5 Miles, 10 Tacos: Ten Lessons from a Gluttonous Athletic Event

Tacos! Running! A combination of two of my favorite things!

When I heard about the Taco Trot, it of course sounded like something that I had to do. You simply can’t turn down the opportunity to run a five mile race with 10 tacos along the way. Right?

Especially not in Portlandia, a town known for its taco trucks, its certain level of “weirdness” and the Northwest breed of runners that will run in any weather, even if it’s a wintry deluge. Maybe it comes down to the fact that these things come with – dare I say it? – a sense of irony?

I should have known better, but in a busy haze, all I really did was scan the website and the official rules, and somehow managed to downplay the weirdness of the meat-fest that was the promo video. I really didn’t put too much thought into the whole thing – granted it could have been a conscious form of self preservation – until three days before when it suddenly hit me: “You have to eat ten tacos.”

Great.

My single sitting taco consumption maximum was four and my one day record six, but that was because I was in Baja and you would be silly to eat anything else.

Running was one thing. Eating ten tacos was quite another.

The more I thought about it the more I cringed. But I had committed. Which is how my running partner in crime Megan and I ended up dressed in glittery gold tights on a start line with about 35 others. Note: The gold tights were simply a ridiculous accessory that the nature of the run seemed to necessitate.

The entire event was set up with a structure for bonus points, certain activities knocking a few minutes off of your overall running time; two minutes for downing a churro, five minutes for a shot of tequila. Although the allure of a tequila shot for mere digestion purposes after taco #4 was tempting, I abstained. I’ll enter a taco trot, but I have my limits on the amount I will put my body through.

“So um, what’s our strategy for this? Crispy or soft taco?” I said to Megan.

Not a question I would normally ask, but the first taco was at Taco Bell, and though I was more concerned about how my system was going to react to the ground beef, we were debating on whether a crispy corn shell or a tortilla would go down easier. We went crispy.

Taco Trot strategy #1: a crispy shell is good to switch it up halfway through the race, but for the kick off taco, you want to go soft. Trust me.

There were other strategies implemented and lessons learned, and although I have never participated, nor will I ever again participate, in an athletic eating event, I am pretty sure that these can be applied generally, taco trot or not.

1. Keep it simple. Lengua might give you bonus points, but just get chicken or beef. No sauce.

2. Keep running. Even if you slow down. You don’t want to give yourself any time to think about what you are in the process of doing. Better to just run and push through.

3. Find friends. Around taco #7 you will need moral support. A lot of it.

4. Always get the plainest food possible. Pico de gallo might be good normally but on taco #8 it’s the worst thing you have ever eaten. Ever.

5. When your friends say, “Taco Trot? That sounds awesome!” Smile and nod and encourage them to take part next year. They’ll learn soon enough.

6. Accept the fact that you may run into people you know and it will probably be embarrassing. Your fellow “runeaters” won’t blink an eye at you shoving a taco in your face, but your friends that you haven’t seen in a few months that just happen to be sitting on the other side of the restaurant? Yeah, they’re judging you.

7. Obey traffic laws. Just because you’re choosing to do something stupid doesn’t mean that you need to get run over in the process.

8. Don’t tell your mother what you’re up to until after the fact.

9. Don’t change it up at the last station just because you need to eat something different. The crispy taco at taco stop #10 will inevitably be three times larger than the standard tacos, and you won’t know it before ordering, and when it comes to your table you will have to push your way through eating the whole damn thing, your self worth quickly diminishing with every bite.

10. Complete it. No matter how much it hurts. Otherwise tacos #1-9 weren’t worth it.

At least I have a t-shirt that says “Get Pastor Die Trying.” At least there’s that.

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