T h e A d v e n t u r e s o f C h i c a g o J o

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Ultra What?

2006-05-10† Ė† 5:03 p.m.
As previously mentioned, Iíve recently rediscovered the library. Last week I read five books, and since this past Tuesday Iíve finished off another 2.5 already. I read a lot of geeky things like autobiographies, nutritional information, and financial strategies. However, one friend passed along a book from his personal collection that was of particular interest.

Dean Karnazes is the Ultramarathon Man, and his book was both interesting and inspiring. I read all 288 pages in a single sitting. (Yes, it was a particularly long sitting.)

The idea of running an ultramarathon (a race that exceeds the marathonís 26.2 miles) sounds a bit crazy, even to someone as into wearing fancy shoes with air cushioning and shirts that promise to wick sweat off of my back as I am.

But then again, it really wasnít all that long ago that running an entire 10k (6.2 miles) seemed like an impossibility. And here I am now, after taking the entire winter (and then some) off to rehab my knee (which ended up not having any problems at all (silly me)), immediately back to pounding ten miles (at minimum) along the pavement and running my second marathon (June 3rd).

(Yes, parentheses are fun.)

This year Iíve got several races, including the Salt Lake City Marathon and the Chicago Marathon. Iíve got loftier goals for 2007, including three marathons, all outside of Chicagoís friendly confines. (Current plans include Houston in January, San Fran that summer, and something held somewhere warm-ish that Fall.)

Excuse my moment of saying nice things about people who donít necessarily deserve it, but bless that Benito for getting me into running. He may be retarded to the extreme for not kicking, screaming, and clawing his way into staying in my life, but he did introduce me to the ultimate personal challenge.

I love that about running: Thereís quite a community, but itís still very personal. I dictate how far I run, how fast I go, and what I think about while on the go. However, thereís always going to be someone cheering me on.

I recently joined a racing team, and the community aspect has become more and more evident in more personal interactions. Iím by far (letís clarify that: BY FAR) the slowest runner on the team. (Seriously, folks. By really, really far!)

However, whenever I crossed paths with the elite folks running 6:00 miles or the lithe women who could beat my dad at arm wrestling, theyíd all say something. Whether it was a simple ďGo JoĒ or a grin where someone said Iíd be speedy before I knew it, these people who had known me for a total of 15 minutes were all on my side, cheering me on. They got no benefit from it, and they were working on their running too, but they had the consideration to wish me well as I putzed along.

Likewise, Iíve seen this sort of camaraderie in races where those who finished as I hit the halfway point catch their breaths, grab a fresh Gatorade, and then head to the last quarter mile of the race to announce to all of us cough-ers, wheeze-ers, and gasp-ers that we can finish strongly, that thereís only 400 meters to go, and that we all look like weíre champs.

Champs times ten! Ahem.

Anyway, what this all boils down to is that Iím pretty sure with the right frame of mind and dedication, I too could be an ultramarathoner.

Watch out, folks. I might just be crazy enough to do it! †

Miss something?

Moving Day - 2008-02-15
Working from Home is Glorious - 2008-02-13
Speaking in Tongues - 2008-02-07
I Have My Reasons - 2008-01-25
Got an Itch, Fix it, Shine it Up, Sing it Out - 2008-01-23

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