Friday, April 29, 2011

"Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons" by Byron Powell

I received this letter from Byron Powell today about his new book, "Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons." Byron is the Editor-in-Chief of You can find his book here on


Dear friends,

We’re all part of the running community that greatly adds to our enjoyment of running. While those of us who’ve discovered ultramarathons have been able to learn from those around us, there’s yet to be a comprehensive guide to training and racing ultramarathons to fill our community’s need. That’s why I’ve spent the past year and a half working on Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons. More than a dozen others, who represent the top ultrarunners and experts, also recognized our community’s need and graciously contributed to make book as helpful to you and your friends as possible.

By reducing ultrarunning’s steep learning curve, Relentless Forward Progress aims to have you or your friends spending more time enjoying running and its camaraderie and less time suffering unnecessarily. If you want to inspire others in our community of runners who might be looking for a new running challenge or to ease the path of those who have already started their ultramarathon journey, please get the word out about this book.

Here are some easy ways to enjoy the book as well as to help other runners learn of this new resource:

*Order Relentless Forward Progress today. (Go nuts and order a copy to help a friend!) Know that a big surge of initial orders will catch the eyes of both bookstores and the media, which will help give even more runners access to the book.

*Mention the book on Facebook or Twitter.

*If you have a blog, write a post about Relentless Forward Progress.

I’m so thankful to have the running community be such a big part of my life. Today is the book's official launch day and it's one of my happiest days in that this once in a lifetime accomplishment (or least one that feels that way) is something that benefits our tribe. It’s my hope that you’ll pass this news along to anyone you think would benefit from the book. Please let me know if there’s any thing I can do to help you or those you care about.

Happy trails,
Bryon Powell
Author, Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Living Life to the Fullest: A Collection of Inspirational Poems

The following is a collection of some of my favorite poems about living life to the fullest.

Three Airs for the Beggar’s Opera, Air XXII
by John Gay

Youth's the season made for joys,
Love is then our duty;
She alone who that employs,
Well deserves her beauty.
Let's be gay,
While we may,
Beauty's a flower despis'd in decay.

Let us drink and sport to-day,
Ours is not tomorrow.
Love with youth flies swift away,
Age is nought but sorrow.
Dance and sing,
Time's on the wing,
Life never knows the return of spring.

By Charlotte Bronte

Life, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?

Rapidly, merrily,
Life's sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily,
Enjoy them as they fly!

What though Death at times steps in
And calls our Best away?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O'er hope, a heavy sway?
Yet hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair!

Life Is Fine
By Langston Hughes

I went down to the river,
I set down on the bank.
I tried to think but couldn't,
So I jumped in and sank.

I came up once and hollered!
I came up twice and cried!
If that water hadn't a-been so cold
I might've sunk and died.

But it was Cold in that water! It was cold!

I took the elevator
Sixteen floors above the ground.
I thought about my baby
And thought I would jump down.

I stood there and I hollered!
I stood there and I cried!
If it hadn't a-been so high
I might've jumped and died.

But it was High up there! It was high!

So since I'm still here livin',
I guess I will live on.
I could've died for love--
But for livin' I was born

Though you may hear me holler,
And you may see me cry--
I'll be dogged, sweet baby,
If you gonna see me die.

Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!

By Mother Teresa

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 1: Let love carry you through

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” -Mother Teresa

It was a crisp, beautiful day in the Tetons. The sun was burning white hot in the endless blue winter sky. Wray Landon and his friends Nate and Brady skied to the summit of the South Teton. Wray looked down at his watch. It was 11:25 am. A good way to spend a Sunday morning. Nate and Brady were behind him as they descended the southeast face of the peak.

Suddenly, the snow gave way under Wray's feet. A two-foot crown avalanche ensued. His friends watched, helpless, as Wray was swept over a 15,000-foot cliff. It was February 21, 2010. "Big Wray," as he was known to his family and friends, was just thirty years old.

When I received the news of our friend's death, I was shocked; I stood frozen, unable to move or think or comprehend why this happened. I couldn't believe he was gone. No one in our town could believe it. My 7 year-old daughter felt the impact of his death, too; she had a very deep connection with Wray and still maintains that bond with him in memory and in prayer.

Driggs, Idaho is a close-knit community of about 15,000 people. The small town is nestled between the Tetons and the Big Hole Mountains. People here care about each other. We love each other. We are are a family. The news about Wray was a devastating blow.

During my run through America, I received a message from Wray's mother. "As the end draws near and things get difficult, as they will, Wray will pick you up like wings of an eagle and carry you to the finish." Her words haunted me. I read the note over and over again.

On the last day of my run, as I made my way into Victor, Idaho, it seemed as if the whole town had come out to see me home. Crowds of people lined the way to the finish. It was an awesome sight. Suddenly, the skies roared to life. The clouds darkened. Thunder clapped in the horizon. The wind whipped, a furious sound. It started to pour. People suggested I stop running. I refused. I wasn't scared of the weather. It felt like a party to me. The skies were rejoicing. Sister Marybeth turned to me and said "Lisa, listen to that thunder. God is bringing us home with a boom!"

Despite my broken foot, the throbbing pain, my spirits were flying. As I rounded the corner for the final stretch, I could see my family in the distance. There was the finish - just ahead.

And then... I can hardly describe what happened next. As I ran to the finish line, I felt the full force of the wind at my back lift me up and hurl me home. My feet were hardly touching the ground. I was running so fast; no one could keep up with me. I was soaring!

I felt him. Right then and there. It was Wray. He came out to see me run. His spirit was as big as the mountains, and he was carrying me to the end. Along the way, I kept telling people, "It's Wray! It's Wray"

As I broke through the finish tape, the clouds parted and a dazzling ray of sunlight fell right over the scene. I looked around. My daughters were there. Little Annie made the finish line tape. My husband, Jay, who had run the last five miles with me, held me in his arms. People were cheering. My heart was overflowing with love in that moment. I couldn't stop crying. Just thinking about it today makes me feel so overwhelmingly loved and blessed.

I hope that you feel the same kind of love in your life that I felt on that day. I hope, for just one moment, you can experience that sense of awe and humility and realize how rare and precious a thing is love. It's what makes life worth living. It's the reason we go on and endure.

One year ago today, I set off to run 2,500 miles across America. But, running was the least important part of the project. Run Hope wasn't about setting distance records or becoming famous; it wasn't about ego, money, or recognition. It was about allowing love to enter your heart and touch you and everyone around you. It was about making a difference with the most powerful weapon we have: our hearts.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 2: The importance of good sleep

"Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast."
-William Shakespeare, Macbeth

As we drove from state to state, sleep deprivation became a real concern for me. The bed in the back of our bumpy little RV camper was hardly ideal for getting a good night's rest. After a day's hard run, I would retreat to the back of the camper and try to get some shut eye, only to be awakened by the racket of the engine as we clanked our way across the country. If you've never experienced prolonged periods of sleep deprivation, let me tell you, it is torture. I don't mean that in a cute or funny way. No joke, it is literally torture.

Sleep deprivation has been used as means of interrogation by governments around the world. The British government employed this technique to interrogate people in the 1970s until it was deemed to be inhuman and degrading treatment, in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The KGB kept their political prisoners awake for days on end as part of a grueling interrogation process during World War II. The United States has come under fire recently, accused of torturing prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq with sleep deprivation.

When a person is deprived of sleep for prolonged periods of time, it is an intensely stressful ordeal. Hallucinations, paranoia, and disorientation result.

Do not take your sleep for granted. We are fortunate enough to have warm beds to go home to at night. Many people don't have that luxury. Count your blessings and take full advantage of opportunities for rest. Work hard, yes, but do not neglect to sleep. Treat your body with care and respect.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 4: Think of those in real need

"If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears." -Cesare Pavese

Sister Mary Beth taught me the incomparable joy of running for a purpose, running for a something besides personal gratification. Helping others became the motivating force behind all my athletic endeavors; indeed, it became the driving philosophy of my daily life. People run for many different reasons. Some people run to lose weight. Others run for peace of mind. I run to help the less fortunate. All the money raised during Run Hope went to - and continues to go to - AIDS Orphans Rising. My focus was on helping children.

During my run, I couldn't help but think of the thousands of children out there with no home and no one to look after them, no one to hold them when they got scared, no one to tell them how wonderful they are and how much they are loved. No one who cared. But, I did care. I aimed to provide these children with food, clothing, shelter and educational opportunities. To give hope. This was my mission, pure and simple, deep and true. It continues to be my mission.

Ego had nothing to do with it. In order to complete Run Hope, I had to rid myself of all conceits. The project was so much bigger than myself. It was about selflessness, about giving to those in need. It was about love.

To pull myself out of difficult situations, I simply thought of the millions of people in the world who were suffering so much worse than I was. My pain was nothing compared to theirs. I consider myself a blessed individual. I have a loving family, caring friends, food, and shelter. For many, these things are luxuries.

The next time you think you can't go on, think of those who are suffering in the world - those who have no food or water, no one to care for them . Find the strength to endure. Offer up your sacrifice in honor of those who do not have the same opportunities and advantages you do.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 5: Trust yourself; you're stronger than you know

“You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” -Rosalynn Carter quotes

There were moments during my run last year when my faith was sorely tested - my faith in my own ability to endure. Never in my life had I done anything of the same scope and magnitude as Run Hope. The idea of running 50 miles day after day for over two months seemed, at times, an overwhelming task.

To prepare for the project, all I did was walk around my hometown of Driggs, Idaho. I threw in some weekly workouts to strengthen my core, but I hardly did any running. Knowing that my body would eventually get used to running such a high daily mileage, I did not want to get into endurance-level shape prior to the start of my journey, only to be overtrained midway through and suffer some kind of overuse injury. Better to start off in good shape, but not in great shape, and gradually get fitter as the run progressed.

Did I mess up by not training harder? The thought may have crossed my mind, but I quickly tossed it right out the window. I knew it wasn’t true. In reality, walking and core exercises were just the tip of the iceberg. My whole life had been preparing me for this run. It honestly felt like I had spent my entire athletic career training for this.

Thinking back to all the tears, all the sweat and blood of all my previous athletic endeavors, I realized a simple truth that filled me with a tremendous sense of courage: no matter what happened, I was and always would be me. An obvious fact, sure. But there was profound comfort in it; in difficult situations, it helps to remind yourself who you are. I knew what I was capable of. I was a person who loved deeply and was loved. My power was within.

The next time you question your ability to endure, keep strong. You are so much stronger than you know. Dig deep to pull out of yourself that inner strength that will get you through the darkest of times. Have faith in yourself, and continue on! Eventually, you will see the light!

Day 6: Get Inspired, Stay Motivated!

Sometimes it helps to look at the extraordinary accomplishments of others to stay motivated. This book will surely provide such inspiration:

Marshall Ulrich launches new book, RUNNING ON EMPTY, with monster giveaway: more than $30,000 in prizes up for grabs!

IMPORTANT: This will expire just after noon on Sunday, 4/16. Don’t delay!

Have you ever thought you might lunch with a rock czar in a tree house? (You read that right; explanation forthcoming.) Zip up a scenic mountain trail on your one-of-a-kind, cherry-red, custom-built Tahiti Skyhawk motorbike? Cruise the Galapagos Islands at sunset and watch the fiery sky back-lighting the silhouettes of six-foot tortoises? Or enjoy the Colorado mountains with two world-class athletes committed to showing you an extremely good time?

Now you can. Or, if you just want tons of top-of-the-line outdoor gear, expert advice on everything from relationships to real estate to running form, and access to the private logbook covering a successful summit attempt on Mt. Everest, you can have those, too.

Here’s how you can have all of that as a BONUS when you get your copy of the hot new book by Marshall Ulrich, RUNNING ON EMPTY, today:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 7: Patience vs. Laziness

“Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength” - Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

By the time I got to Rockville, Maryland, I felt like I was dying. My legs were killing me. My body ached. Things just weren't clicking. I wasn't getting into the groove of it. It seemed the Endurance King himself had been wrong.

My good friend, Marshall Ulrich, had said that the first ten states would be especially tough. On the eleventh day, he informed me, I would fall into the routine of the journey and things would start to get easier. He should know; in 2008, at age 57, he completed his 3,000 mile run across America in just 52.5 days, breaking two transcontinental speed records.

Marshall knew that at some point the body learns to adapt to what you put it through. When you run 50 miles a day, everyday, your body needs time to process the abuse you are subjecting it to. Eleven days. That was the magic number. Well here I was: state eleven. Maryland. What the heck was the problem? Why weren't things working out?

Instead of giving in to despair, I stuck with it. I kept running, always focused on the task at hand. Gradually things started coming together. My body eased into the run. By state fourteen, I felt so fit, so in-shape. My body was rejoicing! I was hauling butt; the road was flowing beneath my feet, the wind was whipping through my hair. I felt so alive. Marshall knew his stuff.

Very often in life, a little patience goes a long way. When things aren't going your way, it helps to stay calm and wait - not a passive waiting, but a proactive one. Persistence will pay off and get you the results that lazy hopelessness can never provide.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 8: The sweet benefits of adaptability

“Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have a true opportunity to get the most from your talent.” -Nolan Ryan

When I set out to run 50 miles in 50 states in 62 days, I had a particular nutrition plan in mind. I've always been mindful of what I eat. During the run, I had planned on relying mostly on good, whole foods. Avocados, tomatoes, fruits, and vegetables. It was important for me to try and avoid relying on junk food for fuel.

I stuck to this regimen for the first few days of Run Hope. Before long, I had lost about ten pounds and I felt utterly exhausted. My fueling plan clearly had to be adjusted. Guys like Dave Horton have championed simple sugars as a means of fueling especially long runs. Processed foods, candy, and baked goods are all made out of tasty junk - sprinkles, powdered sugar, sweet doughs - that has little to no nutritional value. But, these foods are dense with calories and are perfect for providing a surge of energy for prolonged physical activity.

When I downed my first doughnut, I felt the difference almost instantly. Like Popeye the Sailor Man, I was rejuvenated, restored, brought back to glorious life! By the time I got to the milkshake, all was just peachy. Soon, word got around that I ate doughnuts. Before long, people - complete strangers - were bringing me boxes and boxes of the sugary confections!

I still relied on whole, healthy foods for fuel, but I had to incorporate the calorie-dense junk food for that extra needed energy. In life, as in running, adaptability is key to progress. Often times, curve balls get thrown our way. Things don't work out as we originally expected. Our circumstances change in frightening and unexpected ways. Rather than throw up our hands in defeat, we have to be able to find creative solutions to the problem. We have to be willing to stray from the beaten path. Eventually, we will find ourselves back on the road towards success.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 9: Sticking to your singular vision of success

On April 19, it will be exactly one year since I started Running Hope to America. This time last year, I was preparing to take the first steps on my 2,500 mile run through the United States. It's incredible to think that one whole year has passed since that glorious summer, one of the proudest personal and athletic achievements of my life.

Being able to use my gifts of endurance to help to the less fortunate was a sublime experience, an undertaking that fulfilled a lifelong passion. As you know, the work is not yet over; the work is never over.

Run Hope has started a wave of charitable undertakings. It has inspired others to take on their own endurance challenges all in the name of helping others. The project is so much bigger than I could ever have imagined. My little feat of endurance last year was just the start of what I hope becomes the most profound humanitarian act of my life.

In commemoration of the anniversary of Running Hope to America, I will be posting daily thoughts here on my blog, meditations and musings meant to inspire you to take up your own challenge - athletic, professional, academic, personal - in the name of helping others.

Today's inspiration is posted below:

"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."
-John Wooden

When I first came up with the plans for Run Hope, I was met with criticism. Upon showing people the 62-day travel schedule I had drawn up, the first response I got was, "That's crazy!" People that I knew, whose opinions I respected and trusted, told me the whole undertaking was impossible. That it couldn't be done.

But, not once did I sway from my vision. I was prepared to do anything to achieve my dream. If they didn't believe in me, then that was too bad. I would not stop. I was willing to hop in a van and do the whole run on my own if I had to.

It's not that I didn't care what they had to say. I value others opinions greatly. But, sometimes its necessary to get rid of unnecessary distractions. No matter what your goal is in life, you have to be prepared to block out the external influences that distract you from what needs to be done. This can be quite difficult and you will find yourself sometimes questioning the feasibility of your dream. No matter what, do not stop. Be strong. Arm yourself with a singular vision and go for it.