Thursday, February 28, 2013


It was a week after the Rocky Raccoon race. I was still limping, but I didn't need crutches or a wheelchair anymore. I was icing my leg in the car while my wife was driving. Miley Cyrus was singing "The Climb" on the radio, and I uncontrollably broke down and cried in a torrent of emotion. The words struck a chord in my heart. Every word and every line of that song rang true. I hugged my wife, with tears streaming down my face. It was an intense moment.

 I had been dreaming about being a 100 mile runner since 2009, when I read Born to Run, and even met Caballo Blanco (aka Micah True), at a local running store. I was inspired by Scott Jurek, who found his calling in the ultra world. I was a slow poke in the old high school cross country world. Still, my teammates and coach cheered for me and believed in me. It inspired me to work harder to improve. After my first year of cross country, my coach gave me the "Most Improved Player" trophy. It was one of the proudest moments in my life. I improved as a runner, but was still firmly entrenched in the back of the pack when it came to cross country. When I read Born to Run a light switch turned on in my head. Maybe I was born to run longer, instead of faster. A seed was planted and a dream was born.

When you're faced with big race, its funny how you reflect on everything in your life.  It's almost as if you are facing death itself, and preparing for the end. So many thoughts and emotions course through your mind. My first 100 mile attempt in 2010 injected a dose of reality and fear into my heart. It was my first DNF (did not finish) at any distance, and it haunted me. In 2012, my big goal was to run the Miwok 100K. I had a really good training cycle, with lots of elevation gain and trail miles. I came in confident and prepared. But in the end, my body failed me, and I received another heart breaking DNF. The race dropped me in a running funk. I signed up for Rocky Raccoon in an attempt to break that funk and restore my faith in running.

Then in November, I sprained my ankle after a mere 5 miles into the race at the Quad Dipsea (a 28 mile trail race with a ton of elevation gain). It derailed my 100 mile training, and dropped me back in a funk.  And to make matters worse, me and my wife were experiencing a funk in our marriage too. She took off her wedding ring and put it away. I was heart broken. I stopped running. I focused on our marriage. My wife and kids are my top priority, and I was ready to quit running, if it made them happy. After two months of the "doghouse", I mended the fences in our marriage right before Christmas. We were a happy couple again, and I hope we stay that way. Forever. Marriage is a lot of work! Its about making each other feel loved every day. I think I failed to love and appreciate my wife, in simple, everyday ways. Life can be crazy with kids and work and training, but where there is a will, there is always a way. 

Finishing the Rocky Raccoon race was euphoric. I ran more in the last 34 miles than I did in the first 66 miles. I came back from the dead, and found pure joy in running. It broke me out of a funk and set me on a cloud. And the love and support from my wife has been amazing too. I think its too soon to tell her that I want to run 100 milers faster and better trained though. And thank you, my friends, who believed in me, cheered for me, and supported me through this crazy dream.

Don't be afraid to dream big dreams. Believe in yourself, follow your heart, and don't give up. "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." -- Wayne Gretsky


  1. hey John, seeing your really nice comment on my new blog post prompted me to check back in with yours, and I'm so glad I did! I really appreciated these last two posts. You're a 100-miler before me! Your RR report will help inspire me to run my first 100 at Pine to Palm. I like your "be patient" mantra, and also how you found energy and speed in the final 40 miles. You had quite a season in running and in life. I know firsthand that marriages are a work in progress, with peaks and valleys, but worth the work. Take care and I hope to see you at an upcoming event.

    1. I'm sure you'll do great at Pine to Palm! I'll definitely be tracking you there! And I'm sure I'll see you soon at one of our local ultra events!

  2. Ah, I'm still smiling big for you, well done! I don't know if I ever have a 100 in me, but as I tackle the Leadville 50 this year, I will think about your perseverance when things get tough...and who knows, maybe I'll finish well and want to tackle the 100. Thanks for the inspiration - hope you're still enjoying your sweet, sweet victory!