Physical Challenges

Adventure Report: 24 Hour Max Steps Attempt 2021

Every October, some Google employees host a walking competition called Walktober. The idea is to set a walking goal and see if you can hit it. It predates me by a decade and as of 2021, over twenty-five thousand Googlers participate. In 2020 I helped create a new category of competition for most steps in a day by walking and running for 24 hours straight. I set a record but later in the month, someone broke it and raised the bar. In 2021 I returned to try and break the record again.

On October 30th 2021 I walked 204,371 steps in one day. This is the adventure report.

Strava link – Walktober – New Record for Most Steps in a Day (204,371) | Run | Strava

Goals

Results

  1. Get other Googlers excited about the single-day record – ACCOMPLISHED
  2. Have some coworkers and friends follow along online or in person – ACCOMPLISHED
  3. Raise awareness of ME/CFS – ACCOMPLISHED
  4. Walk/jog/run for 24 hours straight – ACCOMPLISHED
  5. Break the existing Google employee record of 200,609 steps – ACCOMPLISHED
  6. Raise $10k for ME/CFS research, education and advocacy – ACCOMPLISHED
  7. Win the Walktober category for most steps in a day – Failed
  8. Hold the record until next October – Failed
  9. Complete >100 miles – Failed
  10. Get >225k steps – Failed
  11. Log 250k steps in one day – Failed

Tactics

  1. First 8 hours kept in easy zone – ACCOMPLISHED
  2. No miles faster than 15 minute pace – Failed
  3. Heart rate doesn’t exceed 130 bpm – ACCOMPLISHED
  4. 5 minutes or less at aid stops – don’t stop moving – ACCOMPLISHED

Successes

What am I proud of from adventure day?

  • Set a new Google record for most steps in a day
  • Pushed through being the most tired I’ve ever been
  • Found a perfect track for the event
  • Did not get bored on go mental lapping a track for 24 hours straight

Failures

What areas could I improve for future adventures?

  • Didn’t wear sunscreen on anything to protect against windburn (AGAIN!)
  • Ate too much real food and not enough running food
  • Went out a bit too eager and couldn’t hold that pace

Thankfuls

What that was out of my control am I thankful for?

  • Julia and the team at #MEAction for helping me plan this event and supporting me on it
  • So many supporters that came out in person to help pace me, setup the aid station, keep me company and provide food
  • Not a single drop of rain – the only dry day in a two week span

Frustrations

What that was out of my control do I wish had happened differently?

  • My stomach for imploding on me
  • Bad sleep the day before the race
  • Had some knee issues around 6am that forced me to walk for a bit

24 Hour Max Steps

Preparation

I trained more for this years event than last year. I had been training for the Cascade Crest 100 miler this summer which I ended up dropping out of, but still had a lot of my fitness. My training peaked in early October with two 150 mile weeks (combination of walking and running) at which point I tapered for the event.

I had done a few dedicated days at my fast step cadence, one hour on a track and another four hour day on the track. The trick was to go slow but keep my feet moving fast, which felt incredibly awkward but conserved energy.

Live Feed

Below is the live feed of updates I posted during my run. Usually I have to write a recap after an event but the nice thing about an event where I’m mostly walking and have cell service, is that I can provide updates in real time.


Oct 29th 8pm – one of the harder parts of this challenge is the midnight start time. You basically end up awake for a full day before you even start the 24 hour run. Going to see if I can nap a bit now.

Oct 29th 11:45pm – suited up and ready to go. At about this point in a challenge I always find myself asking ‘why do I always sign up for this sort of thing?’. But then I smile and remember I love it.

1am – 11.2k steps. Doing laps of a local park track. Heart rate barely hitting 110bpm and my 24 hour max is about 120. Feeling nice and easy

1:48am Hunter’s moon rising in the east. Just hit 20k steps and 7 miles. Fast short steps and moving nice and slow 

3am 32.5k steps, 11.5 miles

Some chubby raccoons joining me at the park for a wee morning hour stroll

5am – moved to the track I’ll be at for the rest of the day.51.2k steps and 19 miles

Abram joined me for some pre-sunrise hours and helped set up my aid station table.

6am -60k lost some time to setup the aid station, but excited to have this every 1/4 mile for the day

8am -76k had some knee issues but took a few ibuprofen to see if I can shake it off. Sun is up and the coldest hours are behind me!

Mt. Rainier watching from the distance

10am – 95k steps and 38 miles

 

Brian got me back on track, like he always does

11am 104k steps and 42 miles

My fan club stopped by to pace daddy for a few laps

I’ve run a lot of laps around tracks in my life but this is the first time I ever ran one while eating a bowl of ravioli

12:30 116k now. I was probably at 112k at the half way point so 250k looks like it might be out of reach but I think I can break the existing record of 200k. Gonna have to dig deep

A big group of Googlers I didn’t yet know just showed up to pace me for a few laps and refill my cider supply. Thanks for coming out

Yiwei from my team was here too 

12:30pm – Jennifer swung by with sweet potato fries, bananas, gatorade, and a jug of water 🙂

1pm- 121k on 49 miles

Full belly and lots of sun, but I’m feeling it now.

2pm (actually this time) 129k steps

My Garmin app let me know I’m moving more than on a typical Saturday. That is some machine intelligence right there 😉

Great to meet the Christen family, who heard about the event and decided to drive over to say hi.

Up until I broke the record last year, the most a Googler had walked in a day during Walktober (that we can find) was 135k steps. I just crossed that mark and have 9 hours left in the day.

3pm and ~137k steps on 55 miles

4pm ~145k steps. I’ve been awake for ~36 hours now and am feeling pretty sleepy.

6pm – 159k and 65 miles

Coop helped get my pace up a bit for a few hours

7pm – 167k and 69 miles 

8pm 174k and some change. Things are barely hanging together. Had the hiccups for an hour and some stomach issues but still in pace to get the record, so pushing through it. John is getting me some Pepto Bismol

Antacid is helping, just moving slow and steady 

9pm 181.5k. 75 miles. Three hours to go and the record is in sight 

9:50 crossed 187k which was my best last year, so this is a new personal record for me

11pm 195k steps so far. Almost there 

11:38 200k!

11:43 – the old Google Walktober record has fallen. Now to pad my new one a bit! 🎉

12:00 ~203k will let things upload and confirm the final number tomorrow

Thank you Armando for coming out for the last 3 hours and Kwaku for joining for the last hour and cleanup. (Big congrats to Kwaku too who is on my Walktober team and also got his highest step day for thee month yesterday)

That is a wrap! We set a new Walktober record today for most steps in a day, we had a lot of fun doing it and we raised awareness for an important cause. Now for a long overdue good night’s sleep.

Official number is 204,371 (there was a period earlier in the day that hadn’t synced properly until I got home)

What is Next?

The day after I set a new Google Walktober record for most steps in a day, another Googler broke that record and raised it to 214k. That probably means that I’ll be out again next year trying to set an even higher record.

In terms of races, the last few years I’ve been enjoying doing new types of challenges and stretching myself in new ways. I’ve expanded from roads to trails, increased the mileage, played around with maximum distance, elevation and steps challenges. One thing remains constant though, my need to keep my body in good shape and dig deep in order to complete these challenges. I really like those aspects and even though I can’t train as much as I’d like, I’m happy I still get to get out there and push myself.

That said, I’m not a huge fan of 24 hour races, they are so long and impact my sleep, which is already fragile. I feel like I can have just as much fun with a shorter event. Nonetheless I’ve been eyeing a few 24 hour races that take place on tracks or short loops and now that I know I can do that without getting bored, I might need to see what my distance limits are.

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