Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Not infrequently, people have told me " I inspire them". This statement has always puzzled me. I don't know quite why folks think I am an inspiration. Is it because, although I am old and fat and a very slow runner, that I keep doing it? This is my usual thought, and I've talked about it a bit out on the trail. Maybe I take my self-consciousness about being fat and the slowest runner a bit too much to heart at times.

So, recently, a newby ultra runner completed her first 100 mile race. In her tweets about the race, she said she was doing the race "to inspire you!"

Well, that just puzzled me more. I do not run 100 miles to "inspire you". I don't run them to impress you. Heck, I don't even raise money for any charity. I run 100 miles for me-me me me me me. Totally selfish and self absorbed.

So, I started to look up the definition of "inspire". I admire certain friends, on both their outlook on life, training, goals, etc etc. I never really use the term "inspire" in that context. But maybe I use the word "motivate" in the similiar way other people use "inspire", because many people do motivate me.

to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence: His courage inspired his followers.
2. to produce or arouse (a feeling, thought, etc.): to inspire confidence in others.
3. to fill or affect with a specified feeling, thought, etc.: to inspire a person with distrust.
4. to influence or impel: Competition inspired her to greater efforts.

Maybe since I am more goal oriented I use the word motivate:

To provide with an incentive; move to action; impel.

1885, "to stimulate toward action," from motive (q.v.), perhaps modeled on Fr. motiver or Ger. motivieren. Motivation first recorded 1873; the psychological sense of "inner or social stimulus for an action" is from 1904.

When I talk to Slim or Bob Combs I am always motivated to do more, to push the envelope, to try and do more races outside what I am capable of doing. Perhaps the word "inspire" would actually be synonymous here.

Anyways, I'm almost forgetting where I am going here. Personally, I am very hard on myself. I always have been. I find it very hard to accept compliments and praise. So when folks tell me I inspire them, I never know where that comes from. So, as I try to take an objective look at myself, from a runner perspective, I have found some positive facts. I am very positive and usually quite cheerful out on the trail. I like to laugh and crack jokes. If you would turn around and look at me, I usually run quite a bit with a smile on my face(since I'm usually pretty happy out there.) I am a very slow runner but very persistent. I have great determination and focus. I do not talk about negative thoughts or negativity (except for some poking fun type stuff) out on the trail.

So maybe that's what people call inspiring in the above paragraph. Maybe it does help other runners to see someone come into the AS behind them, smiling, in a good mood. Maybe it helps get someone out the door for a 2 mile run to hear me tweet I've just ran 10 miles on the trail (and hey, Kimba, the people on Twitter probably don't even know you are fat and old) and feel great. So maybe that is what inspiration is.

Enough mental rumination. Ran 5 hilly miles on side road, Chapel Hill Road. It was cold this am! 50 degrees. I forgot to use the albuterol inhaler, and in these transitional days of weather, I cannot forget this. Some forced breathing and wheezing. Petted a nice black lab who fondly reminded me of two of my deceased black lab dogs. Despite the bronchial problems, glad I got out there for the run. I'm going to run on this road alot more in prep for the OC100, as it's all up and down hills.


  1. regardless of whether you are inspiring or motivating anyone I think you are awesome. I always enjoy the times I have run with you or seen you at races or aid stations. You are an awesome and fun lady!

    I think perhaps it is your determination and your honesty in your pursuit that most inspires people. Just attempting 100 miles is insane to most people and the fact that you keep trying is pretty darn impressive, especially when you don't sugar coat just how difficult it is. I am definitely of the camp that if I ever do one of these crazy things it will be 1 and done!

    glad you are getting back into a groove and I am sending you good vibes for your next 100!

  2. Gosh...I related with so much of what you said. I don't take compliments well either. I run for selfish reasons, but whether I'm totally self absorbed or not, the fact that I'm out there persistently tackling the roads and the trails must inspire or motivate others to at least get off their ass (doesn't matter if the runner is skinny, fat or medium). So what I'm saying...motivating others isn't my primary intention...I think it's accidental, but bottom line...motivating others is a good thing.

  3. Good stuff Kimba. Very Honest.

    A Goggins, Gardner, or Krupicka is impressive, but I know I can't do what they do. I agree that most people don't inspire or motivate me. That has to come from within.

    One type of person who inspires me are the people who can't do what we do. People in wheelchairs and with disabilities and such. Did you see the movie Murderball? That motivated me. Actually made me feel pretty weak.

    Glad that you are sharing. Work your way through this and do what you like/need to do. Run trails. Get Dirty with a smile on your face.

    Wish you were going to be at YUT-C. Will miss you there. Looking forward to sharing some trail with you soon.

  4. I ahve always found you to be inspiring.

  5. kimba...keep on cranking out the miles and reaching for more...thats whats inspiring..not the speed..etc....

    you have a high!!

    I laughed at Antons remark about 100 miles... its all perspective..right??

    petting the dogs....ahhhh sighhhh...same issues here...had to put down our 15 year old bailey a month ago...miss that girl..

  6. I get that a lot too - people tell me I "inspire" them. I'm also fat and slow - so I can see their point. but I'm with you, I'm not out there for anybody but me and never quite know how to respond to people who call me an inspiration. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to see them take up running, and I guess it's cool that I caused that, But it's not the most comfortable feeling in the world.

  7. I am definitely inspired/motivated by reading your tweets and blog. It lets me imagine what it's like in the ultra-community. Most of my friends are road racers and love 5k/10k distances. I have completed two trail races so far and loved them both (8k and 10k). They were super tough for me but I finished. That doesn't compare to ultra running but reading your tweets led me to sign up for them. Sorry for the pressure but you are going to have to keep on running and blogging because I'm behind you soaking up every bit of knowledge, motivation and inspiration...and admiring your journey! I'm also daydreaming of the day I get to prepare my own drop bag... :)


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