Big race on the horizon! Tushars 93k in Utah. 93k of mountain running. 16,800 ft of climbing and the same amount of descending, the most I’ve ever done at that distance at altitude-- mostly around 10,000-12,000ft. It is still hard to believe a little over 4 years
ago I ran my first half marathon at age 39. I signed up for coaching with Eric Orton to train for a 50 mile race soon after, a friend suckered me into it! During training for that 50 mile flat, urban trail run I ran my first “real trail run” in NW Arkansas...War
Eagle 50k. It is in the lush green foothills of NE Arkansas. During that 50k I swore off trail running altogether. I was miserably hot, tripped over every root and rock and finished pretty much dead last, just barely missing the cutoffs and wishing at each
aid station toward the end that I would be cut off and told to quit (no such luck). At that point, I swore off all trail running, and declared trail runners idiots. However, despite the miserable trail run, In a period of 7 months I went from runnning 3-4
miles 3-4 days a week to training for (without injury) to completing a 50k, 50mile, and winning a 100 mile race. I give full credit to coach Eric. Nowhere will you see anyone advocate for going from 3-4 miles to a 100 mile race in 7 months. Fortunately, I
didn’t know it “couldn’t” be done and Eric knew how it “could”.
we know coach has a book, “The Cool Impossible”. I first heard a similar term uttered from his mouth the day before my first 100 miler. I was a frenzy of nerves. Terrified I wouldn’t finish, just plain terrified in general. I got a pre race call from coach,
answering a few questions and encouraging me. His last words were, “demand the impossible”. I thought, “huh?....that’s it?...demand the impossible?….what the hell does that mean?”. I think I sheepishly said something like “ok” and we hung up and I was left
wondering all day, “what does that mean”. I even got a little aggravated, I needed something a little more concrete than that….give me time splits, be at this aid station by…., drink this much, eat that much, push here, relax there. Reality was, that stuff
was all there, I had done it over and over and over in training, that wasn’t what I needed...I didn’t understand what I needed, but coach did.
ran that 100 miler, experienced all the ups and downs I had expected and some I didn’t expect. I thought a lot about coach’s pep talk as I ran that day, really, “demand the impossible”. Does he mean finishing might be impossible and I should “demand” it?
“WTF?!” I had passed a few girls along the way and knew I was in good position, but had no idea I was in really good position. Day turned to night, I picked up my first pacer and soon after we started gaining on another female. I realized very quickly, it
was the first female. I paused for a moment...at mile 70ish, thinking, oh my God, what do I do? It’s not like I’m 3 miles from the finish, I have 30 miles left to go...should I pass and now have to race...for 30 more miles? I’ve already run 70 and have no
idea if I will even finish!I looked at my pacer with fright and slowed down a little and fidgeted. I was a little paralyzed, I hadn’t expected to be in this position and I was clueless. All of a sudden I heard coach, “Demand the impossible!” It suddenly hit
me. This is what he meant. Find out what you want, even if it scares you, and go for it! It was right there, I could go for it….with 30 miles left to go. I went for it. We passed her and now I was in race mode. Ha…its funny to see what a “race” looks like
by mile 70, nonetheless, I was racing! I won. I came in first female. And I stepped into that rabbit hole called “The Cool Impossible”. But something I didn’t expect happened…..
wasn’t satisfied living out my cool impossible in only one area of my life, running. I wanted more. I wanted to live my dreams for myself and my family. To see if there is more cool impossible out there, to expand our horizons and experiences and become more
enriched and more enriching to others. So began the itch. I scratched it with training and racing, but the itch grew and the rash spread. The more I felt confined by circumstance and unwillingness to potentially “rock the boat”, the more I itched to explore.
I saw myself and my family experiencing such a small piece of world, knowing nothing more than our immediate surroundings and people. More than that, we were being shaped by such limited experience and exposure. I saw this most in my children. Biases and opinions
that come from experience and exposure, or lack thereof. I wanted to move. To meet more people, see more places, experience more, share more. I wanted to be in the mountains. I wanted this for myself and my family. Finally, this erupted into that same feeling
I had at mi 70….I had been exploring potential job opportunities in other states, and suddenly, I had this strange opportunity to go to the desert. Not the mountains….the desert. It felt right which made absolutely no sense. If someone asked me, “where would
you like to move”...not just that, but be willing to uproot your family with 3 children, a primary schooler, middle schooler, and high schooler to the desert? I was at mi 70….do we stay safe, sit back, or go for it? I wouldn’t know the outcome. The kids very
likely would hate it. It wasn’t what I thought I should want. We would be living on an Indian reservation. Todd will never find a job….The odds of this being successful were slim. But it felt right and we went for it.
here we are, kids and family adjusting, the high desert life suiting us well. Of course we are very close to the Sacred Peaks of the Navajo and Hopi-the mountains around Flagstaff. We are also at the back door to the Grand Canyon and at the gateway to many
new and different places to explore. I still don’t know where this will go, but so far we seem to be on the right track for us. I am still running and racing, but no rashes and no itches to scratch, just freedom. We let go of all of the can’t and shouldn’t
and reasons why not. They just made the itch worse and the rash spread. “Demand the impossible”, “dream beyond fear and live beyond limits” and find freedom in following your dreams. Step down that rabbit hole. It will not only positively impact you and those
you love…but the world around you.
So, snap back to reality...race
in 3 weeks! EEK! So I say, Demand The Impossible!