10,000 KM Run | 1 Million Views

On August 8th, alone, in low light and high humidity, I ran past 10,000 kilometers. My phone’s running app played a a lonely trumpet in my headphones. I’d nearly run twice the distance of Canada and all I got was a crappy trumpet noise.

Running this distance took me five years. In September last year, I passed 9,000 KM. I made a short video (on the left) to commemorate that. Since early 2013, I’ve run every other day. That’s about 50 kilometers a week, give or take. I ran a few half marathons and some organized races, but I mostly ran alone. Be it known that when I die, I expect a statue of me in a local park, bent over gasping for oxygen, preferably overlooking a well-lit refinery.

I started running to lose weight. Five years ago I was sort of a mess, physically and mentally. My wife, Leah, poked me to take some exercise and, like most things I do, I completely overdid it! I found I liked the rhythm of running. Running is very ‘Rain Man’, yes, very definitely like Rain Man. Simple. Methodical. Repetitive. It’s like country music, or Republican campaign slogans, or prayer. Simple. Methodical. Repetitive.

CLICK THIS — Using heat imaging, I created this pain diagram. Pink shows where it hurt. Blue shows which appendages almost froze off.

Early on I started to carry a camera to keep my brain engaged. Photography (or Runtography as I came to call it) was the ying to the running yang. My brain needed something to do. It kept focusing on the massive physical pain I was enduring.  I won't sugarcoat it, there was a lot of discomfort. Running outside is hard. Plus, I was pretty out of shape and, even after 10,000 kilometers, I’m not a very good runner. Like Barack, I’m no Kenyan either. I'm built incorrectly for running. I’m too big. I’m inefficient and slow. My daughter says I run like T-Rex (the dinosaur not the band). She says I have a weird gait and short arms. It's hurtful but it's true. Just like it will be when she learns I've cut her out of my will!

Me As Gump 10,000KM.jpg

"Running is hard. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you shoes."

— Jeff Day

I was on pavement or trails for an hour and a bit, every other day, summer, spring, fall and those loooooong Canadian winters. In the first few months I'd almost perfected singing like Axl Rose (by singing I mean Axl's high pitched 'noises'), but I knew I needed a bigger mental diversion. Photography filled that. I jury rigged together a satchel and carried a camera on my back. Shooting photos kept my brain focused on something else and it gave me breaks, which was important, because, apparently, I’m also 50 years old.

From 2013 to 2018, I went through nine pairs of runners and shot about 5,000 images. You’ve seen some of the photos on Facebook, but I pushed them out all over the internet. Flickr. Instagram. Ello. National Geographic. At home wrapped in bandages and quilts, I studied other people's online images. I asked questions about image styles, cameras, and lenses. I followed and met some really nice, helpful online photo 'friends' from all over the world, too. 

And That's One Million Photo Views, Too... 

On August 14th, the views on my photos on Flickr went past 1 million. That’s the only social media account I have long-term stats on. My images are beloved in Japan and Germany, both of which were once fascist states that hold a special place for art and weird physical accomplishments (like death marches and group calethestics in sports arenas). Just like 10,000 kilometers, 1 million is a yuge number. I see that as evidence that I progressed. 

Over the years a lot of people said, make a book, make a book, sell prints, make a book. But I couldn't do it. I wasn't there yet. I was still learning, processing, and, well, like I said, I was fucking running!  However, I’m now ready to try focus on that part now. For real. I figure have enough photos for 5 books or one REALLY HUGE one. I’d also like to public speak about this experience. I believe I could be a shorter, less attractive, more tired version of Tony Robbins. I see my story as being sort of inspiring, in a broken, realistic way. I have a feeling I’d be a hit at Canadian Legions and other places where there's booze and a captive group of people who have won the battle but lost the war. Maybe the next Alberta NDP Convention? Rachel call me...

I’d like to end this humanely... 

—this post, I mean.

I want to thank my family and friends but mostly Leah Day for the long-haul support. Same goes for my work partner, Marc Pearce — an unbelievably gifted human in his own right who also has the patience of a saint and, like me, no concept of time. My Dad, who’s Alzheimer's has only gotten worse over this time, best summed up what I’m sure everyone close to me has thought. When I’d tell him about my running with a camera, he’d look at me with some clarity and say: “Chad, that’s just f#%*ing nuts!” Chad is my uncle. But, yeah, pretty much. Anyway, Leah and Marc, my immediate family and inlaws — all have been very accommodating.

While, Leah is a beauty so are our kids! Both of whom have been very patient with me, too. Of course they are even more confused by what I do — now, more than ever. This year, at school, Ella (9) was asked what my job was by her teacher. She told them that I was an “active shooter”. (That went over well...) I don’t think Taylor (14) talks about me at school, AT ALL, because this whole ‘My-Daddy-Is-A-Human-Coyote’ thing is quite embarrassing.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below. I'd be happy to answer. 

Peace*!

* as-in ‘can I have a peace of that cake?’ - ‘cause I just ran 10,000 KM, Baby!

Jeff

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PS — I’m not posting this to preach, brag, or make you feel crappy about your current state of physical activity. (I ran out most of that kind of meanness about 2,000 kilometers ago, but don’t push me.) I’m an anomaly, like a Kardashian or a university professor. I don’t think I’m ‘normal’ in terms of my construction. I’ve gotten really good at a couple of things, and remain absolutely terrible at most of the things that most people are good at.  

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