One of the great things about the running community is the diversity of speeds and capabilities. I have friends that are super talented and win races. And I also have friends that run a few 5ks every year. All of those friends have something to bring to the table. And they all want to run, which is awesome.
I’m not a naturally talented runner and not what most people would consider “fast”, but I have friends who are! On a good day they let me pick their brain and I sometimes get a glimpse into what it’s like to be fast runner. In turn, I get to tell them what it’s like to be a back of the pack type. It’s a totally different race experience. Before one of the first few half marathons I ever ran, my husband and I had this conversation:
Husband: How will you know where you’re going?
Me: Well I’m sure it’s marked. And I’ll just follow the person in front of me.
Husband: But what if YOU’RE in the very front?
Me: Then hell has frozen over and we have bigger problems to deal with.
I’ll never know what it’s like to lead a race. But thanks to some very talented friends, I do get to hear what it’s like. So in a way I get to live vicariously through my talented running friends! All the awesome without all the work! Genius.
So, back to ultrarunning…. My friend Ben did his first 50 miler and his wife Steph did her first 50k at a race I was at to do my first “real” trail half marathon. My race was SUPER fun and I got to see Ben and Steph finish and was thrilled at how great they did! Steph finished her 50k and made it look so stupid easy that I immediately decided that I would do my first 50k at that race the next year (and I did). I also took it upon myself to say hey, Ben running this 50 miler is the closest I’m ever going to get to running a 50 miler, so I’m gonna live vicariously through him! Look at me! I’m “running” my first 50 miler! It was great to see some people I know get out there, try something new, and absolutely KILL it!
Unfortunately, it went SO well for them, that they both started talking to me about how doable it is.
“Oh you could do that, Erin”
“You just need to find the right race, Erin”
“Anyone can do this”
“It’s not as bad as I thought it would be”
On and on and on and on… and I kept telling them that I’ll try a 50k, but anything else is ridiculous. It’s silly nonsense. Then I ran my first 50k. It hurt. Then I ran my second 50k. It hurt a little less. Then I watched Steph blow her first 100 miler outta the freaking water. And of course, she made it look easy. And of course…. She and Ben started back in on “Erin’s first 50 Miler”. What race could it be? What kind of cutoff?
HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY! WHAT? NO. That’s crazy.
But they had done their job. They had planted the seed. So when I found a race that was flat and had a VERY generous cutoff time…. Welp. That’s when it went from, I’LL NEVER DO THAT to…. what does a 50 mile training program look like? Then I started training for my first (and last? Maybe first) 50 miler.