Regular People; Extraordinary Inspirations...
At that point I started looking beyond my upcoming marathon. If I can do 20 miles I'll surely be able to do the marathon. If I can do the marathon how much more can I do? Heck, I keep hearing about these people that run 50 miles, 100 miles, 135 miles, etc. If they can do that why can't I? So I set a goal; I decided that I would run a 100 mile race within 3 years. I knew it was crazy but I wanted to prove that I could do it. The first marathon went well, in fact it's still my PR. But then came my first hurdle; a stress fracture in my foot. I found out that I'd been running on it for a while because my nerves in my feet don't feel pain like they should. I was off running for almost 8 weeks. I spent that time wondering if it just wasn't meant to be. I came back from my injury strong; I was able to build my miles back up fairly quickly and even ran a PR half marathon just a couple months after the fracture! My confidence was creeping back up.
I plotted a marathon and a couple ultras for the fall to prove to myself that I was back and I really could do it. Well, I did it, BUT they didn't go as well as I'd hoped. In fact, I really struggled badly (for different reasons) through the ultras although the marathon went pretty well. My confidence in my ability to do a 100 went back down. Really, these guys I'm trying to model are more or less professional athletes; why do I think I can do what they do? I'm just an ordinary guy, not a pro. I wouldn't say I gave up my goal of getting to a 100 miler, but I kind of let it pass out of my mind and let my focus on it go. I stopped looking at it as a realistic goal for me.
This weekend that changed. Some "regular people" I know (meaning not big time, pro athletes) went down to Texas to run the Rocky Raccoon 50 & 100 mile race. I put "regular people" in quotes because they are anything but "regular". They are, without a doubt, extraordinary. My point is, they are normal, everyday folks with jobs, friends, etc that run for the love of it. They don't have corporate sponsors that send them around the world to races. They work hard, train hard, have families and friends and pay to go to their races. They are "regular people" that work hard to accomplish incredible feats.
First, and the one I know best, is Sherrie. She is a member of the Olathe Running Club just like me and we've run together a few times and she she has given me lots of support and advice since I met her. She set out to earn her first 100 miler. Not only did she make it, she beat her own goal by finishing in 22 hours 24 minutes earning her 1st place in her age group and 4th among all women!! This is the most inspiring performance for me since I have spend time running with and talking with her. She amazes me, inspires me and encourages me to keep working to accomplish my own dreams. This leads us to Darin. I've never actually met Darin in person, but I've connected with him via DailyMile thanks to Sherrie. He's Sherrie's Ultra running mentor. He has run quite a few ultras and is an amazing runner. He ran 50 miles at Rocky Raccoon, then hung out and rested for a while before picking Sherrie up after her first 60 miles and helping to pace her and bring her in for the final 40 miles. How many of us can say we've run 50 miles then paced a friend for another 40? Incredible. Then there's Matty & Ashley. They are both Trail Nerds (the trail running club that I ran with a few times last year and have started running with more this year). I've only met them a couple times at Nerd runs. I hope to get to know them better as I run more with the Nerds, but I am amazed by what they did this weekend despite not knowing them very well. Ashley ran her first 50 miler and Matty ran his first 100 miler. Any 100 mile finish is amazing, but Matty's took pure guts and grit. Blisters, chaffing on his quads, lost toenails and foot problems caused him to really have to struggle through. None of these things stopped him and he came home with his first 100 mile finisher's buckle. Again, incredible.
I am forever grateful to these amazing people for all of the inspiration they have given me.