My birthday was this week and to celebrate it I decided to run 34 miles. (My original plan to climb some 14ers didn't work out.) I have a history of doing athletic things to celebrate my birthday. 4 years ago I ran my first 100 mile ultramarathon to celebrate my 30th birthday. The following year I rode my bike from Washington, DC to New York (and ran a half marathon in between that). In 2011 I rode my bike from San Francisco to San Diego in 5 days (600 miles-ish). In 2012 I did yoga and a 6 mile run :)

As Thursday neared, I wondered what I would do to celebrate it. The thought of running miles equal to the age I was turning crossed my mind. As did taking a nap :) Because money is very limited doing anything that required it was out of the question. So I woke up on August 22 and decided to have a good day. Why not run 34 miles and get some Compassion kids sponsored?

Since running 34 miles was on my time and not a race clock, I wasn't going to run myself into the ground by racing for speed or time, but simply for joy. Fun. Running has always been my gift and today I was going to relish it all day long.

Since I was running at a mile high (Denver) the lack of oxygen would make me appreciate the breath of life even more. I started out the day with a plant-based shake and then ran 10 miles. I came back and refueled my water bottle, ate some fruit and sunflower butter then headed back out for another 10 miles. Home became my aid station. I ran these 10 miles toward a different part of the Denver area and just explored via my feet. I made a pit stop (bathroom) at Starbucks and then on the way back stopped at a cupcake shop for a special treat for my birthday. The lady gave me a (plant-based) cupcake for my birthday! It was a good day. The sun was pretty strong and I was thankful my aid station (home) was coming soon!

With 20 miles done I only had 14 miles left. Woohoo! I put my legs up the wall (great way to calm mind, restore blood flow), refilled water bottle again, ate some carrots+hummus and sugar snap peas, and packed a Veggie-Go with me along with a Navitas Naturals mix for the remaining 14 miles.

I again ran an out-and-back. Colorado has been having some pretty vicious afternoon storms. As I was running along, the sky was growing darker by the moment. I usually do not run with earbuds/iPod, but for these last 14 miles I choose to have some positive music along for my birthday run! I love the radio option on the iPod! Because I was listening to the radio, the National Weather Service interrupted the music several times saying to "take cover now" and "heavy hail damaging cars and animals" has been reported in the area. It also gave the speed of the storm and direction it was moving. I was running right into it! Oh the excitement! Because this is Colorado, there were other people out running and cycling so I wasn't the only crazy awesome person out there :)

I soon hit the 7 mile turn around point (27 miles for the day!) and started the last 7 miles of the day back home. And then the rain started to hit me. It was heavy and stung. And the lightning was striking all around me. I was running near some power lines and I felt (scary) energy in the air. I kept running (for my life?) and prayed that I would be safe. If not, I would die doing what I loved. Ha!

I guess I have run in so many conditions over the years (I've been running for about 20 years now) that I wasn't totally phased by what was going on around me. It was a warm summer evening and I actually enjoy running in the rain. It was the lightning that was concerning me. It was striking pretty close! But I kept on running. My iPod wasn't getting reception so I took the earbuds out and just ran free again.

I ran miles 27-32 in the storms and between my speed and theirs, we passed each other. I was soaked. But alive! I thought of how much I've overcome in my life (book will reveal this) and how grateful I was to be in the world. Running. Freedom. I also thought of how long distance doesn't phase me anymore. Some people dream of running a marathon and here I was running 34 miles for fun. I am truly grateful.

I finished those last 2 miles with reflective thoughts over the years of my life. They have not been easy. They have been painful. They have been rewarding. I have stayed strong. I have endured (the key part of endurance). I ran 34 miles as a celebration of my life and of many more years to come. I crossed the finish line to no fan-fare. No cake. No balloons. Just a door frame. But the gift was in my soul.


photo credit: wolfpix

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