Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Yours Truly, Mr. February 2021

I recently heard about this stupid running challenge a few of my friends had accomplished called the "Calendar Club". These silly fools had attempted (and completed) the feat of running the number of miles which matched the day of the month, every day, for the entire month they opted to tackle this in. Simple on paper, but unimaginably difficult; run 1 mile on the 1st of the month, 2 miles on the 2nd, 3 miles on the 3rd, and so-on and so forth for the entirety of their chosen months. 

Success in this challenge equates to running nearly 500 miles in a 31 day month! No thank you.

Insert February, 2021... 

Thanks to peer pressure and a healthy fear of missing out on the "fun" of a month of physical self-punishment, I decide that I should volunteer to continue the local Calendar Club streak for a 4th consecutive month. Knowing the stupidity of what my friends had accomplished, I strategically chose February for my attempt. I mean, February is only 28 days, which means I'd get to run 90 fewer miles than my less intelligent 31 day month friends. Seemed logical and easy enough. Sign me up.

Insert March 3rd, 2021...

As I sit here writing this, I can say I was successful in my attempt, and this was hands down the hardest running feat in my running resume. 

Would I ever do it again? No. Am I glad I did it? Yes. 

Maybe I need a few more days to recover mentally and physically, and then I'll be more content and pleased with the accomplishment, but since I'm still licking my wounds, I'll just stick with some of my personal observations, stats, and takeaways with minimal added fluff.

Here we go:


  • Since February is obviously the shortest month of the year, and knowing the nature of my trash-talking friends, I gave myself some self imposed "rules" to follow in an attempt to give my challenge more credibility, as follows:
    • No treadmill miles. All runs had to be outdoors in the elements. Since February is historically the coldest, most "wintery" month in Colorado, I thought this would add an element of dificulty.
    • The required distance each day had to be accomplished in a SINGLE run. No 2-a-days, or 3-a-days.
    • Following the tradition which Brandon Stapanowich & Jeff Mohrmann established in, I had to grow my facial hair for the duration of the challenge. Not being a good beard-grower, I opted for a February 'stache.
    • I took a week long vacation from my day job to allow me the time necessary to get the last week’s worth of long runs in. This isn’t a good challenge for parents of small children or people with full time jobs, FYI. 
  • Total Miles Run - 407.77
    • Week 1 - 28.37 miles
    • Week 2 - 77.68 miles
    • Week 3 - 126.28 miles
    • Week 4 - 175.44 miles
  • Total Time on Feet - 69 hours and 51 minutes
  • Total Vert Gained - 35,818'
  • Fastest Run - Day 16 - 7:55/mi pace for 16 miles
  • Slowest Run - Day 27 - Pikes Peak summit attempt - 17:55/mi pace for 27 miles
  • Coldest Run - February 14 was negative 12 Fahrenheit average temp during my run. (Worth noting, this broke the single day record for Colorado Springs for that date which was previously set in 1895).
  • Calories Burned - 44,606
  • Weight Lost - 0 lbs
  • Average Total Daily Caloric Intake - 4000 calories
  • Average Daily Chocolate Milk Intake - 3/4 Gallon (2700 calories)
  • Favorite Shoes Used - Altra Timps 
  • Money Found While Running - $1.11
  • Physically and mentally, days 10-12, and 25-27 were the most difficult. I expected a daily death march from the halfway point on, but surprisingly, the human body has an amazing ability to adapt to whatever garbage we throw at it. After thinking I was on the verge of breaking on day 12, I pulled through physically and mentally and ran mostly pain free for a good week and a half in some of the longer & hardest days. The ease of many of the days where I was running between 13-24 miles was shocking. I think a big part of why days 25-27 were so bad was because of me overdoing it on days 21-24 due to the relative "ease" of those runs.
  • Going along with the above bullet point, I was pleasantly surprised at how manageable the amount of joint inflammation I encountered was. I had some hell days, but I probably only took 8-10 400mg ibuprofen tablets over the course of the entire month. My body adapted surprisingly well with a few exceptions. I expected much worse.
  • Blisters on the ends of several toes caused the worst pain I dealt with for many of the days between 13-16. These eventually calloused and became a non-issue the remainder of the month.
  • Loneliness, distractions, etc. 
    • I inevitably ran the majority of my runs solo due to the fact that most of my high-functioning, non-professional athlete adult friends have day jobs.
    • These solo runs made me appreciate the company of my friends just that much more. On days 13 & 14, the high temp didn't go over like 5 degrees Fahrenheit. HUGE thanks to Dreama Walton, Melissa Stapanowich, Brandon Stapanowich, and Tom Caughlin for getting me through that weekend!
    • Since I don't listen to music or podcasts frequently on routine runs, having the option to do so on my tougher days came in handy. My favorite listen of the month was Joe Rogan's most recent Elon Musk interview. Listened on an otherwise ungodly terrible run day (Day 26) and it kept me terribly entertained and distracted for the majority of the run.
  • Worst run - Day 27 Pikes Peak Winter Marathon summit attempt. Hours of knee deep post holing, extreme wind and negative degree wind chill resulted in an 8 hour suffer fest to cover 27 miles, and a failed summit attempt (along with shooting pains on the outside of my fibula which had me thinking I wouldn't be able to run on Day 28). 
    • Runner up #1 - 14 miles in negative temps & snow on Feb 14th
    • Runner up #2 - 17 miles in a full blown blizzard the afternoon/evening of Feb 17th
  • Most fun run - Day 28. Duh. Didn't hurt that I had a whole gaggle of friends join for all or part of what we made into a 28 mile pub crawl!
  • Favorite Animal Sighting - Big horn sheep herds spotted in the Garden on Days 21 & 26
  • Accountability - By making my intentions of  joining the Calendar Club known to many friends, acquaintances, and coworkers, there was definitely an added accountability which I wouldn't have had if this had just been a personal challenge.
  • Running 125-175 miles a week is just plain dumb. There is a reason that people with day jobs, spouses, and/or children don't do it. This challenge basically made Holly a single mom for the better part of the month while I tackled this selfish endeavor. I owe you babe! XOXO

Assuming I didn't do too much damage to my body last month, I'll try to maintain this fitness and see if it carries over to a good summer of actual racing. Even if it doesn't, this was an endeavor I won't soon forget, and I am grateful to have had the experience.

But NEVER again...


Ryan Lange said...

Good stuff Brooks, glad I was able to join on some of these miles!!!!

Marilyn Goodloe said...

Brooks - Love this write up. You are one tough runner! You and I approached the February calendar challenge a bit differently. Since I had only been running around 35 miles/week before the start of February, I did allow myself treadmill miles and multiple runs a day. I worked from home these days due to COVID-19 which eliminated the time needed to shower and commute to work. I worked half days that last week. Family life is a bit different as our only child/daughter is away at college and my husband pretty much waited on my hand and foot that last week. Like you, I owe him big time. Starting around February 15, everyday I would wonder if I could make it. And then I would run (with some walking) the miles for that day. Like you, I won't do this again, but I'm glad I did.