Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why Run 100 Miles?

Ultrarunners who pursue running 100 miles at one time all have some sort of screw loose in the head. It's just not an obvious thing to do, so why do we go "Yes, I want to do THAT!!" I think what makes us tick is completely fascinating. So I thought I'd post a little insight on why I have made that jump into being completely crazy and to try to run/walk/crawl for about 32 hours a couple days from now.

Because They Told Me I Couldn't - Pure Defiance

14 years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I was bedridden, I was dosed up on various drugs, and it was suggested I undergo a series of surgeries to fuse the vertebrae in my back together. The doctor said I would never run (I wasn't a runner back then anyway), and I would probably not walk past the age of 35. I took my health into my own hands and have managed my condition since then. A lot of my drive in running comes from a defiance to all those doctors I saw, some of the best in Dallas, who thought a bedridden life of pain was all I had ahead of me. A piece of me wants to shove it in their faces with every single finish. The "Because I Can" for me is more of a "Because You Said I Couldn't".

Because It Could All Be Gone Tomorrow - Chasing Time

With my condition, I've found keeping an active life keeps the worst of it at bay. Good days lead to more good days, and bad days can quickly spiral into more painful bad days. I still have fibromyalgia flareups a couple times a year. A week of pretty intense overall body pain, it's a reminder of what I don't want to be a norm in my life. With the doctor's prognosis, there's always a piece of me that is racing to keep one step ahead of the monster. It's what sometimes increases my intensity of wanting to do more NOW that I have to fight because trying to do it all right now at this instant is impossible and exhausting. It's what keeps that thought in the back of my mind that this could all be gone someday and possibly someday sooner than those without fibromyalgia since so much is still not known about the condition. I want to do big awesome things like lots of my friends but part of the drive to do it is derived from this.

Because I'm Stronger Than I Thought - The Internal Push

My first attempt at 100 miles had the worst mental pain of my life... no exaggeration. I had serious ultrabrain around mile 72, but even with the overwhelming screaming in my brain of "JUST STOP", I still kept taking one step... and then another... and then another. That completely baffles me. How do we do that? I find myself weirdly excited to get to that mental place again, to be completely amazed at what a body can do even when the mind is not completely on board.

Because It Opens Up a World of Possibilities for People - Reshaping Reality

Even just talking to people, runners and non-runners alike, about the attempt to run 100 miles and what it realistically entails, is interesting because you get to watch the reactions and their body language. And frankly, for a lot of people, it breaks their brain. It's so outside the scope of reasonable possibilities for what a person can do. Sometimes I feel that way about it too. But once they shake off the fact that this just reformed reality for them, there's an interest and appreciation that our bodies and minds are capable of something like that. And the next phase is, well, what else can a person do then? It's amazing to be able to be part of something that can reshape opinions of people and open us all up to an entirely new world of possibilities in our lives.

Because I Like Being An Inspiration of What Average Athletes Can Do

It's one of the things I hear over and over again, and truthfully, I love to hear that I touched someone's life. Who doesn't? The elite fast runners are pretty awesome, but I'm more inspired by the average ultrarunners around me working running into an already full life, balancing families, putting themselves out on a limb for incredible experiences, and focusing on creating gigantic memories. I honestly feel like part of my purpose in this world is to help facilitate running - through running clubs I've headed up, by creating races with finish lines for people to aspire to cross, and by putting that same passion into my running. The 100 for me shows that anyone can dream big, that it's okay to go after things that aren't guaranteed, that's it's okay to enjoy the journey even if there's no finish line, and that you can balance pursuing multiple priorities (running, family, work). This would ultimately be very unfulfilling personally if this was my only reason to want to run 100 miles, but it is definitely one of the reasons.

Because the Mental/Planning Aspects of a 100 Miler is Something I Enjoy

I grew up being the smart nerd kid in school with absolutely no physical abilities at all. One reason I love running is appreciating as an adult that I can do physical things, regardless the fact of whether or not I'm good at them. I'm comfortable with my place in the running world a majority of the time as a back of the packer. But trailrunning, ultrarunning, and as I've discovered, the attempt of running 100 miles, allows me to bring some skills to the party that I feel play to my strengths and skills I enjoy employing. As a mathematician, my ability to step through the logic of a process is a big help. And the mental part of being alone for hours on end, executing a plan, playing games with yourself, is amazing and fun for me.

Because It's Really Neat to Do Something So Few Try

Let's be real. That's just awesome. To do something others can't imagine trying and others won't try. I don't think it's a good enough reason to do one if it's your only reason, but going down the list, yeah, it's there.

Because It's an Efficient and Fun Way to See Some Scenic Locations

I've been intrigued about point-to-point 100 mile races. Can you imagine over 30-45 hours getting to see 100 miles of what is often incredibly scenic terrain?! Seeing it in a way that is often inaccessible by car? While right now my 100 miler attempts (the previous one and upcoming one) were on looped courses, I have a lot of interest in the possibility of getting comfortable enough to do a point-to-point race.

This reason is also just a reason I love trailrunning generally. After really enjoying the location of the Bighorn 50K race, I was also a little sad I hadn't done the 50 miler (not that I feel I was prepared for that). I just know that there's miles of that race course I haven't seen yet. With some 100 mile race courses, the viewpoint is the same.

Because I Love A BIG Challenge and Making Myself Uncomfortable

And 100 miles is definitely a big challenge. I love to see what I'm made of, to teach myself I can be outside my comfort zone, and to achieve something I wasn't sure was possible. I've tried for years now to annually ensure I do something very far outside of my comfort zone. What seems little and insignificant to one person can be a huge leap for another, and these were my leaps:
2009 - Ziplined over waterfalls and through forests in Hawaii (I have a fear of heights)
2010 - Hot air balloon ride in Napa Valley
2011 - My first marathon (San Francisco in July).... and second (Kauai in September).... and third (Chicago in October), and well as my first and second 50Ks two weeks apart (Rocky Raccoon 50K and Wild Hare 50K in November)
2012 - I volunteered in the freakishly cold American River, with water above my waist, in a wetsuit, in the middle of the night for hours at mile 80, the Rucky Chucky, at Western States Endurance Run 100 Miler. I can't swim and am very uncomfortable in the water.
2012 (again) - I ran my first 50 mile race (Run Woodstock in September)
2013 - I think Volcanic 50 was the most uncomfortable experience of that year. With big elevation gains and miles of abrasive lava rock boulder fields, it was a difficult race and completely not like anything else I had tried. In the end, I didn't mind timing out and DNFing after the experience I gained being out there.
2014 - the year of the 100 mile run! I still have a hard time believing I kept moving for 24 1/2 hours and 80 miles back in February.

So Let's Go Have An Adventure!

With all those reasons in the forefront of my mind, I fly out tomorrow for another adventure, chasing down a 100 mile finisher belt buckle! Whether I complete the race or not, there will be vivid memories created, new sights taken in, and an experience that will allow me to keep growing.

Tomorrow I'll post a preview of the inaugural Grand Canyon 100 for those who want to know more about the race.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck! I can't wait to see the updates and hear about the race. You rock, lady. :)