At first it started with excuses. That sounds dumb! It’s too cold outside. I’m not comfortable running outdoors in the middle of the night by myself and I don’t have a treadmill to run indoors. Besides I’m not even available that weekend I have other plans.
Then a conversation begins. One small conversation between friends. Are you thinking about doing that 48 hour challenge? Yeah I’d like to try but I’m not available that weekend. Then someone says It’s a virtual event why not do it the following weekend? After a few short exchanges with some other crazy ladies a new challenge was born. We had a formed group of 6 badass ladies to take on the Goggins challenge, Janelle, Jill, Aia, Denise, Christy and myself . We agreed to meet for the midnight & 4am runs so no one had to run alone. We quickly decided that a 48 mile weekend would be easy enough 🤪 so why not add a bit of extra distance. We all decided what distance suited us best some running just above the 4 miles, some of us running more. but we’d all run the same distance when we ran together. This meant for me the daytime loops would be 10km and the night (midnight & 4am) loops would be 6.5k (just over 4 miles).
Then Aia mentioned that she is participating in the CMTR spring scavenger hunt race and asked if we could help her with one of her scavenger items, a pyjama run. Of course we obliged and it started to snowball from there. We started adding additional challenges/themes to the runs.
Just like that the David Goggins 4x4x48 challenge had morphed from a 4 mile run every 4 hours for 48hours (or 12 runs) to an averaged 5.7 miles every 4 hours with some bonus challenges thrown in there. We decided, that since the initial conversation about doing the Goggins challenge we had created a new challenge. OUR own challenge, we could incorporate things that embody our personalities. To have fun, to work hard, to be kind, to include family and friends, to be silly, to be wild, to be free, to remember to breathe, to enjoy the silence, to embrace those moments of joy and of pain. We are Wild Women! And this was OUR challenge, the Wild Women challenge.
Now back to the actual running. A 10km run is a fairly short distance for me. so the distance or each run wasn’t intimidating but the accumulation can take its toll. The mindset was one run at a time and keep checking them off as you go. I had setup a group zoom chat for everyone to check in before each loop. So we could support each other and friends could pop on to cheer us on. With such an adventurous and fun group of women as these ladies, we had plenty of ideas for extra challenges that could be added to the runs. So The days leading up to the weekend I mapped out my routes, wrote out a schedule and planned where, with who and what (if anything) I was doing on each run.
It’s finally here. Friday at 4pm and Jim is waiting outside my house ready to go. I’m on the group zoom call with most of the ladies as we head off on our first run. Jim and I hit up my home trails in Millcreek ravine. They are icy, muddy and granular snow (hard for running on). It’s a sloppy slog but I’m fresh and the sun is shining. We finish the first lap, I say goodbye to Jim and I celebrate with a bbq cheeseburger and fries thanks my hubby who had dinner going by the time I arrived home from the run.
it’s 8pm on a Friday night, normally I’d be snuggled up on the couch watching a movie and munching down on some buttery popcorn. but on this particular Friday night I’m dressed up in my bright colours, glow sticks, Christmas lights and driving down to the Kinsmen for a 10km Rave Run. We headed off on our run to bring the party to the streets of downtown Edmonton. A group of 7 Moms running up and down Jasper ave dressed like we are going to a Rave. We had a few hoots and hollers from others with a sense of party helping us celebrate. The highlight was sprinting ALL DIRECTIONS of the scatter crosswalk in one interval and assuming we were being filmed but he was actually just taking a romantic selfie with his lady 😂 #stillnotfamous #aintnobrittney
I’m 38 years old, married with kids. Friday night at midnight I’m already well into my REM cycle. now it is waaaaaayyyyy past my bedtime and I’m driving over to Janelle’s for her home loop. We have finally hit the shorter runs and the first night of running. This loop was partly road and partly trail through whitemud ravine. I saw familiar trails in a new way and ran through a new neighborhood. Highlights were feeling like total crap, starting to second guess this challenge, getting tired, running into an off leash barking dog who thankful didn’t try to eat any of us. Oh and Denise’s brownies after we finished.
By the time I drive home I am freezing cold. This is where what you do in the down time starts to greatly affect you. I immediately get out of my wet clothes and into my pyjamas. I am not feeling too hungry at this point but I also haven’t really eaten anything since dinner. I have a couple bites of a banana, a swig of chocolate milk and a lay down on the couch and try and get some sleep. The sleep does not come. I am cold and shivering under multiple blankets for well over an hour.
The thing with each loop is that you must start again four hours after you STARTED running, not after you’ve finished. So depending on how long your run takes you have on average 2 to 3 hours until you must begin your next run. This is fine when you are well rested and it is daylight. It is much harder when your body desperately wants to sleep but can’t. This first day and night is where I make all the mistakes. The good news is the challenge is two days long so I have an entire other day to recover from my mistakes and this event is about learning for me anyway. Learning how to deal with the sleep deprivation, multiple stops and starts, daily life and playing with nutrition a bit.
I am very lucky this loop Starts from Denise’s house and she lives very close to me. Which means I can stay in bed until 10 minutes before the run. With only a three minute drive to the start of this run I am confident I will have more time than ever to lay down when I finish. Because of the melt and thaw that has been happening the ravine is quite a mess down on the gravel trail. We agree that in the dark the paved trail would be the best option. We turned on our headlamps and head out for another 6.5 km run. Even though this run is not as challenging as the midnight loop I find myself increasingly falling behind the others. Why am I so slow this morning? Then it dawns on me, the idea (not the sun as it will not be rising for a few more hours).
My nutrition has been a terrible mess since beginning this challenge. Yes I have eaten a great dinner but what about eating after that? Now that I was 24 km past that cheeseburger that I had eaten almost 10 hours ago. We returned back from the run, that felt way more challenging than it should have. I drove the mile and a half home and crawled into bed just like the last loop I had become a human popsicle. It was only just below zero outside, I was dressed properly and changed immediately out of my wet clothes, but it did not seem to help at all. This time lying in my own bed with the body heat of my own personal bed furnace a.k.a. my husband I still had trouble warming up. Luckily the next run was starting from my front door and I utilized every moment I could to stay in bed and rest.
With the call of 8 AM upon us and most of us running loops by ourselves or with others in the daytime. I logged onto our group zoom and saw everyone off for their 8 AM loop. This was the only loop I ran by myself. I chose the 8 AM run as my random acts of kindness challenge. I ran from my house up to the Whyte ave area and began looking for folks that were out early on a Saturday morning. I was fortunate to hand out 10 coffee cards to people at random. many of them looked like they could use a little help to get a warm meal. After I ran out of cards I headed home to complete my run. As most of my family had left the house. The conditions were perfect for a nap so I decided to try and get a little more sleep before the day was eminently upon us.
This is where I realized I had done the last 16 hours completely wrong. When I lay down in bed I tried to stretch my legs out and in doing so caused a tremendous toe cramp which then caused a foot cramp. While trying to relieve the foot cramp I ended up getting a calf cramp that then moved its way all the way up the backside of my leg into my hamstring. Why on earth was I cramping up? I thought. And then it dawned on me I had not taken any electrolytes or salt during any of those first few runs, nor in between them! I immediately sprung up out of my bed (well as fast as you can spring up after 43.5km and almost no sleep) and grabbed some of my GU electrolyte pills. Since I was so far behind I decided to double up by taking two at a time for the next three runs. I would also continue to take one pill after every run for the remainder of the challenge.
Still feeling a bit like garbage I decide to head out on my elevation run a.k.a. hills of despair with Denise. We mapped out a 10K route through the river valley that takes us up some of the largest paved hills in the central area. We had agreed that after the torture of a hills run we would stop at one of our favourite local ice cream shops and get ourselves a treat.
If you have not been to Kind ice cream yet you need to look them up they are amazing and they also have vegan ice creams.
On this loop I decided to bring water and fuel since I had gotten behind on both those things the first day. I Fuelled up with a campfire s’more‘s GU before taking on the second half of hills during the run. Once we had completed this hilly run in the sunshine we stopped off at Kind ice cream and grabbed our ice cream to go. I headed home with only two hours left until the next run began. At this point I was feeling pretty low. I was wondering how am I going to make it through the rest of this challenge when I was feeling so awful at the moment.
At home I popped a couple more GU electrolyte pills and ate some chicken noodle soup which made a huge difference in my energy levels.
it had now been a full 24 hours since we began this challenge. 4pm and Coral is outside my house ready for our run. As I step out of the house I am surprised by my friend Steve Baker. Coral shouts out “I brought a bonus buddy!!” We ran the paved trails from my house through the ravine and back. The pace was feeling easier than before. I looked down at my watch and we are doing sub 6 minute kilometres. This lap was one of my fastest and I finally felt like I could do this challenge.
it’s 8pm and my best friend, Tess has arrived and I’m grateful to run this next lap with her. I’ve had more miracle chicken noodle soup and am feeling pretty good for only having 2 hours sleep the night before. We crush the same paved loop that I ran at 4pm. feeling good and chatting away we shave a few seconds off the previous lap time. Now back at home I set her up in the basement for a nap as she will run the next one with me too.
midnight on the second night and we can almost see the final day. As we were already in our pjs. we decided a loop in our Pyjamas was just what was needed. If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about just close your eyes and imagine a group of Moms running around your neighbourhood between midnight and 1am in pjs and fuzzy onesies. There were so many laughs and jokes to be had. As we looped around the Capilano area a car drove by with phone in hand, I’m sure there is probably a Reddit thread with our photo in it lol.
Once back at Jill’s place we each headed home to try and get a bit of sleep before the last night loop. I said good bye to Tess and headed home to set my alarm for 4:45am. There is one more challenge for our sleep deprived brains, daylight savings time. At 2am the time jumps immediately to 3am and we lose an hour, to combat this we stuck with 4 hour time frame, shifting the remaining 3 runs by an hour.
after checking to make sure the time on my phone had changed properly I had a good 90 minutes of sleep. At 5am Outside my door was Denise, Christy and Derek (clearly he had missed our regular 5am run) we headed out towards Whyte ave to see the lights and enjoy the ave when it was empty and quiet. We found another scatter crosswalk and couldn’t let Derek miss out on the fun so we sprinted every direction and I’m glad the ave was dead because we didn’t have the same speed as we did the first night. From the scatter crosswalk we turned and headed back towards my place. The ladies headed home and Derek continued his morning run to achieve his usual 10 miler. Back in the house I crawled into bed for a couple hours rest. I can’t sleep as muscle soreness is now setting in and despite the warmer evening temperatures and stripping off damp clothes immediately I’m still a frozen Jen-sicle and sleep is fleeting.
I wish I’d thought ahead a bit because this loop coincides with the Sunday social. I had everyone meet at the ravine entrance near my home for 9am but I still had to run there which meant I had to start my last lap a few minutes early. I arrived to find several smiling faces. Because of my lack of distance and speed on this day I had enlisted the help of my friend Soren. He would lead a faster, longer distance that most of the group would run and a few of us still completing the challenge stuck to the shorter distance required for our challenge. Jill who had to start early, at noon on Friday because of family commitments meaning this run was HER last one. Because she’s strong and bad ass Jill joined the faster, longer group and finished off her challenge in typical Jill fashion, not Taking the easy way.
Lap 12- the finale!
We all met at the Kinsmen to finish off the challenge as a group, Jill was there in spirit. We were met by a couple close friends to cheer us during the final run. Tania, Thomas and Tess, the triple Ts. who had all run at least one previous loop with us couldn’t miss out on helping us celebrate. Quickly broken into 2 pace groups we set out down river valley road for a run in the sunshine. We were happy, excited and dare I say euphoric as we hit the half way point, we turned around and began to run down hill and back towards the parking lot filling with our families to cheer us in to the finish. As we all randomly ran around the parking lot trying to round up our mileage to some arbitrary number. I saw my family cheering for me and as I rounded the last set of cars the smiles and cheers grew louder. I can’t believe I had finished this crazy challenge, not only had we run further than expected but we had added our own fun spin to this running thing.
I’m eternally grateful for the amazing group of women that I was able to share this experience with. Having them to run with and know that we were all exhausted and all our legs were feeling bit like the tin man but still propelling us forward, was a great bonding experience.
It was no longer the Goggins challenge, it had become the Wild Women Challenge and we the wild women who’d tamed it.