Starting out answering 3 questions that I’m commonly asked with:
Why Do You Run?
This is probably the most popular when people find out that I enjoy running ultramarathons. The photo is of a shirt that I’ve had for about 5 years and my oldest daughter makes a point to ask me the question out loud when I wear it. I didn’t always like running. In fact, I started running partly because I didn’t like it. Quite often I take the “hey that looks hard so let’s try it” approach on life. It just makes life a little more interesting and provides stories to go along with experiences.
My running journey has morphed over the past few years … and has changed my internal chemistry as well. I ran in high school on the cross country team, but didn’t take it very seriously. In fact, I really sucked. Sure, I finished the 5k runs faster then I can now, but it was more just to have fun with some friends. I also played a lot of tennis which is not at all the same.
Then I traveled around the world playing my trumpet, got married, earned a few college degrees, had kids, and worked … a lot. Being consistently active was not very … well … consistent.
One day at work in 2006, a friend of mine wore his half marathon medal to the office. He wore it all day. I hadn’t really heard much about this world, so checked it out. The next fall I was registered for my first half marathon.
Running has never primarily been about staying healthy or losing weight. It was about finding a challenge to push myself and drive forward. When I registered for my first half marathon, I thought I was nuts. 13.1 miles. Farthest I had ever run in a day was 6.2 miles. I made it through that first half marathon and a couple years later completed my first marathon. It was an incredible experience and amazing community. 6 more marathons followed.
After all of these marathons and half marathons, I wanted to see how far I could move my line of possibility. It was also a chance for me to disconnect from the world. Nobody to ask me to do something, no phone calls, ignore emails, forget about text messages, and disappear from the world. It was my own daily vacation.
When I say that, most people reply with “I can think of more fun ways for a vacation like sitting on a beach with a drink.”
Yeah I get that and I would like that to once and awhile, but my brain has been rewired. Sitting in one spot and doing one thing all day? Boring. This is a really big world and why not explore it? Travel to a new city and explore it on foot. Then in the evening explore the drinking scene.
Don’t get me wrong, as a kid I loved going to the beach. I could just lay in the sun on the beach listening to the radio for hours. Then I would get up and go jump in the lake, eat something off the grill, and back to laying around. It felt good. Now though, I want to explore and take every chance of the limited time on Earth to have experiences.
Then came ultramarathons.
I read Dean Karnazes Ultramarathon Man and was exposed to a world I never knew existed. 50 miles, 100 miles, or more on foot? Sometimes in just 24 hours? That was hard to wrap my brain around. Even more reason to do it.
In April of 2011 I went on a 20 mile run with my friend Parrot at Kenosha Pass. It starts at an elevation of 10,000 feet and goes up from there. Loved it! I came off that run with a big smile on my face and Parrot said:
“You can complete an ultramarathon.”
3 months later I completed the Silver Rush 50 in Leadville, Colorado to become an ultramarathoner. Hooked.
My way of thinking and journey changed that day. It was about exploring trails, myself, and pushing that line of possibility even further. Each race since then has not been about how many miles I had to go for the finish line, but celebrating the step I was on and all the ones before it. So often we get caught up in how much more we have to do, that we forget about everything we have already accomplished.
Running has allowed me to experience views like this:
Seeing views like this on tv or in a magazine does not even compare. Standing out in nature hearing the sounds of hidden animals is powerful. Going back to our roots and connecting with the land can extend the possibilities even more. The challenges and beauty is there … all you have to do is go look for it.
So why do I run now? Here is how I would list my reasons:
1. Prove I can do more then I think.
2. Raise awareness and funds for charities.
3. Motivate others to move forward.
Each of these could be a long writing of their own and a big part of what I write on this site involves those 3 reasons. I may not be the fastest runner, but I certainly have a big mouth. Combing running and my voice has allowed me great joy in each of those 3 reasons that I will continue doing for years to come.
Why do you run?