I could provide a list a mile long but a few of the main reasons I run include the health benefits, enjoyment especially the 100 and 100+ mile distances, setting goals with possible positive influences for my kids’ future goals, running related or not, memorable experiences before, during and after the race, interesting people you meet, experiences along the way, learning more about yourself and your body during adversity while pushing it to its mental and physical limits, challenge, thrill of competition, love of the outdoors and nature, believing you only live once so take advantage of the time you have (as the saying goes, “twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did”), body and soul cleansing, it’s fun, and unknown.
Relative to running 100 and 100+ mile distances, I started running in 2010 for health reasons. I was getting fat and my cholesterol was extremely high since I ate a high cholesterol and fat diet, and wasn’t exercising. When my doctor mentioned cholesterol medication, I realized I needed to make a lifestyle change. I gradually changed my diet and started exercising on a regular basis. My exercise of choice was running since it took less time and got me outside. I love the outside and would rather be outdoors versus indoors. As I initiated my lifestyle change, I quickly started seeing the beneficial results. The weight started coming off, the cholesterol count dropped, and I just felt better. I can proudly say I weigh the same as I did in high school. When I began running, I noticed my pace was fairly fast so I signed up for Huntsville’s 2010 Rocket City Marathon to improve my health while focusing on a goal. This was my second marathon with my first in 1999. As I trained, I realized that I might be able to qualify for the Boston Marathon if I finished strong; therefore, I set qualifying for Boston as one of my goals. Excitingly, I was able to qualify for Boston and ran the Boston Marathon in 2012. I ran a total of eight marathons including the 2014 Boston Marathon. At the halfway point during the 2014 Boston Marathon, I was actually sad the race was halfway over since I was enjoying the experience so much. Following the race, I decided to start running longer races in an attempt to make that euphoric feeling and experience last longer. I ran my first 50 miler in 2014 and felt good during and after the race so I decided to attempt my first 100 mile race. So after two 50, eleven 100, and one 135 mile races, here I am. I continue to concentrate running 100 miler races and nothing else unless my wife Stephanie requests I run with her in a race which I’ve run two marathons with her. Quality of races versus quantity is more important and satisfying to me.
When these races start, I have a big smile on my face understanding the joy I’m about to experience and the uncertainty of what will happen over the next several hours and sometimes days. I realize endorphins are being released during these races and it’s addicting. It can also be very emotional. It’s like a spiritual experience in a non-religious way. A type of transcendence. I highly recommend signing up for a 100 mile race if you desire to learn more about yourself, like challenging yourself, and determining what your body can do mentally and physically under adversity. The emotional memories are very rewarding and long lasting. However, if your personality is one that complains and makes excuses, these distances are not for you. As Henry Ford said “think you can, think you can’t, either way, you’ll be right.” I remind myself discomfort is only temporary and I chose to be there. I’ve never considered quitting either.
Running is just one of the reasons I sign up for 100 mile races, actually, it’s a small reason. For me, running is such a small part of the WHY. I truly enjoy meeting runners and crews from different parts of the world, making new friendships, learning WHY individuals are there with a few personally sharing WHAT they are running from, observing struggles and triumphs during the race, the competition, the experience, and learning more about myself. It’s very gratifying setting goals and meeting those goals or at least, attempting to meet those goals. Most important, I hope that my long-term goal setting, dedication and sacrifices, and ultimate accomplishment will be a possible inspiration for my kids’ someday as they face their own life challenges and goals especially related to overcoming adversity and never giving up ……what a great teachable moment for my kids.
Fortunately for me, I’ve been able to finish in the top 10% except for one race (top 23%) and win two races giving me a lot of pride and confidence, but not arrogance. The excitement of competition while finishing strong and placing well is nirvana and keeps me signing up for future races. When your dreams and goals become regrets, you are old. Even though I’m 51, I don’t consider myself old just yet. I’m still setting goals while keeping races fun and learning along the way. It really is about the journey. Life seems to get richer following each race.
I will continue setting personal goals, not limited to just running, for the challenge and life experience. There are all types of challenges in everyday life. I know it’s an old cliché, but I would rather fail trying than not try at all. It’s just up to the individual to accept the challenge and try.