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Mud, Miles, and Munchkins: Why I Run Ultras

lmcgarraughartFor me ultrarunning started as a “goal” or a “bet” with my husband.

I always needed a post pregnancy goal. With Morgan I had gained a lot of weight and my goal was just to get back down to pre-pregnancy weight. With Milena I didn’t gain any non-essential weight. I gained the baby and that is it. I think I ended up two pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight after delivery. I enjoyed both my pregnancies so much I wanted a third baby right away. My husband asked me to take a step back and find a new goal. We found my “bucket list” that I had written back in my twenties and on the list was a 50 mile race. I gave myself 11 months to get into tip top shape and completed my goal. However, I no longer wanted that third baby. I was enjoying myself. I have continued training for longer and longer races, but my reason has changed.

I finished my first 100k and was out on those crazy trails for 23 hours. This gave me a lot of time to think about why I am doing this. I came to the conclusion that I run ultras because “I am bored.” I know I shouldn’t be bored. I have a two year old, a four year old, a husband, a dog, a cat and three chickens, but I am.

I got married and started a family later in life. I was married at 32 and had Morgan right before my 34th birthday. I spent my 20s and early 30s living for me and me only. I can do what I want when I want and I didn’t have to worry about a husband or kids. I worked during Morgan’s first year of life and then we decided that staying home would be best for our family. I was actually thrilled. I didn’t have a boss to answer to and didn’t have to wear high heels every day. Surprisingly I became pregnant with Milena right away and spent the next nine months exhausted. Chasing around an 18 month old while six months pregnant is tough.

Fast forward to present day. Morgan is in preschool three days a week, Milena has gymnastics and swim once a week and my husband goes to work. I take the same routes to and from school, see the same people at the gym, at the grocery store and at the park. My life is the life of a regular, stay at home, suburban mom. I run trails and ultras because it gives me a minute to breathe, to be alone and to allow myself to feel the pain. I need to feel the pain, the discomfort. I need to feel alive. My single life was never about routine and now my life is all about routine. It is truly been a hard transition for me. I love my family and wouldn’t change my life, but sometimes I long for the alone time and that allows me to look forward to my next run.

Ultrarunning isn’t for everyone. I have learned your mind will last a lot longer than your body. People do not finish 100 mile races on pure athleticism. Their mind is 90% of the race. So as I slowly walked the last 20 mile loop at a slow 22 minute pace I figured out why I am doing this and I gladly accept the challenge.

I would love to hear why you run ultras.

Does anyone else feel the same as I do?

– Liz McGarraugh

About the author

Liz McGarraugh Liz McGarraugh began her ultra running journey as a bet with Jason when Milena was four months old. Jason told her they could talk about having a third child after she completed a 50 mile race. In October of 2013, she completed Palo Duro and decided, for the moment, ultra running will be her third baby. Liz’s journey has taken her from pounding out the miles and building her base, to learning and understanding the finer points of training, health and technique. As all Mother Runners know, life does not always abide by your training schedule.

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