A few months ago my good friend, Captain Maggie Seymour, invited me to participate in the Valor Run, which is a 161 mile ultra-marathon. The purpose of the run is to honor the 161 women who have lost their lives during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maggie, who is an experienced ultra-marathoner as well, very eloquently describes that the purpose of this run is just to honor the women who have lost their lives in combat. Maggie explains that although women’s service and their lives are in no way more important than their male counterparts, often times people don’t recognize that women are in active combat zones. Because of this when we honor fallen soldiers, the women who have served and died may be lost in many of these moments. For this reason we run. We run 161 miles to honor each of the 161 women who have given their lives fighting for this country.
The run is broken up into four consecutive days, starting at the VA Hospital in Los Angeles and ending on the top of Mt Soledad in San Diego. In total there are three of us girls running this race, and this is not a relay. We are all three running together, each covering 40 miles per day, each relying on our own physical ability to get us to the finish line. This race, unlike other races I have completed in the past, is small (there are only three of us running). There will be no aid stations, no weigh-ins, no huge crowds cheering us on; it will be just the three of us running together mile after mile.
Overall, I didn’t train much for this run. As my friend Maggie would say, “If you’re passionate enough about it, your body can do it.” Being an experienced ultra-marathoner though I do know the planning, pain, and exhaustion that lay ahead. When I say I haven’t trained much, that doesn’t mean that I’m not physically prepared. I do workout six times per week and focus on a combination of strength training, speed work, and of course a significant amount of running. But so much of what goes into ultras supersedes physical capabilities. Not that someone doesn’t need to train and be in excellent physical condition to complete an ultra because they do; but someone told me a long time ago that a person with more mental strength has a better chance of finishing than someone with just the physical strength. Having done a number of ultra-marathons at this point in my life I couldn’t agree with this statement more. Therefore so much of my training is mental strength oriented. Running on the treadmill for hours, running when I am absolutely exhausted or sleepy, and running for miles without music or other comforts to help pass the time, are all ways that I train mentally for these races.
It is an honor and life changing to complete an ultra; and to be invited to participate in such a beautiful event with two amazing women will clearly be one of the most powerful runs and experiences of my life.