Since I started running 8 ½ years ago, my training has been pretty consistent, with an increase in mileage each consecutive year. The biggest increases started in the second half of 2014 when I decided it was time to stop thinking about getting faster and start going further. I put together a training plan to get me to my first 50k in January of 2015 and stuck to it like glue. The race went well and I finished in 6 ½ hours. Not the best time, but certainly not terrible. Like I said earlier, fast is not my forte in long races. Since that time, I have not looked back and have become a part of an ultra-running community that I consider my second family or Tribe as we like to call it. The people I have met and the friendships I have made have been incredible. Whether I am running, volunteering or just spectating, I know at least half of the people at every local ultra that I go to, and I always come away knowing a handful more, and become closer to the ones I already know. This common bond of craziness that we all share can only be understood by us ultra-runners. There is a funny quote I recently read that says, “With all due respect, if you’re not an ultra-runner, I discredit your definition of tired”. This could not be more true. When you are running an ultra that starts at night, you’ve been up since 6am, it takes you 34 hours to complete and by the time you get to your hotel you’ve been up 52 hours with no sleep, THAT’s the true definition of tired. Trust me, I’ve been there. LOL!! And then what do we do? We start looking for the next one to register for. What is instilled in us that makes us want to run these distances is beyond me. I guess it’s a variety of things for different people, but for me, it’s the challenge. I love preparing a training schedule for my next big ultra. For me, that’s what puts things in perspective and keeps me focused on what I have to do. I’m not out to prove anything to anybody but myself. And when race day comes and I toe the line with all the other crazies, my only thoughts are, run my race, thank all the volunteers who set aside their time to help out and do the best I can. Since that first 50k, I’ve run numerous others, a few 8HOH runs, 12Hr runs, a few 50 milers, the Iron Horse 100k and three 100 milers; Wildcat 100 in September 2016, Daytona 100 in December of 2016 and Knock On Wood 100 in May of 2017. I had planned to run my fourth in August of 2017, but life decided to get in the way and that did not happen.
Since that last 100 in May of 2017 I’ve had a number of setbacks that have kept me off the roads and trails for quite some time, and when I was able to run, it was very slow, painful, inconsistent and sporadic. From starting to feel some discomfort while running in June, discovering that the discomfort was a hernia in July and then being told that it was a double when going to get it checked, surgery to repair them in September, recovering from the surgery but gaining weight in the process from weeks of no running, and then painful runs after starting back, to a personal event that left me unfocused and unmotivated, testing positive for the flu and then getting sick again 3 weeks later. In total, the past seven months have not been that much fun as far as my running and health are concerned. Many athletes can go through periods of time where their running and training can become a bit inconsistent since it’s bound to happen at some point, but I just never thought that, for myself, I’d ever go through a period of seven months of it being this way. It has been very hard and frustrating, but such is life, and it can get in the way every now and then. I’m a believer that sometimes things happen for a reason, and whatever that reason may have been, I’m ok with it. I have a great life and am very thankful for all that is a part of it.
I am finally just about to start running again this coming weekend and hopefully the setbacks are over with so I can concentrate on moving forward and getting my running back to where I want it to be. As long as things go as planned and I can get my body into the best shape it has even been in, I plan to toe the line at the 30Hr Southern Discomfort in Albany, GA on Saturday July 28th, where I will not only look to complete my 4th 100 miler, but run even a bit farther than I ever have by the time my 30 hours are up. It will be hard to believe that by then, I would have only completed one race in a year’s time and it wasn’t even an ultra. Then, just over 3 months later, I will be running Justin Radley's Save the Daylight 48Hr in Englewood, FL and attempting to reach 150 miles for the first time. This one I am really excited for!
I will leave you with three quotes that pretty much sum up the craziness of the ultra community. The first is by T.S.Eliot and it is, by far, my absolute favorite. It goes, "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." The second is by William Shakespeare and it goes, "Bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible." I love these two quotes so much that they are both a part of my calf sleeve tattoo. You need to challenge yourself and push your limits. You will never find out the answers to those questions unless you try. The last quote is by Michelangelo, "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark." Believe in your abilities and shoot for the moon.
Hope to see you all out on the roads and trails real soon!!
Run Hard, Run Strong, Run Smart and #stayvertical my friends
March 1, 2018