If you’ve ever trained for an endurance event, you know it takes sacrifice. You give up so much time, you skip fun things because you need to be in bed early, you change your diet, you coordinate meals around your workouts, you give up sleeping in, you make the decision to get out there, in the rain, in the snow, in the blistering heat, day after day, because you have a goal and it’s worth it. Training for something like an ultra can turn your life upside down, it becomes a huge part of you and at some points its hard to separate your regular self from training mode. Near the end especially, you are tired, you are sometimes cranky, you can get bossy and self-absorbed, and your family and friends put up with it all.
My ever patient, always understanding family. They deal with my pre-race anxiety, they are always willing to let me talk out race plans with them just one more time, they deal with obnoxiously early morning texts, my whacky schedule, my complaining when something hurts, and my grumpiness when a run didn’t go well. They never fail to ask me how my training is going and always act interested when I tell long stories about my runs and adventures. They constantly remind me of WHY I am doing this in the first place, because I love it, and they never let me stay down about anything for too long. They are always there to lend a helping hand or give some encouraging words, and best of all, they make me feel like a freaking SUPER hero y’all. Seeing their beaming faces full of pride and joy at the finish line has gotten me through so many difficult races, thinking about them being there has helped me to push when I really didn’t want to. Hearing their cheers during a race lifts me up like nothing else in the world. They have gotten up early and spent ALL DAY LONG in the cold just to support me, because I told them I needed them there. Training for an ultra includes sacrifice, for sure, and not just on my part alone. No doubt, they would probably much rather be at home and in bed, but they know it’s important to me, so they come. I am so grateful for my amazing team, my unfailing supporters. Mom and Roo, the loudest cheerers on the face of the planet, experts in providing just what I want, when I want it and navigating race courses to see me the optimum number of times. Alvin, the fearless navigator, a calming presence, my steady bear there to help in any way that’s needed. Sarah, always wrapped up in a blanket and freezing cold, she has tons of work to do and still makes time for me, smiling and happy to see me every time. Scotty, the best husband ever, who always reminds me of how badass I am and deals with useless post-race Chelsea like a champion. Becky and John, my parents in law who I’m pretty sure think all these races are PURE INSAINITY, but show up anyway with big smiles to cheer me on. Without them, I could have never gotten this far.
My training buddies and partners in crime, my running family. They are there for the bad runs, the good runs, and the crazy, how the heck did that HAPPEN?! runs where we spend way more hours than we ever intended to wandering around in the woods. They love getting dirty, getting lost, and telling life stories out on the trails. They understand what it means to dedicate yourself to training, they are there to laugh with me, cry with me, and wonder why in the world we are even DOING THIS with me. They let me crash at their house last minute when there’s an impending snow storm, they answer my ridiculous, social anxiety filled text messages without judgment, they remember my birthday and bring chocolate cake and beer for a post run celebration, they show up at races they didn’t even sign up for to cheer for me and run with me when I need it, they stick around at races, sometimes for hours, just to see me cross the finish line. Without my running pals, I would have NEVER had the courage to sign up for all these races in the first place. They believed in me before I even believed in myself. They know some of my deepest secrets and still like me, and they are always willing to share their secrets too, so you feel like less of a weirdo. They pick me up when I’m down, they remind me that I’m stronger than I know, and they motivate me to be better. They are the realest, most genuine group of people on the planet, and having them in my tribe has taught me so many valuable life lessons.
Finishing the Grand Slam was one of the best feelings of my life, and it also brought me a lot of perspective on just how uniquely lucky I am to have such a strong support community. Not only do I have blood-related family members who would do almost anything to support me, even if they don’t entirely *get* why running 31 miles in the snow and ice seems like a good thing to do, but I have the family I have found in my running friends, who understand the strange and mysterious mental process that made me want to run 3 ultras and 1 marathon in three months. How could I NOT succeed without so many people lifting me up and pushing me towards being the greatest I can be? I have something special here, and I hope I always take time to step back and truly appreciate it.