This was the culmination of many years of joggling. In training, I have covered thousands of miles, injured myself a bunch of times, experienced many setbacks, and connected with many other jogglers and runners. Through it all, my speed and endurance gradually improved, and I was dropping less. I’ve been planning on doing this for some time now, and the perfect opportunity came last weekend. Not only was I fully recovered from the Yonkers Marathon from 2 months ago, but the weather conditions in mid autumn are perfect for going the distance. Besides fine-tuning my training and diet, I also made sure I had all the proper equipment for this adventure.
Before setting out on this run, I made sure I had everything I needed in my Black Diamond backpack. Just a few of the items I brought with me, from left to right: Princeton Tec Tactical Quad LED Headlamp, a bunch of Trader Joe’s apple blueberry fruit wraps, and Anker Astro Mini smart-phone charger.
Besides this, I also had 3 Peanut Butter Cliff Bars, a Tofurky sandwich(2 slices between white bread), and later along the trip I bought some water. I realized that with how long this trip was going to be I needed both the headlamp and battery charger, and they both came in handy toward the end. Because of the chill in the air(it was about 40F), I had on a jacket, a t-shirt, a winter hat, and sweat pants. It got chillier the farther north I ran.
Preparing for this included the usual long runs, intervals, and hill runs. I tapered for about a week and a half before this. In the weeks leading up to this long run, I was eating a lot more leafy greens than usual, especially arugula and watercress. I also ate vegan kimchi occasionally, since it seems to help prevent digestive issues(too much kimchi or probiotic food could also cause digestive issues if you’re not careful, in my experience). Still, about a week before this run and up till a few days before it, I was feeling increasingly lethargic. I’m not sure why, though it may have been due to over-training. Because of this, I came close to canceling this run, though about 2 days before my energy started to improve.
Almost 2 hours after a breakfast of sunflower seeds, bread, and cherries, and shortly after pre-loading with lots of juice, I started my running adventure at 9:36 AM, slowly making my way through Mount Vernon and Bronxville to the Putnam/South County Trail in Yonkers. This paved bike/running path, which I’ve mentioned many times before, used to be a railroad line. About 45 miles long(with a few small gaps here and there), it starts in the Bronx and goes as far north as Brewster, NY in Putnam county. This trailway has a special significance for me since the first time I ever ran 20 miles was on this path. I’ve done numerous long runs on it since.
So I started with a slow pace, realizing if I ran too fast I wouldn’t be able to go very far. I did about 9 minute miles for the first 13 miles, which is slightly slower than I usually run. There weren’t that many people out on the trails that day except for the occasional cyclist. Although it was past peak, there was still a lot of autumn beauty to behold. At about mile 11 in Elmsford, I stopped for a bit to get some apple juice from the store before continuing north.
The next part of the trail(after running along the sidewalks of Elmsford, which is where the largest gap in the trail is located) is an upward slope that is often steep. The gentle slope of the trailway from Yonkers to Elmsford does little to prepare you for this. The climb seemingly goes on forever, and could prove frustrating for the uninitiated. I admit I got frustrated occasionally even though I am used to running hills. My tenacity combined with my appreciation for the autumn beauty and sweet, gentle autumn wind helped me get through it.
In some areas near Ossining and Briarcliff Manor, the trailway runs alongside some roads, but this mostly doesn’t bother me since there is usually little traffic in these rural areas. After many miles of elevation gain, my legs started to tire a little around mile 20. I kept pushing myself since I knew I was going to take a big break a little after the halfway mark in Millwood. To think that Millwood was once the end point of a very long training run last year, and is now the midpoint!
The trail runs very close to a supermarket in Millwood, where I washed up, got some water, and headed back to the trail to eat lunch. I walked fast as I ate a lunch of 2 slices of Tofurky with white bread(I find white bread easier on the digestion than whole grain bread before and during long runs). This is a much smaller lunch than I usually eat because of the serious digestive issues I’ve often experienced on long runs. Even after I finished lunch, I continued to walk to let it digest. All in all, an almost 40 minute break from joggling.
I felt so refreshed after lunch that I didn’t have to struggle with my legs like I did before. Though I have run north of Millwood before on the Putnam trail, I always drove my car to get to Millwood to do this. So I am still in familiar territory, and knew what to expect for the next several miles: The tunnel, the hills, and eventually the old bridge that goes over the Croton river. It felt amazing crossing the bridge, since this was the first time I have ever run from the Yonkers portion of the Putnam trail this far north.
As afternoon progressed and I joggled northward, it got colder and the sun was getting lower in the sky. I was in very rural, rugged country, heavily forested, and teeming with wildlife, though I didn’t see anything beyond birds and squirrels on this journey. Just a few miles more and I would be going through Yorktown, one of the more historic villages I would pass through on this trek. I didn’t have time to check out the historic churches or other buildings, but the rich history was very much on my mind.
As fascinating as all this was, I started feeling sluggish. I quickly got some water from a store and had my first fruit wrap(50 cals). Within minutes, I felt a stomach ache while I was running, but I didn’t let it slow me down. Energy-wise, I felt a little better. Within about 15 minutes, the stomach ache was totally gone, and I continued to push northward toward the Putnam county border. Yorktown is the last town in Westchester county on this route.
Before I knew it, I was at mile 30, my old distance record. I kept repeating to my tired self that I only had 10 miles left to go. It was also at this point that I started to notice small snow patches in shaded areas. I had run so far north I was almost in a different climate zone. A little ways north of Yorktown I hit mile 31; it felt exhilarating knowing this was the farthest I have ever run. I also knew that Putnam county was just a few miles away, though there are so signs or distinguishing features along the trail that would indicate this, at least not before I knew I was in the village of Mahopac.
I was in very unfamiliar territory, both geographically and psychologically. Sure I’ve driven through here, but I have never been on this part of the trail before. The countryside in this area looked like a postcard. The low sun illuminating the red and yellow leaves of the trees looked heavenly. This natural beauty inspired me as the soreness in my legs increased, especially when I had to climb hills. My arms also felt increasingly sore, which seldom happens while joggling. It made sense though since I had never joggled for so long before. After this point I would walk for 5 to 10 seconds every mile. I really believe this helped me make it to the end.
Because of how quiet it was and also because I hadn’t seen anyone on or off the trail for miles, I felt like I was the only person on the planet. As a person who loves solitude, this didn’t bother me. Part of the reason it was so quiet was because there were no longer any major roads or highways near the trail, unlike the first 2/3 of this journey. Around this time it started getting a little dark so I put away my sunglasses.
Feeling a little more tired by mile 35, I ate another fruit wrap and drank some water. It tasted amazing and gave me a nice jolt of energy to help me push the NYC metro area further behind me. I started to recharge my very low phone battery at this point.
I soon realized I was in Putnam county, my first time ever running there. I looked at my map just before crossing the border, just to make sure. I had run just a little over 35 miles and Mahopac was just 2 miles to the north, but I was excited and feeling strong. Granted, although I was averaging an 11 minute mile pace, which is very slow for me, I felt good. I had to turn on my headlamp a little after mile 36 to see around me. I drank some more water. At mile 37, I was finally in Mahopac! However, since I had planned this to be a 40 mile run, I ran a little eastward toward Croton Falls, and then back to Mahopac. It was at mile 39 that I finally dropped, due to not being able to see that well in the darkness even with the headlamp on. 39 miles without dropping, another new record! I don’t know if this is a world record, but it probably comes close.
I finally ended the run at 5:22 PM, when it was very dark and chilly. It took me 7 hours and 46 minutes to complete this at an 11:38 pace, according to Runkeeper. According to Strava, I had been running for 7:06, at an average pace of 10:38(Strava automatically removes the times I wasn’t running). I also managed to climb about 1,290 feet(393 meters) and burned 4,152 calories(and that only counts the running, not the juggling). I did few juggling tricks on this run, mostly in the first half.
I had arranged for my cousin to pick me up and also have everything I needed to refuel. Near the end I felt a little bit of nausea but it quickly faded. I had a Cliff Bar and 32 ounces of tart cherry juice. It went down with no major issues. I felt both exhausted and euphoric over this accomplishment. A little bit of nausea returned but it quickly went away. Back at home, I made some miso soup with rice, tofu and vegetables, a perfect meal for replenishing minerals and carbohydrates. I also drank a lot of juice. I had trouble sleeping that night because this run was very over-stimulating, but I felt alright in the morning and did no running that day.
It wasn’t so long ago that I would have thought this was impossible. Not just joggling this distance, but running it. Besides having beautiful music playing in my head, I kept repeating to myself that this was just 14 miles more than a marathon. The fresh air and autumn splendor were also a big help, not to mention all the encouragement from friends. I’m hardly the first ultra-joggler. That distinction belongs to Perry Romanowski, whose 50 mile joggling World Record was a big inspiration.
I injured myself the last time I tried breaking a distance record, but that was due to not tapering the week before. I still feel terrific almost a week later. I realize I didn’t run the entire time, but this is often the case with ultra-running.
I’ll write about my quick recovery in a follow up post.