I have so many struggles with fitting the mold of life, fitting the mold of normalcy in life. I am Jewish, yet I am a “Christian” or Messianic, but I don’t like that title for fitting into that mold. Jews do not accept me as a Christian/ Messianic despite it being in my genetics, culture, and traditions. It’s also hard to be open about faith due to opposing contentions, so I don’t fit the mold of my faith in the public’s eyes. I have liberal and conservative opinions, so I don’t quite fit into a political mold. My liberal views aren’t accepted in conservative communities or individuals, and liberal and progressive communities do not accept my conservative opinions. Hence, I tend to shy away and don’t fit the mold in that aspect. There I go, talking about religion and politics and not running, but these are essential precursors for they are a form of my identity and struggle in life in one aspect. Fitting the mold in my running life is also very apparent, and I’m sure some can relate, so I wanted to write about this. First, I am short and yet bag peaks. Being short also doesn’t fit the mold of being a runner. Now to admit some things, I am subconsciously terribly afraid of cliffs. Yet, this trail running and ultra racing sport are demanding, especially given how overwhelming it feels and isolating. Trail running and ultra racing tend to go on many cliffs with steep drops, which I have sadly grown more and more away from running on these trails.
I must turn back on many trails because I physically can’t push myself to go further, and it prevents me from signing up for a trail race or ultra race that I either know or think has cliffs. I also have acid reflux disease, which causes me to vomit on nearly every run and race, whether that’s a road, trail, or ultra, yet I persist. Many runners must eat the proper nutrition not to have GI distress. For me, I could be a couple of hundred yards into a run with literally zero food or even water in my stomach for hours. Then several miles down the trail or road, I intake some fluid, and it may come up again. Sorry for any imagery, but we are runners. I know other runners have GI issues, just maybe not like this, which takes me out of the trail runner mold shape. I also have ADD, which causes me to be unmotivated to get out and run when all I need to do is train. My ADD, stopping to comingle and being too close to a cliff affect my speed on race day. Lastly, I have seizures. Two types are non-epileptic and officially diagnosed epileptic, which causes a struggle for me to get to trails and races, among other things. I won’t go into too much detail, but you may be concerned because I mentioned seizures. Don’t be, and I am on medication for them.
Briefly, though, I have had at least two accounts for grand mal seizures, maybe more. Many non-epileptic technically caused by anxiety but very real and show up genuinely and physically even when running on trails, in trail races, and marathons. I don’t ask for sympathy or empathy, but for you to be inspired that even though I have DNFd several times had several failures, I still love this sport and have goals in mind. These things may prevent me from fitting the mold of a trail runner, ultra runner/ marathoner, or marathoner, yet I hold all these titles. I am sure that other runners like me don’t fit the mold. We must stop and recognize them.
Now to reevaluate what I precursor in the beginning. This story is about me and all those individual trail and ultra runners that feel like they don’t fit the mold due to their struggles or what have you but one thing that brings this all together and helps us all fit in this mold despite our differences and struggles. Spiritually. First spiritually. Now I’m not even talking about faith here, but this is what I meant by coming full circle to the beginning of my story here. I have faith, but many of you runners I meet don’t know what our church is? The trails. I’ve said countless times that trail running, whether you have faith or not, spiritual or not, is spiritual. For me, it’s just that; it’s spiritual, it’s meditative. Being out in nature pushes your limits beyond your limits. It’s tiring and painful, but you don’t know your limits until you push yourself and go beyond them.
I’m not sure where I’ve heard that one, but it’s very accurate. You’re constantly thinking or praying, and you’re out the door, your thinking your feet are tired and hurting, oh is that a snake on its stick, oh did I leave the oven on, oh look squirrel, oh look pretty! I’m constantly thinking about life a lot. Ideas, and I pray. I listen to books, music, rock, rap, podcasts, and worship. Sometimes I turn it off and listen to the sounds of nature. one other thing that we all have. It is a community. There’s a lot of camaraderie in this sport. I always see friends out on the trail or at a race. That is another great thing that those who struggle like me can look forward to even when feeling isolated.
I want everyone to feel accepted no matter the mold. I want everyone to feel accepted regardless of identity, challenges, gender, orientation, religion, location, or vocation. I love and accept everyone democrat, republican, LGBTQ+, Black, White, Asian, Latino, Immigrant, refugee, rich, poor, young, old, disabled, able, front of the pack, mid-pack, back of the pack. We all fit our molds in the end. We are all runners, trail runners, ultra runners, road, or marathon runners. But, we all also have our dreams.
I have dreams of ultramarathons from 50k to 100 miles and other marathons. I dream of running all over the world running the El Camino De Santiago in Spain, The Israel National Trail in Israel, Inca Trail to Manchu Picchu in Peru, I’ve already done the West Highland Way in Scotland, and I finally finished my first 50k at the Pacific Crest 50k in 2018. Beautiful course and event that got me my title. I’m always chasing cutoffs and will be at my next few. Road marathons hurt but honestly, so do ultra marathons on trails. I dream of running all 6 World Marathon Majors. New York City, Chicago, London, Tokyo, Berlin, and Boston. I will be running both Berlin and Boston this year. This year, I will be running Boston for charity, the Michael Lisnow Respite Center. I am so delighted to support this small and personal charity. The conversation I had with them on the phone was very endearing, and I am so glad to be running for this great cause that needs these donations. They help children and adults with disabilities such as down syndrome. Through donations, they have helped hundreds of families not pay a cent. Please consider donating all donations that are 100% tax-deductible and go directly to the non-profit charity.
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