A sponsored link popped up in my Facebook feed with a video of a bunch of crazy people running across the desert over a span of 7 days gaining more elevation than Mt Everest, spanning a distance of 273 Km across every landscape imaginable. At first thought, this had to be the most terrible idea in the world, yet as I continued to watch it was everything I dreamed of, I wanted this. I quickly shared the link to broadcast to the world I would take on this challenge but I put a disclaimer in there. I said, 2018, with a big question mark behind it. Seemed like a good goal, far enough out I could learn to run or even chicken out where no one would remember the crazy idea I once had. Yet, as I watched the video over and over again I decided that I should pursue this now, today.
Fast forward nine months and I am off to a good start and I on my way to my first Ultra Marathon. The first one being just eight months away, i took to the trail with a distance of 20 miles in mind. I grabbed a quick bite, laced up the shoes, and headed for a pretty cool spot near my home that had 6 mile trail loop. I set up at the trail head and took off down the trail.
Mile one, I started to doubt myself, my shins tightened, heart began to elevate, everything felt foreign. My steps felt rough, and my energy low. I stopped at an outlook and thought why am I doing this. I should be fishing, paddling, something other than this, but with determination out weighing my thoughts, I slowly headed my way to the next mile.
Mile by mile I begin to loosen up, into a zone I began to move. With each passing mile, my will became a rhythm. On loop three, well that's where my determination kicked in. I began to see a goal turn in to reality. I passed some kayakers, a gator, and a few sightseers. I passed a lot of things but fatigue I could not. I stopped at mile 15 and took a snap shot of my GPS and headed to my cache of supplies just 2 miles in the distance. Pain begin to set in and fatigue was real as I approached mile 17.
Though I didn't reach my target distance I did reach a milestone, I just ran longer and further than anytime in my life. I PR'd my pace, time, and distance and it was then I knew that i could do this.
- Daniel Underbrink