Saturday, January 14, 2012

Transitioning to Ultra Running

I knew the night I went to see the movie "Unbreakable" was a bad idea, or a good idea.  Depends on how you look at it I guess.  The reason for this is that I have a very addictive personality.  For that reason I completely stear clear of drugs and have alcohol in moderation on occassion.  However, when it comes to running, needless to say, I've gotten pretty obsessed.  After I saw that movie, which starred four of the top Ultra Distance Runners battling it out at the premier 100 mile race (Western States), I unquestionably was truly inspired.  At that time, I knew it was time to take the next step in my running and that direction was going to lead to trail/ultra running.

My love for running and racing hasn't changed, it has just evolved over the years.  From the beginning, where I thought over 40 miles was a huge significant achievement, to where I am now, logging 70 miles per week on an "easy" week.  As I continue my journey through the years, I know my running is going to continue to evolve.  I will always run with my heart and never get so caught up in racing and training that I forget the real reasons why I run, which for the most part is the love and passion that I have for it.  How I came to enjoy trail running and have an urge to do Ultra Marathons is something I never really imagined would happen.  I just kind of went out there and ran and realized that I like running on trails and I have a strong desire/interest in pushing my body to its limits and achieving things I previously thought were unattainable.  I used to believe there was a cap or a limit on one's potential. However, I don't believe that is true anymore.  As cliche as it is, I think the sky's the limit.  Now, that's not to say that I am one day going to go out and break the marathon record or anything like that, but I do believe that if you keep training and keep putting in the effort, you will get faster and stronger and your times will continue to drop.

Running has always intrigued me in a way that it is so welcoming to all types of runners in the sport.  There are beinners trying to run their first 5k, individuals shooting for PR's in all distances, people running across the Sahara, etc.  There is no sport in my mind that is more welcoming.  There are however huge differences between training for a 5k and running 100 miles, obviously.  To me the difference is that instead of running being a hobby, it becomes a lifestyle, a way of life.  That is kind of the direction that I see running taking me.  For many different reasons, I love the countless aspects of exercise and pushing my body to the limits, etc, more so than most I believe.  Some may consider me to be obsessive and selfish, but it keeps me fulfilled and it makes me happy, so I am going to keep doing it.  I guess it's a sense of accomplishment and completing things that a very, very small amount of people have that I love so much about it.  How many people can say they've run 100 miles?  I know, I can't, but I will some day.

Now, long ago, I used to attempt to explain to friends (non-runners) and family (non-runners) why I liked running, but I gave up on that long ago.  They didn't understand and still do not and they clearly think I am a nut job! It's kind of sad in a way, because I know there are only very few people that will truly ever understand me.  Who I am on a daily basis is a very, very small portion of who I am, but I don't believe most people realize that.  To truly understand me, you must first understand what running does to me internally and that is something very difficult to explain.  The only real way to do it, is to experience it for yourself.  As Michael Arnstein (a Fruitatarian runner) said, "Ultra running is kind of like my religion".  Some might attest to that, but I actually kind of agreed with him.  It's a time for me to think clearly, meditate, and even pray.  I'm hoping that through my running career, I am able to be an inspiration to others and provide a positive impact on the running community.  And, although I have just sort of inched my way into theUltra Running scene, I know I am here to stay.  I'm an excited and nervous to experience my first 50 miler this year and to see where it leads me from there.  And I leave you with this bible quote:  "No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of rightousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.-Hebrews 12:11-13

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