My guest today is a lady that likes running long distances. Ridiculously long distances to be precise.
Later this summer she will attempt a race that both terrifies and excites her which I’m sure we will cover during our chat today.
I am looking forward to going a few easy miles with Rebecca Roehm.
Treadmill Or Nothing
Rebecca Roehm grew up playing tennis and basketball.
Through her eyes, running was always seen as a punishment.
As she got older, the logistics of playing team sports became more complicated.
Rebecca lives in the Pacific Northwest which isn’t always ideal for outdoor sports when factoring in the weather.
One day while at the gym, Rebecca found that the only machine available was the treadmill.
With no other options, she committed to 20 minutes on the treadmill.
She found herself increasing the speed as she went and before she knew it she had run a mile.
That was the first time she had run a mile since college.
That first mile on the treadmill jumpstarted something inside Rebecca and made her excited to run.
She thought she could run a 5k, but first, she had to look up how far that was.
Her first 5k quickly led to a 10k, then a half-marathon.
Rebecca naturally progressed up all the distances to where she is today.
Her running journey began in 2016 and that same year she completed her first half marathon.
In the beginning, Rebecca had no idea just how quickly the distances she ran would progress.
In January of 2017, Rebecca had a friend that tagged her on a podcast page called Becoming Ultra.
Becoming Ultra was a project that paired newer runners with pro coaches and helped them to train for their first ultra.
Rebecca didn’t know anything about ultra marathons, but she decided to apply.
She ended up getting picked and in the span of one and a half years, she went from her first 5k to her first 50-mile race.
In the span of about 6 months, Rebecca went from a half-marathon to 50 miles.
Every week, Rebecca and the other chosen runner, would trade-off being on the podcast and share their experiences.
Rebecca had an ample amount of fear heading into the process, but she chose to trust the people guiding her.
Lessons She Carried Forward
Looking back on her experience, the process of training for an ultra changed how she thought about what she was capable of.
The entire process spanned about 6 months and for the most part, it went smooth.
Rebecca experienced some issues with her IT band during the last month leading up to the race.
In order to make it to the start line, she had to modify some of her training as the race neared.
Rebecca learned during her first ultra training that if she wanted to continue to run, she had to listen to her body.
Since that first 50-mile race, she is a much smarter runner.
When it was finally race day, the weather left a lot to be desired.
Rebecca did all of her training in the Pacific Northwest and the race took place in Minnesota in July.
Along with attempting a new distance, Rebecca was also faced with hot and humid conditions that she hadn’t trained for.
For the duration of the race, she was chasing cutoffs.
Rebecca was struggling physically and had to dig deep to finish.
Though she was the second to last person to cross the finish line, that didn’t take away any of her sense of accomplishment.
She learned a lot from the experience and despite the lows during the race, it felt good to finish.
Immediately following the race, Rebecca knew that she eventually wanted to do another ultra, just no time soon.
Prior to completing her first ultra, many people warned Rebecca about the post-race blues.
It is more common than people realize, but it’s not talked about often.
Rebecca felt low for two to four weeks following the race.
The first part for her was to recognize what she was feeling.
Then she had to find ways to work through the emotions, which she found to be a slow process.
It took her about 6 weeks to feel back to normal again.
Rebecca is open about what she experienced in the hopes that it can help others dealing with the same thing.
Rebecca just completed her first 100-mile race in the fall of 2021.
The Javelina Jundred takes place in Arizona, and it consists of five 20-mile loops.
In hindsight, Rebecca is incredibly grateful she chose the right people to pace and crew for her.
Though running is a solo sport, the support of others can mean the difference between a DNF and finishing.
The race was deceivingly hard, but as Rebecca stated, there is no easy 100.
Rebecca struggled during the night loop but found renewed energy once the sun came up.
The DNF rate for 2021 was around 50 percent.
Rebecca is proud to have been a part of the percentage of athletes that completed the race.
A New Challenge
Rebecca is currently preparing to run the Vol State 500k in July of this year.
The race takes place across Tennesse allowing the participants 10 days to cover 500k.
The format is unlike any other race that she has done.
There are no aid stations or closed-off roads.
Participants may either be crewed or self-sufficient.
Rebeccas is both terrified and excited to attempt this challenge and will be forced to rely on herself for the majority of the race.
Running has given Rebecca a way to manage her health and hopefully live a long life.
She has never regretted a run and always feels good when she is finished.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- Becoming Ultra Podcast (Rebecca Roehm)
- Minnesota Voyageur 50 Mile Trail Ultramarathon
- Javelina Jundred
- Vol State
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