Women’s transcontinental run record

Screen-Shot-2018-03-22-at-9.51.45-AMOn November 5, 2017, Sandy Villines set the record for the fastest women’s transcontinental run. She ran 57 miles a day for 54 consecutive days.

“In 2009, I became fascinated with ultrarunning. I remember hearing about Pete Kostelnick’s record-breaking transcontinental run and was so inspired that I decided I could do it too. I fell in love with ultrarunning and realized what my body was capable of doing if my mind was silenced. I thought my transcontinental run would be an amazing way to inspire people to never give up and believe in their dreams.

I figured the hardest part of the journey would be dealing with physical pain and mental toughness. This was 100% accurate as it became a challenge to go out every single day and get my miles in. We faced every weather element imaginable from blazing desert heat, to sub-zero temperatures, hailstorms, pouring rain and even a blizzard. The mental challenges were tough. My daily goals became less about a certain number and more of a daily positive view. My crew was so positive and every day one of my crew members wrote a motivational quote on the bathroom mirror. I looked forward to those quotes and often replayed them in my head.

I ate anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 calories a day and the most calories consumed were when we were in elevation. But, eating became a chore. My crew got creative and made tuna slaw, egg mash and fried rice balls. I also ate a lot of mashed potatoes, eggs with mayo, apple sauce, sticks of butter and protein drinks that could have anywhere between 2,000 or 4,000 calories. If we were near a town, a real treat was getting fries and a burger or pizza and ice cream. Sometimes all of the above.” – HOKA fan Sandy Villine from San Jose, CA

Sandy’s favorite shoe is the Arahi.

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The guardian of the mothership

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“I had an aunt who ran marathons. In fact she ran her last marathon only eight months before she passed away from AIDS in 1993. I said, ‘Someday, I am going to run a marathon’. As the mother of four young girls, I felt like I never had time to train. After a car accident, two lower back surgeries and a rare fungus in my right lung, I was overweight, depressed and needing to cope with the reality that my left leg was permanently numb from the accident. I had a choice to make. I could feel sorry for myself, or I could go for a run. I headed off to a 5K in my old garden sneakers. 59 minutes and 58 seconds later I was a runner. In my book, it’s not about how fast or how far, it’s about getting out there and doing it.

I ran my first marathon only six months after my first 5K. In February of 2016, I ran my first 100K. My favorite part of running is the family that I have gained. Once I learned about crewing ultra races, I found my calling. As an Elite Sports Massage Therapist, I love working with ultra runners. I also just completed a 42 day trek across America as the ‘Guardian of the Mothership’, massage therapist and chef for Pete Kostelnick in his Guinness World Record Breaking Run Across America.”- HOKA fan Cinder Wolff.

Cool Down with Pete Kostelnick: How the Transcontinental Run Record Holder Recovers

HOKA ONE ONE Athlete Pete Kostelnick wowed the world this summer when he broke the record for the Transcontinental run across America. The grueling 3100 mile run took 42 days. This real life Forrest Gump ran an average of over 70 miles a day in his HOKA Clifton 3s. To put that into perspective, Pete ran over 2.5 marathons a day on his journey. Many elite athletes argue that how you choose to spend your rest time is almost as important as how you choose to spend your practice time. This is a concept Pete took seriously on the road, spending all of his time running or recovering.

We sat down with Pete to learn about his recovery routine and how it was essential to his success. We also got the update on how his body has recovered since he completed his record.

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HOKA: What was your recovery routine each day on the road?

Kostelnick: I had an amazing massage therapist, Cinder Wolff, along for the entire run. She also drove the RV and cooked meals. She would do a massage for roughly 15-20 minutes right before I went to bed each night (usually around 6 PM), making sure to pinpoint any areas that were tight, tense, or swollen. It was amazing that I was able to “run through” some ailments, such as a tight hamstring, achy hips, swollen knee, and tendonitis with this approach. Often times we would also ice my shins and calves at night and during lunch break, particularly on warmer days. Cinder also got into a routine of stretching me out first thing in the morning (3:45 am) and just after lunch (usually around 11 am). Nutritionally, I ate A LOT of protein in the form of red meat (to keep my iron up as I have dealt with anemia this year), protein bars, and protein drinks in order to also aide in recovery.

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HOKA: How was the process adjusting once you finished your run? 

Kostelnick: After the run was over I took four days off completely before doing an easy three mile run on the fifth day. I have since been gradually increasing my mileage to as much as 9 miles in one day, but only 20-30 easy miles of running a week. However, I’ve monitored my daily steps more than anything, trying to get about 15,000-20,000 steps in per day on average. I was taking around 125,000 steps a day during the run across the country, so my estimation is that doing an active recovery in this manner may help me recover quicker. My legs were never sore after the run, and I don’t have any specific aches and pains besides some general swelling and tightness, so range of motion is probably the biggest obstacle.

HOKA: How has your range of motion changed since you finished?

Kostelnick: My legs were pretty swollen from all the miles, so I didn’t have much bend at my knees, which I anticipate will come back over the next couple months. At the pace I was running each day, though, it didn’t really matter. I even had a pretty swollen knee for several days near the end of the run that didn’t really impact my running.

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HOKA: How did your body react the first few days when you stopped running so much? 

Kostelnick: My body was actually quite a bit more stiff the first few days not running, especially when I sat in a car for 20 hours from New York to Iowa. I was never sore and the swelling has gone down, but now more of a feeling of elderly joints gradually getting younger again. Having the winter to fully recover will be great.

HOKA: What was it like mentally going from running so much every day to not running much? 

Kostelnick: It’s been quite an adjustment. I was in such a mode of all I needed to think about was getting dressed, eating, and running, that it caught me a bit off guard to go back to normal day-to-day tasks like driving a car, paying bills, and doing laundry.

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HOKA: How has your life or mindset changed since before you set the record? 

Kostelnick: I think I’ve learned to not get overly excited about anything.  In some ways, I had to tell myself at the end of the run to start getting excited to finish, because I had gravitated towards a mindset of not getting too up or down. Sure, I would complain or even yell at times, but internally I had to teach myself to never take anything too seriously or I wouldn’t last mentally. I hope that this run has made me more mature as a runner and even in general. I hope it will also allow me to give back to other runners that gave so much to me in making this run possible.

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HOKA: Do you have any other big records in mind you would like to attempt to break?

Kostelnick: There are a lot of things I have in the back of my mind that I would like to try. The most immediate is perhaps the American 24 hour record and/or medaling at the World 24 Hour Championships in July 2017.  I will need to add at least nine miles to my 163.68 mile 24 hour performance in December 2015.

Pete Kostelnick to Attempt Record Breaking Run Across America

The summer of 2002 was almost half a lifetime ago for me—I was 14 and had just driven out to California from Iowa with my family, and visited San Francisco in the process. That summer marks the last time I was in San Francisco, as well as the last time I had been away from school or work for more than a month. On September 12, 2016 (my 29th birthday), I will set forth on a running journey from San Francisco to New York City to break the fastest crossing of the US by foot, which has stood at 46 days and 8 hours since 1980. I’ll have an amazing four person support crew to back me up—Dean Hart, Chuck Dale, Cinder Wolff, and Trasie Phan—along with many others helping out remotely.

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2016 has been a very up and down year for me—starting the year fresh off 163 miles in 24 hours at the Desert Solstice Track Invitational and a trip to Jamaica with the wife, to dropping (DNS and DNF) from several races planned in the springtime due to becoming severely anemic and low in iron. I debated giving up running altogether, but with some great advice from fellow runners and family, got back on my feet to finish my first race of the year at the Western States 100 in June in under 20 hours. I followed that up on fresher legs with a sub-22 hour course record at the STYR Labs Badwater 135, aka the “World’s Toughest”. Coming off that race, I quickly ramped up my mileage to log just over 900 miles in August with relatively solid workout splits in the 7-8 minute per mile range.

To break this record, I will need to achieve roughly 500 miles per week. I have no idea what that feels like aside from a 423 mile jaunt across Iowa in seven days in 2013. Lady America will smile, grab me by the hand, and take me for a dance before winding up to slam me into the pavement multiple times. Then she’ll go to work on me—she’ll torture me with fire until my skin peels and my eyes burn, she’ll deprive me of sleep, and she’ll make me confused and irrational. If I can survive her treatment of my legs, feet, skin, stomach, and mind, she may reward me in the end.

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I’ve come a long way over the last couple years. Since 2013, all of my personal best times have greatly improved. What’s the secret? Well, I’ve dropped about 25 pounds—naturally smaller framed, I’ve gone from 170 to approximately 145 pounds. I’ve also figured out what nutrition does and doesn’t work well for me specifically. But perhaps my biggest asset has been the switch to HOKA shoes during the winter going into 2015. I’ve had many races of various distances where the first wheel to fall off was fatigued and achy legs. As a result, I was not putting up the times I knew I could and my legs were suffering. For this run across the US, I plan to wear only the Cliftons, and am very excited to now be partnering with HOKA.

Ever since reading about Charlie Engle and Marshall Ulrich’s run across the country in 2008 I’ve wanted to run across the country someday. But it wasn’t until recently that I gave a thought about the record. This year didn’t seem ideal for many reasons to go for this record—but if there’s anything I’ve learned about opportunities, it’s to pounce on them, take the first step, and never looking back when given a chance. Many friends, family, and colleagues have done just that for me this year.

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I’ve driven to every state you can drive to, including Alaska, and enjoy the open road more than anyone I know. This run will let me see familiar territory through an entirely different lens. I’ll literally run by my house in Nebraska, run through my hometown in Iowa, and my mother’s hometown in Illinois. I’ll run through Yosemite and many other iconic lands I’ve toured before I ever ran a 5K. My first memory on a bridge is my brother “playfully smothering” me with a pillow as we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in the early 90s to me yelling “I can’t breathe!” in the background on camera. This time I won’t be taking the Golden Gate out of San Francisco… and I’ll be breathing much easier.

Track Pete’s progress here.

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