Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Running Ultramarathons is Crazy

I recently took a new job and now have a whole fresh slew of colleagues to chat with about running. Or more accurately, I have plenty of new folks who now call me crazy. In my old workplace, people had gotten comfortable with me going into the weekend with anticipation of a 50km trail race or 8-hour timed ultra event. And they listened to my tales on Monday morning when I recapped how the race unfolded. To them, this was a normal pattern of conversation. Of course, this cycle gets old, and the tales become less intriguing, when told every month. The 50km needs to turn into a 50 mile race before capturing colleagues' attention. Soon, the 50-mile race needs to transform into a 100km event to inspire admiration. Finally, even 100km races become normal and only 100 mile trail runs receive the appropriate level of awe. For some reason, the 100-mile races never failed to amuse...those stories always ended with "Chris, you are crazy." Unfortunately, I don't do many 100 mile races. By the way, marathons don't even deserve mention...they are basically training runs. So, in my old job, I just became "Chris the runner" rather than "Chris the crazy runner."

Enter the new work group. Yesterday, I happened to be chatting with several new friends about my "welcome the new employee" email that was about to be circulated. It included a small mention of my running. That was enough to encourage questions...Run often? How far? Do you do 5K races? Ever run a marathon?  You can imagine my response. Yes indeed, I do run...often...at very long distances...and I have raced from 5Ks to marathons...and beyond. Yes, beyond the marathon. Within seconds, I was casually talking about the Umstead 100-mile trail race I was registered for in April. Then the questions started...

  • How long does that take? 
  • When do you sleep? 
  • What about food? 
  • Don't you get tired?
  • Why?
  • Don't you get injured?
  • You do realize that you are crazy?

Crazy. Yes, everyone called me crazy. That's the kind of respect ultrarunners deserve!

I suppose running ultra distances (beyond the standard 26.2 miles of the marathon) is a little different. Not sure it counts as "crazy," but maybe it does.  I'm a little too entrenched to make a non-biased judgment. I find it normal. Many of my friends also run marathons and ultras. Guess we are, to put it kindly, "special people." Yes, we are special...and maybe a touch crazy. Crazy can be good.

Anyway, I feel at home in my new position. The people are friendly, competent, and fun. And they find me crazy. It's all good. It's refreshing to have a new group of people that find me crazy. I'm running out of people that don't know I'm an ultra runner. Running is what I do. Running long is my "thing." And, at times, it may indeed be crazy. Wonder what happens when my new colleagues find out I also run barefoot!

6 comments:

David said...

Barefoot running, ultramarathons, night time trail runs; it's all attention seeking behavior according to my wife. Hmph. What does she know?

Oh well, time to put on my speedo and cowboy hat - my imaginary dog wants to go for a walk.

Chris said...

David,

I hear ya! Attention seeking? There are easier ways to get attention than running an ultra marathon!

Kevin said...

I'm an aspiring ultra runner with only two 50Ks under my belt and one 50M on the calendar, but I work 4 cubes down from a multiple 100M race finisher. No one calls me crazy at work because he is there, in other circles I'm crazy.
You just stole some poor marathon guy's crazy thunder. Ha! He's gotta step it up now.

Chris said...

Kevin,

That's funny. I'm sure one day a guy that's running across the country will start working in my office and put me to shame. Gotta grab the glory while you can!

Seth said...

Chris - when a group of us ran a couple loops of Forest Glen about a month ago, I thought out loud if the hikers we just passed for the second time thought we were "hardcore" or "crazy". The consensus was that we were both. Attention seeking never came into consideration!

Chris said...

Seth,

I agree. We don't seek attention...we just happen to enjoy doing things that naturally draw attention from outsiders.