Across The Years - T-Shirt

  • December 29th 2017
  • Glendale, Arizona
  • Across The Years
  • Sharon: 43.04 Miles in 18:00:40
  • Tim: 29.39 Miles in 11:06:33


I wasn’t sure if me and Tim were going to make it to make it to the start line of Across The Years. Tim threw his back out a couple of days before the race and I was fighting a cold. At least we had our excuses lined up.

The closest hotel to the race was the Comfort Inn. By the time we booked our room the only thing left was a King Suite. Luckily for us a suite in Glendale costs about the same as a regular hotel in most places that we like to vacation – looking at you San Francisco. It was great to have a huge comfy bed, even if I did have to roll over twice to kiss Tim goodnight. The closest restaurant was a Denny’s, so we ate at Denny’s the night before our big race. They actually had a decent wild salmon but I could have eaten my broccoli with a straw.

We got up with Tim’s 5am alarm because apparently we needed 4 hours to be ready for our 9am start.

There was a little confusion at packet pickup the morning of the race. The volunteer forgot to give us belts for our race bibs and didn’t know where the tables were. I also tried to find out where to recharge my phone (the website said that they had charging stations) but she didn’t know that either. To be fair I think most people picked up their packets the night before and she was very sweet and looked tired (this is not meant as criticism but just an account of our experience. All volunteers are awesome and should be worshiped for all they do.) Tim found the tables and we carried one to a primo table spot only to find a note on the inside, saying that table was reserved. On the inside! If someone, for whatever reason, has a favorite table I’m fine with that but put your name on the outside. We carried the table back and got another. Just from walking back and forth from the car and then the table thing my FitBit had 3 miles on it before we even started.

Across The Years 2017

I forgot how chilly AZ can be in the winter

While we were setting up we saw the Jester (Ed Ettinghausen) run by. We met him in 2015 at a Charlie Alewine race in Long Beach when Ed was doing his 100th 100 mile race. I was hoping for a chance to talk to him but he was moving faster than me and looked so focused that I didn’t want to intrude. In spite of taking a nasty fall that left him with a black eye and a hole in his forehead he Jestered on to win the 6 day race with 455.8 miles. Congrats Ed – you are always an inspiration.

#41 - Beachmania

Ed takes time to pose with us during his 100 mile race (2015)

You would think that a mile loop would get tedious but it never did. The scenery around the lake was always changing. On one loop Tim spotted a hummingbird and the ducks were always doing goofy duck things. Being Arizona the weather kept changing and there were lot of cool people to talk to. Every four hours the course changed directions and that made the course seem fresh.

Me and Tim walked the first couple loops together. I was amazed at how fast the first loop went. As the night went on the loop seemed to get longer and longer.

This was an extremely well run race. They did everything right. Not only were there plenty of port-o-pots but they were lit at night [Yes that’s a good thing – Tim]. Not only did they have an awesome aid station full of hot food and beverages, they had a second aid station that had water and sports drinks about halfway. The smaller aid station was actually my favorite. During the day it was manned (womaned?) by the sweetest woman, whose name I wish I could remember. My favorite volunteer was the man at that aid station at night. I remember telling him that I would not forget his name because that was my uncles name and now I can’t remember if his name was Ron, Ed, or Phil. Damn – I have three uncles. He was the perfect combination of cheerful enthusiasm and humor that really helped me out when I was hurting. Thanks Ron (or Ed or Phil). A friendly face makes a big difference when you’re feeling as raw as I was.

Tim did 29 miles before he had to stop because of his back. What a tough guy. I’m amazed he even started.

I so desperately wanted to do 50 miles but it was not to be. Around the time that TIm was dragging his bent over back to the car for some sleep I was developing a couple of blisters. I went to the medical tent and they wrapped my feet but it was too late. Two blisters turned into four. I had a blister on both my left and right pad, one in between my toes,and the last one on my heel. I don’t think I have ever had a blister on my heel before. I must have weak pudding feet. Still – I hobbled on. I stopped in the med tent to elevate my feet a couple of times. I wouldn’t let them look at my feet because at that point I knew that I would never get my shoes back on. There was no way for me to walk that wasn’t shooting pain with each step. I kept losing my balance. I knew my race was done when getting out of the port-o-pot had me in tears. I made it 43 miles but I should have stopped sooner.

I was definitely rethinking my 100 mile quest during my last couple of loops. I had myself convinced that a 100 mile buckle was a stupid quest, in fact running in general was stupid and it was taking way too much time away from my real love – Scrabble. I still think that it’s a stupid quest but I have decided that’s a reason to do it not a reason to quit.

I hobbled back to the car and woke Tim up. Even though he had a bad back he carried the table back – I was useless. The problem was that after we packed everything up it was around 3am and we didn’t have a hotel for that night. We went to the Super 8 in Goodyear, where we already had reservations for the next night. We figured if they had a room we would pay for two nights. I don’t know if Tim was off the charts charming or if the clerk was in a good mood but he didn’t charge us for the extra night [I told the clerk that my wife had just done 43 miles in a 24 hour race and had blisters the size of silver dollars on her feet and needed a place to lay down. – Tim]. I’m sure I was quite a spectacle dragging myself up the stairs by the railing.

Finally earned the right to put this on the car

I would definitely recommend this race. It was extremely well organized. Here are some of the reasons that I think this is the perfect first ultra:

  • You are never more than half a mile from a bathroom
  • The port-a-pots have lights at night!
  • Parking is close to the course
  • It would be impossible (even for me) to get lost on this loop
  • Basically flat
  • You can rent a table and place it next to the course. Line up your favorite snacks and wants
  • You are never more than half a mile from an aid station
  • The main aid station is a buffet
  • Nice medical staff that will tape your feet and look suitably horrified at the blisters taking over your feet
  • Helpful and friendly volunteers. Ron (Ed? Phil?), I’ll see you next year
  • Great swag. A buff, a large beer stein and a t-shirt I will actually wear. Super kudos for making the male and female t-shirts the same color
  • A really fun vibe
Huge glass beer stein!

Huge glass beer stein.

I am looking forward to going back next year. Although I didn’t reach my goal of 50 miles I did the most consecutive miles I have ever done and (as my friend Jeanie pointed out) I am now an ultrarunner. Next year I will figure out my blister feet and time my eating better. It was a great recon mission. I think I could get 100 miles in 48 hours by walking alone. We plan to train for next year by walking a lot. I promise to take more pictures next year.

Leave a comment or ask a question about anything. Next months blog will be about living and running with Lyme disease. There will be recipes.

I guess I’m just not happy unless I’m doing something stupid (or as I prefer to call it, epic) to write about.

I have been in love with the idea of ultrarunning for a long time and I thought that was where my running ws headed. Then I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. So much suddenly made sense. In the last five years my life has become a Lyme disease symptom checklist: fatigue, headache, irritability, insomnia, depression, hot flashes, memory loss, joint pain, neuropathy, etc. I knew something was wrong with me but test after test came back negative. I thought I was having the worlds worst case of menopause and I seriously considered that I might be losing my mind because I was so not me.

At first I was thrilled. I figured that I would do my course of antibiotics and then I would be myself again. And it worked! But only for three weeks. For three glorious weeks I could think, I had energy, I wasn’t irritated and angry at everything and then the Lyme was back.

My new project needed to be something stupid (epic) enough to jolt me out of the escalating stasis I have been inhabiting. I’m 55 and running out of time to do all the questionable things on my bucket list. In ultrarunning it is a tradition to get a buckle after completing a 100 mile race. Can you see where I’m going with this?

Yep – my new blog is called Buckle Up Buttercup because it will be, mostly, about my quest to get a 100 mile buckle in one year. I know that it is not possible to meet cutoffs in even the flattest, least technical race because I am a slow runner, so I had to get creative. I found a race called Across the Years that has a 24 hour, 48 hour, 72 hour, and 6 day race. Anyone completing 100 miles in any time frame gets a buckle.

So here is the plan. Me and Tim are doing the 24 hour race, December 29th, mostly as recon. Then next December we will go back and do either the 48 or 72 hour race. Tim wants to try for a 100 mile buckle as well. Yay – I love it when Tim wants to do stupid (epic) things with me. We plan to do a lot of hiking and a few races to train. I plan to use this blog for race reports as well as for general advice about running with Lyme disease. I will also share some easy gluten free recipes. This time next year I hope to be writing the race report about getting my 100 mile buckle but even if things don’t go as planned it should be an interesting journey.

As of this post we have finished our 24 hour race and my race report will be out next week.

Please leave a comment (I love comments) or ask a question about Lyme, or anything else. Except math – I’m terrible at math questions.