We all know and have heard the expression, “run your own race” and then proceeded to start off faster than out intended splits or get caught up in someone else’s race and pacing plan – myself included.
I have learned and experienced first hand that this truly is some of the greatest advice I have ever received. I always make it a main goal of mine during a race to stick to my racing plan and strategy. It is so easy to get caught up in what someone else is doing, especially early on when you are feeling fresh and relaxed. It takes a lot of self-discipline and letting go of your pride to start off a little slower knowing you can and will speed up. The race is never won (unless you are in a sprint) at the start of a race.
My college basketball coach would always tell us, “keep your eyes on your own bobber” and I remind myself of this often when it comes to my own running. I love the ultra running community and the endless support throughout all of the races from start to finish. It feels like a team and it does take a village. There have been so many moments where someone has given me that high-five, hug or cheer when I needed it most. But, I also love the individual aspects of running as well. I love the independence and self-determination it takes to keep going, to keep pushing through the pain cave and tough miles and stretches especially of a long event. I know that if I can just get through those times it can and does get easier.
A few tricks that work for me when it comes to staying focused on myself and having success are setting a goal for myself that is truly about me and isn’t influenced by anyone else. I never go into a race saying, “I want to beat X person” but rather, “I want to hit this time or this amount of miles”. I can’t control what someone else is doing so I shouldn’t be worried about it. Now this doesn’t mean I am not competitive or won’t try to win, but it is not the main goal for me. This allows me to stay positive and control what I can control – myself and what I am doing.
Another strategy I use is writing down and knowing exactly what my plan in. It helps me to go into a race and workout knowing precisely what the goal is. I think back to the Country Mile 48-hour race last April as I executed my race plan perfectly and even exceeded my target mileage goal. I knew exactly when the times were I was going to take my scheduled breaks and took full advantage of those. It made it easier to push through especially overnight when it was freezing knowing I just had to reach a certain mileage and then got to take a break. I also used a walk/run strategy as the race went on. I knew once I hit a certain landmark I got a walk break in turn making the running sections a lot easier to get through knowing a break was coming. The course felt so short when I broke it up this way making the miles really fly by.
It is important to go into running events with a specific goal in mind that makes you excited as well as a plan of attack for how you will achieve that goal. There are times when we don’t always hit our goal but running our own race and doing it for ourselves because we love it makes the finish line that much sweeter.
Highlight Runner - Shane Elrod Interviewed by Claire Blanton
I entered ministry at the age of 23 after attending Bible College. Unfortunately, ministry only offered part-time pastoral opportunities, so I worked as an EMT for years. This led to eating on the road frequenting fast food restaurants and a sedentary lifestyle while working multiple jobs and long shifts.
At one point, I exceeded 350 pounds and could no longer sit on the floor to play with my children. When I got to the age of 40 and realized my father died at age 59, I knew something drastic had to be done. I heard that if you could do something for 21 straight days, it would develop a habit, so I began slowly walking and walked for 21 days in a row.
But I didn’t stop walking, I kept on going, cut back on my carbs, and eventually progressed to jogging and now running. Much of this I did alone but when I finally reached the 190lb mark in this journey, I realized that in order to maintain my weight goals and improve my running skills, I needed to find a community to support my dream.
That’s when I found URC Anderson. They have supported me through multiple small races, 4 half marathons, and I have recently run my first marathon after extensive training with them. This group has not only trained me to work harder and run faster, but they have befriended me as well. Future running goals include more marathons in shorter times with URC Anderson serving as my support and anchor.
Perhaps my greatest accomplishment is being able to chase my two year old daughter and seeing my wife and four kids at the end of every race finish line.
3 Finishers - Barkley Marathon by Zoe Sottile
The famed ultramarathon, the brainchild of runner Gary Cantrell (better known by his nickname Lazarus Lake or “Laz”), takes place in Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park. The route was inspired by the 1977 prison escape of James Earl Ray, who assassinated the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The race consists of five loops of around 20 miles each, for a total of between 100 to 130 miles through brushy mountains with an elevation gain of around 63,000 feet. Athletes run the course over three sleepless days and nights – and there are no aid stations, phones or GPS to help with navigation. Getting lost – as well as falling and getting injured in the brush – is par for the course... Read More at CNN
Mid-Life Crisis? Or Challenging My Limits? By Bethany Lannon
Trying something new can be scary. Trying something new that’s so far outside of your comfort zone that you can’t even see said comfort zone anymore – that’s scary as h-e-double hockey sticks. Yet that’s where I find myself. On April 4th, I will be turning 40. Perhaps you could say I’m entering a mid-life crisis. Or perhaps you could say that I’ve reached a stage in my life where growth has become inevitable. I’m ready for the next big challenge. At least I think I am.
Recently, I learned through the power of social media, about an ultra race that takes place out in Arizona every February. You may have heard of it; you may have even run it yourself. But for me, this is a brand new distance with a brand new challenge. It’s the Black Canyons Ultra. Every February they host a 100k and a 60k race. Registration opens April 1st and my birthday is April 4th. What better way is there to celebrate my 40th than with a trip out to Arizona? Now, you’d think that I - being a level-headed person, very conservative-minded when it comes to challenges, who never gets in over her head – you’d think that I would just play it safe and go for the 60k. (Side note: those of you who know me personally are probably laughing at that last sentence describing myself. If you don’t know me personally, just know that that last sentence was full of poo and getting in over my head is what I’m best at).
Anyway, I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now – I’m going for the 100k. Why waste a perfectly good trip out to Arizona? Keep in mind, I’ve only ever run a marathon as my longest distance. I’ll even go so far as to say that at this time last year, I was content with never running a marathon again. So much for that.
I have always been an advocate for stepping outside of your comfort zone. Anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I absolutely LOVE seeing friends & family reach for higher goals. It seriously fills my cup when I can encourage them in things they thought were unattainable. I haven’t even signed up for this race yet and I’ve already run through the gamut of emotions and thoughts. From the extremes of “Yes!! I know I can do this!! This is going to be AMAZING!!” to “What the heck am I thinking? That’s 62 miles. In the desert. With cacti. And probably rattlesnakes and scorpions too. I should probably back out now before I tell any more people” … and every thought in between. I’m sure that when I do actually sign up, it’ll get a thousand times worse (just a heads up for ya, Coach).
But here’s the thing – as scary as it is, stepping out of my comfort zone, even to something of this magnitude (for me), does bring a particular thrill. One of the biggest reasons that I’ve decided to go for this as opposed to just brushing it to the side and ignoring it is my support system. Between my husband, my friends & family, my circle of running friends, and my coach – I’ve got a support system that I know I can count on. Obviously I still have to put in the work; I’m not downplaying that by any means. But I’m so grateful to have a network of people whom I can trust with my biggest fears and insecurities. They’ll tell me like it is – and they won’t sugar coat it either. I have a great coach who I know won’t steer me wrong. I have an amazing husband and kids who will support me and will push me and challenge me.
It will be scary. It will be hard as hell. But it will be worth it. I know I’m capable. If you get nothing else from my words, let them at least encourage you to push for the next goal. Step outside your comfort zone. I’m willing to bet that you’ll probably surprise yourself when you learn what you’re truly capable of. And on Tuesday, April 4th, know this… I’ll be drinking a little bit too much wine and signing up for something I used to never see myself doing. And then, if I throw up afterward, I can blame it on the wine and not on the realization of the sheer magnitude of what I just got myself into. Don’t call it a mid-life crisis, call it challenging my limits.
What Makes SOmeone a Runner By Emily Owens
Running, for me, came as part of a mini midlife crisis. I’ve never been very athletic, I was raised in a family that didn’t put much importance on sports. I dabbled in multiple sports in high school mostly due to the fact that it was a small school in a rural area and pretty much the only things to do were sports or drugs. I have terrible hand eye coordination but I found I could run a little. I joined our inaugural cross country team when it was created my sophomore year-I was basically drafted, since they needed runners and any student not already playing a fall sport was told to come run. I enjoyed it but never took it seriously and neither did the majority of the other dozen kids participating-we would smuggle Little Debbies and Slim Jims in our pockets until we ran out of sight of the coaches, eat, goof off, then run back to the school. I don’t think I finished a single race without walking, and was glad to get back to track in the spring, but that was mostly just to socialize, run a few mediocre sprints, then go back to hanging out. When high school was done, so was my athletic “career” and any involvement with people who cared about sports or participated in them. Fast forward 20 years and I was by then a stay at home mom of 3 small kids, dealing with depression, isolation, and probably a drinking problem. I had no sense of self outside of being a mom and a feeling of “now what?” After joining the local Y mostly to get a few hours of free childcare, on a whim I decided to start running again. I couldn’t make it a quarter mile at first. Now, 4 years later I’ve run races from 5k to 50k, road, track, trail, overnight, traditional, time based, and most recently joined some seriously good runners on an ultra team for the Palmetto Relay, a 210 mile relay race across SC from Lexington to Charleston. Getting ready to get into the van with these 5 people who legitimately race marathons, some competed in collegiate athletics, some run 7 minute miles like it’s nothing, had me thinking yet again “I don’t belong here, I’m not a real runner, everyone’s going to find out that I can’t do this kind of thing.” That all disappeared for me as soon as we got going, but it’s a thought process that returns almost every time I run with others or show up to a race. Some of that may just be my general worldview, but I feel like that self doubt is probably present more for someone who hasn’t experienced the confidence that comes with early or consistent success in the athletic arena. There are plenty of inspirational quotes on social media that say things along the lines of “if you run, you’re a runner”, but I always find myself looking for reasons why it’s not true yet. First I thought, I’m not a runner until I run a race. Then, 10k isn’t enough, I have to do a half. I have to run 30 miles a week, I have to complete this specific challenge, I have to run X number of miles a month or none of it counts. As I started to get a little better and began to run longer distances, then my mindset changed again to “I have to run it faster” “I have to run it nonstop, real runners don’t take walk breaks” etc etc. The same pace or time that impresses me in someone else doesn’t feel good enough when I do it-I think I attribute it to hard work and talent in them, and just good luck for me. I would never judge another runner for the same things I judge myself for, and I don’t know whether that’s a personal problem or a rookie problem. People come to running from all different backgrounds and I would guess well over half of the runners I’ve encountered through local run clubs and local races are nowhere near elite athletes or record holders. I know there are a lot of us that just began running one day well into adulthood, whether for weight loss, heart health, sanity sake, to keep up with kids and teens getting into the sport, or Forrest Gump type impulse. I find myself using the retired college athletes, the people with natural talent, the people who have been athletes their entire lives as my benchmark rather than looking at the running community as a whole-or better yet, just worrying about my damn self. I don’t have the same talent or the same experience but I’m still willing to get up at 4:30am on weekends to get my miles in before family commitments, and I voluntarily sacrifice sleep, comfort, and sometimes fun to meet my running goals. But I also have 4 kids and a life, and running cannot be something that always takes priority over everything. I’m not 22 years old and gunning for a cash prize anywhere, where do I draw the line at how much to invest? Many of us know how time consuming (and an energy drain) it is to train for longer races or big events. Is it selfish to focus on this? I’m pretty decent during times where I train particularly hard-could I actually be good if I invest a little more time and effort? The goal posts keep moving for me and I’m not sure when that stops. People who have been running all their life, or who played other sports competitively and came to running in adulthood, seem more likely to think of themselves as runners or athletes. Those of us who were clumsy, nerdy, whatever may identify more as “a clumsy nerd who runs” and struggle to see where “runner” fits into our identify…but it’s there, we just have to figure out how to get to it. Running has taught me that I’m stronger than I knew and that I’m capable of so much more than I realized. Running has also provided me with a community of instant friends and so many great experiences through volunteering and connecting with others. This sport has made my life better and given me more confidence in all areas of my life, and I hope to pass those feelings on to my own children and to share that experience with anyone just starting out. It’s never too late and you just may surprise yourself with what you can do.
Only Those Who Risk Going Too Far Can Possibly Find Out How Far They Can Go