Every ultrarunner has their own story on how or why they got into the sport. Its not typically a sport that people take on for no reason or just fall into. I think we all have it engraved in our dna from day one, whether we knew it or not. It takes a drive deep down to want to compete in these type of grueling events. They are not the "fun run" feel good the whole time stroller pushin type races that are easy for people to see why others do them. Most of the time there is quite a bit of pain and some pretty low points throughout the race that makes outsiders think that we're all f*#%in nuts. In a way, they're probably right, and during most races we think ourselves are nuts for doing it. Ultrarunners must have the worst memories because no matter how many times during a race we say we'll never do it again, at the finish all we talk about is the next one.
I grew up in a sport playing family so working out and sports were always around. I grew up overweight and many many times would try and lose weight. At age 11 my sister started teaching classes and training at her future husbands gym in mansfield. I joined there in 5th grade ready to get in shape. From the beginning I started doing cardio and had many random goals especially for a 5th grader. One goal was to do the EFX for an hour straight (at the time i thought 15 minutes was all i could handle). Another goal was to run a 5k without stopping. When i was 13 i finally ran that first 5k and didn't stop to walk but it took over 30 minutes. I was proud of myself, but knew that there were bigger goals to be made. About a year later my sister and brother-n-law were getting a group together to go out to san diego to run their rock n roll marathon. One I couldn't miss out on the fun, plus I knew that if they could do it why couldn't I? I had over a year to train so it was definately feasable. I trained off and on but didn't take it nearly as serious as i should. I never lost weight, in fact that was the heaviest time of my life. I was puting in very little milage just enough to get by. The race rolled around and i was about 225 lbs and nearly died that day. it took me over 6 hours but i finished.
During training my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I believe she was proud of my goals so there was no way in hell i was going to quit and let her down. Every race I run I believe she would have been proud and that right there has got me through some low points. I wear a cross neclace during every race. When i was five she gave it to me one year for christmas. I wear it as a way of saying "hey look im still running and hopefully you would be proud of me" Not to get weird but i feel like a different person during an ultra and i feel just a little closer to her. Running ultras is my way of living so someday if im diagnosed and laying there i can hopfully tell myself that I lived my life to its fullest. I've run in some pretty awesome places including the San Juan mountains of Colorado which i'll always remember the rest of my life. That is something that nobody else will ever understand so when people call me crazy for running so much it doens't fase me at all because there is quite a bit of meaning behind it.
About a year went by and my weight was still an issue and at one point even hit 240. I decided to do the Arizona rock n roll marathon in January and knew i had to drop some pounds in order to do it. I got down to about 210 but that was still pretty darn heavy. i took training a bit more seriously but still ran about a 5:20 marathon. The next year i decided to take it up a notch, lose weight, and try to run a sub 4. thats quite a bit faster, but me being the person i am, i knew if i put in the training it would happen. I got down to about 190 and had a pretty solid training and ran a 3:54 at whiterock. The next year did the same, but some switch inside my head was turned on and i viewed running in a totally different aspect from their on out.
After Whiterock '07 (3:50) i decided my next goal was to qualify for Boston. People thought i was nuts since i would have to run a sub 3:10. I knew i had to do two things, drop some weight (still 190 at the time) and incorporate speed work. I dropped down below 175 fairly quickly and was doing tons of speed work. I upped my milage so fast that i got injured and it put me out for about 5-6 months. That summer i was newly 21 and drinking and having a good time. I got back up to 200 and was miserable. I decided that i needed to make a lifestyle change and that i missed the running and training. I still had the goal of qualifying and was ready to do whatever it took to get it done. I cut out the booze, took on a healthy diet and got on a pretty solid training plan. Training went good and i made my first attemp at whiterock '08. the weather was horrible and bonked out at mile 20 and missed it big time. My whole demenor was shot and i felt like a big time failure. I looked at my training and finally convinced myself that i was still capable and gave it another shot the next month in Arizona. I ran a 3:20 and basically just hit a low point miles 22-24 which put me off pace. I decided to try again december whiterock '09.
This is when the Ultra world opened up to me. I took training very serious and bought a couple booked online. One was dean karnazes 50/50/50 and the other was "running through the wall". A book called running through the wall sounds like a marathon book right? I bought them both wanting to read about marathons and figure out ways to get faster. I opened up that book and realized that it was all ultramarathon stories from different people sent in. I was in shock that there was a whole nother sport and distances beyond the marathon. Races that lasted days through the mountains sounded freakin crazy to me. but the more i kept reading, something inside of me was inspired and knew i had to try these out for myself. i still focused on a sub 3:10 marathon because that was my original goal and told myself i had to break that before i did a trail run. That december i ran a 3:08 at whiterock so i was off teh hook as far as marathons and had no obligation to ever run one again.
I was signed up for the Bandera 50k in January of 2010. In 2009 i ran two road 50k's. At cowtown i ran a 4:07 that february. Every night i was looking at 100 mile races on the internet and researching just how people actually did that stuff. I told myself i needed to complete a couple 50k's first then a couple 50 milers before even thinking about a 100. That january rolled around and i was on my way down to Bandera. It was about 9 dagrees at the start but trail runners are a different breed and everybody was loving it! The race went horrible for me, but it was ton of fun. I liked the low key atmosphere non cowbell sideline people and i didn't miss the dumb signs people have at road races. That race trashed me. I wasn't ready for the rocks, the hills or the time. It took me 6 1/2 hours compared to my 4 hour cowtown 50k. Before bandera i had never actually done a single training run on a trail in my life. So to get to bandera and start up cairne's climb was a real eye opener for me. Even though it kicked my ass i was signed up for Hells Hills that April. That was to be my first 50 attempt. I did much more hill training and got in about 5 30 milers and a 35 miler. Hells Hills went great and I loved it. In fact it went so good that at mile 48 i was chatting with a guy and i told him i wanted to do a 100. to my suprise he told me to go for it and i was in better shape then i thought. With an experiences runner telling me that (he was training for hardrock), i believed in myself and when i got home i started looking for taht first 100. my plan was to do one next summer to give myself 15 months to train. I landed on Cactus Rose only 6 months away. Once again i knew it could be done and i was beyond determined. The training was so time consuming that i felt like i had to tell my family that it was the only 100 I would ever do. At the time i told myself i only had to do one (even though i looked at badwater stuff every night and purposely trained in middle of the day). Race day rolled around and it was more fun then i had imagined. the race went great and i ran it pretty solid. no real low points and never ever considered quitting. Even though i said that was my only one, a week later my application was in for western states. My body held up pretty well and my pacer told me he would be disappointed if i never did another ultra.
About two weeks after Cactus last year, I had my whole 2011 planned out. I had about (4) 50 milers planned out but most of all i had my whole training schedule for the next cactus written out on paper. Im looking at it right now because this weekend was one of my intermediate goals in training. I have stuck to the training big time and have met every goal and stayed on track for 11 months now. I ran Cactus in 23:53 in 2010. Just two weeks later I said my goal was a sub 20 for 2011. It sounded like a crazy goal, but i knew if i could meet those goals throughout the year that i was on track. A goal no matter how farfetched, is never ever possible unless you believe in yourself. I wrote down what needed to be done and told myself if I stick to it, there is no reason why I can't. I started a vigorous hill workout and took my long runs serious and went for time on every one of them. I practiced nutrition and quick exchanges at aid stations to get ready. The race is 4 weeks away and i'm ready to go for it! I once heard "those who don't take a chance, don't get a chance"