Bill Frye commemorated his father’s death by doing the unexpected – running 59 miles.
“For some time, I have had the urge to NOT let the 10 year anniversary pass without doing something. At first I wasn’t sure what that meant. Over time, I had a few crazy ideas, but on April 19th 2010, the 9 year anniversary, I decided the 59 mile run/walk was it.
I chose this because it would be difficult; a sacrifice. I want to do something that will take physical effort and mental toughness. 59 miles in one day accomplishes both for me.
My Mom, and my wife Mary Ann have said that I am crazy, that I should bike some or all of the miles, or stretch it out over more than one day. I know that their concern is not because they don’t support me, but because they worry that the goal may be too challenging. And that is exactly what I want.” – Bill Frye
On Tuesday April 19, 2011 Bill Frye started his 59 mile journey at 12:35 am on the paved trails of Russell Creek Park in Allen, Texas. Both windy and humid conditions greeted Bill and his stride-for-stride coach Dave Carder, during the opening nighttime miles.
The daytime hours included some 90+ degree temps, a smiling sun, and a late afternoon brief blast of intense rain. This was a day that would challenge any experienced ultra runner and this was Bill’s first attempt at any ultra-type distance.
With the support of friends, family, a few bags of ice, and a mountain of heart and courage, Bill completed the commemorative 59 miles journey at 7:08 pm (total time: 18:34:34) under beautifully clear skies as the sun lowered on the horizon.
Bill’s adventure also raised over $15,000 for the American Heart Association (Bill’s page).
It was an epic day!
After a few days of rest, Bill was extra kind in answering a few questions from his special day and share it with the Endurance Buzz community.
If you are looking to be inspired…read on! 🙂
EB: What is your running background and how did you prepare yourself to complete 59 miles within one day?
My running background was virtually non existent. I had done the 5 km Turkey Trot a few times, and had never run more than five miles before deciding to go 59.
Initially, to prepare, I just decided to go outside and jog. That first day, I jog/walked around two miles. From there, I would try to run four to five days a week, running for longer, and going further as my fitness improved.
I looked at area races, and used them as goals. Firs the Muddy Buddy in the Fall, then the 10 km Turkey Trot, and finally the White Rock 1/2 marathon.
Once I sent out the American Heart Association link to friends and family, a friend told me knew an ultra runner, and I contacted him. After meeting Dave Carder, he gave me guidance, advice, a running schedule, etc.
So, from the time I met him, around New Year’s, I ran five times a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, about eight miles each day, and then on Saturday and Sunday concentrated on number of hours, rather than miles. I tried to get in three to four hours both Saturday and Sunday.
EB: When you started the 59 mile pavement adventure around 12:30 am, were there any specific thoughts that entered your mind?
The only thought I had at that point was “thank God it is time to start.” Everything had pointed towards 4/19/2011 for a year, and I was finally getting to go.
EB: You had various family and friends walking/running with you and hanging out at “base camp”. What was it like having this great support group throughout the 59 miles?
The support I received was wonderful. Each time I returned from a five mile loop, there would be another group of people there. It acted as a distraction from the many miles left, as a great sense of support, and as accountability. I didn’t want to let all of these people down who had donated, and also taken the time to come out and see me.
EB: Ultras often create moments or multiple moments when a runner has to look deep within themselves and find a reason to keep going. Did you have any of those “gut check” moments and how did you keep yourself moving towards your goal?
My gut check moment was laying in the grass at mile 46, perfectly content to lay on my back, and let the ants crawl all over me. I thought I was done. I was convinced that I was not going to take one more step, and that someone would load me up in a pick up truck, and take me home.
I would love to say that I was able to put those thoughts out of my mind, and get up. But the truth is I had others there, talking to me. They were the ones that were able to get me to realize that I didn’t have 13 miles to go, I only had to get back to the Aid Station to regroup. They were the ones that forced me to eat, and got my temperature down.
So, my gut check moment was just listening to them, and not focusing on how far I had left to go. It was to focus on getting up, and taking it one step at a time.
EB: Were there any specific insights you learned about yourself or life?
I learned a few things.
First, I learned that I could set a goal that sounded impossible, and then actually reach it.
I learned that raising money for a cause feels really good.
I learned that there are a lot of people that care about me.
I learned that ordinary people can inspire others.
Finally, after the run was over, I learned it is very cool to be proud of yourself. It is weird to say “I am proud of what I did”, but I am.
EB: Ultra athletes often mention that a strong mind is as important or more important the longer the distance. As a first time ultra distance runner, did you feel this to be true?
My mind was strong because the reason for my run was personal, and important. My motivation was to do this to celebrate my Dad’s life, and I was determined.
Dave Carder said that he knew I was going to accomplish the 59 mile goal from the first day he met me. He said my mind had already run the 59 miles, and that my body just had to catch up. He was right. The mind can will the body to do whatever it wants.
EB: What are some of your strongest memories from the day?
I have three strong memories.
First, after 46 miles, I bonked. I remember laying in the grass thinking it was over, and I wasn’t going to take another step.
Next, once the rain came, we were all in a pavilion, and I decided I couldn’t sit and continue waiting for the rain to stop. So, I got up and started doing loops around the pavilion. [distance was caculated with an iPhone app] After a few minutes, everyone who was there, over 30 people, joined me and we formed a sort of Conga line. It was the Best part of the entire 59 miles.
There were people who came to support me, but never planned to actually walk/run with me. By walking around the pavilion, they were able to not just be supportive, but to log some miles with me. Looking back, this is my strongest memory, and brings the biggest smile to my face.
Lastly, I remember the finish. I thought I would be a bumbling mess of emotion, but I think I was just too tired. I crossed the finish line, put my hands on my knees, and it was over.
EB: It has been about one week since the adventure, how is the body and mind feeling? Did you make the toenail necklace?
The body is an amazing machine. After a week, I only have a few lingering issues. My right hamstring is still sore/tight, but gets better each day.
I don’t have the toenail necklace yet, but I have a few toenails that have made it clear they don’t intend to stick around. The good news is I should be able to get a discount on a Pedicure, as only seven toes will have nails. Ha!
The power of us as individuals.
The power of friends.
The power of family.
Huge thanks to Bill for taking the time to share with all of us.
You can check out Bill’s AHA Page to read more about this very personal journey.
Be sure to also check out Dave Carder’s blog as he shares his insights and experiences from the day.
Be active – Feel the buzz!
David – EnduranceBuzz.com
Posted on 29 Apr 2011