When we have friends running alongside us,
there's no fight we can't fight,
no race we can't finish.
Becca Jones and Jon Cox - Race Directors of the Midstate and Tennessee Miles
I recently signed up to run the Tennessee Mile. The race is run over a course affectionately - or maybe intimidatingly - called the "Murder Mile." When you sign yourself up for murder, it's usually wise to get a better idea of what you are up against. So I reached out to Becca Jones and Jon Cox who put this event on as well as the Midstate mile they host on the same course earlier in the year. I discovered what I often discover in the ultra community. I discovered two beautiful people. Jon talks about taking up running several years ago when he was feeling like he hadn't achieved anything notable in life. So he ran a marathon. And his running journey was born. Becca talks about growing up on the trails. She tells us how running helps her and others look into their souls. And how much she loves being a part of that exploration.
I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Check out the Mid-state mile Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/midstatemile/Check out Becca's coaching website here, where you can also register to come run your own murder mile: www.bmfjevents.com
An Interview with Lauren Jones - In Pursuit of the Fastest Known Time on the Pinhoti Trail
“I went further than I ever thought possible, I felt better than I ever thought possible, and I completely surprised myself. I had had the experience of a lifetime.”
In 2019, Lauren Jones had the chance of a lifetime. She was in her dream race, the Leadville 100. But her dream race turned into one she couldn't finish. In her words, she was broken and mentally crushed.
The day after Lauren dropped from her race, she went back and watched the final hour of the final finishers at Leadville and that sealed the deal. She knew she'd be ready the next time.
That vow would begin in 2020 - that would be her redemption year. Unfortunately, it would also be the year of COVID. All those redemption races she'd signed up for were suddenly cancelled. Lauren needed to find a pursuit to ease the sting - something to focus her training - an outlet for her pent up redemption energy. She didn't go small, that's for sure. Around a campfire her and some friends decided that outlet would be chasing the fastest known time on the 350 mile Pinhoti trail - which was about 5 1/2 days...In this interview Lauren tells us about the beauty she found in the chase. She told me the most beautiful part of the experience was the people.
"The people made it the experience. I thought it would be just grinding and getting miles and doing the thing. But I actually had such an incredible experience seeing how kind and how generous and how loving all these people were. There were some I didn't know at all and some I barely knew and some that I knew very well. All coming together and all working together and all working out this one common goal for this one person. I was just overwhelmed at the kindness of people. That was the whole experience of this thing for me. The people."This a beautiful story about human strength. It's the story of what happens when one discovers doing something isn't as scary as it sounded. Read Lauren's Pinhoti Trail Recap Here: Race Report - Pinhoti In Review
Watts Dantzler - The Journey from Georgia Bulldog Lineman to Georgia Jewel 100 Miler
When I recently ran the Georgia Jewel 35-miler (37ish miles in this COVID altered addition), I had no idea I was sharing the trail with a former Georgia Bulldog offensive lineman. Only Watts was tackling a much longer race that day than I was. After interviewing Watts Dantzler, I told him he might be the unlikeliest ultra marathoner I've ever encountered. Just a few years removed from being a 6'8" 350 pound athlete battling in the trenches at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia - Watts Dantzler was returning to his Dalton, Georgia home to tackle the first 100 mile race of his life. In this interview Watts and I talk about his journey running from the grief of losing his dad - his hero - when he was a high school sophomore. We talk about his journey running from the identity of "football star." We talk about how running from demons in life put him on a path back to God and in pursuit of conquering the 100-mile Georgia Jewel. I hope you enjoy this conversation exploring this incredible journey. Local news story about Watts Dantzler's Georgia Jewel Run.
An Interview with Whitney Richman - Setting Records on Virginia's Capital Trail
15 years ago, Whitney Richman watched a friend finish the Chicago Marathon. She thought to herself, hey, I can do that.
The next year she did. And the running accomplishments have piled up ever since.
I love this conversation with Whitney. We talk about her recent fastest know time finishes on Richmond's Capital trail - both the 52 miles one way and then a couple of months later the 104 mile both ways run.
We talk about Whitney's love for the ultra community, how they have an "it takes a village" mentality about them.
Whitney gives us some advice on how to manage the self talk that is always trying to talk us out of becoming our best selves. Whitney shares how running can actually become our best form of therapy.
We talk about how running impacts our ability to make quick and confident decisions - and question whether that works out for us or against us in the long run.
Whitney previews her upcoming Rim to River 100 mile Ultra on November 7 - I'm fired up to follow her on this journey.
Rim to River UltraNews story on record setting capital trail run
An Interview With Meg Landymore - Fastest Woman to Ever Complete the Double SCAR
Shortly after I completed my 37 mile Georgia Jewel ultramarathon, I read a post Meg Landymore shared on the race Facebook page. Meg actually won the female division of the 50-mile race. She wrote this:
"On Chasing Your Ghost"
I thought I was ready to face my prior self head on, I thought I'd prepped for this race. What I didn't know was what it would actually feel like to chase myself and watch myself fade into the distance because...well, you can't chase a ghost. The feeling of losing the battle with yourself from a different time but in the exact same place. That, I was not prepared for.
I wasn't prepared to be raw as I silently spewed my reality and/or excuses on the empty dark trail, "I'm a mom of two now" "I opened a business" "I had surgery" "covid".... But they fall on deaf heightened nerve endings in the mind where the resounding "you're not even close to the athlete you were that day " reverberates through my body with every step....With every misstep and near fall the memory of how I some how didn't trip at all in the first 20 miles of the Georgia jewel 100 in 2018...
The lesson from 2018 though was to be positive, to be kind (to myself) and it worked. So in between constantly tripping in 2020 I'd remind myself to ignore the ghost and focus on this moment, just as I had in 2018. So you see now how 2020 continued to remind me of 2018... But it wasn't and is not. I'm not the same. I am Better.
My race in 2018- the Golden moment or 21 hrs of moments -were that of magical concoction of pure love, grit, hard effort and a whole Lot of Luck, amazing volunteers, crew and pacing. The truth is, I don't know how I ran so well that day... But I continue to hold onto the lessons I learned.
1. Be positive, be kind to yourself - most of the struggles of ultra running is in fact in your head.2. nutrition really is Key... My race fell apart in 2018... Thank goodness I ran such a killer first 74 miles because the last 26 were a mixed bag of naive mistakes- the same ones I always used to make ...mostly that I hadn't eaten anything since the three bites of veggie burger atop John's mountain- where I swore to my crew I'd eat because I'd failed to at dry creek for hours prior.3. All the moments matter when you look back. I'm type A...I tear myself apart for each moment that I walked too slow or mentally caved in. In the moments of "weakness" I would tell myself "it's OK to rest a bit, it's OK to fail" but then when I crossed the finish line with any doubt in my mind I'd spend weeks analyzing why I let myself down... How I'd "failed" to give it my all
So fast forward to 2020... Where my baseline speed is slower, my baseline chronic pain level is higher and I add up what I am, as an athlete after a very well put together 50 mile race (and a handful of good ones since 2018).
I have finally learned:
I now know exactly how to manage my nutrition through to the very end. I can run hard at the end of a race.
I now know how to talk to myself to stay focused even when I'm chasing my own ghost and feeling fairly low and tripping left and right.
I now know how to be certain that when I look back on my race I can be proud of it, no matter where I landed in the field because I gave it everything I had. No Regrets.
I am a better athlete than I've ever been, and has nothing to do with speed and everything to do with heart.
I was moved by Meg's words, so I reached out and asked if I could interview her. She said yes, and here is our discussion.
You can download this discussion at the Running4Soles podcast on podbean or itunes - you can also listen to it on Spotify.
You can read Meg's double SCAR race recap here: Run the Ride
Their first ultramarathon at the Georgia Jewel - an interview with David and Mary Ann Kauffman
I wasn't far into my recent Georgia Jewel race when I heard footsteps coming up from behind me. Then I heard a voice, "are you Mr. Keith?"
Hearing myself referred to as "Mr. Keith" made me instantly feel like an old man. When I turned and saw how young the man was from where those words came, I felt like I should probably be spending the day in a nursing home and not out on the trails of the Georgia Jewel.
The young man was David Kauffman. It turns out he and his wife Mary Ann were running their first ultramarathon. David told me that in preparing for their race he had listened to my podcast conversations about the Jewel. He specifically pointed out how inspired he was by the one I recorded about my Georgia Jewel failure.
Hey kid - that's not the pep talk I need today!!
David was the first of three runners I encountered that day who commented on my podcasting. I'd never met any of them before. I've said my prayer that day was for God to make his presence known to me every step of the way. By the end of the race, I felt like one of the things God was telling me while we hung out was I needed to get back to recording these podcasts, since I'd been on a bit of a break from it.
I tried to talk myself out of it. I'm busy with work and with other pursuits. Podcasting takes time I don't have. But God just kept putting that on my heart.
So I reached out to David and Mary Ann. I asked if I could interview them about their Jewel experience.
We scheduled the interview for last night. Prior to the interview, I reached out and asked if there was any part of their story they'd like to make sure we got out there. If so, I'd ask questions to lead us there. Never in a million years did I see what came next.
Mary Ann responded to my question.
She said she didn't know how far back I'd traced her story on Facebook, but she'd been married before. She was a 19 year-old newlywed - pregnant with her first child. She and her husband Marcus were returning home from a Thanksgiving trip. Arriving home, they saw what appeared to be a disabled car. Marcus took Mary Ann to a friend's house while he went back to help them. When he got there, though, he discovered the occupants of the car were robbing their house. The robbers shot Marcus in the head. Some time later he died.
I say all the time, the reason I love interviewing runners is because they all have stories that are deeper than a runner trying to win a race or achieve some running milestone. Stories that speak to me. But I'm not sure I've ever discovered a running story quite this deep.
In this interview I start by telling Mary Ann how hard it had been for me to process her story. I told her I have a son who will be 14 soon - not much younger than that 19 year-old mom and wife. I asked her, how on earth does a "kid" handle that kind of event?
Her answer was simple: God.
Mary went on to describe a faith I can't always comprehend. One thing she said to me stuck out in that faith. She said she was grateful she never had to deal with forgiveness. She said she forgave her husband's killers from the beginning. Mary Ann said everything else she had to deal with was hard enough; she's thankful she didn't have to battle bitterness on top of it.
In that moment, before my running podcast ever got to talking about running, I knew why God had me in the middle of that conversation. It was like God was staring at me, looking for my reaction as Mary Ann talked about how thankful she was she didn't have to battle bitterness.
When Mary was done telling her story, I could hear God ask, shall we talk about your bitterness now? Uhm, not right now God - I have to finish this interview.
I asked David, Mary Ann's husband of five years now, how he came into Mary Ann's life. David said, I don't have a big story like Mary Ann's - I feel like I just walked through a door God opened in my life.
It wasn't lost on me that's why I
Customer ReviewsSee All
Love this Podcast!
Love the variety of subjects and people interviewed. Always uplifting with a great story. Keep them coming Keith!