I am inspired

I am easily emotional. I cry at sad movies, tragic books, and watching people run across a finish line. I am swept away by a feeling that touches me in a way that defies my logic. I am a no-nonsense, practical person, so being so moved by somewhat ordinary things seems contradictory to me.

Nevertheless, I am emotional and beaming today after an amazing weekend. It has nothing to do with me – perhaps it is pride by association. When seeing someone’s dedication, determination, love, friendship, and spirit come through so strong, I can’t help but feel proud and inspired.


Boston bib: 2011; Zion 100 bib: 2013.

This weekend was the Zion 100 footrace. For the rest of us more sane than this bunch of participants, the Zion 100 is a 100 mile race through the Utah desert. It is hot, is it long (obviously), and it is hilly. It is not for the faint of heart or physique.

The (WordPress!) website describes the race as such:

“The total elevation gain for the 100k will be in the ballpark of 6,000ft and around 10,000ft for the 100 miler.  For this year, we can only give an approximate estimate of the elevation gain prior to the running of the event. Be warned: your body will feel a lot more beat up than the elevation profile tells you.  Sections of the course (Gooseberry and Guacamole) are especially difficult and leave experienced runners scratching their heads afterwards wondering why they feel so much more exhausted than the elevation and distance on their watch reads.”

My friend Matt, from Project Talaria, ran this race. (I have written about Project Talaria when the boys ran the Leadville 100). Matt is an amazing guy: humble, determined, dedicated, and a great ambassador for running and endurance racing. The more amazing thing about Matt is that he only started trail running 5-6 years ago. When he started running in general he was not a track star or captain of the basketball team. Matt lost over 60 pounds as he started running.


Matt and Alex (his girlfriend) enjoying the desert roads.
Photo courtesy Myke Labelle.

Matt runs because he loves to but his focus is always on his community and the greater good. He carried his 2011 Boston Marathon bib with him over those 100 miles. He brought along his girlfriend and good friends as pacers. His family came to help as his support crew.

A few years ago I spectated my first race. I was watching friends run and felt the other end of emotions I feel when I race: instead of feeling nervous, I felt excited. I didn’t have to do anything. I watched, I clapped and cheered for strangers, and I saw the winners come across the finish line. Most of them were elated and very tired. They were also very humble. They had done a task they had set out for themselves and were quietly pleased but showed enthusiastic support for others crossing the finish line.

Seeing runners exert themselves for the last few hundred meters of the race made me emotional. I know how good it feels when you can hear the crowd and know your race is almost done. The energy from the spectators gives you that little bit more strength to keep going. I knew how much the runners were hurting as they approached the finish; I could only imagine how much they’d trained and what a joy crossing the finish line would be. I felt so proud of these strangers – it brought me to tears.

Matt not only went out and ran the 100 mile distance, he also finished third. I didn’t do anything to help Matt run this race. I am just really inspired and proud by association. He crossed that finish line. He has shown me that when we have passion and determination, we can achieve anything.

Matt, with winning trophy, at Zion Visitor Centre.

Matt, with winning trophy, at Zion National Park Visitor Centre.
Photo courtesy of Myke Labelle.


Matt with friend Myke after a long day of running. Bare feet and beer!
Photo courtesy of Alex G.


24 thoughts on “I am inspired

      • Agreed. Thanks quite a haul. I have to say though, each time I read your posts about running, it sparks something that makes me want to start. I am not in great shape right now…(on my butt, writing too much) however, when I do dedicate myself to regular exercise, my energy increases to the point that I think seriously about starting to run. 2010 was the last time I actually ran for any length of time. hmmm. went on a little jag there. Anyway, nice post!

      • Thanks for that! It’s nice to hear.
        Not every day is a great run but I always feel better after I go. I know starting is the hardest part – and that alone keeps me going sometimes.

  1. One hundred miles?! Jeez, Louise! How impressive that your friend not only finished but that he finished in third place! If I did that, I’d do some serious pizza and brownie sundae time after…

  2. Thanks so much Tania. I’m flattered and excited that something I do out of love and (I like to think) healthy addiction can be inspiring to others. It feeds me more energy for training and racing. In essence we motivate each other. I thought so much about the running community back home during the race. Knowing there are people watching and cheering powers me more than I can describe. I am the beneficiary of so much support, it is overwhelming, I am very lucky. Having my family and friends down there with me made the experience something very powerful. Alex and I had a great run together for 20 miles in the heat. She got me through my first really low point in the race, and seeing her so happy and running strong fed strength into my heart and legs. Myke was a phenom out there! Psychologically he gave me just what I needed. A jokester when feeling good. A motivator and provider of perspective when things felt terrible. A seasoned running partner when we picked up the pace and surged the final 15 miles. A friend throughout.

    • I think when you involve so many people in your passions it really magnifies the impact it has. You make me weepy thinking about how great you all did and what an amazing experience you had together. Truly, this was an amazing experience & accomplishment felt all the way back home.
      Congrats again!

      • Thanks Tania. It’s funny because yesterday I realized that my absolute favourite part of the entire race was leaving the crew at the mile 83 aid station in 8th place (middle of the night)… having an epic final climb with Myke where we moved into 3rd. While running back down towards town, the thought of coming into the final crew station at mile 98 in 3rd place, knowing that my crew did not expect me so soon, was incredible. It was so exciting, I knew how badly they wanted it as well. I felt I was able to finally reciprocate all of their gifts to me by giving them surprise, excitement and a come from behind podium finish.
        Kyle ran up the road to meet the oncoming headlamp lights.. He is that kinda guy, offering water and help to any and all runners. We yelled out “how does 3rd place sound?!” He realized it was us from our voices and out came a “HOLY S#*$ IT’S YOU GUYS!!!” I will never forget it.

        I bet if you asked them about their favourite moments it would involve being able to give me crew support, pacing etc. and help me achieve my goals. When I add it up, we all enjoyed giving things to each other more than any personal accomplishment. Bottom line, people are awesome and we fuel each other!

      • Priceless moments! I’m sure you will all cherish this for a long time. Knowing that everyone was a part in making your run such a success (and way to haul yourself from 8th to 3rd!) makes it all the more sweeter, inspirational, and rewarding. Seeing someone else succeed really is probably just as good as what you feel about your amazing run.

  3. Pingback: Every run is healthy | iRuniBreathe

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