I first started running with my best friend from college, Amy. We lived, and still do, in separate states, so we did it virtually with one another. We both were using the C25K plan to work up to our first 5k. We would send each other encouraging text messages and cheer each other as we took to social media. Although, I didn’t run with her at the same time or in the same place, it still made the training bearable and fun at times. We had our ups and our downs, but the comradery of doing it together was what really kept me going with running.
We did our first 5k and another one right after that, and we even kept going completing a 10k together and doing a few half marathons together. However, when I made the decision to complete a marathon, it was me, myself, I who had to bear the weight of training. Back then, even though it was only a few months ago, I never thought of joining a running group. I’ve found that the further the distance you go, the less and less people you find doing it. Most people wouldn’t guess this about me, but I am actually a very shy and introverted person at first. Once I know someone, I’ll open up…a lot! Like we’re talking flood gates opening and my real personality coming through!
So, marathon training was completed solely alone. It wasn’t so bad, however. I kept myself honest, and made sure I got all my runs in. But somewhere along the way, I lost my drive for running. It was mind numbing to go out for 20 mile run, and see nothing but road. With no one to share in the post run euphoria, I just felt lost. But I got it done, and always stayed positive. I felt like something was going to change. Like I was going to find my next challenge or my next new path. It’s funny how these things work… you just have this feeling, and BAM… it happens.
One of my inspirations of wanting to run ultra marathons is the watching the Ginger Runner YouTube channel. Seeing all these amazing sights and the joy on the faces of all the runners, made we want to do the same. To the internet I took, and with my spirits low and sights set high, I took a chance and signed up for the Grand Canyon 55k. And yes, I did this on a whim. No idea how to train, how to prepare, or what I was going to do. Up until then, my only experience with trail running was none. So I had no clue where trails were around me or how to navigate them once I did find them.
In these situations, I like to arm myself with as much knowledge as possible. I ordered Hal Koerner’s Field Guide To Ultrarunning to get started. It was a great book with a wealth of knowledge and experience laced into its pages. Anyone who is thinking of running an ultra or heck even those of us who do, I would definitely recommend you pick this up and read it. Then to internet I took again. I stumbled across my local running store’s page and found they offered a ultra training group. I have never considered joining a running group, but I took a chance. I emailed the coach, and got some preliminary info on it. For me, this was a big step, literally a leap of faith if you will, but I said what else am I going to do? So I signed up, and it was a chance that paid off with great dividends!
The first day I was nervous, to say the least. The group was small, only 14-15 people. Like I said before, I don’t do well when I don’t know someone. We met for a 8 mile easy run (at that time, it wasn’t so easy for me running wise). The group was very close and everyone knew each other well. Great, another barrier to overcome. But from that first run, something felt different. The group was extremely welcoming, friendly, and warm. It was like I just fell right into the grove. Over the course of the next 4 months, we’ve grown to know each other become great friends!
Long runs became fun again. Hard workouts, harder and more competitive! And the end of the runs, a time to recant and bask in the euphoric feeling a beating another run! Since joining the CCR running group, my energy for running has grown exponentially. I find myself yearning for long distances, pushing the pace, and pushing my limits.
What I’ve found in ultra running is that the distance, pace, or running itself doesn’t
matter. What matters is the people you do it with, the friendships you form, and the community supports no matter what! As long as there is a smile on your face and you’re filled with passion to do something, you know you have truly found your place.