Jun 1, 2011

And in the beginning, there was an idea. A really sweet idea.

Goal: Run the 50 mile Glasgow Edinburgh Double Marathon in April 2012. I'm not sure I've thought this idea all the way through but I seem to have done pretty well in life by making decisions based on the theory that difficult things are good even if you get beat down and kicked in the throat. You can always end the day with a bottle of wine and a tub of ice cream, then wake up and try again.

I want to run an ultra because I have never done it before and it sounds totally insane yet totally (totally?) doable. Doing things “just because” is more or less a habit of mine. I want a life full of experiences, (whatever that means) and challenges, though I draw the line at hot dog eating contests and nude bike riding. I have a desire to learn, push my limits, test my ability to adapt, and cultivate my inner bad ass by exploiting my strengths and recognizing and fixing my weaknesses, all in order to become (what I consider to be) a more rounded, capable person. These challenges range from blood and sweat to self improvement to living in a third world country. A large number of people say they want to do this and that, but they don't try or don’t follow through. Some of the things I’ve done cause people to look at me wide-eyed saying, “I could never do that.” (Like throwing my dog in the car and moving to DC from Colorado all on my lonesome, when the most I knew was that the White House is here. Oh, and I’d seen pictures of it.) But I’m not here to brag so I’ll move on without listing the things I’ve done that make me awesome.
Of course, the end doesn't always turn out the way you envisioned. For an entire year I struggled with the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test). I studied endlessly, sacrificed all things fun, had nervous breakdowns, vomited from stress and took the test a total of three times. It was hell but because I believed I could reach my goal score (which, for the record, wasn't high) I worked my patootie off all the way to the tippy toe edge till there was literally no where to go. Unfortunately, all three scores totally sucked my steam but that did not, and does not, make me a failure. Instead, after sweeping up my broken spirits, I can look back and see a girl who didn’t burn her study books screaming "you're ruining my life!” but a girl who pushed through disappointment, abandoned thoughts of giving up and put in more effort than a dog trying to get peanut butter out of the bottom of a jar. (I'm also a girl with undying support from wonderful, loving peeps.)

Honestly though, doing something comes down to survival and unless I'm running with the bulls or trying to prove skydiving without a parachute is possible, chances are that whatever I put upon myself will still spit me out with a beating heart along with a mind full of new information, stories and motivation. I may have lost an earring along the way but hey, I did it.

In the end, I got accepted to my choice school but decided not to go (surprise!) for several very good reasons, and I don’t regret a thing. The severe LSAT emotional trauma I suffered and survived is what makes me believe I can survive the severe emotional trauma of running a 50 mile marathon; I’m just adding running shoes and a sweet Garmin watch. (LSAT = mental burpies). Psychological endurance, I have read, is the hardest part of running an ultra marathon for ultra hours over ultra distance while sweating ultra hard and grunting ultra loud. You’re body can go on for much longer than your mind allows you to believe [Listen: RadioLab “Limits], you just have to know that it is possible by putting yourself in similar circumstances and surviving, which you will. How are you going to swim with sharks if you won’t get in the kiddy pool?

The farthest I've ever run is 11 miles but I’m young, in great health, and physically able. A number of half-centurions who have never run in their life train for and run a 50 mile race to celebrate, (Seriously! 50, 60, 70... look it up) and I highly doubt they are retired super heroes or Peter Pan. But the greatest reason of all great reasons: Why the hell not? This question confuses me, can you explain?

The idea of running 50 miles could quite possibly nix my belief of survival and all that garbage about summiting challenges, but if I don't try then I'll never know, and as long as I try my damned hardest, I still won’t be failing. Not giving up = learning about yourself, fine tuning your strengths, recognizing and fixing your weaknesses, and coming out with really nifty stories (even if it's not the ending you expected); quitting because you think you can’t = sitting alone in the dark making up lame excuses that even you know are lame (my shoe laces were too tight), eating a whole box of Girl Scout cookies and complaining about how you feel pathetic and lazy and wish you were good at something, for once. I plan on eating the Girl Scout cookies after a hard run shouting, “Go me! I need to carbo load! *nom*nom*.”

You can't escape
But I’m not a total moron. If my body says “no more”, my body has spoken. I won’t destroy the only one I have by blowing out my knees or getting Hyponatremia. I do have limits but I hope it doesn’t come to that. My mind on the other hand, if my mind says “no”, I’ll become one with the road, repeat a mantra and mentally power through. Basically, I'll kick its ass. (This gets me thinking that I’ll have to take up meditation and kick-boxing classes. I tend to fidget when “om”ing and I don’t have a strong upper cut.)

So let it be known that I will run myself to glory or run myself to death. I mean, I don’t actually think I’ll die (questionable statement) but there will be many days I feel like I'm in deaths grip and many more, I'm sure, that I will wish it upon myself.

Lets rock.


  1. Go Jessie Go! I know a few ultra runners and you and those peeps are totally cray-cray!!!! But I know you'll achieve your goal! Maybe I'll come out and run 10 with you!
    Ps if you want some sports nutrition tips, hit me up giiirl!
    Xoxo, Robyn

  2. Best wishes with your journey to Scotland. You do have time to get ready to run with more than "just beating the cut-off times" as a goal.

    John M.

  3. GO TEAM ULTRA GLORY! 6th floor South was eerily quiet without you today -- plus Sandy was gone too so double whammy of quietness! I hope that your "sick" - ness does not jeopardize the glasgow mission. Anyway, I loved your post and I can't wait to read more yayyyy

  4. I'm across the water from you in Falls Church, and training for the Mountain Masochist 50 miler in November. There are some pretty mellow-looking 50k trail runs between now and then, too. Yes, this ultra thing IS crazy; don't let crazy people tell you it's normal. But it's also do-able. Completely do-able. Good luck and go you!

    Find me on runnersworld as Mike Ca9 if you want to run together...? Not that anyone has actual time to run for 6-8 hours in this town. But we'll have to.