Why an Ultra Marathon? Exploring your limits
An ultra marathon is defined as any distance greater than a marathon or commonly
referred to as 26.2 miles. Typical distances for ultra marathons are 50K; 31.5 miles; 50 miles and 100K; 62 miles; 100 miles and yes there are even races greater than 100 miles and they are on foot! Most ultra marathons take place on scenic trails although some are staged on a bike trail or paved surface.
I know you are reading and thinking “why?” “Are you crazy?” I don’t even like to drive
that many miles in a car! I’ve heard a lot of responses and certainly have endured a lot of looks when people ask me why I run ultra marathons. The answer is not as simple as you might think.
There is something intriguing and challenging about the ultra distances themselves as to whether your body can sustain that amount of mileage. In addition, just how far you can push your mind and what happens to your brain and rationale thinking as you delve in to these longer distances. It is somewhat scary and exciting all at the same time. For me, running long distances provide me with an outlet from the daily grind of work and other life stresses. It allows me to freely think or even not think for many hours. It can be soothing, therapeutic and I can find peace and clarity. My favorite distance is the 100 miler as it is truly unique. There are multiple high’s and low’s from start to finish and you constantly have to push yourself to new levels. About the 100K mark, 62 miles is where the going gets tough. Physically, you are exhausted and mentally you are fried. You focus much of your attention to taking care of yourself by eating and drinking that you simply can’t think anymore. Your mind starts yelling at your body to stop and go home. You have to dive in to your bag of tricks and find something to convince yourself otherwise. For me, it is seeing a friend or having a pacer that I find a new source of energy within myself. Eating real food always spikes my energy levels and rocking out to a motivational tune can also jump start my engine again. From this point on, it is a combination of doing things to take care of yourself but also the will to fight and never give up. I tend to think of people that have inspired me and how lucky and blessed I am to be out on the trail doing what I love to do. The emotional swell that comes over me helps to spur me on. I talk and remind myself to stay tough and see this challenge all the way to the end. I remind myself of my goals and why tackling this race or distance is important to me. It is at this point, when you reach a level where you think you can’t go any further, you find out what you are really made of and what makes you tick. The challenge and extremity of the goal have this effect on my body and mind. When I get to that finish line, it is euphoric. The day and night all seem to be forgotten as the elation and high set in. After the challenge is complete, I reflect back on the hard times but the good as well. The hard times teach me to keep at it even when you are in the depths of despair. I carry this theme with me through life and in my professional life. The triumphs and the lessons learned on the trail teach me a lot about myself. If you stay focused and hungry enough you will reach your peak performance. That feeling and sense of and accomplishment resonates deep within your entire body