I was asked this week, why the jump to ultras? It got me thinking, because I didn’t know if I knew that answer to that question.
I ran my first marathon in 2005. I remember thinking two things when I finished:
- I don’t think I’m meant for marathons, it’s too hard on my body, I’ll just stick to halves.
- I understand why people (OTHER PEOPLE) do ultras now!
Now here I am, tomorrow I’m running an Ultra myself. Usually before a race, I write a blog post reflecting on my goals for the race, my training, etc. This race is different, and I have a different kind of reflection to share. Why am I here, and how did I get here?
Firstly I think it’s the trails. The Calgary Marathon has a 50k option. Honestly, it sounds horrible, I have ZERO desire to run more than 42.2 km’s on the roads. Add a thousand or more meters of elevation, dirt, mud, snow, bugs, etc, and I’m all over it! The hillier, and more technical the course, the more fun it sounds. I should be careful here though, I have LOVED our training runs that have been long, hard, technical, etc, but the longest has been 35km’s at this point (or 40k in the Moose Marathon). Who knows what my body is going to say about the technical trails when I really go the distance.
Second, it’s the mountains and nature. Maybe this is the same as #1? I think it’s worth it’s own point. When I was younger, pre-kids, I spent a lot of time in the mountains, hiking, scrambling, x-country skiing. Since having kids, these things have fallen off. I LOVE them and really miss them, but logistically, it’s just so much harder to make these activities work. As my kids get older, I think these activities will return, but running on trails gives me a lot of the same feelings, and well I’m moving faster, so I can cram an adventure into a shorter amount of time, so win-win!
Thirdly, it’s the people. This one is huge. Through social media, and real life, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in the sport, and I like them, I like who they are, and I admire the amazing accomplishments they’ve achieved. A friend of mine is running a 100 miler right now, as I type, she started last night, ran through the night, and will run all day today, and some of the night tonight. A few friends and I were chatting about this, we all agreed that it’s totally CRAZY… yeah it’s crazy to run all night, but it’s also awesome. One of the girls said “crazy and super hero level awesome”.
Forth, to see how far I can go. I really want to push my body, and my mind. One of the things I loved most about scrambling mountains was standing at the base of the mountain, looking up and thinking, “nope, not gonna happen, this isn’t possible”. Even when I’d already been up that mountain, standing at the base, the mountain looks insurmountable, but when you bite it off one section at a time, it’s totally possible. You, challenge your body to complete the task, you push your fears and your mind, and if you push through those things you get to stand on the top of a mountain. It’s one of the best feelings ever. I feel like ultra’s are like that, you stand at the start line and think, “I’m going to run 50k, 50 miles, 100 miles today, that’s not even possible”, but you move from aid station to aid station, you focus on the hill, the km, the mile you’re in and before you know it, you’ve done it. And then, you’re rewarded with that feeling, the feeling that you’ve just completed a task that a few hours ago was impossible.