Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Glazed and Confused -- The Krispy Kreme Challenge Race Report

The late American distance running phenom Steve Prefontaine once said, "A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts." "Pre" probably never ran an event quite like the Krispy Kreme Challenge, but it's a race that definitely puts his adage to the test.

Part race, part eating contest, the challenge is the ultimate test of gastrointestinal fortitude. Run two miles from the NC State University Belltower on Hillsborough Street to the Krispy Kreme store on Person and Peace streets in downtown Raleigh. Eat a dozen glazed doughnuts, then run two miles back to campus – all in under an hour.

Since the event combined two things I absolutely love – running and doughnuts – I joined the 3,000 other participants this past Saturday to take part in the challenge.

When I first heard of the challenge last year, it seemed like the perfect kind of quirky running event that I look for when searching the local race calendars. The Krispy Kreme Challenge became a must-run event for me on my 2008 racing schedule. And besides, the student-organized fundraising event helped raise $20,000 for the N.C. Children's Hospital, so I was doing it for the kids.

My year's worth of anticipation and excitement gave way to a case of the nerves in the days leading up to the race. As an avid runner, I figured the four miles wouldn't be a problem. Stopping in the middle to eat a dozen doughnuts? That's where the anxiety came in. How exactly do you train for an event that combines a runner's high with a sugar rush?

In preparing for my first marathon two years ago, I researched all the available information about staying properly hydrated and fueled over the course of 26.2 miles. I practiced drinking fluids and consuming energy gels on my long training runs until I knew my preparation would get me through the marathon. But there wasn't a tried and true training method for the challenge, as eating doughnuts while running isn't a technique you'll find in a copy of Runner's World.

So I showed up on Saturday confident in my legs, but uncertain about my stomach. I was more nervous prior to start of the Krispy Kreme Challenge than I had been before any of the other 52 previous road races I'd run.

At the sound of the starting gun, the mass of runners sprinted down Hillsborough Street, led to the Krispy Kreme store by – what else? – an escort from the Raleigh police. I set a leisurely pace, arriving at Krispy Kreme in a little over 20 minutes. I confidently grabbed my box of doughnuts, tossed open the lid, and was confronted by 12 innocent-looking, glazed rings of dough. A dozen Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts contain 2,400 calories. This was carb-loading taken to a new level.

I downed my first doughnut by squeezing it into a compact mass, a technique I'd heard described as timely and efficient. This technique wasn't for me, however, so I opted for a more traditional approach – eat them one at a time, try to enjoy them and try not to think about the run back.

The first five or six went down surprisingly easy. After the first half-dozen though, I felt the mass of dough and glaze settling and growing in my midsection. With time and space running out, my bites became smaller and more laborious as my insides became larger and more expansive. It felt like a helium balloon was being blown up inside my stomach. I still don't know how I got the last three down.

After downing a bit of water, I proudly showed my empty box to a race volunteer who checked my race bib as proof that I'd completed my dozen. As I took my first feeble steps back to the Belltower, I glanced at my watch and learned that I only had about 10 minutes to make it back in order to complete the feat in under an hour. That wasn't happening. My new challenge became keeping the doughnuts down.

"Oh, I didn't need to see that!" I exclaimed just a short ways past the Krispy Kreme on the return route. I'll spare you the description, but it was the first of several such patches of pastries that were scattered (and splattered) along the road.

By design and necessity, I settled into a slower pace on my trek back to campus. Despite some rumblings, I kept the load of lard down for the two miles back, joyfully ascending the Belltower steps with an unofficial time of 1 hour and 12 minutes.

In the final analysis, I underestimated how long it would take to consume a dozen doughnuts. Mentally, I divided this race into thirds – allotting 20 minutes for the run down, 20 minutes to eat the doughnuts and 20 minutes for the run back. I was close on the running, but eating the doughnuts took me closer to half an hour.

So looking ahead to next year, I'll be eager to take 12 minutes off my finishing time to earn the coveted challenge finisher shirt. I'll just need to shave off one minute for every doughnut consumed. That's doable, right? Besides, no guts, no glory. "Pre" most certainly would agree.

See you at next year's challenge, a race that certainly puts the "nuts" in doughnuts.

For more on the Krispy Kreme Challenge visit my friend Ashely's blog, my coworker David's on-the-spot reporting, the official race Web site or search "Krispy Kreme Challenge" on YouTube for no shortage of video accounts.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Five on the Fifth

Posted my first run of the New Year this morning with a 5.61 mile effort at the American Tobacco Trail....five leisurely miles on the fifth of January. It seems like forever since I had been on a run, but in reality it's only been two weeks. Still, that's the longest period of time of taken off in a while that wasn't because of an injury. I had a harder time than usual training through the holidays this year. Perhaps it's because I didn't have a January marathon staring me in the face like I've had the past two years. I think the rest was beneficial, however, and it sure felt good to get my legs back under me.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Rethinking Resolutions

Happy New Year! Since I've been on a blogging hiatus for three months, my resolution for 2008 is to be a better blogger. Not really, but I'll try.

I will confess, however, to getting caught up in the hype of the New Year and the symbolic "fresh start" it brings. And like many, I do like to set goals for the coming year in different areas of my life -- physical, mental, spiritual, relational, financial, etc. And like most, I tend to overdo it, get too ambitious, or focus on too many things at once.

Looking back on 2007, I met some of the goals I set 12 months ago, but fell short in others. My '07 successes include running at least one road race per month (not only did I run a race per month, I ran at least one race per week from Memorial Day to Labor Day); running at least four marathons (I ran five); running a sub 4-hour marathon (I broke 4 hours in three of the five marathons I ran in '07) and the secret goal I shared with just a few people -- to not have a single soft drink in all of '07 (and I still haven't had one four days into '08).

I fell a bit short in some other areas, like my goal to run 1,500 total miles in 2007 (I did around 1,461, still the most I've ever logged in a year). And I fell woefully short in other areas. Like my quest to read an average of a book per week last year (I only read 14), and my attempt to read straight through the Bible in year (I did make it out of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, but not out of the Old Testament).

So as I normally do this time of year, I've been thinking a lot about resolutions, but have yet to make any specific ones. And it seems that the area of life where it's most important to grow -- the spiritual arena -- is the area where it's most difficult to measure true growth. You simply can't measure spiritual growth like you measure the amount of weight lost, money saved, miles logged or books read. That's because spiritual growth has more to do with an inward attitude than outward action, which should cause us to think about the reasons for setting goals or making resolutions in the first place. What is our true motivation?

In the late 1700s, the famous American preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards made himself a list of 70 resolutions to live by. Among them:
  • to do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration.
  • to never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
  • to never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
  • to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I.
  • to never speak evil of anyone.
  • to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
  • to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, -- what sin I have committed, -- and wherein I have denied myself.
  • never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
Edwards' list looks much different than the list of resolutions one might set today. Edwards didn't pen a list of selfish pursuits to chase in his own power. Rather, his purpose was to glorify God and depend upon His strength. He knew his limitations. In the preface to his resolutions, Edwards wrote, "Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ's sake."

So as I think about what I'd like to accomplish this coming year, I'm trying to evaluate my attitude, monitor my motivation, and follow the exhortation given by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31. "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

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