Scarpa North America Blog

Run To Feel Alive

Aug. 31st 2017

unnamedAnswering Jeff’s Question:

“Why do we bother doing this?” In the last 5,000 foot climb of the Ouray 50 mile run, Jeff Stephens, my pacer, asked me this question. It was two o’clock in the morning and we had just embarked on the final ten miles of the race. “There is no grand enlightenment waiting at the end so what is it that attracts us to this?” he continued.

My numb brain started thinking about the cliche answers — “Because it makes us feel alive,”
“You only live once,” “Because I can.” But my mind didn’t take the question Jeff posed into that existential realm. I remember that question vividly because what Jeff was asking at that moment was the summation of my entire experience leading up to this race. More than once this year I found myself questioning, “Why was I doing this?” Why had I decided to train for the hardest ultra I could find in the same year I was learning how to be a parent?

Heading up to Hayden peak

Rewind 10 months to the greatest joy of my life: the birth of my son. A few months later, I followed that up with one of the dumbest decisions of my life. I decided I was going to train for the Ouray 50 miler while also having the duties that come along with having an infant. The Ouray 50 miler has roughly 24,000 feet of gain in 50 miles, making it one of the hardest 50’s in the states. I knew the training would require long days in the mountains and a calculated effort to rack up as much weekly vertical as possible, but what I didn’t know was that “training plans” don’t exist when you have a newborn. To prepare for the arduous challenge, I changed diapers, cut my nightly zzz’s in half, and immediately switched to dad-duty after long runs. At one point my wife asked if I was going to be ready for this race as she questioned my tally of long runs or lack thereof. I felt that I was on a collision course with disaster as the date of the race neared.

Ouray Race

So, to answer Jeff’s question of why?

Maybe I did it so I could see one of the most beautiful courses I’ve ever run. Maybe I did it so I could see the sun set from the top of Twin Peaks. Maybe I did it because I wanted to see if I could still get fit enough to race as a new parent. Maybe I did it so I’d have a motivator to fit my runs in. Maybe I did it so I could joke around with Jeff in the middle of the night. Maybe I did it because running an ultra is a teacher in how to take things as they come; a reminder of how adopting the right attitude makes all the difference. After I crossed the finish line, it was definitely for the simple joy of…being done.

A few days later while pushing my son in a jogging stroller, I was running because it was the best way to get him to take a nap.

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