A couple years ago, Rickey Gates created this project where he ran every single street in San Francisco. It took him 45 days and over 1,300 miles to accomplish this feat. I thought it was a really cool idea, but don’t live in a city. I’m close to a couple towns, but the logistics of driving to them to do this just didn’t seem appealing. So this was just a neat concept that wasn’t really doable for me.
Or was it? A couple weeks back, I read a blog post of a guy who was running all the streets in Egg Harbor Township and it suddenly clicked for me. I could do my township streets. Not only that, but Pocopson isn’t that large – maybe 3 miles by 3 miles. Heck, I should be able to knock this out in a single day. Boom. Now I’m all in. The township website says they manage 30 miles of roads. I printed out a couple maps and started planning.
The first thing I noticed is there are a bunch of cul-de-sacs in the township. Like a lot. Throw in all the short road segments leading to the township border and I’m looking at a significant amount of extra mileage. I didn’t sit down and calculate it ahead of time, but I guessed that it would take me 50-60 miles total to accomplish. It was the unknown distance that made this so interesting. Not only from a logistics point of view, but also from an adventure standpoint. The best adventures are explorations of the unknown and while I’ve lived here for 15+ years, there are many roads and neighborhoods I’ve never been into.
I started out at 6:30am Saturday morning from my house. The temperature was just above freezing and while it ended up getting into the mid-40s, the wind was gusting pretty good off and on throughout the day.
I printed out a map for navigation and had it taped up so it wouldn’t disintegrate throughout the day. Even though I’m obviously familiar with the area, I was a little paranoid about missing a street or segment. I also made sure I kept turning left in each neighborhood so I didn’t miss any streets. It was good to have for reference as the run went along and the couple ounces were well worth the weight it lifted off my mind.
I had planned the route so that I was back near my house about 30 miles. The way the streets are set up I could do a couple extra blocks depending on how my fluids/fuel was holding up. Well, turns out I was doing a lot more mileage than I had expected. So I got back at 35.75 miles and sat down for a couple minutes. My wife and son came out to chat with me while I refilled my bottles, which was nice as I prepared to head back out.
It’s a well known fact that ultras wreck your intelligence. Exhibit A was when I managed to snap at my wife when she accidentally spilled some of my trail mix getting it out of my pack. I tried to make a joke, however it came out completely wrong. Exhibit B was that I filled my bottles to the top with Coke, which then proceeded to give me a sugar shower as I started running down my driveway. I was smart enough to defizz my soda the prior night. Not so much halfway through my run. Exhibit C would be that I decided to only go with 48oz of fluids from here on out vs. the 72 that I started with. I hadn’t been drinking much throughout the day so thought it would be enough, yet I ended up running mostly dry with an hour or so left to go. It wasn’t an issue considering the temperatures, but would have been on a normal day.
It wasn’t too long after starting back out (maybe mile 40) that I hit a bit of a low. My legs were getting pretty sore, I still had an undetermined number of miles left, and my pace was starting to slow. Well, maybe continuing more than starting. It was very mild as far as lows go since I quickly realized it was probably due to lack of calories so I started eating a bit more which seemed to do the trick.
I got a huge boost when I hit 50 miles. I had been watching my average pace slow over the course of my run. For a while there it looked like I could get a 50 mile PR then it seemed to slip away as I came over a decent hill. Somehow my legs came alive in the neighborhood behind Baily’s Dairy though and I was able to squeak inside my PR by 2 minutes. Talk about an uplift. I was high as a kite for a good 30 minutes afterwards.
I doubt I’ve ever really enjoyed the end of a long run as much as this one. Don’t get me wrong. My legs were sore and I was looking forward to ending. I wasn’t counting down the miles though. Mostly because I couldn’t. I didn’t know if I had 5, 10 or two miles left to go. I was taking things neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block. There’s nothing worse than checking your watch and seeing 18…17…16…15.5…15…14.75…14.6…[expletive!]. This time I was able to stay completely in the moment.
I was not out for a “fast time”. And while I thought about my pace quite a bit (twelve hours gives you time aplenty to think about many things over and over again), I wasn’t focused on it too much. I wasn’t pushing the pace. This was partially because I didn’t know how far I had to run, but also because there were no time goals. It was only about running every single street in Pocopson.
That said I blazed away out there setting PRs for 50k (5:26, -20 min), 40 miles (7:14, -43 min), 50 miles (9:09, -2 min), 100k (11:32, -146 min), and 12 hours (64 miles, +9 miles). While it’s true I’ve never raced on roads, I also had to carry more fluids/fuel than I would in a race. The elevation gain last weekend was 95 feet per mile, which is nothing to sneeze at either. Overall, it was an outstanding performance from me and I couldn’t be happier with how things went. My fade was very modest as I was still knocking out mostly 11-12 minute miles right up to the end. If I had kept going, I probably would have broken 20 hours for a hundred miles or 2+ hours quicker than my best time.
Hmmm… The Pocopson 100 Miler. Maybe next quarantine.