On December 4th, I flew into California to be part of the Jester World Record Run where Ed Ettinghausen would tie the World Record for Most 100+ Mile Race completions in a year and then break it.
I was really excited for this race and wanted to get a belt buckle because of the special day and because my daughter, Jennifer Merkley, designed the buckle.
Ed and Martha Ettinghausen were nice enough to provide transportation, housing and support to me during these races.
Friday morning started really early and we headed down towards San Diego for the race.
The race was held at Rohr Park with a 3.1 mile (5 K) loop that you kept repeating. As the race started, I quickly took my appropriate place as DFL (dead flat last) and did my own thing of walking a minute, running a minute. While I was psyched for the race and wanted a 100 mile belt buckle, I found myself in an unusual situation – I had no motivation and was not enjoying myself. I made several new friends that day as the race progressed, but realized that while I wanted the buckle, I really had not mentally got the preparation for it. I think only my daughter understood. I ended the first night when my back started spasming and crawled into the Badwater Van to sleep. I think my mileage was 55K (about 34 miles).
The highlight of Day 1 was a friend showing up to surprise Ed. Shawna Wentlandt originally want not able to make the race and then found a way to do it. Several of us went in on the secret and “Coco Jones” signed up for the race. Friday afternoon Shawna totally surprised Ed and made it all worthwhile.
Shawna volunteered to basically throw her own race and stay up all night to pace me to my 100 mile finish. I turned her down because I did not feel good about it. Turns out this was a good decision because she stayed with Ed every step of the way for 100 miles and kept him going when he was so tired he kept falling asleep on his feet.
Day 2 came. I wanted to have more motivation and get back on track. Didn’t happen. I had even less fun and was just putting in time. Physically I felt okay. Emotionally and mentally I was drained and disgusted with myself. Basically – I did laps to hit 50 miles and then stopped. I pretty well declared my race was over. Felt like a total loser.
Day 3 – Ed was looking pretty tired after going for so many days on no sleep. I headed across the street to McDonalds for a bathroom break and breakfast. (They close all the bathrooms in the park at night.). Rob Distante came in and asked me to wait for him. I sat and we talked as we ate breakfast and he had one lap to go to hit 100 miles. I volunteered to come along and pace him and that cheered him up.
Once I finished the lap with Rob, I decided to do a lap or two with Ed and Shawna to help be entertaining and motivating. I quickly found I was motivated and having fun. I honestly think I was guided to rest so I could help Ed and Shawna hit 100 miles that day. After 4 laps I realized I needed to actually treat myself like I was racing and lubricated my feet and started eating and drinking after each lap.
It was so awesome to get to the last lap for Ed where he would hold the new World Record. He was pretty well in a zombie stage and I am sure he was exhausted. Shawna’s feet were killing her and you could see her trying not to cry and trying to keep Ed moving. We had a huge group on the last lap – including Ed’s wife and children. Deb Distante had also alternated laps to help the Jester train accomplish its goal. I think Martha focused on keeping Ed vertical and Deb and I focused on taking pressure off of Shawna on any incline or decline because she was hurting so bad.
Ed made it. The new World Record holder. Shawna made 100 miles. I ended up the race with 72 miles – making 22 miles that last day and my longest race ever.
It was an incredible and emotional weekend. So glad I was able to take part in it.