What is an ultra-marathon? Didn't you just finish your first marathon a few weeks ago? Aren't ultra marathons longer? Why would you ever do that? Do you hate your body that much?
Almost exactly one year ago I started playing with the idea of running a full marathon with the goal of raising funds for Nationwide Children's Hospital. I had not run anything close to that distance in my life. I ran my 2nd half marathon in May of 2013, and when I crossed the finish line, I swore I'd never run anything close to that distance again.
You can read more about that on my blog here.
So this past weekend I did what I thought was previously impossible: I finished the Huff 50k (31.5 mile) ultramarathon. It was an amazing experience. In fact it led to three very amazing thoughts:
It is amazing what you have left in the tank when you think it is empty.
How often in life have you felt, "I have nothing left to give." I will say that happened more than once on this journey - during training, during long runs, and during the events themselves. So many times I thought that I was done - then I remembered that slow progress is still progress. Walking is still moving forward. Resting is an important part of the whole picture. You have more to give.
It is amazing what you can do with a good friend by your side.
This past weekend, my friend Beth and I ran the entire 31.5 miles together. We were both completing our first ultra, and it was great to share that experience. I had a mini freak outs ("OMG we've been running over two-and-a-half hours and still have freaking 20 miles to go!!!) She had mini freak outs, but when we did the other was there to just keep us grooving along, sticking to the plan, putting on the illusion of loving life... and saying something that will make you laugh. She got me through it and I got her through it.
The end of the run was one of my favorite memories, and not because "I was done." Nearly all of our friends that had made the journey were waiting at the finish line. Some had finished their shorter 10 mile race hours and hours before, and other finished their 50k well more than an hour or two before us. Still others didn't even run and stayed at the park for eight hours. Any of them could have gone back to the house, showered, eaten, slept... but they didn't. They stayed at the park in dreadfully cold conditions just to watch us finish, and when we did their smiles and joy were so important to me.
I think this happened about mile 20.
Doing the unthinkable makes everything else a little easier. How many people in your life have told you they want to accomplish something: start their own business, publish a book, run a 5k. After you have done 'the impossible', everything else seems a bit easier. Your perspective on 'normal' and 'possible' shifts. Your self-confidence and determination increase. You feel what you really have in your tank.
So in about year I went from someone that could kind of finish 15 miles in a week to someone that could finish over 30 in one run.
I have to ask: As we are getting ready to ring in 2016, what impossible task will you accomplish?
You really can. Seriously.