Why do I Run? Climb the Cargo Net

I am going to have an ongoing series of posts here on what inspires me. There are days when either it feels like there is no time or just no joy in the thought of going out for a 10 mile run. On those days it helps to think of a reason to run and I would like to share a few of mine. I’ll start with Chad Madden.

Chad in 2010

The first time I met Chad Madden was at a Fat Tuesday party. It was made very clear to me during our first conversation that he was living a full and adventurous life. Chad’s favorite pastimes include skydiving, base jumping, and numerous other things I personally do not have the guts to do.

Since that initial meeting Chad and I bumped into each other at work, parties, and even had the pleasure of running the Warrior Dash with him in 2010. Chad ran the entire race with a little bottle of Gatorade. He had emptied the bottle and filled it with  bourbon. I will never forget watching his failed attempt at flipping over the top of the cargo net that I was afraid to climb. I had been hesitant to put my first leg over the top, he apparently placed his hands on the opposite side of the net and tried to flip his body over the top. Chad and I are not extremely close friends, but I see a lot of myself in him and I admire a lot of the things he has accomplished.

March 9th of this year, Chad was in a sky diving accident. Skydiving is to Chad what running is to me. He is an experienced skydiver and was working with a coach in California the day of the accident. He broke his C2 vertebrae and has been left a quadriplegic.

Chad Summer 2012

During Chad’s rehabilitation, his family joined him at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. He was then transferred to the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond, VA where he is currently continuing his rehabilitation. Unfortunately in June, his parents home in Idaho was torched in a wildfire. The link below is an article by Emily Smith of CNN discussing both events:


The human spirit is an amazing thing. Chad’s family has gone through two traumatic life changing events this year. Yet through it all they continue to be positive and to rally around each other. Chad has requested consistently to be challenged and pushed by his doctors so that he can progress. His sense of humor and positive attitude while dealing with his situation has amazed everyone.

In addition to just being in awe of Chad’s resilience, I am damned proud of how the community has helped him and his family. Co-workers have donated leave hours and hotel points to help offset expenses.  A scooter is being raffled off with all proceeds going to help the family. A local yoga studio, that Chad attended, held a fundraiser in which they invited everyone to wear a ski cap to a hot yoga session (something Chad loved to do). And the skydiving community, which reminds me of the running community, has come together to raise over $8000. The amount of support that friends and total strangers have given him just makes me smile.

Last week I had the privilege of meeting one of Chad’s brothers at a local pub. I heard again how positive Chad remains. What I also heard though is that Chad plans on returning to his favorite hobby. Chad cannot wait until he skydives again. His brother, also a highly experienced skydiver, plans on jumping tandem with Chad when he is out of rehabilitation.

There are days when I do not feel like running. On those days, I sometimes think about Chad. To him skydiving is my running. If Chad could today he would be in Orange, VA prepping for a jump so, I need to put my damned shoes on and smile through my run. Also, life throws curve balls. I have been fortunate that my life and my health have allowed me to become an ultra runner.  I cannot take that for granted.

Here are a couple of links for Chad if you are interested in learning more of his story:



Next week I will finally be back to running. Should be lacing up the shoes on Monday and restarting my running streak. So stay tuned to actually hear about how my running is going. Also, thank you everyone who visited my blog in its first week. I received some great positive feedback and I just want everyone to know I am extremely appreciative.

Waterlogged August

First, thank you for even pulling this blog up. This is day one of RunningForDays and I know it is kind of barren around here, but I will change that.

Why “RunningForDays”? Starting last November I began a daily running streak while preparing for my first 50 mile race, The North Face Endurance Challenge DC. At the height of my training I was putting in 15 miles on Friday and 25+ miles on Saturday. On my rest days I was running at least a slow mile to keep my streak alive. In between running, I was slightly obsessive. I was reading books about running, tailoring my food to benefit my running, changing my schedule to fit my running schedule, finding and following other endurance athletes on Twitter, and I drove out of the way on business trips to run strange new trails. In other words, everyday was based on training to complete the 50 mile race. It was the most fun I have ever had training and it helped me to better understand myself. Also, a huge shout out to my extremely supportive fiancé for allowing me to be this insane. So it is “RunningForDays” because thats what I felt I was doing at times. I was just running.

“RunningForDays” also fits because my end goal will probably have me running for a period over 24 hours. In the Fall of 2013, I plan on attempting my first 100 Mile ultra. I am eyeing the Pinhoti 100 Mile Trail Run (www.pinhoti100.com) for reason I’ll explain in a future post. That is if I don’t have any more set backs.

In June I completed my first ultra at the North Face. It was awesome. And I can say without a doubt that ultrarunners are the best community of athletes I have ever been around. I finished the 50 miles in just under 11 hours. I would like to think I could have done a little better if it had not been for the mud. Hitting waist deep water at 5:30 am did make the race a little more special though. My biggest and most humbling learning lesson came four weeks after the race. I had taken two weeks down time to rest then ramped my mileage up. I was on track to run more miles in the month of July than I had in any month this year. And then I got out fitted with a cute little boot and told I could not run for 6 weeks. My very first stress fracture (sadly I am sort of proud that I ran until my foot broke). The Run Streak ended at 235 days.

Being stubborn I immediately found pfitzinger.com, where Mr. Pfitzinger not only offers a deepwater jogging program but also a return to running program for those suffering from stress fractures. I have spent the last 5 weeks in the pool with an Aqua-jogger wrapped around my waste watching everyone in the neighborhood run past the pool. Know that if you have run past my pool, there is a chance I was in it staring at you. I was picking my pace up a little imaging that I could catch you, and wondering if you had any skittles in your waste pack. The whole experience has been torture and it has focused on how much this lifestyle means to me.

On August 30th, I should be cleared to run again. I will be taking my time rebuilding based one Mr. Pfitzinger’s program then gradually bringing myself back to where I was. It is going to take time and patience on my part. But I can promise you, I’ll smile every time I run past the pool.

Prior to my injury I had ambitions of running Umstead as my first attempt at 100 miles. My injury forced me to rethink my running plan for 2013. I took to the internet and Twitter in search of a 50 miler for April. What I have found is the inaugural Leatherwood Mountain Ultra Run (www.LWMtnUltraRun.com) and an extremely helpful co-RD, MR. Tim Worden. Set in the foothills of the Appalachians, it will provide me with challenging trails and also give my fiancé and I a nice little vacation. From Leatherwood till Pinhoti, I should have enough time to back my mileage down and rebuild. The point being to avoid this damned boot.

RunningForDays is going to be a weekly project that will track my training and progress towards completing my first 100 mile Ultra marathon. I will also post a few book reviews and commentaries that are running related. I used to think of myself as a bit of a writer, and I am excited at the prospect of combining two of my passions. On the way to competing my first 50 miler there were many blogs (ashwalsh.wordpress.com is a must) that I read for inspiration and to grab a few kernels of knowledge from, my hope is that this does the same for a few others. So thank you reading this far, and please stay tuned.