Our final—waaah!—In Her Shoes features the endurance monster Run EMZ, who has done two 100 miile runs on a treadmill. If you can't pick up your jaw off the floor after reading this and want more details, we had Emily on our podcast in 2013. Here is her episode.
I run in San Francisco for my second 24-hour treadmill run, which benefits Effect.org, an incredible non-profit building affordable, high-impact schools for children in India. (I ran my first 100-miler to help Arizona’s Sojourner Center, a shelter for battered women.)
For the first eleven hours, I am inside a gym, where the scenery (obviously) doesn’t change. Even so, I don’t understand the boredom a lot of people feel on the treadmill. As crazy at it sounds, I find it very stimulating. Running on the treadmill, I lose myself: My mind can go anywhere, and I don’t have to worry if I’m going to stumble on a rock or if a car is going to come barreling down the street.
When the sun comes up, I move outside to Market Street, a main city thoroughfare. I’m out in public, with people walking by and starting up a conversation with me to figure out what I’m doing.
When the run gets challenging, I start thinking outside myself. That’s one of my favorite ways to run. If I’m doing a 20-miler, I’ll write twenty names on a Post-It Note and stick it on the treadmill display. I think about each person through a whole mile, then I move on when I hit the next mile.
During one of those hard times during my first 100-mile run, my best girlfriend, who stayed with me the whole time, said, “I think you need to get out of your own brain and think about something else.” I asked her bring over a pamphlet for the shelter, and I looked at the faces of the women they’ve helped. I also looked at the families they hadn’t helped, the ones they had to turn away because they didn’t have enough beds. It’s pretty hard to give any concern to your legs or whatever is ailing when looking at faces like that.
I keep a towel covering every number on the treadmill. I never look at any of the numbers, even on runs I do at home. I just run for a certain amount of time—it could be twenty minutes or two hours—then I’ll see far I’ve gone.
My stomach’s pretty solid. I don’t have the issues a lot of runners do, only being able to eat certain things. I eat full out during this run: a 10-inch tempeh sandwich, with all sorts of stuff on it. A couple of bagels and peanut butter, and plenty of other calories.
Every four hours or so, I pause the treadmill and use the restroom, even if I don’t have to. I want to make sure my fluid intake and output is okay. I step on a scale and make sure the in-and-out is balanced. It makes me feel better and keeps my head clear to know I’m doing everything I need to do to take care of myself.
On Market Street, one gentleman just stands and stares. It isn’t a creepy stare; his brain is just turning. He comes over and he says, “Do you feel okay? Do you think this is okay for your body?” I smile. “I honestly feel really good. I trained for this. I didn’t just pop up on here. “ He says, “Your smile is amazing and I cannot believe you’re smiling. I know you’ve been running for nineteen hours already.”
“It’s all about the charity. It’s all about raising money,” I explain.
He shakes his head, smiles, and donates $500. He says, “You, my friend, are amazing.”
Once I hit a little over 100 miles, I start to feel my lower back. I hadn’t experienced that sensation before. My team decides I should cover 108 miles and call it.
—Emily (Motto: “You’ve Freaking Got This!”)