June will feel like a break from the saunas of July.

The other trick your brain will play is fake math. It is going to seem like your goal is slipping out of reach. Even when we can still sit down and do the math to show you that it is possible, in your mind there will be times that you just think you cannot make it. This is not because you are weak. It is because you are normal. I have seen some of the toughest and most talented athletes in the world give up when success was still possible. The only difference between them and us is talent (and maybe experience.) The battles we fight between our body and our mind are the same.

Somewhere in June you are likely to come to that point that you do not believe you can make it. . You will reach that decision point; where you will either quit because it is hopeless, or go on despite the hopelessness. That is the moment you came for. The moment of truth, when you find out what you are made of. It will be harder to go on than you can imagine until you come to that decision point. But it will not be a moment of high drama. Just another day, that looks like any other, putting on your shoes and going back out, even tho every fiber of your being said NO!. That moment may happen more than once, before the day that you know, you will never quit.

There is one thing to remember when that time comes: If you decide to give up, it will relieve you from discomfort for the rest of the summer....

If you decide to fight to the end, It will be a victory that goes with you for the rest of your life.

So let us all hang in there together for this next challenging 30 days. Every day, let us go out and do what we have to do.

Now, we can't be foolish. All the regular heat stuff they always talk about, we have to attend to that. We have to pay attention to hydration and electrolytes. We have to avoid heat illness at all costs, because the effects of that could really end our race. It doesn't pass in a day.

But you know the real secret now. The most important thing is we do not let the heat defeat our mind.

May 22

The fact you did not read it is irrelevant... Judge Judy

A lot of people have been awakened the last couple of days by no longer being able to enter their miles back to the beginning of time. We have tried everything we know to tell you that this day was coming. If you chose not to read it, that is on you. We cannot continue to process every transaction from the start of the race, every day. There are too many people and the file is too big. There came a day when we simply had to cut it off.

We are going to leave it that way thru the weekend, in hopes of penetrating the awareness of the majority of the people who simply can not spare 30 seconds a day to enter their miles. Then early next week, we will give you a grace period to enter the miles you have failed to enter before.

When the grace period is over, it will go back to a 3 day window. For good. If you try to put a ginormous number in, it will be rejected....

Here is how it is. If there is a limit on how long you have to enter, we get a bunch of complaints. If you jump in there and put in weeks worth of mileage at once, we get a bunch of complaints. Maybe you think; "there are only 4 of them, they cannot possibly monitor 19,000 entrants." You are right. But you have 19,000 fellow runners to do that for us. Your actions are not invisible.

Here is the compelling argument I hear for doing whatever you want to do. "I don't care, and it is all about me." Reality check. It is NOT all about you. If you keep your mileage on a spreadsheet and read it to yourself, that is all about you. Here, you are part of a community of 19,000 people, and sometimes being a member of a community requires some small concession, rather than just doing anything you want.

We cannot keep the system running for 19,000 people unless you find the 30 seconds to enter your distance. Write down you distances, and when the grace period is announced after the weekend, put them in.



May 14

the hardest step

Inertia is your enemy. Inertia is your friend. inertia is the property of bodies that are at rest to remain at rest, and inertia is the property of bodies that are in motion to remain in motion.

We are two weeks in now. And right on schedule are all the posts listing all the reasons that it is really, really a good idea to take a day off.

A long run is a battle between the mind and the body. And 1000 kilometers is a very long run!

The body can be pretty dam sneaky. There is a dialogue that goes on in every long race; "that twinge in your foot is probably something serious... you better quit", "It is quite an accomplishment to make 3 loops... you can do 4 and 5 next time. You can quit now and you are still a winner", "you are way ahead of the game... one day off is the smart thing to do."

Now, I am not advising people to hammer themselves into jelly. 4 months is a long road, and there are quite a few runners who have way overdone it. My personal rule is; i can do one mile any day i feel like it. i dont even have to have a reason.... (A lot of you have a good reason to have some 1 mile days.)

But, I have to put on my running gear and take that first step out the door.

That step is the hardest, and most important, step of all. Most days, that first step out the door is harder than all the rest combined. And the reason is bad inertia. A body at rest wants to remain at rest.

What you need to develop is good inertia. If you have gone even two weeks, you are on the way. And good inertia is the habit of going out every day and doing something.That is why your body is redoubling its efforts to get you to break the momentum, before you acquire so much good inertia that its voice gets fainter and fainter, until you cannot hear it at all.

If you have gone out too hard, and brought on yourself all manner of aches and pains, you have given your body something to work with. It wants you to believe those aches and pains are fatal. It wants you to believe that the only therapy is to just remain ensconced on the sofa, and watch Judge Judy.

Those aches and pains will go away. They will go away sooner if you stretch those sore muscles out with a easy effort. Eventually a hard day will leave you with nothing more than a mild soreness, that becomes almost like a friend as you learn to associate it with the good feelings that come with being in shape.... And the easy days will be more pleasant (rejuvenating even) than any amount of lying on the couch and watching Judge Judy.

So, just remember that you are winning the war. Every time you put on your stuff and take that most difficult step, it gets a little easier the next time. The day will come that you do not even think about it. it will just be what you do, and who you are. Your miles will become a respite from the rest of the day. a time to forget your worries. A time to let the bad emotions fade. A time that leaves you feeling happier, and more at peace. You might even start to look forward to it.

But, seriously, you should try to work out your schedule so you don't miss Judge Judy!



May 13

Gingerbread Man wins first Race Across Tennessee

After apparently playing with the competition and running just ahead for the majority of the race, Man put the hammer down Monday afternoon and left the remainder of the field in the dust. His winning time of 11 days established a new multiday world record for cookies.

Pushing well into the night, he arrived in Buckeye Hollow just minutes before midnight. There he ran into trouble as the farmer tried to turn him into a snack. He eluded the farmer and ran to the tip of the state pursued by the farmer's wife, brandishing a carving knife.

Content with the spoils of his victory, Mr Man is taking an extended break to prepare for the race Back Across Tennessee. Las Vegas oddsmakers have taken the BAT off the board as Gingerbread Man is considered to be unbeatable.

May 12

Ramping Up

This is for a whole lot of you. maybe in the thousands, who have not done something like this before. Some of you have been cautious, running below the average required, and hoping to make it up later. Some of you have been caught up in the fervor, and done too much, too soon.

All of you are feeling those first twinges of doubt.

Well, folks. We are a week and a half in.Nothing has been decided.Everything is still on the table. But... A journey like this is not a sprint. It is a marathon (I just had to use that metaphor). Buckeye Hollow will not be achieved by burning the hottest flame. It will be attained by achieving a steady state.

In a way, this effort is like building a campfire. Some people think a campfire is not working unless they can see a flame. Every time the fire tries to settle in and start building a bed of coals, they push it around to get the flames going again. Flames look nice. But they produce the least heat for the wood burned. A good campfire is built with the logs placed to hold the heat in, and reflect it off each other. It isnt impressive to look at, but it builds up a large quantity of hot coals that will sit and put out so much heat that you have to move further away. And it will put out that heat for hours.

Here is the first thing to remember. Every day is a transaction. You need to average 5 miles a day. Every day you run less than 5 miles, you are borrowing from the finish. Every day you do more than 5 miles, you are banking for the finish.

Those of you who have been borrowing from the finish to get your body acclimated, you know that you will have to begin paying that back sooner or later. Those of you who have paid in more than you could afford are now paying the price, and you are having to borrow from your finish to pay your body back for how you treated it.

To succeed, you both need to work towards the same point. A well built fire, where the heat is held inside to feed on itself. It does not matter how you got to this point. It is what you do from here forward that counts.

Here is my approach to "ramping up" my miles to the point that I have a positive balance against the finish.

The first two weeks are used to acclimate my body to a reality where I put in miles every day. Some of you have done well with that so far, some have not, and the last part of this second week will be used to let your body recover a little bit. Just do not succumb to the temptation to do nothing. Keep going out there every day, even if it is only for a mile. Your body will recover better (movement is therapeutic for a sore body), and you will not exchange the habit of making your transaction every day for the habit of putting it off until tomorrow. Because tomorrow never comes. It is today every day.

One thing you do not want to do is to get in the habit of running the exact same distance every day. Some days you use to push yourself a little further. To extend the distance you can cover. When 5 miles is the furthest you have ever run, it is hard. When you have run 6, or 7, then 5 seems a little easier. Other days are used to let your body and mind recover. You are not going to gain by pushing to the limit every day. Something will break before 4 months are up.

I like to do my days in bunches of 3 now that my old body does not heal as fast as it used to. Long day, easy day, easy day. repeat. So, on the long day you do your longest run that is a comfortable training run. Not total comfort, it needs to be far enough that you are good and tired at the end,.(maybe tired enough to count some telephone poles), but also not a distance that leaves you debilitated. I feel like I have hit the sweet spot with my long day when I get home pooped and ready to just sit for a while. But, after i recover a little bit I feel fine.

the next two days you do short, manageable distance. At first you will feel some residual fatigue on the first day, and even the second. When the second easy day you actually feel good, it is time to increase the distance of the long day. The next time, you increase the distance of the easy days.

From the daily transaction standpoint, if your long day begins at 5 miles, that is breakeven. If your two short days are 2 miles, you are going -3 each day, for a 3 day net of -6. All of you are starting this segment of your race with varying balances, according to how you approached the first 2 weeks. Going forward you will either be moving that balance in the right direction, or letting the deficit grow. As long as you keep moving your long and short days up, you are going in the right direction. The time it takes before you are ready to increase either the long, or the short days will vary, It might be one week. It might be two. But, now that the initial excitement has worn off, and you have achieved a steady state, you will know when it is time. You always want to be a little past comfortable on the long days. And you don't want the second short day to be too easy. Just keep pushing yourself forward at a sustainable level.

Some important landmarks. First, when your long day is above the required daily average. That means every third day, you reduce the deficit. Your deficit will be growing slowly. The second is when your long day is as much above the average as the two short days combined are below. You are no longer losing any ground. The next is when your long day is more above the average than the short days are below. The side has ended, and yo are starting to whittle away at the deficit. But, the biggest landmark is when your short days are more than the average. This is when that deficit really starts melting away.

You can modify this plan to suit your circumstance. Mine is the beat up old man version. I don't snap back like i used to . A younger person, or someone with a stronger background can drop to one long day and one recovery day and probably not feel it. you can include runs of several different distances and do a 4 day cycle. The important things are to remember the transactional nature of your training, always be aware if you are losing ground or gaining ground, and to steadily improve.

Here at the two week mark, you are at a critical juncture. There may be no other time when it will be this easy to quit. Sticking with it for the long haul was so easy to envision, when the reality of what a long haul is was not so... real. The need to keep improving towards your goal, be it 1000k, 1000M, or some distance beyond requires you to perpetually be just beyond what is comfortable. The goal has come to seem so far away.

Do not even think about your end goal. It is too far away. Be aware of it. But just focus on improving your transactions. Set your sights on those landmarks. Those are in reach. Briefly enjoy each one the day you reach it. And the next morning start pursuing the next. And keep at it every day. You have not yet built the habit that becomes hard to break. But it is beginning. That urge to take a day completely off is your weaker self trying to stop that habit from getting too ingrained. to keep your stronger self from taking over.

you have a goal, but it will not be easily attained. You would not want it to be. The harder it is to get, the sweeter victory tastes.

May 11

Some statistics from the Great RATS!

Our band of merry rodents has logged 1,058,790.2 miles in less than 10 days.

This is 42.5 circumnavigations of the earth.

4 and a half trips to the moon and back.

all of it one step at a time!

May 11

Some new things on the way for the RATS out there!
Been going over our reporting with Bad Mike and Naresh last night.this morning, and I think we have some serious upgrades in the works, Going to make your lives better.
We are going to switch to a once a day posting, which will be at the time when the day ends everywhere... This morning we posted at the absolute end of May 10, so the report will show the standings as of the end of May 10. Since the same time as it turned May 11 at the end of the time zones, it turned May 12 in the next time zone, many people will have already completed and posted their May 11 miles... This will be shown in a separate column to the right of the total.... When a race is being run in 22 different time zones, the standings can be confusing since some people already have tomorrows miles done while you are just finishing today! The standings will be for whole days, so you know who you are racing to the end, no matter what time zone they are in.
We are going to add a lookup for the hopper. That way if you dont see your miles posted for today but are worried about what is in there, you can look to see what is waiting to be posted for you. This will finally allow you to look and see, one minute after you make the entry, that your miles are there!
I think these two changes will make the reporting easier to follow, easier to maintain, and generally less stressful for the users and the system managers alike!
Now, this is going to be a load for the guys making the whole thing work. So i won't offer a projected time for this stuff to be up and running until they offer one. They are also putting together the reporting for the return trip. It won't be long before we find out if the front runners are going to make the turn and race back across the state! I dont know about the current leaders, but this morning reports came in that gingy was fairly flying down the road, periodically tossing taunts over his shoulder towards his competitors (he has been known for his trash talking style for a century and a half). Word has it he is all fired up for the return trip. All the streams and rivers on the course have bridges, and nothing has ever stopped him, save an unbridged water crossing.

May 10, 2020

Just a little interesting information about the race: As of midnight (US Central Time) we had 18,384 entrants from 77 countries:

Afghanistan 1 Andorra 1 Argentina 1 Australia 252 Austria 5 Belgium 100 Bermuda 9 Brazil 3 British Virgin Islands 2 Canada 1,946 Cayman Islands 5 Chile 4 Curacao 1 Czech Republic 4 Denmark 47 Dominican Republic 2 Ecuador 9 Finland 10 France 90 Germany 55 Ghana 1 Gibraltar 3 Great Britain (England 1,019 Scotland Wales Northern Ireland) Greece 3 Greenland 1 Guam 1 Guatemala 1 Guernsey 3 Hong Kong 21 Hungary 2 Iceland 1 India 6 Ireland 155 Isle of Man 1 Israel 1 Italy 12 Japan 78 Jersey 5 Jordan 1 Korea 1 Latvia 1 Lithuania 1 Luxembourg 2 Malaysia 10 Malta 1 Mexico 14 Monaco 1 Netherlands 255 New Zealand 41 Norway 12 Philippines 5 Poland 9 Portugal 3 Puerto Rico 8 Qatar 2 Reunion Island 3 Romania 6 Russian Federation 3 Saudi Arabia 1 Serbia 2 Singapore 29 Slovakia 4 Slovenia 2 South Africa 2 Spain 44 St Kitts & Nevis 1 Sweden 84 Switzerland 25 Thailand 5 Trinidad and Tobago 1 Ukraine 1 United Arab Emirates 18 United States 13,924 Virgin Islands 1 18,384

May 8, 2020

take care of your feet!

For you newbies to this journey running thing, you are now a week into your trek. For many of you that week has only carried you from the start at the tip of the state, and around on the Arkansas levees to Memphis.

That can be a little psychologically intimidating. After all, most people think Memphis *is* the southwestern tip of the state, and here you have had to trudge a marathon worth of distance, just to get there!

Looking at that map, with your little dot still almost touching the place you started. That can also be discouraging. If it helps, this is one of the realities of journey running. Every journey runner feels the same thing. It just doesn't seem like you are getting anywhere until you get out of the shadow of the start.

But, if you are going some insane distance (for example 1000 kilometers), the scale of the map makes it look like you are still at the start for a long, long time.

I will share another little journey running secret. All this does later is make it really feel special as those daily increments add up and suddenly you see space between you and the start. All you have to do is keep a steady state. Go out and add your miles day by day. And you will see that space open up, and open up.... until one day you are way out there on the map.

It will mean so much more because you have worked for it.

Later. Weeks, and months from now, when you are far across the map, there will be a deep sense of satisfaction as you look back over how far you have come... one step at a time. It will be an achievement built on all the days you did not want to go, but went out anyway. Miles that you did when it was too cold, or too rainy, or too hot and the sun was beating down. Miles that you did when everything in the world conspired to keep you at home. But, somehow you found a time to squeeze in at least a few miles.

Great accomplishments are not built on dramatic moments, but on small moments. On consistent work. On sticking with the task. It is slow,sometimes tedious, sometimes not fun, work. Dirty. Sweaty. Hard.

Movies spoil us. A movie about your journey would have a 30 second video; clips of you out on the road in various cool places, dirty and sweating, set to dramatic music. Then they would spend 30 minutes on your final stretch into Buckeye Hollow and across the finish line. Maybe for effect you would fall mere feet from the finish, and it would spend 10 times the time allocated to the actual task on your dramatic rise to your feet to go on the last 10 yards.

In Real Life, Great Things are made of 99.99999% hard, dirty, tedious work. The finish is over in seconds. It is fleeting. Sometimes anticlimactic. Even if you shed tears of joy at having made it, the moment is short. The satisfaction of what you have achieved is what lasts a lifetime. The same amount of time regret over having given up will last.

Great things are not accomplished in dramatic moments. You add one more brick to the wall when you put on your shoes and go out the door today. and start that second week.

Of course, the object here is to give also practical advice. Soon it will be time to pass along some pointers on how to get your mileage up without breaking your equipment (and your equipment is your body!) Those of you who did not start out able to do 5 miles a day, but have had the courage to keep tacking on the miles you can do. We will look at how you begin to stop the slide off pace, and then hold even, and finally start cutting into that deficit. So that one day you can look at your projected finish, and instead of "No Finish" there will be a date (August 31).

Instead, today seems like a good time to talk about taking care of your feet. Is it ok if I brag a little here? (It doesn't really matter what you answered, I am going to do it anyway). During my transcon I went more than 3,300 miles in 4 months. More than 5,000 km. During that trip I had not even one blister. My feet did hurt. Actually, I had numbness in them for over a year afterwards. But, you are not going far enough to have that problem. Your biggest threat is blisters, and maybe some foot pain, because they are not used to this kind of a workload!

The secrets to foot care are nothing magical. Consistency is the key. Pay attention to them every day. Do you have callouses? You don't want callouses. They are not strong points on your foot, they are potential sources of trouble. I take care of mine the easy way. (mostly mine form on that vulnerable place, the outside of my big toe). I rub them together while my feet are wet in the shower and the skin is softer, and let them sand each other away. Not all at once, but a little at a time, so i dont expose sensitive flesh! I do not care for the mechanical devices to shave them off. It is too easy to go too deep.

You want the skin to be supple and soft. Like a baby's feet. If the skin is dry and rough, use lotion on them. If you end up having to spend a lot of time in the rain, or for whatever reason, with wet feet, watch that the skin does not dry out and get that parchment feel to it. Lotion again. And rubbing it in can double as a massage to relieve the soreness of unaccustomed work.

Keep the nails trimmed. Not so deep that they bury themselves in your toes, but not sticking out where they will cut into their neighboring toes.

Do not wear uncomfortable shoes. Not just for your miles, but any time. When I got comments for wearing running shoes with suits, i just told people; "My feet have suffered enough."

Get some comfortable house shoes, and don't walk around barefoot on hard surfaces. Your feet have a difficult existence. Treat them good. Because unhappy feet are not good team players. If they complain all the time, it is going to drag you down.

Just like the journey itself, don't expect instant results. But, if you tend to your feet every day, as the trek goes along they will slowly turn into the healthy, happy feet you always wanted.


6 - update on the system

OK. Here is the straight scoop from the user side.

Bad mike is going to post a report as of the end of day 5 shortly, and then stop the reporting for a 12 hour overhaul of the system. They are having to swap to "larger servers" and other technical stuff i dont understand. But, i dont really need to . There are records that did not get thru the too-small system that should come back. I don't know about everyone else, but I know that last night my personal pin was in the right place. I think almost all of them are.

When he does the end of day 5 reports, he will send me an excell file with all the reported data on it. I will post that report on here, in case some of you will get pleasure from playing with it, or just looking for yourself to see what it has for you.

I know there were some mileages from sunday that did not get on. If you see your sunday miles missing (or any other day for that matter) you can just go and enter the miles (be sure that the date is set for that day) and they will post when everything cranks back up. If they were already in the data that was going to post, nothing will be hurt, because it only posts one set of miles for each day, it will not add them together.

The biggest thing he won't be doing during the overhaul is answering questions. No surprise to me, the volume of questions is negatively impacting the time to actually work on keeping things in order.

So, I have a pretty rosy outlook. I have been having no issues entering my distances each day. If the report availability has been erratic, when it is there I keep finding myself where i should be. This is not the first time I have had a system I use have to stop and "upgrade the servers."

For right now, my plan is to head out for a nice 11 mile increment on my journey, and enter that when i get home. The part under my control is getting in the miles. While I am out, I can conspire with durb on getting the shirts out (production is already underway) and how we can handle the additional entries coming in. Maybe we should stop it, because these new people might catch me in a few days, and push me back in the standings! At some point we will have to stop offering shirts. With production underway the window for us to increase quantities is dwindling!

The only issue with no answer is fixing all the users. I know (altho i will deny this later) that most of my tech issues stem from a faulty part between the chair and the keyboard. You should take comfort that i am able to handle this system, because if i can do it, anyone can!

(all i have to do is enter my distance every day)



May 3

For those who are worried about struggling early, today just happened to mark the 123rd day of the year. This race is 123 days long. I have walked all 123 days, but started out in terrible shape after a nothing Fall.

I had a hard time getting it going, because I am not a young guy who just snaps into shape. And circulation issues in my legs limits me to only walking (not always comfortably).

I did not hit a 35 mile week until 6 weeks into the year.

I did not do 10 miles in a day until April 4

I did not get my average per day up to 5 miles until April 12.

There were a number of times that circumstances held me to just a one or two mile day, and the longest day i have had was only 11 miles.

But I did do at least something every single day. And after 123 days I have 661 miles on the year.

This is not something that any one of you can not do!

I notice that some of you feel embarrassed about your miles in the two days so far. Well, you cannot compare yourself to other people. As a younger, stronger guy I have done 200 mile weeks for this long. As the old geezer I am now, this is all I can do. It is not any easier just because the numbers are less... maybe it is harder.

here are my miles each day, split into weeks:

Wk 1) 2 1 3 3 3 (12 total) only 5 days

2) 3 5 3 5 3 5 2 (26)

3) 6 5 2 7 2 3 3 (28)

4) 2 3 5 1 1 2 3 (17)

5) 5 1 7 3 5 5 3 (29)

6) 6 5 6 5 6 5 9 (42)

7) 5 6 5 5 5 8 6 (40)

8) 5 5 5 5 7 8 5 (40)

9) 7 5 5 7 6 5 5 (40)

10) 2 2 2 5 7 2 9 (29)

11) 7 5 3 3 6 5 5 (34)

12) 5 5 5 6 5 5 9 (40)

13) 7 7 5 5 8 7 5 (44)

14) 9 5 5 8 5 10 5 (47)

15) 7 7 5 9 5 12 5 (50)

16) 7 8 6 6 11 6 6 (50)

17) 11 6 6 11 6 6 6 (52)

18) 6 6 6 6 11 6 (41) only 6 days GT 661 miles

May 2, 2020

"a bit of advice for those who have never done 1,000 kilometers in 4 months before and are just hoping to finish...

This is a long event, and it is not necessary that you are able to begin by averaging over 5 miles a day.

The key is to be patient and consistent. You do not want to begin by pushing yourself to excessive distances and risk injury.

Just start out doing the distance you can comfortably do, and stay motivated to go out every day.

Some days you will not feel like going out, but the hardest part of every run is the first step.

If you just go ahead and put on your running togs and go out the door, you will be amazed how good it feels after you warm up to the day.

On the days that you think you cannot make it, do not get discouraged, or give up. On the days that you think; "this is too far and i will never make it" just realign your goal to getting as far as you can get. Experienced long distance runners will tell you, it can be discouraging to think about a goal that is so far away. Instead focus on something you can reach. Look at the map, and just get to the next city. And when you get there, set your sights on the next one.

One day, you will look, and the next stop is in Buckeye Hollow!

If you get behind pace early, it is not a big deal. As you get in better condition, and acclimate to the mileage, you will be able to go further with the same effort. Once you are able to go further each day than the average miles you need to finish, you will see that number go down and down, until you are finally back on pace to finish!

Just keep your eye on the prize, and you will discover that you can do more than you thought you could do. It is a good feeling to do something that amazes your friends.... but it is a feeling like no other to do something that amazes yourself!

never give up."


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