Julie Ford ran for twelve hours last March as a competitor in the Pulse Endurance Runs around Eagle Island State Park. In that time she completed 53 miles and placed fifth overall despite some brutal, wet conditions. Those of us who know Julie were not surprised by her stellar performance. What may surprise many is that Julie took up running relatively recently. More importantly, in that time, she has made running a vibrant, natural part of her life.
In her own words: “I used to do a lot of biking…I rode across the country on my bike back in 1996. I mean I strictly, only did rode biking.” Not a run mixed in there until she moved from Ohio to Boise in 2007. While Ohio had miles of farmland roads that were ideal for bicycling, Julie found Boise’s set up more difficult: “Here it is just harder to get out and get miles.” Plus, with cell phones and texting she didn’t feel safe on a bicycle on the road anymore. Many cyclist friends of Julie were having accidents caused by inattentive drivers. Add in the many other outdoor activities, like the hiking and skiing available in Boise, and “biking kind of fell away.” Julie felt like she needed something. Enter running, but not right away.
Julie’s first race was in May of 2008 when she completed the Race for the Cure 5k. Her words: “I hated it.” It wasn’t until spring of 2010 that at some level she knew she needed that outlet lost from bicycling. Michael, her husband, started getting into running and had signed up for a race. Julie thought she could take on the 10k, then she eyed the half marathon, and then, next thing she knew, she signed up for her first full marathon: the Columbus Marathon. Facing her first big race, Julie put her training plan on a calendar and discovered that as the mileage built up and she checked off training run after training run, she could see very clearly her progress and growth as a runner. She felt a great sense of satisfaction in training for and finishing that first marathon.
Since then Julie has not let up. To date she has completed 17 full marathons, 2 ultra marathons, and 14 half marathons. She is in pursuit of completing the 50 state challenge to run a marathon in all 50 states. “It is just a neat way to see different places. It is typically only the day of a marathon where a major city is going to shut down. Where you can run through a major downtown.” She explains the joy of visiting a place she would normally not think a desirable place to visit only to discover a great city with great food, like a recent marathon trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She loved it!
The high points of her running have centered around the varied and diverse running goals she has set for herself. The twelve hour race on Eagle Island was such an experience. “It challenged me. It got me to do more than I thought I could do.” A year ago, she set out and became a Marathon Maniac by running three full marathons within 90 days. Next year, there will be something else. She is not sure what, but maybe she will complete two back to back marathons in two days. Julie believes that running should be a routine but also diverse. “I think that is when people burn out, when they are always doing that same route. Over and over again.”
Julie also strives for a healthy balance in her running social life. Running provides that needed alone time. “I love running with the BAR (Boise Area Runners), but on my long runs, I got to do it by myself. I need that time to completely zone out.” Yet, the BAR and social media have also been very important in keeping running vibrant “because, if it wasn’t for BAR, then no, I don’t think I would be doing this.” She has met so many people that provide inspiration and “everyone in the BAR is so supportive of one another.” Social media also adds to this motivation because she is aware of what others are up to and wishes them well. When someone is competing in a race, she can track them and look up their results. Running is a living part of her community.
Julie’s advice to others: “Anyone can run. Everyone doesn’t have to run a marathon. Everyone doesn’t have to run a half marathon. It’s just about enjoying it.” Words that she lives by as running has become a part of her daily life.
See you out on a run!