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I didn’t anticipate writing a blog post about my experience at the Rocky Racoon 100-mile trail race that took place in February. This was my second attempt at the 100-mile distance, and I failed, again, DNFing at mile 75. In the few days that followed, I quietly wrote in my journal reflecting in the quietness of the cabin I had rented for a few extra days after the race to rest. The time alone allowed the thoughts to come pouring out onto the pages, some wet with tear drops. A few weeks after, I did a short interview-style blog post for my running group’s blog, spilling my guts even more. I talked extensively with my crew, coach, and trail buds, and felt I had worked through all I needed to with that experience. …


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To date, Mexico City ranks as my favorite city in the world. The brightly-colored painted buildings, the lush tree-lined streets, the fabulous food, and the overall Mexi-cool vibe that pulses through the city, makes me want to keep returning. I fell in love with Mexico City when I did Remote Year in 2017. It was our first destination and I immediately felt at home in my hip Condesa neighborhood. But this wasn’t always the case. As a young Mexican-American pre-teen living in the suburbs of Houston, I wanted to be anything but Mexican. Surrounded by tall, blonde volleyball girls, and often being teased for my darker complexion, I felt like I didn’t belong. Meanwhile, my parents basked in their Hispanic culture. Both born and raised in El Paso, Texas, mariachi music and the smell of chile always filled the house. When they didn’t want my sister and I to know what they were talking about, they’d speak in Spanish, but other than that, we were never taught the native language. Sometimes I’d be embarrassed to bring home my light-complected, blue-eyed friends because then they’d see how Mexican I really was. Looking back, I’m ashamed I felt this way. It wasn’t until my parents took me to my grandmother’s home town of Tizapan when I was in middle school, that my love for Mexico began to flourish. …


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Today I am celebrating 4 years of sobriety. While I don’t share about my sober journey too often, it does feel like this is one of those full-circle moments with ultra running. The first time I ran on a trail, I was helping pace a friend for his 100 miler at Brazos Bend State Park. I was training for a road marathon at the time and was naïve enough to think I could hold my own and run 16 miles with him through the night. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only was I not pacing him, but he had to wait on me! I was mortified, but that night I fell in love with the solace of running through the woods in the middle of the night. On the drive home, it was midnight and I remember thinking, normally I’d be belly up to the bar right about now, probably having the same annoying Beatles vs. Rolling Stone conversation with some rando sitting next to me. The truth is, I love to drink, I love letting loose, feeling comfortable being around people, laughing and having a good time, but I always took it too far. Even when the bar would close down, we’d take the party back to the house where we’d stay up till the sun came up. Then I’d spend the entire next day hungover, hating myself and feeling shameful for wasting the day while rehashing the regrettable things I said or did the night before. It was a routine that I maintained for over a decade and a problem that was only getting worse. When I decided to seek help and booze was removed from my life, I had tons of time on my hands. I was healthy and strong, loved sober life and felt like life was just starting. As with many ultra runners, we tend to be excessive human beings. We don’t just have a glass of wine, we have a bottle, we don’t just run a 5k we run a 50k, it’s something I’ve noticed in the ultra world. I took to trail running immediately and jumped from a marathon to a 50 miler and have been running and racing since. After DNFing my first 100 miler attempt in 2016, that goal still weighed on my shoulders. Can I do it? One night a few years ago, I saw a video for the Orcas Island 100, all 25 minutes of it. I had never even heard of Orcas Island and had never been to the Pacific Northwest, but it looked incredibly hard and stunningly beautiful, I knew I had to do it. While I’m not quite prepared (or may never be) to do the Orcas 100, I settled on the 50 miler which takes place in May, a far favorable month to run in rather than the 100 in February. …

About

Amy Willis

Traveler, designer and runner exploring the world.

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