Friday, November 22, 2013

Runner of the Week (11-22-2013)

Name: Jamie Walker

How long have you been running?
I started running when I was in elementary school. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true. I wasn’t a great runner, I didn’t identify as a runner, but I was a runner. My mom ran almost every single day when I was little – usually like 3-5 miles – and that just seemed normal to me. I would sometimes ride my bike alongside her or try and keep up with her and run alongside her (which I’m sure drove her completely insane). I could run the mile faster than most of the kids in my class but I thought it was kind of the same thing as being a strong speller or great test taker. It didn’t seem like a real sport to me; running was just something people did to keep in shape. Running was purely for maintenance.

When I was in middle school and high school, I kept running (as maintenance) to keep in shape for all the sports I played. I would run a few miles at a time before I would play tennis, swim or dance and I never wanted to do more. I didn’t love running. I didn’t always want to run; running just seemed like the normal thing to do.

It wasn’t until my last year of college when I really discovered running. I had kept up my running maintenance until that point. I had spent my junior year abroad in Italy and came back with a lot of extra weight. I was really unhappy when I looked in the mirror and started running to shed pounds. As I started running more, I realized how good it made me feel. I was able to clear my head and have some real “me” time. I would invite my roommates to come run with me and they would say, “you’re crazy” and turn around and run home. I never realized I had the capacity to be a distance runner.

I signed up for a 10k trail run on a whim. To be honest, I had no idea if I could even run a 10K. I wasn’t sure what kind of distances I was running during my "shed the Italy pizza pound" runs so I just went out and did it. And when I crossed the finish line, I heard people yelling “congrats!” And I realized, I had won. Me. The non-runner. I had won a race. My first real race. Awesome. And I was hooked.

From there, It was marathons. And from marathons it was ultra marathons. And that’s where I am today.

What/who motivated you to start running?
I really think my mom is the reason I run. She has been my motivation to push harder and go farther and faster. When I was little she was really dedicated to running every day. She set an example that will likely stick with me for the rest of my life and I really can’t thank her enough for that.

I got into running ultras because of a friend. I’m naturally pretty competitive and went out to pace him for the last 15 miles of his first 50 miler and immediately thought to myself, I can do this! I went home and signed up for a 50 miler later that night (and I’m not joking).
What’s something that you can’t run without?
This is going to sound so cheesy – haha – but I can’t run without my heart. It’s the one thing that keeps me going when the going gets tough. It’s how I’ve run farther, faster and better than I ever imagined I would be able to do. It’s how I’ve managed to run 50 miles, 62 miles and even 80 miles. I haven’t been the best trained, or in the best shape of my life…I complete a lot of ultras because I have the heart to do so.

Cheesy? Maybe. But it’s true. To run an ultra, I really think you have to WANT to run an ultra. You have to have heart. I’ve now failed to complete two 100 milers but in my heart, the third one is going to be the charm.

What is your favorite race you have ever done or place to run?
Oh gosh, this is a tough question! I am so blessed and have had the opportunity to run in some of the most amazing places with some of the most amazing people. A couple experiences probably stick out for me and they include:

·      Running the Chimera 100K: The Chimera 100K trail was wild and beautiful. The hills were steep, the course was tough, and it took me places I never knew I would go as a runner. I had some super high highs and some super low lows. I was out for almost 15 hours on the trails and had very little access to crew or aid stations. It was the first time I had ever really experienced a night run and tested me both mentally and physically.
·      Pt Reyes Seashore: I have never run a race in Pt Reyes but have done many training runs out there. There’s something almost magical about the area. One minute you’re looking at the ocean – big, beautiful, blue and almost peaceful and the next you’re looking at the mountainside – wild, overgrown, and lush.
·      Born to Run 100 miler: I plan to complete the Born to Run 100 miler in May 2014. I ran 80 miles of the 100 mile course in 2013 and had such an amazing experience running through a big, beautiful private ranch. There was something about the way the moon shined overhead during the night portion and how the cows eyes gleamed in the dark that I just can’t get over!

What is the best advice you would give a beginning runner?
Enjoy yourself. Running is supposed to bring you joy. When it stops being a joyous activity, take a step back and think about why you’re doing it. And remember, all you have to do is lace up your shoes and start moving your legs. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far…it just matters that you got out there.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview! Jamie is a total inspiration and a amazing runner!!