How did I get my start with running ultra marathons? That is a question I get asked a lot. Now I could just give you the short answer and say, “I read a book”, but that would be a very short and boring post. So, lets start at the beginning….
I was born February 9, 1988 in Newport Beach the day was pleasant, not to hot, not to cold…. JUST KIDDING, lets not start from the very beginning. That would be a very long and boring story.
How about right here….
I attended Serrano Intermediate School and each spring they had an after school track and field program. Students were encouraged to pick an event and train for about 1 month. At the end of that month, three middle schools would have a track meet and compete. It was a lot of fun and a great after school program.
During this time, some of the runners from El Toro High School’s track and cross country team would help coach us. My brother Justin, was on the El Toro cross country and track team and he encouraged me to participate in this after school track program. I took his advise and joined the program. I chose the running events. I was selected to run the 800, a race that to this day I personally feel is one of the hardest events in track. I trained hard for the 800 and felt prepared when the day of the track meet arrived.
I’ll never forget the day of that track meet. All the participants got out of school early and we were bused to a high school. There was a feeling of excitement all around, none of us had ever competed in an event like this. The time for my race had arrived. I lined up on the starting line and waited for the gun to go off….it felt like an eternity.
“BANG” went the gun and I was off.
I don’t remember much about that race, but the one thing I do remember is, I came in dead last. It was a horrible feeling and I told myself that I would never come in last for a race again.
After middle school, Justin and my Mom encouraged me to participate in cross country and track at El Toro High School. The Cross Country team was one of the top teams in the state all thanks to Coach Hagin. He was a great head coach and really loved the sport of running. He was the type of coach who really loved all of his athletes.
I was never the best on the team. When the team went to state my senior year, I was an alternate on the team. I was an average runner, my times were decent and I could honestly say that I never came in last place for any race. I had a successful high school cross country and track career. It wasn’t until my Junior year of high school that things really started to change.
During my junior year, I got a job at B. Dalton Booksellers, who would have thought that getting a job at a book store would change my life. One night, I was organizing the books in the sports section when one book caught my eye, “Ultramarathon Man Confessions of an All Night Runner” by Dean Karnazes. I pulled it off the shelf and read the description. It was about this guy named Dean Karnazes that ran crazy distances of 100+ miles. I bought that book and read it cover to cover as fast as I could. This was back in 2004/2005 and ultramarathons weren’t that big. I had no idea that races over the 26.2 mile marathon even existed. That’s when I came up with an idea to run 100 miles in 24 hours or less before I graduated high school.
My Senior year came around and I still wanted to run 100 miles before I graduated, but I had one problem, I had to qualify for one of the 100 mile races and I had to be at least 18 years old. I didn’t have enough time between my 18th birthday and my graduation to accomplish everything I needed. So, I decided to come up with my own 100 mile run. The next obstacle would be to convince my parents to let me do this.
One night at dinner, I decided to tell my parent’s what I wanted to do. With a little bit of hesitation, I eventually told them what I had planned and I thought I was going to get some discouragement from them.
“Are you sure you want to do that?”
“That sounds dangerous.”
To my surprise, none of that happened. Instead, my Mom said, “Okay, why don’t you do it for charity?” It was on, I started to plan my first 100 mile run. I got the course marked out and I wanted to raise money for CHOC Children’s (a local children’s hospital).
My first 100 miler went very well. I was able to complete it in just over 23 hours. We were just a bunch of high school kids that didn’t really know what we were doing. I recruited a couple of my friends to be on my crew and follow me around the streets of Orange County. It was 23 hours of adventure and an experience that I will never forget.
After that successful 100 mile run, I was hooked and quickly began planning my next adventure.
To be continued…