I was lucky enough to grab a piece of her essay that she attached to all of her college applications. Flattered doesn't even begin to describe the feeling. I am very proud of her and I do hope that she has learned from me... from both my successes and failures.
Twenty- nine hours, thirty- four minutes and ten seconds. That is how long it can take a runner to cross the finish line for the “Leadville 100” Mountain Race. To be more specific that is how long it took my father to finish his first “Leadville 100”, something that had taken him 3 years of training to accomplish after dreaming of it for nearly 20 years. Witnessing all of his determination and hard work is something that has changed the way I set and attain my goals and how hard I am willing to fight for them.
Growing up, I inadvertently became a running groupie; going to races, talking about training schedules, and even accompanying him on runs on my bike or on foot. Running has always been there. In 2007 my dad decided to run the Pike Peak Ascent (13.1 miles) and the Pikes Peak Marathon (26.2 miles) back-to-back; notoriously known as the “Double”. At the time I thought it was simply an impressive endeavor in order for him to have the title under his belt. Little did I know he had a significantly more ambitious plot in mind; to be able to train as an ultra- runner.
As a thirteen-year old versed in the running community as far as 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, and marathons the idea of a human being running a whole 26.2 miles was impressive, 50 miles was crazy, and 100 miles was impossible. How quickly things can change. By my freshman year of high school in 2008, I came to understand that to become an ultra-runner 5ks and 10ks were run on days when the runner doesn’t need to run but needs something to do; half marathons were run at least twice a week as an easier run to build up speed and strength; and marathons were run on the weekends to build up endurance and rigor. Within a year of converted training goals the mindset of a runner and their family turns into, “I am leaving now to go on my thirty-mile run!” “Okay! See you in a few hours!” without hesitation.
Granted, thirty miles is a lot of distance, especially on ones feet, but to ultra- runners who constantly push themselves, if they can do it by all means DO IT. They often take up the mailman motto “Neither snow nor rain, nor heat nor gloom of night, stays these runners from the swift completion of their appointed training rounds.” I, for one, have seen this and have been dragged along for the ride to merely keep my dad company on his wild quest in the sun, in the rain, and, yes, in the snow. But the one weather challenge that can really set a runner back is the wind; whenever wind comes to play the runners are not there to stay. Many will argue that they put a whole new meaning to the saying, “cursing at the wind.” But even through the wind I have seen how if I set my thoughts to a goal and consistently work in order to attain that goal than I should have no problems getting there, whether it is sports, school, work, or personal ambitions.
By the time August of 2009 had come around my father was ready to take on his first Leadville 100 Mountain Race. After running two 50-mile races earlier in the year and completing rigorous training he thought that he was ready to do it; pacer-less, crew-less, and even a little clueless to what lay ahead. That year he DNFed (Did Not Finish) before he could even make it to the halfway point, blowing out his knee coming down a steep mountain pass known as Hope Pass. After a rough year of doubts and second guesses he still managed to continue training for another one- hundred mile race, pushing through what he needed in order to cross the finish line. That August he was back with a vengeance; a crew to help him through, a pacer to push him the final fifty miles, and an intimate knowledge of the course waiting for him. Being able to watch him and his attitudes at the aid stations reinforced that notion of setting sights and accomplishing goals. That year he finished the race with 26 minutes to spare with the time of 29:34:10. To prove the legitimacy of this race he decided to run another 100 mile race in 2011, but because of work conflicts he was unable to run the race he signed up for. Instead, he ran the Leadville 100 once again, on a whim, signing up four days before the race after having had an 84-mile training week the week prior. In spite of the last minute entry and a heavy training week he still managed to cut off and hour and a half from his previous years’ time and finished in 27:59:11. A little bit crazy, but definitely inspiring for me to go out and get what I want through hard work and determination.