My work has opened me to the possibility of achieving athletic feats I never new were available to the human body let alone my human body. Most recently I was able to participate in the activities of one of America’s most iconic one-hundred mile foot races, the Western States without actually having to run it. I had the pleasure listening to the scientific community interested in studying ultra-runners while also getting to know some of the leaders in the sport like Nikki Kimball, Stephanie Howe, and Scotto(typo I choose to keep because I liked it) Jurek. Not just these athletes, but all ultra-runners (and many other athletes outside the scope of running) show us that the seemingly impossible is possible. I believe it is this desire for possibility that drives those seekers of challenge.
Running one-hundred miles sounds more and more possible despite the fact that my own legs have never carried me more than thirty-one miles at one time. I get chills when I drive by Auburn on I-80 knowing this is where the finish line is after the start far away in Squaw Valley. When I think about it as a beautiful journey along some of the best trails and scenery only accessible by foot, it sounds so reasonable to move along from Squaw to Auburn at my own pace, in my own time, and on a journey with an incredible community of people who support runners or who are runners. Thinking about running anything in this way is appealing – a journey of unknowns with a spirit of adventure to carry me – sounds a lot like life, only living life is more challenging. This thinking leads me to believe that running these types of “journey races” is possible and available to those who have the desire because humans meet the challenges of life every day which breeds the strength and determination to carry you over more miles of trails than your rationale mind thinks possible. I am reminded daily of this when I look into the eyes of my enthusiastic eight-year old, born at twenty-six weeks and two days, fourteen weeks before his due date. From this seemingly impossible place he began growing bigger and stronger. When I feel like I have nothing left he smiles and inspires me to dig deeper and see through pain to joy. If that isn’t ultra-training, I don’t know what is. Would I run a hundred miles? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I am certainly open to the possibility.