200 Miles? Seriously, what’s the matter with you?

Ashby RayMost people who know me know I’m a runner.  I have been for years.  It is as much a part of my identity as being a parent and a husband.  As a result, people often ask me, “When’s the next big race?”  In the past I have gotten the normal responses an ultra runner gets when he/she explains to a normal person that I’m planning to run, or just ran 100 miles.  They look at your like I’m crazy, or with complete disbelief.  This look is followed, almost every time by the person saying, “I don’t even like to drive that far.”  I’m used to this little back and forth and have come to enjoy sharing my passion with people and explaining that, yes, it is possible to run 100 miles all at once.

When I decided to run the Tuna Run 200 by myself this October the reaction I got from most people was different. For some reason, when you tell people you are running 100 miles they think your a bit goofy and pleasantly eccentric.  However, somewhere beyond that 100 mile mark, people just think I’ve lost my damn mind and don’t have a problem telling me so.  When I tell people I’m going to run 200 miles, nonstop they look at me with deep concern in their eyes, as if there is something seriously wrong with me.

So, why would I run 200 miles?  I’m basically doing it for three reasons.

1. I get most excited about doing something I’ve never done before.  The thought of taking on a challenge that I don’t know if I can finish scares the hell out of me.  It also gets me fired up.  I once heard it said that the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.  I crave adventure and challenge and struggle.  I have run 100 mile races on several occasions. While they aren’t easy, I’m confident that on any given day (or two) I will be able to complete one.  I still love them and they are a special kind of challenge that I will continue to enjoy, but I wanted to push my limits.  Since I didn’t get accepted for Badwater and didn’t run a qualify race for Hard Rock this year, I had to come up with my own epic challenge.  I’m doing it because I don’t know if I can.

2. I want to set an example for my kids.  I want them to learn that anything is possible if you have dedication and hard work.  Things come easily enough for many people and it is good for them to see me struggle and work to accomplish something.  They may not fully understand it now, but I hope that one day they will come to appreciate hard work and dedication in pursuit of a noble goal.  Satisfaction earned is far greater than satisfaction given.

3. Finally, I’m doing this to help support The Healing Place of Wake County.  The Healing place is a non-profit 501(c)(3) whose mission is to offer innovative, peer-based, recovery-oriented services to homeless and under-served men and women with alcoholism and other drug addictions. The program is specifically designed to rekindle a person’s hope, desire, and ability to live a meaningful and productive life.  I decided to support them because of my wife’s struggle with alcohol for almost 20 years.  We are both so fortunate that she was able to get help and has now been sober for over 4 years.  I have seen first hand the devastation that addition to drugs and alcohol can have on both the addicts and the people who love them.

In support of my wife, and everyone out there who struggles with drug and alcohol dependence I am running, one step at a time, toward my goal.

All the proceeds I raise from my run will go directly to The Healing Place.