Running is my first love, pure and unadulterated. It gets me up in the morning, fuels me through my days, and promises survival through even the roughest patches of life. It has brought me some of my greatest joys and has challenged me in ways I never thought possible. It reminds me that I am alive, that life is grand, and that finding inner peace is indeed possible. I emerged from adolescence, college, the Peace Corps, the ups and downs of young adulthood, graduate school, marriage, and even the pain of divorce, all relatively unscathed, all with my running shoes on. When two knee surgeries threatened my future as a runner, thoughts of one day running again pulled me through. Nearly 30,000 miles after running my first, running never gets old. A truly everlasting love, it is my way of life. It is my panacea.
As most runners would agree, part of the draw to running is the constant search for new challenges. The human body can achieve amazing things as long as the mind and spirit are willing to rise to the occasion. If you are a runner, you know just what I mean. That hunger for the next test of our strength and endurance does not dissipate. Once we reach a goal, we set a new one. The hunger begins modestly – a 5K, maybe a half marathon… but once we think we have satiated our appetite for challenge, we conjure up new goals – to run faster or further. By the time we realize the voracity of our hunger, it is too late: we’ve become addicted to running, and the only option is to continue lacing up our shoes in search of new ways to challenge our bodies and minds.
This blog represents exactly that: the latest and greatest challenge I have identified for myself, while combining my passions for running and writing. In June 2012, I will attempt my longest run ever – 100 kilometers. That’s 62 miles, and I’ll have twelve hours to run them. I’ll be running in the FANS (Furthering Achievement through a Network of Support) 12-Hour Ultramarathon in Minneapolis. FANS is a program of Pillsbury United Communities that raises funds to send inner-city kids to college. As a former teacher, it’s right up my alley – the perfect marriage of running and education.
I participated in the FANS Ultramarathon in 2011, polishing off my twelfth hour of running with 50.79 miles and my longest run to date. Running more than fifty miles in one day tested me physically, mentally, and emotionally in just about every way imaginable. That day was one of my proudest in running- another notch in my belt, right up there with finishing an Ironman triathlon, in the category of things in life that no one can take away from me. I added my inaugural ultramarathon to my running resume beaming with pride, yet secretly scheming for next year before I even peeled off my shoes. “Next year” has nearly arrived, and I have decided to toe the line at FANS again in 2012, with a new goal of running 100 kilometers and – gasp! – the audacity to tell people about it.
If you do the math, running 62 miles in twelve hours seems perfectly feasible – eleven and a half minutes per mile, nice and easy, no problem. Add to that the restroom breaks, required weigh-ins, eating and drinking, and rests to change socks and massage feet that have turned to hamburger, and eleven and a half minutes per mile suddenly seems smokin’ fast.
My intention for this blog is to record my journey as I prepare for my latest challenge in fitness, endurance, discipline, and strength. Experience has shown me that the next months will surely be filled with triumph and failure; empowerment and self-doubt. I welcome these things – embrace them, in fact, knowing that no matter the result, I will once again emerge from this experience a better person- stronger and wiser, because my running shoes will have pulled me through. After all, they’re my magic shoes, representative of my everlasting love… my panacea.
Thank you for reading!