I love running in races in Iowa. I know it sounds a little strange, but I do. I get to sleep in my own bed. I get to eat my own food. I know a lot of the people and the organizations putting on the events. It’s comfortable. But, one thing that I promised myself in 2019 was that I was going to try and do some races that were outside of what I was used to.

My race calendar changed at the beginning of the year with some things that happened in my home. My father passed away at the end of January and it took a lot of my desire to run. One of the difficult things about getting into my dream race (the Western States 100) is that every year you are required to get a 100-mile qualifier done at one of only about two dozen races. For the past 3 years, I’ve gone to Texas for the Rocky Raccoon 100. I knew the course. I stay with one of my best friends. His wife cooks most of our meals. I slept in a wonderful bed that I knew didn’t contain bedbugs. I’ve finished it 3 times. It was comfortable. This year, the race took place the weekend after the passing of my father and I knew that there was no chance I was going to be in the right mental or emotional state to travel down there and finish. It was going to be weird because to get the qualifier I was now forced to look outside of a race that was comfortable for me.

Early in the spring, I was also allowed the opportunity to run the lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver, BC from my good friends at lululemon Des Moines. Talk about racing outside your comfort zone. A half marathon (which I’d never run), in another country (which I’ve never traveled to), in a time zone that was 2 hours behind us (which doesn’t seem like that big of a deal but is). The race was incredible, the support was amazing and Vancouver is a beautiful city. If you ever get the opportunity to do the Seawheeze, DO IT!!!! This race made me look at racing “culture” in an unusual city differently. The people were great, but dealing with KM instead of miles was WEIRD!!!

The timeline wasn’t ideal, but I’d found a Western States qualifying race in Hell….yep…Hell, MI. A race called the Hallucination 100 mile and it was exactly 3 weeks after we got back from Canada. You’ll have to watch my blog for the race report probably in another week…. once I catch up from being awake for 41 straight hours (with a 27-hour race in that time frame) followed by a 9-hour drive after getting a restless night’s sleep. The race was gorgeous, the people were incredible, the aid stations were amazing, the pain of going 100 miles on foot was something I was familiar with and comfortable with, but once again…it was different. 

So, what does this have to do with you? I’m so glad you asked. As runners, we tend to get really caught up in what is familiar or what is comfortable. For me, it’s traveling away from home. I’m a little different because getting outside of being comfortable isn’t about racing different distances (because I’ve run everything from 1 mile to 100 miles) it is solely about traveling and being away from home. 

What I’m trying to say here is that a tragedy and an opportunity were given to me that forced me to look outside of what “felt good”. I had to be around 10,000 other runners (that number is actually real) at Seawheeze and I survived (I have a huge issue with crowds). Hallucination had us starting at 4 pm, which was weird, but I survived. For some, the travel piece may not seem like that big of a deal, but you’ve been stuck running 10k’s or Half Marathons for a decade because they are comfortable. Step up the race distance or get on a trail. Look beyond the “comfortable”. It’s going to seem super weird when you get to 13.3 miles, but I promise you, it’s worth it and you’re going to survive.

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