Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bringing them over to the darkside!!

The coolest thing is starting to happen!  More and more otherwise sane folks are becoming ultrarunners!  Here are some local folks who have moved into ultra distance races:

50k Finishers (31 miles)

Tim Sharlow

Jess Russo 

Tyla Hudspeth

50 Milers
Jessica Amy, Jara Ahrabi, Bobbi Parker, Denise Kidder

100 K'ers (62 miles)
Fred Arsement (left)

Nathan Shull

Jim Winter

100 Milers
Smitty Smith, Me, Keith Manuel, Brad Delcambre
Donald Cleveland (left), Lane Gremillion (right)

Really Bad Ass 100 miler
John Powers (right) - John has run 20 - 100 milers,
and has more on the schedule for this season.
HE is a true BADASS!!

These are all fairly normal people.  Chances are, if you are from the Acadiana area, you have some degree of connection to one or more of them.  They started out as beginners sucking wind for their first one mile run, just like everyone else.  The difference with them is that they didn't stop there.  All of these ultra runners have full time jobs and families.  They all have the same responsibilities that you do, and the same 24 hours in each day in which to get things done.  The only difference is the way they budget their time, and the dedication that they have for the sport.

I had to laugh recently at the study from the Mayo Clinic that said that ultrarunning can be detrimental to your health. (Excessive Endurance Training Can Be Too Much of a Good Thing, Research Suggests)  While I respect the research put into the article (even though there seemed to be quite a few statements like: "excessive exercise can lead to rhythm abnormalities" and "excessive sustained exercise may also be associated with coronary artery calcification"), what the Mayo Clinic fails to understand is what motivates many endurance athletes.  

I don't do ultramarathons to become healthy.  I am already healthy.  All of the people in the pictures above were healthy before they began running ultras.  As a friend (Jessica Amy)  wisely said about her reason for running ultras, it's not about adding quantity to your life, its about adding quality to your life. (Read Jessica's open letter to the Mayo Clinic in response to this study, here). 

The point of this post is not to tell you that everyone should run ultras.  This sport is not for everyone.  Just like how I don't do triathlons because I swim like a brick, not everyone is suited to running for up to 30 hours at a time.  The point of this post is to show you that ultras are not filled with super-human people doing impossible things.  Ultras are filled with normal people pushing their limits and achieving some amazing things.  Running ultras parallels life in many ways.  A 50 or 100 mile race is not about crossing the finish line, it is about all of the hard work and dedication that goes into the effort to get there, the relationships that are formed, and the experience that is gained from the moment you decide to go beyond the marathon distance.  It's not about the destination, its about the journey.


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