I love to run and compete. I’ve always ran since I was a teenager with sometimes long breaks in between. I began to run more seriously when I turned 40 in 2011. Started with Relay runs and 10k’s and moved up the distances to half marathons and full marathons and eventually braving the ultra-marathons. People have asked me for years what I was thinking when I decided to run marathons and ultra-marathons. How do you explain the feelings going in your mind to someone who doesn’t run or even runners who’ve never experienced more than a half marathon? It’s hard to describe. It’s a mix of accomplishment and overcoming dread. Ultra-marathon training and competing is a build up of many many years of running. Not necessarily many races of the marathon length or greater, but of long early morning training runs over the course of many years culminating in 7 months of extreme training for one specific race. The Lean Horse 100 was my first 100-mile endurance event. When I first picked up running again when I turned 40 I started off with a single goal of running a marathon. I ran it and ran it well. Felt great and accomplished, but started hearing about 50k and 50-mile trail races from the ultra-community. I was intrigued. I decided to focus on the 50k and 50 mile distances at first. Trained hard and did well. Placed in the top 10 of a local 50-mile trail race and came in 2nd in my age group. I was officially hooked on Ultras. The training was extreme and lots of running but I was beginning to find it to be meditative and relaxing. My friends and family kept asking me what was wrong with me and how can I find running to be relaxing? They keep saying they can hardly fathom running 1 mile. Is it addiction to endorphins? Chemical changes during running? Am I just crazy or insane? What do you think about and do you listen to music to distract you and pass the time? All I can say is it’s like emptying your mind completely while exploring the world around you. Every time I lace up and go I have an adventure. The first mile is always the hardest as I get into a rhythm and meditative state. Music, conversation, traffic is all distracting. I find my zen, my quiet place, my peace in the run. Distractions of work, stress and any captive thought disappear. All that’s left is the path in front of me.
I remember the night before my first 100 mile trail race, the Lean Horse 100. The race is in Custer, South Dakota outside Mt Rushmore and follows the Historic Mikelson Trail. I was writing to mentally prepare and better understand what it is I got myself into. I started to freak out and question everything I was doing, but come back to thoughts on my training and picturing the race unfold before me. That’s all I needed
So, I run for the joy of accomplishment and the excitement of an adventure! Every run, every race is unique and challenging.