Monday, January 27, 2014
8 Ways Family Vacations Are Like Ultramarathons
I couldn't help but notice all the similarities between family vacations and ultramarathons. Allow me to share some of those with you:
1) THE FOOD IS THE SAME.
Hope you like stale sandwiches and warm soda. The "once food" you pull out of your backpack for lunch after hitting a bunch of roller coasters is shockingly similar to the crusty sandwiches and warm Coke at the aid station that have been sitting out on the table for twelve hours. Delicious! (Or not.)
2) ARE WE THERE YET?
If your family is anything like mine, you'll hear the phrase "Are we there yet?" somewhere between two thousand and three thousand times on the drive. The first hour. But that pales in comparison to the amount of times you'll hear it during an ultra when you are in that black hole between aid stations and your pace has slowed to that of a sloth drunk on Benadryl.
3) EXPERIENCING NEW LOCATIONS CAN BE SCARY.
Going to a new race where you're unfamiliar with the course can be daunting. I was petrified when I signed up for a race that included a climb called "Widowmaker". I was also petrified at the log flume ride.
4) THERE IS AN ABUNDANCE OF ARGUING AND FIGHTING.
Take a 6+ hour drive with your kids. You will hear "She's touching me!" or "He's breathing my air!" approximately, oh, a bajillion times. Similar fighting is found at ultramarathons. The scene goes kind of like this:
Pacer: "It's time to eat something."
Runner: In slurred speech - "No."
Pacer: "You haven't eaten for an hour and a half. You NEED to eat. Try this Gu packet."
Runner: "NOOOOO! And if you tell me to eat something again I will choke you with my hydration pack, pour salt from my S-Caps in your eyes, and leave your corpse here in the desert for vultures to eat.
DISCLAIMER: Then to pay you back for being sassy they will take a humiliating picture of you at mile 92 when you are sleep walking and praying for a visit from the angel of death.
5) YOU GET TO SEE CARTOON CHARACTERS!
On vacation it's people dressed up in hot, sweaty costumes that have to pretend they're happy hour after hour. During your ultra you get to run with the same characters. It's just that you're hallucinating them. But seriously, how awesome would it be to have Homer Simpson as your pacer?!??!
6) IN THE MOMENT, THE EXPERIENCE CAN BE HORRIBLE.
I enjoy traffic and waiting in long amusement park rides as much as I enjoy Celine Dion music. Likewise, challenges and temporary misery are inevitable in ultras. Nausea, blisters, aches, pains, cramps, and exhaustion so intense that you swear a Care Bear is trying to give you a fist bump. Ugh.
7) YOU FEEL REALLY HAPPY WHEN IT'S ALL OVER
I was ecstatic to get home and sleep in my own bed after our vacation. I also feel so happy when my scrawny chicken legs arrive at the finish line of an ultramarathon. It's like all that soreness and exhaustion vanishes. (But fear not amigos, five minutes after you cross the finish line you'll swear a Greyhound Bus is resting on your legs.)
8) WITHIN DAYS YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT WHAT RACE/VACATION WILL BE NEXT.
I can't remember which day of the vacation it was (hmmm, all of them?) when we were trapped in the car listening to kids argue and I swore to myself that I was retiring from vacations. But when I look back through pictures all I think of is the fun times. And aren't races exactly the same? Once you are able to walk down stairs without resembling Frankenstein, you think of the fun and excitement and the enormous sense of accomplishment. And you find yourself searching the internet for your next fix of ultramarathon awesomeness.