Now that I’ve got The Mister’s blessing to go ahead with the ultramarathon, I thought I’d talk about why in the heck I’d want to do something so crazy in the first place!
At the race expo for my second half marathon back in 2008, my goody bag included a copy of a local running/fitness magazine. As a fairly new runner with an interest in fitness, I read that magazine from cover to cover. The only thing that sticks out in my mind about it was an article about a local Atlanta woman who was an ultrarunner. It talked about how she would go running for 5-6 hours and how she had won a timed event* and become hooked.
I had yet to run any further than 13.1 miles back then and thought that woman was flipping crazy. The thought of even running a marathon distance was beyond me at that time and this woman was running for 20-30 miles for training! Why in the world would she want to do that?!?
Then enter trail running. I didn’t have a good start with trail running. My first experience with a technical trail was out at Kennesaw Mountain. I wrote about it on my old Sparkpeople blog – the title: “Kennesaw Mountain 1, Me 0.” Does that indicate how I felt about the experience?
On a lark, I signed up for the Red Top Rumble in February in Cartersville – an 11.5 mile trail run. My favorite local running store, Big Peach Running Company, sends out weekly newsletters highlighting interesting races and this race was no exception. Now that I committed to running this race, I had to train and give trail running another try. After doing some reading about trail running, I learned that I was approaching it all wrong. All the things that annoyed me on that first trail run, turned into benefits once I understood the differences between trail and road running. I started to view trail running as an altogether new challenge and y’all know I love a challenge!
I did a few long runs out at Kennesaw Mountain and with my attitude adjustment started to have fun on the trails. I found dashing through the woods freeing. I loved thrashing down hills at a breakneck space – screw the tree roots! I had a blast at the Red Top Rumble. The race was hosted by GUTS (Georgia Ultrarunning and Trail Society) and I met some cool people and had a great time. It was such a different experience from my road races!
I followed that race up with a trail half marathon, another good time. I decided to join GUTS after I continued to bump into one of their board members who works at Big Peach and fitted me for my trail shoes. Let me tell you – experienced ultrarunners will have you convinced that you can easily do a 50K or a 50M race and it will be the most fun thing in the world!
I don’t like the outdoors in general (heat & bugs). I said in the past that I could never myself running a full marathon again. I thought the notion of running anything longer than a marathon was nuts. But just maybe this ultrarunning thing would be different. After all, ultrarunning isn’t the same thing as marathoning. I don’t have to worry about pushing myself to the max speedwise. The training would involve more mileage but those miles could involve walk breaks. I wouldn’t need to run at a breakneck pace and push myself to the absolute limit. I could reduce or eliminate the need to do 400m track repeats and those dreaded tempo runs.
The thing I would need to do is learn to hang on. I’d have to learn to keep moving when my body revolts and doesn’t want to move another step. I will need to figure out how to embrace nature and both the beauty and treachery she offers. I’d have to push myself beyond anything I thought was possible. I will need to deal with the mental breakdowns I suffered during my full marathon multiple times. I will be forced to learn restraint in pacing. I will have to discover how to fuel with real food on the run. I will have to listen closely to my body. I will be pushed to the brink to be broken or made stronger.
I need this experience. You get married and start to become a new person. You become a mother and you start to become someone else too. In both cases, that someone is one who willingly shares all of herself with those she loves. It can be easy to lose who “you” are when you shift into those roles. Don’t get me wrong, I happily embrace both of those roles and derive more benefits that I can count from them. But, I also need something that is just for me, just about me…if only for a little while.
That’s why I want to run 50 miles.
*In a timed event, you run a (usually) short loop repeatedly for a set amount of time like 24 hours. The most loops wins!