I don’t think this is your typical “why I run” story. I’ve thought a lot about how I would convey my journey to others. I was recently asked why I run and it took some time for me to put all the pieces together and weave them into the story below.
As a child, I was not an athlete. I didn’t play sports and running seemed like the most tortuous way to spend any length of time. Now don’t get me wrong– I was active and healthy. I enjoyed working out, but being outdoors was totally my jam! I considered myself an avid hiker and spent a lot of time on the trails. The outdoors were, in fact, my favorite place of all.
College came and went. Marriage, grad school and a difficult path to motherhood all ensued. Life was blazing by at an ever-increasing speed. Hardships ebbed and flowed as they do for us all. Getting outdoors and being active became harder and harder. I woke up one day and looked at myself in the mirror. I could barely recognize the person I had become, not because of the extra weight, but because of the stress and anxiety that had wrecked my life. I had found myself in my thirties as a newly-minted stay at home mom to two children with special needs. My first two children came into my life through the miracle of adoption. We had chosen the special needs path and I was learning that this was indeed a lonely and difficult journey. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would soon become pregnant with a child who would also join his brothers in this difficult world of special needs.
One day, on a total whim, I decided to register for a 5K that supported individuals with special needs. I thought it would be good motivation to get into shape and a way to help others. This led to a half-marathon that also benefited those with special needs. It was fun, but I wasn’t yet sold on being a runner.
It turned out that running wasn’t as bad as I had remembered it to be. I was slow, but I was making progress. Then one day I decided to take running to my first love–the trails. And it was in that moment that this ultra running mama was born. I was sold.
What started as a 5K to boost my weight-loss goal turned into one of the greatest passions of my life–trail and ultra running. I had fallen in love with the trails long ago, but now I had found a new way to experience them. Being able to use my own two legs to climb mountains and cover large of amounts of vast trail brought a sense of peace and joy that I cannot describe. Crossing the finish line of my first mountain ultra brought me a sense of accomplishment that defies words. The hardships of my life–the seemingly impossible ordeals I was going through–became much more bearable once I began overcoming the hardships of the trail. It was on the trail–during these difficult ultras–that I had found a strength inside of me that I had never known.
Therapy. Running trails and completing ultras was therapy to my soul.
Why do I run? Because running in these beautiful places reminds me of what a privilege it is to be alive. To have lungs that breathe air and legs that climb mountains…it makes life beautiful.
So tell me, why do YOU run?