I arrived home one day and said to my loving husband John, “My friends make me do stupid things”. His response, without a hint of hesitation, “What did you sign up for now?”. Hmm, so after 4 years of marriage (9 years together) he’s got me figured out. He thinks I’ve signed up for one more ridiculous race or some other equally crazy fitness competition. So does he know me or does he know me? Absolutely; that day I signed up for my first ultra marathon.
Yes I know, history repeats itself — Jill takes on too much. John laughs that when I have a day off, I join three new clubs. Ha ha, okay criticism noted. So on a quest for self-improvement my plan for this summer was to lay low, enjoy the weather with my husband and kiddo, and “chill out” a little. I said I wasn’t going to do any ‘long’ races this summer. Just 5 Peaks races (15km isn’t long). But this ultramarathon is in October, which isn’t summer anyway. See? Just like I said – trying to lay low this summer and not take on too much. October isn’t summer ;).
So why do I run? What a soul-searching question. It may sound silly, but that question is difficult for me to answer. To me, exercise in general is a hobby. It makes me feel good and I know it’s good for me. But why running? I’m not really sure. Do I love it? Absolutely, but why? On the surface it sounds like such a boring sport – no points, no diving catches, no hail mary passes, just one foot after the other. Left foot, right foot, repeat as necessary. I suppose running is my niche. If you’ve ever met me, you know I have the stereotypical “runner’s build” (some say “scrawny”, but I prefer the term “aerodynamic”). And I suppose it’s easy to love something you’re good at.
But also running provides a great sense of accomplishment. It’s very satisfying to see your improvement over the course of weeks or months. If you’ve ever finished a race, and thought to yourself, “Wow, five years ago I could not have imagined doing this”, you know that there’s a great sense of pride tied to that finish line.
Running also clears my head. It helps me leave the stresses of the day behind. It helps me ‘chill out’. No matter what the weather was like or how muddy the trail was (“no I didn’t fall, the trail was just really muddy okay?!”), I’m always in a better mood after I run. So maybe I am doing what I set out to do this summer after all. I’m enjoying the beautiful weather, spending time with friends on the trails, and clearing my head. I can even spend time with my son when I run, thanks to my beloved running stroller.
So the training begins for the Grizzly 50km race in October. It certainly isn’t a lot of time. Can I manage to fit in enough training before then? It will be tough planning around work and my other jobs as a wife and mother of a very very busy toddler. Will I finish the 50km? I hope so. I will do my best, and whatever the outcome I will be proud that I tried something I’ve never done before. Trying something new can be intimidating, but setting goals is what keeps us moving forward in life.
So why do you run? Are you out to get some fresh air and enjoy the beautiful scenery of our river valley? Are you looking to challenge yourself with something you’ve never done before? Are you interested in the health benefits of cardiovascular exercise? It doesn’t matter what your reason is, or whether you’re running 1km or the Canadian Death Race. Love running. If you love what you’re doing, you’ll reach your goals. Be brave enough to set goals – you might surprise yourself when you reach them, and when you surpass them. And let’s go for a run sometime – I could always use another running buddy!