Trade-Off

One year ago today, I achieved my ultimate running goal of reaching 100 miles, the pinnacle of ultrarunning, at the Jackalope Jam in Cat Spring, Texas. This purpose had consumed my life for a year and a half, and I consistently prayed until I believed I had God’s approval prior to registering for the 48-hour event. All but a few of my close ones strongly opposed, understanding my mind-set would not let me surrender unless I faint or even die; if they thought I would stop for any reason other than the aforementioned two, they would not have worried as much. Cross-training and frequently racing in preparation for this daunting objective took up a large portion of my life outside work, but I battled with my head 24/7. I dreamed about running a 100-miler and/or finishing the distance almost nightly, sometimes twice a night.

102 donut holes from my supervisor, except a colleague ate a few before I even arrived…

When I finally fulfilled what felt to be a fantasy for so long, completing 102 miles in 39:25:44 by the grace of Jesus and securing my first (and last) 100-mile buckle, I thought my life would become much easier; “I never have to run again if I choose not to,” thought I. I did not anticipate the impact this new immense void that used to be filled with this aim for nearly a couple of years could have on my mind, as my mild OCD consistently intensified and invited all sorts of disturbing intrusive thoughts and images; I read accomplishing something so great could be a cause of this. Though I was initially certain I would never run for the rest of 2017, to help keep my mind off this burden, I ended up lacing up my running shoes and hitting the streets after a break of barely over a month without even being fully recovered and participating in seven more races in the past year.

As my mother puts it best, “When you go for something so big, there is always a trade-off.” No, I never would have imagined what I would be dealing with mentally following arguably the happiest day of my life. Would I take this back? Never.

Read my blog post on the race here!

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Why, Nebraska, Why?

With Nebraska finally warming up, or so I thought, I sought the earliest available 13.1 miles and landed on the Sillassen Half Marathon, scheduled to take place on April 14, 2018, in Arthur, Nebraska. I committed to a six-hour drive to the land of nothing-to-do just so that I could enjoy the beautiful nature across the Sandhills. Semi-understanding the course’s inevitable hilliness, I focused training on steep rolling hills.

When I registered, the weather channel predicted race day in the 40s, my ideal temperature for long-distance running. Then, Nebraska was hit with a storm warning, which became a blizzard warning, in mid-April. Really? I took out my winter running gear for a race in the upper 10s. I had booked a hotel, completed training camp, tapered, packed, and mentally prepared, before I was notified, two days prior to go time, the event’s cancelation due to the possible blizzard, in mid-April.

I asked the race director if she could allow the registrants to run a virtual race, especially with the no-refund policy, and thankfully she agreed. Ten minutes after her official confirmation, I took off for the most spontaneous half marathon ever, slightly concerned about feeling nauseous running on a full stomach of Subway’s Cold Cut Combo meal. For the first eight or nine miles, I looked for significant hills to replicate the Sandhills, coincidentally while the race director was emailing the runners to “try to add some major hills.” Because GPS could sometimes be inaccurate, I ran 13.24 miles, rather than 13.1, in 2:12:31, horrendous time but okay considering the consistent hills, powerful headwinds, and my very last-minute decision to take on this challenge. I did not believe I would run another virtual race after early last year, but I cannot complain about the best alternative to the actual Sillassen Half Marathon.