by Rick Williams, VP Operations at Health Warrior

This adventure actually began more than 6 months earlier at the Warrior Summit in Virginia.  During this annual get-together in the mountains with the entire Health Warrior full-time team from around the country Thomas Cadrin, Field Marketing Manager – North Atlantic, approached me with an outlandish proposal.  Before our team dinner, I’m sure I was standing there with a beer in hand, he said several Warriors were planning to run in the Monument Valley Ultra in Arizona and Utah and I should run the half marathon with them.  I immediately said, “Tom, you are nuts!”  I’m 60 years old and had never run anything more than a 5K fun run in my life.  I joke that I ran hurdles in track because I was too slow to be a sprinter and too lazy to be a distance runner.

Tom was not dissuaded, he told me that when he started training for long road runs (Tom did the Boston Marathon last year) he found that you just start running – and keep running.  His positive persistence softened my resolve.  I mentioned that our youngest son, Josh, works out and runs and may be interested.  When I got home from the Summit and told Becky, my wife, and Josh about Monument Valley they were fully on board.  So . . . Josh and I signed up to run the ½ marathon.

Within a couple of weeks I began experiencing severe back spasms, unrelated to workouts or running, but had to go to a physical therapist for 5 weeks to get that under control.  She gave me great core building and stretching exercises that got me back on my feet.  She also began eating Health Warrior Chia & Superfood Protein Bars and sharing them with family.

Thanksgiving weekend I began training again.  Winter in Nebraska can be a challenge to running outside so I combined running, spinning, elliptical, and treadmill work to do what I could to prepare.

Run week came and we made a family trip of it.  Becky, Josh, Beck’s sister Marya, and I ventured west in our Chevy.  We stayed two nights in Santa Fe to get acclimated to the elevation and to just enjoy Santa Fe.  We met up with the other Warriors at Monument Valley the day before the run.  In addition to Tom, Bradley Nicholson ran the ½ marathon with us.  Warriors running the 50K included Veronica Gerhard, Casey Emmett and Johnny Russell.  An amazing accomplishment!  Other family and significant others ran too.

The morning of the run was cool, dry, and little wind at the beginning – perfect running weather.  What I didn’t fully appreciate beforehand is what ‘Ultra’ meant.  I knew we wouldn’t be running on streets or roads but thought we’d be running a four wheeler trail or something like that in the desert.  It wasn’t.  The uneven terrain, long stretches of very soft sand, and rocks meant we couldn’t really get into a rhythm running.  Had I known how rigorous it would be I know I would not have had the confidence to attempt it.  In this case, ignorance was bliss.

I finished!  This was one of the most physically and mentally grueling things I have ever done and it was an absolute joy.  The experience of pushing oneself in an indescribably beautiful part of God’s creation was so uplifting.

Now that I’ve had a chance to reflect on the whole experience I have three primary takeaways:

  • Encourage others – But for Tom nudging me to do this I would never have considered trying it. A half marathon was not on my bucket list.  I’m so thankful he did.  The experience has reaffirmed for me that we must continue to seek challenges to conquer to fully be alive.  I hope to encourage others to do so as well.
  • Your team/tribe is important – Without the daily support and encouragement of Becky, the complete buy-in by Josh, and the positive influence and inspiration of fellow Warriors, those who ran the Ultra and the rest who were with us in spirit, I could not have attempted this, let alone accomplished it.
  • Keep moving – There were points during the run when I thought about stopping to sit on a rock for a few minutes to rest. I didn’t because I knew it would be more difficult to start again than to simply keep going – one step at a time.  At times we just want to stop, pull a blanket over our heads, and wait out adversity.  Don’t.  When we remove the blanket the adversity will still be there.  We must keep moving to defeat that adversity through effort.  I will be running another ½ marathon!

Win the Day!