Running for Cal

A Hundred Miles in Twenty-Four Hours

By Mike Chillstrom

“Mike, are you pulling your skin off?”

It’s a legitimate question but I have to laugh. I’m at mile sixty-three of the Pulse 100-Mile Endurance Run, so my laughter is nothing more than a pained smile at this point.  I may be running a hundred miles but I’m not insane and I’m not a masochist. Yes, I’m in pain and exhausted, but pain is subjective. This pain will mostly be gone tomorrow. Other types of pain in this world never go away, which is really at the heart of why I’m running today.

“Jon, if I did that I’d be screaming like a little kid,” I tell my friend, who’s here as part of a small cheering section for me. “This is a special bandage I use for long races. Usually these things are awesome, but this one just doesn’t want to stay in place.”

I’ve been running trails at Eagle Island State Park for more than twelve hours straight. It’s a little past 10 p.m. on a Friday night in late March. It’s dark. It’s 42 degrees. It’s getting colder, except for one thing: my feet. For a runner, hot spots on your feet mean you’ve got blisters, or, at the very least, you’ve got blisters-in-progress. The balls of my feet are giant blisters. I think my blisters have blisters. This is awesome, I tell myself, sarcastically. If I were a car I’d have a flat tire. Two of them.

I mentally recap what I’ve done so far and what’s ahead of me.

The first fifty miles of the day seemed so easy. I’m happy to be at mile sixty-three, but now my feet are toast. How am I supposed to run another thirty-seven miles like this?  I guess this is what I signed up for. Maybe I AM a masochist?

Deciding that to spend ten minutes fixing my feet will be a good investment of time, I sit down on a camping chair, put my feet up on a five-gallon bucket, and slowly remove a couple of old bandages, which is when my friend thinks I’m ripping off my own skin. I pretend to be a field medic and patch things up the best I know how. Lance the blisters. Spray on a skin-toughening agent. Apply some new bandages and drying powder. Fresh socks. Fresh shoes. Pop a couple of over-the-counter analgesics. Back on my feet.

This is better but it still hurts. Damn, this is really gonna suck the rest of the way. Can I do this? I have to. Buck up, buttercup. These miles aren’t going to run themselves.

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