He won the Badwater 146 four times, then come back and run a self-supported 4xBadwater adventure. The Pikes Peak Marathon is notoriously one of the most difficult marathons out there, gaining 8100' in 13.3 miles. Ulrich not only ran Pikes Peak but ran it 4x in a row, and one time he ran Pikes Peak and the Leadville 100 mile run in the same weekend - he ran Leadville then immediately floored it to the start of Pikes Peak, arriving with seconds to spare before the gun went off. He's competed in all nine Eco-Challenge races, set the record for running across Colorado three times, reached the top of all Seven Summits including Everest, and the list goes on. Honestly, one book isn't enough to capture what Ulrich's eyes have seen. No wonder the guy had his toenails surgically removed to proactively prevent toe issues.
One of the blessings about our amazing cross country team at school is that the head coach, Brian Manley, is an established ultrarunner himself and an amazing coach. He's completed the infamous Leadville 100 twelve times and I just learned last night has also done the notorious Badwater in 1999 (click here for an account of his experience, if you have time for a long, but excellent, read). Those in the ultra running community, especially at that caliber of fitness, are in the same circle of friends and Brian just happens to know Marshall Ulrich. And Brain scored the coaches, runners, and families an opportunity to head up to Idaho Springs to see Marshall's movie Running America and the opportunity to ask questions after.
How cool is THAT!?!?
|That's Marshall standing in the peach-colored shirt, giving a little info about his movie.|
Yes, the shindig was in an old church. If you knew how small this tiny
old gold mining town is, you'd understand.
One often wonders what drives a person to push the limits like he does, and he's very open about the combination of hard work as a teenage farm hand and the loss of his first wife to cancer that created a cauldron of energy that would push him into and through races, a marriage, and more. He took a nod from his heroes like Ted Corbitt, and just went for it. A quote that sums it up well:
"As for me, sure, there's an underlying compulsion: survivor's guilt and a need to punish myself, to prove myself, to face down my own mortality, to defy death. But my running is also a reflection of my upbringing, a work ethic, a personal challenge. My love of history gets interwoven, too - the feats of other people in other times - coupled with the alluring possibility that I might be able to go farther, faster, today."When I got the opportunity to talk to Marshall a teeny bit after the movie, I told him of my own demons with the heel and how it's rob me of one of the greatest things that I always felt made me a better me: my running. How I've gone through a plethora of emotions with this beast: denial, frustration, anger, bitterness, depression, hopelessness - you can insert any less-than-positive feeling here, I have lived it. I never wanted to end my running career on any terms other than when I felt the time was right. I run for some of the exact reasons as Marshall does, it's part of who I am. And I am not the same, better, me when I cannot run.
Marshall told me to not give up, people like us don't know that word. And this is what he wrote in my book when he signed it:
"Heal well and run long. Dream it and do it."
Oh hell ya!!! Inspiration is oozing out of every pour and fiber in my body right now!!
|Some of the Cross Country Track Team. Marshall in the peach|
shirt, Brian in the red shirt on the right end. My son, Ryan, standing
next to Brian.
Today, fueling inspiration from Marshall and from this amazing woman, who was texting me all afternoon yesterday, telling me I. Freaking. Got. This. I hopped on my treadmill and landed me this:
Isn't it funny how someone whom you've never met - and a few text messages from someone special - can elicit a spark you thought was pretty much gone forever!?!?!
I am BACK running and I am not letting this stupid heel control my life any more. Thanks, Marshall - that was the best date I've had in I can't tell you how long.
I encourage you all to read Marshall Ulrich's new book; you will walk away a better runner.
Forever. Or buy the dvd, it is truly an inspirational account of what was a very difficult journey across America. Very patriotic - perfect as we celebrate America's birthday tomorrow (and, coincidentally, Marshall's 60th birthday). You won't regret the purchase, I promise.
I also quickly want to share some pictures from a trip to the mountains on Friday with the cross country team as we tackled the Lair 'o the Bear trail. I really wasn't sure how I'd fare - my rib was still bothering me some (but thankfully I was back to breathing - oh the joy of air in the lungs!); my heel was being a bit moody; I hadn't run in over a week; and this trail is one constant incline for about 5 miles. I had no goal in mind when I set off - just relax, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and see how I felt. I was stoked to make it to mile 3, about a 1000' climb, and felt fantastic. I thought about continuing on but knew the team was going to go 10 and so figured a round-trip 6 was perfect for me. The 3 miles back down to the car was actually more taxing than the way up and the balls of my feet were struggling with my mid-foot striking, but overall it was an awesome day. Enjoy the views.
|We have the most awesome cross country team. They Rock!|
|Dorking pic, enjoying the view|
|My new Pearl Izumi Peak II Trail shoes|
|Sometimes massive rocks dominated the trail|
|The wildflowers in the meadow were truly amazing|
|Nothing beats a refreshing icy stream post-run cool down|
Thanks, Marshall. Thanks, Lair 'o the Bear trail run. I had the Best. Best. Best. Weekend. Ever!!!
Happy 4th!! Have a firecracker of a run :)! Me, I'll be praying my legs still move after today's run as I embark on a 64-mile bike ride with some fantastic friends.