UM: Describe empowered.
Mary: Feeling strong and confident in yourself and your beliefs.
UM: You recently finished your first ultra marathon. Could you tell me a bit about that?
Mary: It was so crazy! I went into it feeling pretty prepared physically, but I had no idea how mentally challenging it was going to be. It was hard. Lots of uphills--almost 6,500 feet of elevation gain--and the course was super muddy, with a few creek crossings, that were particularly high because of the recent rains. Something I hadn't thought about was the sheer amount of time that you are alone with your own thoughts--running and pushing yourself harder than you ever have before. It was an intensity I don't think I've felt before. I was so stoked to finish and somehow got 14 place out of all women.
UM: Who or what inspired you to begin running in the first place?
Mary: For years I've run for exercise, and I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to try a marathon. As I got more into exercise, the physiology behind it, that thought grew into something more. My father-in-law ultimately was the one who gave me the push and really inspired me to get into ultra trail running. He is an ultra-marathoner and in general, a pretty badass outdoor adventurer. Through the years he has taken me and my husband on many crazy adventures backpacking, hiking and running. They are always super challenging but such an accomplishment once completed. I think all of that and the need to push myself has led me to where I am today.
UM: What would you say has been your best investment?
Mary: As far as running goes--getting new shoes often and getting custom insoles. And time... Lots of time. As far as the rest of my life I would say eating healthy and taking care of myse
UM: Do you have a mentor or idol?
Mary: Ah that's hard to pick just one person. There have been several people throughout my life who have inspired me or who have been a big influence on my life. As I mentioned, my father-in-law has influenced me a lot. Most recently, I've been lucky enough to have been training with a really accomplished ultra runner and businesswoman--she is pretty amazing. I have also connected with an really awesome network of people through her, they are all so inspiring in so many different ways.
UM: What does success mean to you?
Mary: Has the definition changed over the years and if so, why? I used to think I needed to make a ton of money, love my job, buy a house and all that in order to one day be "successful." I used to think success was based solely off my "career," and how much I excelled at a job. These days, I feel like success is based on happiness. Being happy and content with where you are in life, what you do with your time, and the people you surround yourself with. That to me is success.
UM: Where is your favorite place to run in Orange County?
Mary: It's crazy when you realize just how many trails and open space there is in our own backyard. I am still exploring and learning about our own area, and have been trying to get on as many different trails as I can. The Cleveland National Forest has been a recent favorite, especially while we still have mild temperatures. The San Juan trail off Ortega Highway, has been a recent favorite, and all of the trails around the Saddleback Mountain(Santiago Peak) are great too.
UM: What are the principles and values that you believe are important to live by?
Mary: I try my best to always be present and to treat people kindly.
UM:What drives you?
Mary: I think the thought that there is always room for self improvement and growth. There is always going to be someone better or faster or stronger or smarter than you. I love that. It pushes me to better myself and to be a better human.
UM: What does it mean to have courage?
Mary: Being strong through adversity, overcoming challenges and obstacles you face--or at least trying to.
UM: During your longest run did you ever have moments of doubt? And if so what are some of the tools and tricks you used to over come those limiting thoughts.
Mary: I don't think I ever doubted that fact that I could finish- it was more how long and in what condition I would be in. But, ask me this question again after I do my first 50-miler...yikes.
That said, one of the things I do to make my runs seem less daunting is to break them up into smaller segments. For example, my first goal may be to get to ten miles. And that is all I will think about for those first ten miles. Then my next goal will be to make it to 15. Then to the halfway point, etc. mark. Its a little less intense to think about it in sections rather than, "OK I'm at mile five, just 27 more to go!" Sounds pretty crazy when you think about it that way. I find myself doing this on a lot of my runs, whether its 4 miles or 30 miles.
Follow Mary's Journey here