• Miriam Diaz-Gilbert

Running the Tip to Tip Great Florida Traverse 128 Mile Ultra: How Long Will It Take Me?

Updated: Aug 6



I'm running/ walking 128 miles in the Tip To Tip - The Great Florida Traverse virtual ultra event. I have until August 31 to complete the distance. There is also a 901 mile event. Runners have until December 31 to log the miles.


I'm also running for cancer caregivers. I am raising money for my GoFundMe campaign - Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers.


This is the second virtual ultra I have run during the coronavirus pandemic to raise money. I ran the Dawn to Dusk to Dawn virtual 24 hour 50K+ Solo Challenge in my neighborhood on Mother's Day weekend.


Now I'll be blogging about my days and miles at the Tip to Tip - The Great Floria Traverse. I will post and update at the end of each week until I complete128 miles.


WEEK ONE


Day 1


A couple of hours before I headed out the door to start logging 128 miles at the start of this virtual ultra today on June 1, I posted on the Tip To Tip - The Great Florida Traverse Facebook page:


❤️my bib! Excited to be part Mike's running adventure. My husband and I have actually driven our RV rental from Key West to Pensacola but now I get to run Just the Tip to raise money for my GoFundMe - Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers. To learn why I started this fundraiser and how you can help and donate, check out https://www.gofundme.com/f/ultra-care-for-cancer-caregivers. Good luck to all running. Put one foot in front of the other. Slow & steady finishes the race! Stay safe! From the bottom of my grateful heart to the bottoms of the soar soles of my feet, thank you for considering donating. 🙏🙂 Can't wait to head out the door! 🏃‍♀️


A fellow runner posted:


"Awesome! And what a great cause. As an oncology nurse I recognize the need for great caregivers but I also see the strain it puts on them."


June 1 was a beautiful day but a chilly 60 degrees in the morning. I headed out the door about 8:30 am up my street and into the trail and set out to log 10 miles.


Mike Melton, the RD who created this virtual event emailed runners bibs to print. I don't have a color printer so, my bib is black and white. I pinned it to my left leg with pins on my 2019 Across the Years 48 hour bib. Whoa! I'm on the homepage!

OK. Back to reality. I packed a sleeve of Ritz crackers in the left pocket of my jacket and carried my Nathan Sports hydration bottle filled with Nuun.


This was my first ultra, virtual or otherwise, that started on a Monday. I felt good and by mile 5 I was very hot. It got warmer. I removed my jacket, wrapped it around my waist, and took a selfie on the trail.


I had my earbuds tucked in my ears but I did not listening to music. I just wanted to enjoy the solitude of the trail.

It's been 72 days since the governor of NJ issued a 'stay-at-home' order and the wearing of masks. I hang my Buff around my neck to cover my mouth and nose when I see people walking in my direction. The Buff is not uncomfortable to wear and my breathing does not fog up my prescription Oakley sport glasses.


My husband Jon made a 40 second video at the end of my 10 miles.


I was finished by 10:59 am. Ten miles down; only 118 to go. I messaged Mike with the time on my Fitbit watch - 2:11:19. I entered my result on the Results page on runsignup.com


That night I got a donation alert from GoFundMe. Mike made a donation to Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers. His generous heart made me happy. It was a great day!


Day 2


I headed out on Wednesday June 3 at about 9:30 am to log 5 miles. It was 70 degrees and sunny. I ran up my street to get to the trail.


Along the way I ran into a friend, and made a new friend. After logging my 5 miles I also posted a selfie I took on the trail.

It got hotter. By the time I finished my 5 miles at 10:26 am it was 82 degrees. I then posted my time of 1:03:23 on runsignup.com.


I posted on Tip to Tip Facebook page.


Day#2 - 5 miles ✅ Hot & humid & running for cancer caregivers. God gave me the gift of slow running legs and the gift of non-stop gab. At about .7 mile, I ran into a good friend walking his dog. He’s a long time cancer survivor. Then he started chatting with another neighbor out walking. So, then we started chatting. She and I have so much in common but not running. When our conversation ended, I looked at my watch - 49 plus minutes and still .7 miles. Restarted my watch, and restarted my 5 miles! Jon keeps telling me - "stop talking so much during your ultras. You'd log more miles and a faster time if you just stop talking and keep moving." Ah, he's no fun! Anyway, if you have $5 in loose change, consider donating to Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers for my 5 miles. I'm easy to please! Here's the GoFundMe link:https://gf.me/u/x6i84j 🙏❤️😊🏃‍♀️Enjoy your runs/walks & stay safe!


Four other donors gave to Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers. It was a great day.


Day 3


On Thursday I took it easy and walked 3 road miles in my neighborhood. Another beautiful sunny, hot and humid day.


My husband Jon, who tackled stage 4 and has been in remission since May, joined me. But I took off and he took his sweet time. We met at about 1.5 miles around 8 am and took a selfie.


I posted on the Tip to Tip Facebook page:


Cleaned up fallen tree branches knocked down by a thunder/lightening/rain storm that also knocked out the power for a few hours yesterday. So, took it easy this morning. 3 mile walk. I took off & Jon took his sweet time! It's a hot & humid 73 degrees! Have a great run/walk everyone!


I entered my 3 mile walk time of 44:26:03 on runsignup.com


Day 4


Thursday, June 5 was another beautiful sunny, hot and humid day. I went out and logged 8.2 mixed miles of trail and road.

Today I listened to music on Spotify. I have an eclectic taste in music. I hit play and Jackson Browne's These Days came on. I love this song. I thought about the kind of world we're living in these days.


When I heard Jackson Browne sing "I'll keep moving, moving on," I ran just a little bit faster.


At about mile 4 Neil Young's Long May You Run came on. Love this song.


At about mile 6, Bob Dylan's slow acoustic version of Forever Young played. Another favorite. "May your hand always be busy. May your feet always be be swift. May you have a strong foundation...." resonated with me on so many levels.


I made it home in 1:46:09. By now I had logged a total of 26.2 miles in 5: 45: 17 and was in first place in the 128 mile event.


I have a BLOG on my website. I interview elite ultrarunners, write book reviews, write about gardening, spirituality, and being a cancer caregiver.


During this run, I got the idea to blog about my virtual Tip to Tip 128 mile experience.


I posted on the Tip to Tip Facebook page:


Morning 8.2 miles in heat & humidity in 80s. Part on quiet trails and part on noisy roads. Only 101.8 to go! Got home, slipped on my Oofos, and started planning blogging about my 128 virtual miles in my shady garden writing sanctuary. Stay tuned for the first installment of my first week of miles on my website blog! Running🏃‍♀️& writing✍️! Have fun out there everyone!

Day 5


Well, as of this morning, I've been bumped to second place in the standings. A fellow runner has logged 27.4 miles in 7:03:33.


I got up at 6 am to email my GoFundMe Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers donors to let them know that, so far, 5 cancer caregivers have received monetary gifts that I hope will give them some joy and respite from the overwhelming challenge that is caregiving. I also asked donors to nominate cancer caregivers they may know.


Also, this morning a new donor contributed. This individual contacted me two days earlier on my website to share how grateful she was for my article on B12 deficiency on Medium. This article has 2.3K views so far and my most popular article.


Keisha shared my article was very meaningful to her.


Last night, I replied to her email which ends with "How are you doing?" I told her I was fine and that my B12 deficiency has not stopped me from running many miles. I shared I was running this ultra to help raise money for cancer caregivers. I shared the link with her.


This morning she sent me another email about her health challenges. Keisha also wrote: I will support the cause!"


Within minutes I got an alert from GoFundMe. Keisha had made a donation. What a way to start the day!


My legs were a bit tired this morning but a donation from a perfect stranger motivated me to push my legs a bit.


I cranked on my Liked Songs on Spotify and listened to Steven Wonder, Born to Be Alive, a disco favorite of mine; it really moves my feet. I listened to instrumental music from Ken Burns National Parks, Fleetwood Mac, Don Henley, Joey and Rory, and Kacey Musgraves.

At about mile 2.5 I saw Master Bob teaching two students in the parking of his tae kwon do school. My daughter earned her first degree black belt from him when she was 10. He sees me running a lot and always yells from his car, "Hey, Mrs. G.!"


He asked how many miles I was running today. Through my Buff covered nose and mouth, I told him I was running this ultra event, and I told him about Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers.


As I ran this morning I thought about the first recipients of monetary gifts from Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers including a young man in his 30s whose 51 year old mother died of breast cancer in March. Because of Covid-19, he and his two younger sisters could not be with her when she died in the hospital.


When my husband Jon was diagnosed with stage 4 in March 2018, I ran ultras for his healing. Today he is in remission. Now running ultras has a new purpose.


I run for cancer caregivers who endure a challenging journey of their own while their loved one or close friend goes through treatments and surgeries.


I'm blessed to be able to run, not just for myself, and my health and healing but, for cancer caregivers. I empathize. I don't want them to be forgotten.


This is why I'm running and why I'm glad to part of this great ultrarunning event.


Today I finished my 5 miles by the neighborhood lake on my street.

When I entered my miles and time on runsignup.com , I moved up to first place with 31.2 miles in 6:48:23. I'm 1/35. Cool.


Thank you for reading week one of my miles at the Tip to Tip 128 miler, and my fundraising efforts to benefit cancer caregivers.


Fundraising, like ultrarunning, requires endurance, patience, persistence, pacing, and support from family, friends, the ultrarunning community, and perfect strangers.


Miles to date: 31.2 done; only 96.8 to go!

Donations to date: $2, 663 toward the goal of $10,000


Stay tuned for week two. Happy safe running wherever you're moving your feet and logging the miles!














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