Wednesday, January 26, 2022
What it means to be EPIC? Epic is an adjective that Charm City Run uses a lot and now we’re giving it real meaning. Each week leading up to our Charm City Run 20th anniversary, we will post an answer to what it means to be epic from one of our team members.
An epic is a long poem derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the history of a nation. This description of figures as heroic and legendary lends itself to the modern derivation. If something is epic, it is awesome, great, unforgettable.
EPIC is not a word that I remember being frequently used in the early days of Charm City Run. We were lucky enough to know people that accomplished amazing feats in the endurance event world, and we also knew people who crossed a finish line that they never thought attainable. These examples suggest an epic undertaking. The demands of a Marathon des Sables or an Ironman are out of the ordinary, require tremendous discipline and a long period of preparation therefore the participation for and hopefully completion of these races are EPIC.
However equally as EPIC could be a person that has never run or exercised, training for and completing a race or a survivor of an illness or addiction overcoming tremendous odds to achieve a goal. The objective undertaking could differ in lengths and physical demands but the path to success could be equally hard.
EPIC at Charm City Run has come to mean doing something scary and hard, overcoming fears and doubts, putting in the work and crossing a finish line. That line no matter how far away it is from the start line was hard to get to and the resulting feeling of accomplishment is euphoric, intense, gratifying and quite unique. An epic accomplishment is not one you feel every day. Some of us are lucky to arrive at this place a few times in our lives. I hope that everyone finds it once and I sympathize with those that have never attempted nor achieved something epic.
Several years ago, I was in a marketing meeting with our training director, Kelly Maurer, and we were thinking about our messaging for certain times of the year. We started discussing the fall which has always been a special time in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region because it plays host to special events: New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Richmond, Army 10-Miler and Marine Corps to name a few. Many of these runners start training in June or before and all their work and sacrifice prepares them for one day.
Charm City Run trains 3,000 runners a year for events like these and interacts with countless more in the stores. Coaches and staff are dispensing their final words of advice and encouragement in October. Their messaging is often technical and supportive. Runners are pumped, nervous, excited, and exhausted. They want to do well but also begin to daydream about relaxing days beyond the event.
Several of us in the room were trying to verbalize these feelings. Words like accomplishment, special, emotional, and exciting were being vocalized. Kelly who has many impressive accomplishments in the endurance world quietly said, “BE EPIC” and that has been the rallying call of Charm City Run Training ever since. BE EPIC.
As many of you know Global Running Day is always in the first week of June as is my birthday. Charm City Run celebrates Global Running Day at our Annapolis location where we host the 24-hour Run this Town event. The winner of the race runs the most distance in 24 hours. The course is a one-mile loop around the Annapolis Town Center. It begins at 6pm on Global Running Day and finishes at 6pm the next evening.
I have run many marathons but nothing beyond the marathon distance. I have always loved the 24-hour event and thought that it would be “cool” to run 50 miles on my 50th birthday. COVID only reinforced the desire. The race on my 49th birthday was canceled. Not only that I attempted to run 5 miles every day during COVID and only made it 4 months before my calf gave up in protest. I healed well enough that I wanted to attempt 50 for 50. I was back to running 4 miles most days and even if I had to walk, I felt like I could make it in 24 hours.
Charm City Run’s ultra- runners dispensed great advice. Walk the uphills. Slow way down. Drink every lap. Eat every half hour. I am good at following directions when I do not know what I am doing. Kelly told me to Be Epic. My parents walked a lap with me. My son came up from DC and ran 6 with me. My wife Kara ran the last 11 with me. Folks from the store kicked it off with me and finished with me. As part of Run this Town, someone from Charm City Run is always running. I ran alone at night with music and Kelly would jump in and out depending on what I needed. The Events Team was there encouraging me at every turn. My calf would not give-in and although tired and sometimes walking, I would finish.
I finished in 12 hours. I was ecstatic and exhausted. It was EPIC. 50 for 50 was complete. No records were broken, and I did not qualify for anything, I just ran 50 for 50 and I loved it.
A few years before my son had gotten a large “5” tattoo on his forearm. We often refer to our family as the “Lev5”. Now that he was away, he would always know that his family was with him. I had envied the tattoo for a while and wanted to get one like it. I had not gotten around to it. The day after the race I was still euphoric, and it was time for a “5”. When I look at it, I think about family and 50 for 50.
Thanks for allowing us to be a part of some of your EPIC adventures. We look to celebrating 20 years with you.