Ever wondered what it would be like to just pick up and GO? Go as in run across the country, one stride at a time, day after day, months in a row...
Katie Visco did, and far from it being an impulsive, Forrest Gump montage of opposite coastlines, Katie's run took months to plan, endless determination and PASSION for living life one day, one moment, one step at a time - a message she happily shared with countless people along the way.
Katie became the second youngest person and 13th woman overall to run the 3,132 miles coast to coast. Her ultimate dream is to run across every continent and is currently preparing for her next run - a tiny country known as Australia. In the meantime, I managed to pick her brain about her run from Boston to San Diego and how she managed to see it through the good times... and the bad.
PKB: What specific event or experience inspired you to conceive and eventually plan this cross-country run?
I fell in love with running in 7th grade. I was duped into the sport, thinking that I was signing up for a soccer training camp...oops! First day of practice we were sent out to “run a mile.” What?! What do you mean just run? Apparently I had signed up for cross country summer “pre-season.” I had no concept of what pure and unadulterated running meant, but at the time, it was exactly what I needed. Bam!
As a young girl, being able to quantify my progress, mile by mile (or block by block at that time), was incredibly empowering, and doing so with my friends was what made it FUN. My passion for running hasn't missed a beat since 1998. As for how or when the idea to run across America was conceived, let's just say the Universe plopped that idea into my head and heart ever since I can remember. In other words, I really cannot tell you when or how that happened - it was a little voice in my heart that said, “You must, you must! Adventure awaits. Take the step!” Thank you, Universe!
PKB: What major obstacle(s) did you face to get in shape for this distance and how did you overcome them?
Six months before I set off to run across America, even though I had been running 25-50 miles a week for the ten years prior, the longest distance I had clocked was 14 miles (so why the heck not run across America, ha ha?!). To say the least, I had some work to do in my training, let alone nurse a nagging iliotibial band issue that manifested some interesting wonkiness in my outer right knee.
What in the world am I doing, and how do I go about training for a 20-mile-a-day, 9-month run? Who knows? I absolutely had to go to the experienced “ultrarunners” and pick their brains for advice on how to train for such a journey. I spoke with a number of generous, enthusiastic and wise runners all across the nation. They imparted their wisdom, and even suggested a training plan for me. Meanwhile, as I was ramping up my weekly mileage in training, I continued to run 6 miles to and from my (incredible) physical therapist for work on my IT band and developing the foundational strength that would be much needed to support such a long endurance run.
PKB: What was your lowest or most difficult point during the run, and how did you push through it?
I was seven months into my run in Mountainair, NM, a tiny spot of a town known for meth and being, as it's name implies, high-up in the mountains. It was cold. It had been snowing for 6 days. I couldn't feel my hands. I was exhausted and in a funk.
I hadn't seen many people in a few weeks, much less spoken to an audience about following your passion - the very reason I was running across the USA - in weeks. I was in the middle of my so-called nowhere. I questioned my reasons for taking on the run as it took its toll on my body, risked my safety and, needless to say, the sanity of my parents. All to challenge the norm and create a new way of thinking about living fully? What was it all for if there was no one around to share the message with? Am I just a drop in the ocean? Is this massive undertaking something that will just breeze by like the wind - will the message stick in the hearts of those who cross my path?
I began to question everything during those two days through Mountainair. Snow clung to my freezing face and a 40 mile per hour head wind slowed my pace to a crawl. Everything just went dark. Then, a flicker of light sparked. A mantra came to me, and I began to pull myself up and out of my mental and physical pit of despair by repeating, out loud, “Inner strength...inner strength...inner strength.”
With tears rolling down my frozen cheeks, I kept going. One foot after the other. “Stride on, Katie,” my soul cheered on. Something saved me that day. Whatever it was, I was and will always be so grateful for that magic.
As I bounded west out of Mountainair, I felt refreshed and gladdened, ready to take on my last two months with purpose, pride, humility, and gusto. We all have that "final" ounce of inner strength that may just show up when you need to “summit” whatever mountain confronts you.
PKB: What key advice would you give to someone considering a similar, ultra-endurance run or race?
“We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others” (Marianne Williamson). Dream. Take the first step. And push, push, push.
PKB: What was your biggest lesson learned from this experience?
Humanity is full of light. People want to help. We truly do want to love one another. There is so much good out there. I have SO much paying-it-forward to do. If you want to take on an adventure or goal, please don't ever think that no one wants to hear you, help you, or support you. They do. Ask for help. It's a gift that you give others; an opportunity for them to give what they can uniquely offer in order to see your heart be made manifest. We all want to be associated with big bold adventures and the uplifting of humanity. We all want to be better. I'm ready to keep running forward, are you? Let's go.
PKB: What's next?
Starting in July/August/Sept 2014, I will be running across my dream country, Australia, in order to inspire people to follow their passions and make their world a better place. The project will be called “Blaze Your Sole.” Stay tuned and stay in touch - please email me anytime at Katie.Visco@gmail.com and check out www.PaveYourLane.com. Yeehaw, mate!
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