Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dream it and Do it, My Date With Marshall Ulrich

I was recently the lucky recipient of Marshall Ulrich's new book, Running On Empty, which I won through a giveaway on this amazing woman's blog.  The book chronicles his extraordinary life and journeys in ultrarunning and adventure racing. I'm not sure how many of you know are aware of Ulrich, but for runners in the trail running community, he is legend.  Ulrich is the real deal - accomplishing any one of his jaw-dropping endurance exploits could provide lifetime bragging rights, but to do them all is simply stunning.

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.
I never saw the movie in 2008 when it first came out, it had one of those one-time viewing dates and who knows what I was doing that night.  And honestly, in 2008 my running was soaring, I was PRing everything in sight and ran my first BQ marathon.  I'm not sure watching that movie back then would have had the same affect on me as it did when I saw it last night.  Sure, I would have walked away in awe of how he faced obstacles (one being severe plantar fasciitis, which stopped him dead in his tracks one day and dogged him for the duration of his quest.  Oh how I can so relate) and yet persevered and ran an average of 58 miles/day for 52 straight days, as everyone in that room did last night.  But I came home with so much more.

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.

Ok, so I didn't actually have a true "date" with Marshall - that's me standing in the white shirt on the left side, truly engrossed in every single word he said - but he did give me a big hug just before I left and he told me to keep running.

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:

13.1 miles!!!  Still very, very slow but eh, I'll worry about that later.  I can't tell you the last time I ran 13 miles, the farthest I have traveled on my own two running legs since I started back a couple months ago has been 8.  I actually shed a tear.

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
Meadow beauty!
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. 


Jennifer said...

Soooo cool you got to meet Marshall, sounds like you just ate it up! And speaking of cool, that last picture, I just can't stop looking at it! XO

Amanda@runninghood said...

oh wow, Jill! This just sounds like such wonderful soul food. I am loving this story, the book information, hearing about how inspired you are, the 13.1 miles you ran, the pictures you included (with Colorado sunshine!)...all of it has left me super charged and ready for my marathon tomorrow. Certainly some of those miles will be dedicated to you...which ones do you want pretty woman??! you name it and I'll be dedicating them to you! :) Loved all of this!! Thank you for sharing and for inspiring.

ShutUpandRun said...

I am smiling so wide for you!! 13.1 miles. 13.1 miles!!!!!!!!!!!! Simply awesome. It may be a slow road, but you are on your way back, girl!

Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner said...

Congrats on an amazing 13.1 miles! What a great opportunity, so much inspiration in that room I'm sure!

Tara said...

JILL! 13 miles?!??! That is awesome! So happy for you girlie! E-mail me all the gory details, this is soooo exciting.

I love running/biking out at Lair o the Bear, I didn't realize you went out that way. Fun!

Julie said...

YEA YOU!!!! I'm thrilled for you! 13.1! You are an amazing lady. :)

I'm bummed I had to miss last night, it sounds fantastic, but I'm looking forward to the ride tomorrow!

Char said...

I'm basking in the glow of a weekend of inspiration myself. Nothing like seeing other people going for their goals to make you just burn with determination.

Woohoo on the treadmill half marathon. That's huge!

tahoegirl said...

Yay! Hello 13.1. Good for you. I think I need to move to Colorado. :O) Love those pictures.

ajh said...

Love hearing that you had such a good weekend. Yeah! Jealous of your 64 mile bike ride. My max these days is still around 30. But I am loving summer. Keep on heeling. You'll be running 26.2 before you know it.

Julie said...

Hi Jill!!!! Woo hoo! 13.1 that is what we are talking about!! So excited for you and freaking happy:) Very cool that you were able to meet Marshall! It is always fun meeting special people wo help us make our way when things get challenging:) That trail run is looking pretty sweet! Great pictures lady!! Have to e-mail you soon and play catch up. Colorado needs to be on my list of places to run soon! College boy is actually looking at a pharmacy school in Colorado:) Take care of yourself Jill! Miss you! Big hugs!

Kate Geisen said...

Oh, Jill, I am sooo happy to hear you so happy. It's been such a long frustrating journey...I can only imagine how wonderful it is to feel like you're back on track. What a great post to be able to share with your friends! Gorgeous pictures, too! Like ajh, I'm jealous of your long rides. I do, however, have next Satirday's Tour de Donut to look forward to! :)

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

woo hoo! 13.1 and I ran 5.5 happy days are here at last! so happy for you! loved the pics!

Ewa said...

I could just feel your positive energy when reading this post. So glad to see you happy and inspired.
For me anything over 8mi on a dreadmill is an act of heroism. Good going girl.
Enjoy the rest of this long weekend and more happy runs and bike rides to you.

Terzah said...

I will absolutely pick up Marshall's book. It sounds wonderful. Congrats on your 13.1. And good luck tomorrow--you'll rock that too.

Jenn said...

Could I be any more inspired by this post!!! Start my training plan in the morning and I'm just pumped and excited reading this! I'm also GETTING that book.

13.1 Jill. That's SO awesome!!!! I wish I could give you a GIANT hug right now! I am truly SO happy for you and I love that you're going to knock out 64 miles on the 4th of July! Seriously smiling really big right now. Things are just going right for you!

Great pics! Not as pretty as my ditch trail but I suppose you have to make do.... Happy 4th girl!

XLMIC said...

Holy cow! I am so impressed and inspired by this :) I've spent the day wallowing in self-pity first on the personal front and then on running. You hitting 13.1 and the story of your 'date' and The Man just helped lift me out of the funk :) Thanks so much, Jill, for all that you do and for being you!
Have a fantastic 4th and a great ride!

Liz said...

Wow - 13.1 miles is awesome! I'm only up to 6, so I'm impressed! You are lucky to live near such beautiful scenery in the mountains - those photos are incredible!

The Green Girl said...

Love, love, love this, girl.

Anne said...

Hell yeah for that 13.1!!! How cool that you got to meet Marshall...I remember getting that same inspired feeling when I was reading his book, I was also coming off an injury at the time. So so happy for you Jill!
Lovely photos live in such a beautiful part of the world. Happy 4th of July :)

A Prelude To... said...

BIG HUGE HOORAYS for 13.1!!!!!!!
I loved all the pictures at the end, too!...from the big rocks in the path, to the wildflowers to the river bath...You know I loved it!

Kenley said...

Wow, so much going on here Jill. Very cool on the Church Outing! lol. A big Runner's Hug for the 13.1 miles no matter what pace. Very cool new shoes, hope they treat your feet well dear. Take care, and Happy 4th of July.

Johann said...

Oh man, I live on the wrong side of the planet don't I! Jealous up to my ears and more! I'm still waiting for the book. Love this post so much. There is a lot of myself in there. 13 miles, yay! Those trail shoes look great but they need some dirt. Again, thanks for the awesome post!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

OK I am feeling dumb and have no clue who that guy is.

But hey the Tour de France is on, Ms Biker

Anonymous said...

Marshall got to meet YOU! That is one lucky guy.

Adrienne Langelier, MA said...

Great pics, great weekend, great progress. I have to say my favorite is the 13.1...on the 'mill no less! Woot!

Marshall's book just entered my summer reading list, but after Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken.


Marlene said...

I won that book recently and can't wait to crack it open. So cool that you got to see the movie viewing and Marshall in person as well!!!

CONGRATS on the 13 mile run - freaking awesome! Who care how slow? You are back!

Love the trail pics, and especially soaking in that stream. HEAVEN!

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

First of all, 13.1 miles!!!! Jill that's awesome!!! And trail are running!!

I have been hearing great things on this book and knowing you loved it, puts it on the list. I love Marshall's message to you.

How are you feeling?! I'm just so thrilled to see you in the double digits!! wow!!

Beth said...

So happy for you Jill, 13 miles is no joke! The trail run looked beautiful =) I will definitely be reading that book.

Chris K said...

Awesome - 13 miles!!!!!

I am really happy for you Jill. What a great opportunity to meet Marshall and derive so much inspiration from him.

Kathleen said...

Congrats on the great run!
I could feel the inspiration through your words. It is amazing what someone can do to give us the spark we need to do things we didn't think we could or ever would.

Teamarcia said...

See you DO win giveaways!
Sounds like a little Marshall Ulrich was just what you needed.

And WOW 13!!! Fantastic! Love the pics as always. I so need to make it back to CO.
Hope your bike adventure was fabulous!

C2Iowa said...

Now THATS what I was talking about last evening! Awesome quote and great post.

Anonymous said...

YAY Jill!! I'm jumping for joy!!! Can you see me!! 13 miles!!!!!!! I'm dripping with envy on that book stuff.. wow! So awesome!

Emz said...

Jill. Freaking awesome post.

Soooo made my day when you sent that photo.
Love the photos & I may actually have to suck it up & read a book. I've heard amazing things about ROE!


HappyTrails said...

I just saw this!!! 13 miles? REALLY???!!! A BIG WOO-HOO! I am SO HAPPY for you! Do you think it may have been the most beautiful new shoes??? :-) I want to run there - hmmmm, maybe a Sunday run???!!! I am thrilled for you! :-)

Unknown said...

You made my day!! We all need the sparks from good friends to stay inspired, so happy for you!!
It sounds like you had an awesome 4th!!

DRog said...

very nice

GREAT pics (as usual)
love the PIzumi kicks


Bubble Boy said...

Jilly Beans, 13 miles, OSOM! I will buy that book, I was needing a new read. I do so hope you will be able to run free of pain soon and as the Neil Young song says, "Long May You Run"!

Glad you had a great 4th and a good trip with the XC team, You deserve it!!! Bubble Boy

Raina said...

I bet you WERE in tears! That is PHENOMENAL, Jill :)

Sounds like a very motivational book. Love the photos of the team and the trip.

Glad you are healing- keep up the hard work!!

funderson said...

Dunno how I missed this post! I'm so excited for you!!

Molly said...

13 miles?!?!?!? Yahoooo!!!
I guess you showed that heel who's boss, eh?

I'm running (pun intended) out to get that book. : )

Jill@Run for the Hills said...

I've been so busy and out of blogland, so I'm hoping you are still feeling the inspiration of the book and of your own run.

I can't even imagine how uplifted you must feel, and I'm proud for you. What a victory!

I learned after the hotter than hell half in May that there's nothing better than sitting in a cold creek after a long run. It may be my new requirement.

Black Knight said...

After a good album (Running on empty by Jackson Browne) now a good book!!!

2 Slow 4 Boston said...

Congrats on 13.1 miles! Keep adding the mileage. Maybe I'll have to send you a sappy text msg in hopes of you running 26.2. :-) I hope you don't relapse and that the heal is healed. You post the most scenic pics of anyone in blog land.