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Past Two Weeks: 62

This Year: 2082

The Christmas holiday involved a drive up to Stevensville, MT, where my wife’s parents live. 14 hours up (beginning at 2:00am, so that we’d get there before it got too dark) and 15 hours back (the extra hour due to nighttime blowing snow and not-so-great roads in Wyoming).

If there’s anything that is going to test a runner’s sanity, it’s spending that much time in a car.

I got myself through the drives in reasonably good mental and emotional shape by comparing them to long runs, and trying to follow the same advice:

  • During the first hour or two, DO NOT think about how much longer you have to go. Just take it as easy as possible, and conserve as much of your mental energy as you can – you’re going to need it later.
  • During the next couple hours, focus on eating and drinking, and periodically check your body position. Is anything going to cramp or get stiff? Am I maintaining a proper and sustainable form?
  • Don’t worry about people passing you. You’ve got your plan, and you know how fast is too fast for your comfort level. Stick to that plan.
  • Once you get to about halfway, you can start to begin thinking about the finish, but only do so in short bursts. Watching the miles slowly tick away when you’ve still got six or seven hours to go is a bad idea. Focus instead on what you did correctly (or incorrectly) during the first half of your adventure. Was it a bad idea to eat that McDonald’s breakfast sandwich? (The answer to this question is invariably yes.) What should I get to eat and drink at the next stop to remedy the stomach distress?
  • A little further down the path you can start upping the caffeine dosages, if that’s your thing. (On the drive home I tried my first 5-Hour-Energy when we were about 4 hours from the end… it wasn’t so bad…)
  • With a couple hours to go you can really start thinking about the finish. Just don’t forget to keep in tune with your body, and give it whatever it needs. If you need to stop for a bit, even if you’re close to the end, then stop. Get there in one piece.
  • In the homestretch you start seeing signs that you’re getting close – don’t relax too much! Tired eyes and a tired body can be a dangerous combination. Think about how good it’ll feel to finish, and the work you’ve done to reach your goal.

That said, I hope we fly to Stevensville for our next visit. The 14+ hours it took me to do the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 were much easier than driving to and from NW Montana.