Posted by: Steven Hammer | February 27, 2010

So I’m training for my first 50-miler…

Why, you ask? It’s a long story, so I’ll condense the best I can:

I’ve loved running since I first tried it (somewhat accidentally) sometime around the sixth grade. If you’re a runner, you know precisely the feeling it gave me. I ran competitively through my sophomore year of high school with some success, but quit to pursue a lifestyle that proved to be damaging not only to my passion for running…but that’s another blog I suppose…

Fast-forward to 2009. I had been clean and sober for nine years, began work on my Ph.D. in English, and had recently become a father. I decided that it was time to kick cigarettes.

I awoke the first morning determined to run until the thought of smoking left me. I laced up an old pair of running shoes and hit the street. One, two blocks–no problem! It was like riding a bicycle. Three, four blocks–shortness of breath. You can guess the rest. I completed three miles–barely. I felt ill. As I sat on the front steps of my building, a stranger said, “Hey man, why aren’t you running the marathon today?” I hadn’t paid much attention, but the Fargo Marathon had taken place earlier that day. I laughed at the idea initially, but promised myself that next year I would run the marathon.

So I ran. I ran until it hurt. I ran until my lungs started to feel better. I overtrained and suffered nagging injuries. But I was a runner again and felt the best I had felt in years. I ran several local 5k races. I ran the Fargo-Moorhead Half Marathon that fall and surpassed my goal by several minutes. I proved to myself I could do more. I could set my sights on other challenges. Then I read about the Lean Horse 100 one night online while researching regional races and knew immediately I had to try the 50 mile race. It’s the same voice that beckoned me to run that first morning, the same voice that enabled my exhausted body to reach my goal in the half marathon.

And so here I am, documenting  what I suspect will be quite a journey through the spring, summer, and finally August’s arrival. I’ll meet the beckoning voice in South Dakota. But as a lover of those long Sunday runs, I know that the journey is where the meaning exists for me. Finisher’s medals and PRs are beautiful reminders, but they’re only reminders of the journey. I’ll do my best to write about my journey, from my one year smoke-free anniversary this spring at the Fargo Marathon, to the challenge of training for Lean Horse.

I invite your comments, experiences, and thoughts–and hope to meet some of you along the way.



  1. I’m always surprised at how people overcome adversity via physical challenges. So many of our Olympic athletes have similar stories.
    I’m rooting for you. I’m not a runner, but a walker (usually 5K,) but plan to challenge myself this summer to double that.
    Keep on posting!

  2. Steven – our stories of running and recovery have many parallel components….but I guess that’s why the running god chose to have our paths cross.
    I would be honored to have you share your journey with the Lean Horse family.
    Let’s make it happen.

  3. Jerry–Thanks for the note. It’s funny how people get connected by all sorts of circumstances in life. I’m excited and grateful to engage in this community!

    Thanks for chiming in, Gretchen. I suspect we both enjoy that part of our day when some sort of reflection (or just “quiet” time–I learned that with a new baby!!) can take place. I’m sending good thoughts to you as you take on your goal this summer!

  4. You’re an inspiration to me, Hammer. Honestly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: