My first Ultra – Why I did it despite the chaos that is my life

So I did things a little differently this past Mother’s Day weekend. I participated in my first 50K (31 mile) trail race. I know what you are thinking. Yes, I’m the one who has recently adopted her fifth son from China. And no, I’m not crazy. And yes, that is a very long ways to run.

If I had made a pros and cons list while deciding if I should do this run, the cons would WAY outweigh the pros. So, why did I sign up despite all of the very good reasons not to do it?

Because I desperately needed something for me.

In all that was going on in my life I needed something to focus on that wasn’t about my family. A goal, an interest, something that kept me motivated and would renew my soul. Something I could set aside from my lovely children and husband. I know that when I don’t pursue my own interests my world gets smaller as it begins to revolve exclusively around them. And it shouldn’t. I know for my own health, I need to set aside something for me.

I had another reason. I turn 42 this month. My mom died when she was 42. I think about how I will outlive her and what kind of life I must live because of that. Because I have a strong healthy body and she did not. I want this year and every year after this one to count. I do not want to waste any part of my life putting things off or playing things safe. I’m not jumping out of airplanes or anything; I just want to push myself a little outside my comfort zone. Running the longest run I have ever done on Mother’s Day weekend was my way of honoring her (and my own journey in motherhood).

Running long distances is not new to me; I have plenty of experience doing it. I just had to find the time to get those runs in. Before I left for China this was not a problem. Going for a few runs in China on the treadmill was not easy but doable.

YES! I got a run in on a treadmill that is measured in Kilometers! Who knows how far or fast it was, but I ran!

But, when we got back I found myself exhausted from the trip, spent emotionally and physically. I wanted to curl up in a ball and shut out the world. I did NOT want to go for a run.

But I went anyway.

Having a new family member in your house is HARD. Any new Mama will tell you that. There are moments (sometimes quite a few moments) in which you watch the clock and wonder how many hours are left in the day so it can be over. By having a reason to go for a run (sometimes for hours as my training required) I was able to change my perspective. I got out of my house, away from my family and got to talk to other adults.

It was like a little vacation every few days.

Those runs got me back on track and back to my house a new person. I was renewed and ready to be a more patient, loving mom because I had taken the time to take care of myself in a way that was right for me.

And, as far as the actual race day went, it couldn’t have gone better.

Look at these smiling faces!

I was privileged to run alongside an amazing woman who has four children of her own. Someone who had experience in running ultra races and was kind enough to share her knowledge and experience with me by staying by my side the whole 31 miles.

It took us just over six hours to run it. Six hours of blissful, uninterrupted adult conversation (can I get an Amen?).  We talked about our own moms and how hard Motherhood can be. We talked about the paths we choose in life and how we pursue our goals and interests with passion.  We talked about what happens when we set lofty goals for ourselves and the outcome of those goals whether we succeed or not.

We discussed things that one would discuss on a very long journey with only the trees to witness.

Loop 1 complete. One more to go!

It was a day I will never forget.

I fully realize that this day may not have happened if I had been reasonable and not signed up for this race. I also realize how many training runs that I really needed (both mentally and physically) that I would have never had if I had not signed up.

A few blisters and sore muscles from a day like this are temporary, but the pain of regret would last an awfully long time. That is a kind of pain I would rather not endure.

I wonder how many beautiful experiences we miss in life when we play it safe and don’t even try. I have learned that when I challenge myself and try something new, even something that is a bit scary or intimidating to me, I am often delighted with the results and am thankful for the journey that comes with it.

And because I challenged myself, I succeeded in reaching two of my favorite goals for races:

  1. Finish.
  2. Finish with a smile on my face.




Okay, what’s next?

Note: The clock display in the background does not reflect our official time.
Julie Jensen is a mom of five boys and one girl. She is a runner, biker, yoga instructor and socializer. That about sums it up. Believe it or not, she really does enjoy the soccer, cross country, swim team, track, dance classes, basketball, and theater her kids are involved in as long as she has another mom (or dad) to talk to during these events. Julie works part time at Fleet Feet Sports where she gets to talk to other (adult) runners and is also a yoga instructor and owner of Red Ox Yoga - You can follow her on Instagram at @out_numbered_mama6



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