It’s a Beautiful Day in Chicago

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So many guys had great races in 2015, I’m really honored to be named the 2015 UltraRunner of the Year.

The fact is ultrarunnning isn’t about times, awards, buckles, trail selfies or the newest gear.  For most of us trail running is about overcoming obstacles and working towards the goals we have set for ourselves.

I’ve had 100’s of major goals in my lifetime and only accomplished a handful of them.  We all deal with the challenges of injuries, discouragement, sickness, fatigue and I’ve been far from exempt from these things.  What matters is not how many bumps are in the road, but how you decide to deal with the bumps.

When I was about 14 I had some pretty discouraging running injuries.  I loved training hard and running fast, but my body wasn’t quite strong enough to deal with the work load my dreams required.  I would get injured, then get discouraged, then get healthy and run too hard.  In an effort to temper my enthusiasm and allow my body to get stronger my parents insisted I take one rest day a week, a day completely off from running, to recover properly.  I was allowed to go hike, bike, swim or play basketball but running was off limits. I didn’t much like the rule,  so one day while my parents were out I laced up my running shoes and headed out the door, navigating neighborhoods that I assumed my parents wouldn’t drive.  A couple miles into the run, I see my Dad driving down the street.  As he gets closer I start walking, hoping to somehow go unnoticed. I remember seeing his face go from a grin to a laugh as he pulled over.  I walked sheepishly over to the car and got in.  I was sure my parents were going to call my cross country coach and tell me I was banned from running. Luckily that didn’t happen, and the event has been the source of a good laugh.

Immediately after college I joined a post collegiate running team.  I had always put 100% effort into running, but moving across the country and being a part of a professional team was a big step forward.  Two weeks after arriving I had one of the best races of my life, and ran a 33 second PR for 5000 meters. Over the course of the next eight months my running deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t finish workouts and couldn’t race within minutes of my previous times, I dreaded going out the door every day.  I told myself 1000 times it would swing back up, that’s what roller coasters do, eventually… But no matter how many times you tell yourself something is going to get better there’s going to be a voice that tells you its not going to.  I thought maybe I had trained to hard and maybe my body was fried, maybe the dream running fast and training hard was a waste of time and maybe I could be OK if I just donated my running shoes to Goodwill and started doing something else.

Unfortunately I don’t have something profound to help you get through your challenges.  It’s tough, but here is a little insight into one way I get through stuff, it might help you too.

I hope you all have spectacular 2016’s.  I hope you all stay healthy, accomplish your goals, get perfect weather on race day, avoid injury, and find a leprechaun in your next box of Lucky Charms; But, if you don’t… Welcome to the club.

Huge thanks to Ultrarunning Magazine for this award and for being a voice for ultrarunners of all abilities.  Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the sport of ultrarunning and who has helped and encouraged me through the years of running.