San Francisco One Day

Aaron had to write a personal narrative this week for his 6th grade English class about a goal that had been hard to reach.  Good timing for him, given that he'd recently finished his first ultra (Oct. '06).  Thought some of you might want to read his paper.




 A Hard Goal to Reach


           In the weeks leading up to the San Francisco One Day 12 and 24 Hour Events, I thought I could run fifty miles in twelve hours.  After all, it is only a little more than 15 minute miles.  But, now that I was about to start, I pondered how tough that really was.  I remembered my mom suggesting that my primary goal should be 50 kilometers or 31 miles, and I tried to readjust my own thinking to make this my new goal for the day.


          When there was just 5 minutes until the start, I had a knot in my stomach, knowing that I would not be able to be totally relaxed until I was done at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m.  It seemed a long way off.  My nervousness had at first kept me from hearing what one of the race directors, who was also my dad, was saying.  Luckily, I didn't need to hear his instructions anyway, because the course was a one mile loop and I knew that I wouldn't get lost.


          "We're going to start in ten seconds," announced my dad, "5, 4, 3, 2, 1, start!"  As soon as I heard 'start' I immediately took off.  At first, I sustained the leaders' speed, keeping pace with the elite runners who had come from all over for this race.  But, after awhile, I slowed a bit and tried to run relaxed.  My first lap was 7:37, my second was 8:48, and then I gradually slowed even more, trying to conserve my energy for the long day ahead.  However, my mini-goal of ten miles in less than two hours stayed in my head - I wanted to be able to tell Mrs. Longua, my P.E. teacher, about it on Monday.  I achieved that goal with almost 10 minutes to spare.


          Even with ten hours left, I knew that I hadn't gotten to the hard part yet.  I walked the whole eleventh lap, by then knowing that my socks had holes in them and my shoes were rubbing up and down against my heels, so I felt as if I was starting to get blisters.  As I came into the aid station, I immediately notified my mom that the shoes I was wearing were hurting.  She said that we were lucky that Sports Basement was just across the street from the far side of the loop.  She then went with me as I started my twelfth lap.  When we reached Sports Basement, we picked out a pair of new shoes and socks to buy.  It was then, when I was trying on the shoes, that I noticed a blister was actually forming on my left heel.  My mom and I waited in line, paid for the new shoes and socks, threw away my old ones, and sat down to put on the new ones.  My mom and I walked out the door minutes later with me wearing my new shoes and socks, feeling much better.


          Back to the course I went, continuing to run and walk my laps.  On my eighteenth lap, I had realized how hard going even 50 kilometers was going to be.  I also started to think about stopping at twenty miles, because my previous record was 19 miles, set when I was 7 years old.  I told my mom that I was having doubts and mentioned once again about stopping at 20 miles.  And she told me that, instead of stopping for good at 20 laps, I should take a break at 20 and "see how you feel". 


          At the 20 mile mark, I decided to take that break.  My stomach was bothering me - I hadn't been eating much during the run, and I was starting to feel low on energy.  After 45 minutes and eating a sandwich, I decided to go for a marathon, which was only 6 more laps.  I got to 'rest' and chat with my friends who walked with me while I did these 6 laps.  As I was completing the marathon, my mom asked if I thought I wanted to try for the 50 kilometer mark, the goal that we'd talked about so many days ago.  I told her, "Now I do!  At 18 miles I didn't, but now I do!"  From this point on, I had no more thoughts of stopping until I reached my goal of 50 kilometers.


          This time through the aid station, I ate some pizza and headed back out on the course.  It seemed much easier now that I only had to finish 5 more laps to reach my goal.  I counted down the number of laps that I had left.  It got gradually darker, now that it was after 7:00, until I finally needed a flashlight.  With just two laps left, I started running again.  I ran most of the 25th and 31st loops, crossing the finish line for the last time to the cheers of my family and friends. 


          Now that I was done, I had all the time I wanted to play with my friends.