I've been running a lot this year. Maybe you've heard. Maybe you haven't. Either way it's happened and it's been quite a ride. I never really knew what I wanted to get out of "this" besides spend more time outside, see some country I haven't seen before and maybe meet some like minded folks. I've managed to accomplish all three of them and have had some really amazing experiences along the way (Zane Grey 50 Miler with Noah & family, Crow Pass with Josh & Family and every race Jen was there to hug me at the finish) I can't say it's been anything close to easy and certainly not pain free but I think I've learned more about myself and what I'm capable of mentally and physically than in any other time in my life. I've ran 1,200 miles this year, 8 50k's, 2 marathons, the "Hardest 50 Mile race in the Country," ran across the Grand Canyon and back in 12 hours and then thought running around a 500 meter track for 10 hours and 50 miles was another brilliant idea. I've completed every race I started so far. I've never won a race. Never even been close really. I never care. I don't run to win, I don't run to beat people. I simply run to run.
This is what most people usually don't understand about this sport of ultrarunning. It's not about who can run the most miles. It's not about who is the fastest. When you complete a tough 50K race through some mountain range somewhere people only congratulate you on the sheer completion of the feat. It's never, "Where did you place?" or "What was your time?" It's part of the draw, the invigorating freedom of pretentiousness. You wear what you want, run how you want, and finish in as long as it takes you. You stop to help people, you give people you last energy bar, your last water, your extra headlamp. Every person wins when every person tries. I love that about ultrarunning and running in general. Nobody is out to get you. Everyone is out to help one another. The race results are numbers on paper at the end of the day. Meaningless.
So when most people say, "Oh my God how in the world do you run so long?!!" or "I would NEVER be able to do that!" or "I drove my car that far today!" I can only take it in stride like the good 'ol "it's a dry heat" comment. People don't really know what they are capable of until they try. Such a simple statement yet couldn't be more true. Once you accomplish that feat you previously thought was impossible you are suddenly filled with a world you never knew. If I could accomplish that maybe I could...it's endless. Break down the walls and build a new set. Then smash those down and build again. Never stop building, never stop smashing.
I can accept that maybe not everyone is into running 30 miles, maybe not everyone was built to run 30 miles, 50 miles, 100 miles or whatever. I'm not so sure that I'm ready to accept that everyone can't run 30 miles. I met a man that was 380 pounds on November 2009. He weighs 205 today and completed his first 100 mile race in October. He's only 37 years old, woke up one day and said, "I'm not going to die." He had his stomach pinched and met up one day at a local running club. Then he went the next week. Then he ran a 5k. Then a 10k, then a half marathon, then a marathon. He's now ran 24 races this year over 26.2 miles. 24. Incredible. Especially when you consider how large a man he was for those first many "races" where he just pushed himself to walk as much as he could until he finally could run the entire course. Running lap after lap with Mark around this tiny track out in the middle of nowhere Arizona hearing that story...how can you not be inspired? I now see him at every race I do. Incredible.
The purpose of this email is to not talk people into running with me. I pretty much gave up on that six months ago (except Noah. I'll suck him in eventually--by the way Noah ran his first marathon in June. Dominated 31 miles at 9,000 feet with me. 10th place. No biggie.) It's almost like religion. You just don't get it until you get it. Try to talk someone into something they are not ready for and it'll never catch.
The purpose is actually for people to read this story that another ultrarunner wrote about a 100 mile race in Georgia that just happened a few weeks ago. The author, Christian, is a 40 year old, 230 pound Georgian who a few years ago started running. Then he started running more. He's now completed some amazing races and is a full blown addict in terms of running. He's an excellent writer, far better than he is a runner. He has a "normal" quality about him in that he isn't some superstar professional athlete, he's just some guy that loves running. Reading his entry here about his experience with his friend Ashley during her first race of 100 miles...well...it sums up the entire purpose of why I run and why I continue to run these "crazy" races. The connections he makes with family, friends and even God during these stories and these adventures is unrelenting and inspiring to say the least.
So if you have a few minutes, and you must because I just wrote six paragraphs..., take a read. It's an interesting side trip into another world of self induced misery that can only be followed by joyeous redemption.
I know...it's a little long. I promise it's well worth the read. I can't hold the same promise for the previous 8 minutes of reading.
Read the story "Can I Get a Witness" at www.run100miles.com