A Marathon Day
(My phone was dead for this entire day so please enjoy unrelated pretty AT photos).
On May 25th, I had my one month trail-iversary. I’ve been reading AppalachianTrials for years and was always so impressed when people hit that mark. Someone who’s made it a month probably has their system figured out, has their trail legs, has found a groove and a trail family and is a mountain-eating machine. They’re REAL hikers.
Well, I can tell you, some of those things are true, and some I still feel like I’m working on. Fake it til you make it, right?
So May 25th ended up being our biggest mile day yet. I’ve been enjoying hitting milestones: first double-digit day, first 1% day (22 miles), and now, first Marathon Day (26.2 miles). I haven’t been super on top of our plan lately so I just knew we were aiming for Damascus by Thursday night. I did not do the mental math, so when I asked the night before what our plan was for the next day and Eric told me, “Like, 26ish?” I just kind of shrugged and said, “Ok. Guess we’re doing this.”
We started early. We conservatively estimate 2 miles an hour so there was no daylight to waste. I packed up my tent, filtered some water, and hit the trail by 7:15. On paper the terrain looked easy: a big downhill then no big elevation changes all day. But let’s be clear, 26 miles is 26 miles. By 1pm (mile 12-ish) I was feeling low energy and grumpy so I stopped and cooked up a Ramen lunch. I’ve never done hot lunch before but it was a perfect little calorie break and I felt much better after. I caught up with Eric around mile 19 and since I usually hike alone, having some company made the time pass easily. We powered through the last 7 miles by sheer willpower. I was in pain and kept expecting the shelter to be around the next corner and was almost in tears by the end, but damn, it felt satisfying to finish and know I did it. I finished by 7pm, with about 10 hours of active hiking, for 2.6 miles an hour.
I don’t usually keep track of what I eat (as a nutrition student, what I eat is kind of embarrassing to admit), but I was curious about what kind of calorie intake I was hitting. I have definitely lost some weight and I do not want that happening. I made a big effort to snack generously on this particular day and it really helped keep my energy and spirits up. Here’s what I ate in one day (no judgement):
One chocolate chip and one blueberry crisp Clif Bar (250 calories each)
2 maple & brown sugar oatmeal packs (160 calories each)
1 Oriental ramen with a generous dollop of olive oil (380 calories of ramen, 240 of olive oil)
3 packages of peanut butter sandwich crackers (190 calories each)
1 bag of Reese’s pieces (230 calories)
1 bag of Cheez-It crackers (430 calories)
1 sleeve of Starburst (240 calories)
1 package (4 servings) garlic mashed instant potatoes with olive oil (440 calories of potatoes, 240 calories of olive oil)
1 Starbucks “Refresher” drink powder mix (70 calories)
1 bag of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies (280 calories)
Total: 3,940 calories. I feel like all I did all day was shove food in my face and would really have struggled to eat much more volume. Although the internet varies widely, it looks like I probably burned around 4,000 calories. So although on this day I just about broke even, I have a feeling I’m existing in a calorie deficit and have definitely lost weight. Time to look into carrying more snacks!
Overall, it was a good experience. I wouldn’t want to do it regularly (especially as beaten as my feet felt afterward). But it’s one more experience in this journey and maybe I’ll actually start running when I get home now that I know I can physically move my body 26 miles in one day!
There’s always good stuff happening over on the Instagram @nicholeyoung1, including picture of the aftermath of my feet… 🙂
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