Ready or not (my journey to my first 55K)

Ylandra Wimmer Special to the Daily Sun

I wanted to run 50K for some time but was intimidated by the distance and the training schedule. Joining the Flagstaff Front Runners and Walkers changed that for me.

Kirsten Wesler, a member of the group, had run a few 50Ks, so I figured she knew the real deal. Her words were, “Just do it! What’s the worst that can happen? You walk, you DNF, or you finish.”

Impulsively, I registered for the Stagecoach 55K. I also registered my husband, Barry, because if I’m going down, he is going with me.

Next, I contacted Emily Harrison Torrence from Sundog Running to help me achieve this goal. I started training in May 2022 and, boy, was that something else!

My friends would ask, “What are you doing this weekend?” My response: “I’m running this weekend and next weekend, too.”

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Training for the 55K became my way of life for 16 weeks. I kept a small planner dedicated to it, editing daily to ensure I stuck to my training schedule. Flagstaff Front Runners was my main support. Group members would run with Barry and me on Saturdays, creating a camaraderie I loved.

I extended that camaraderie to my chiropractor, Wes Gregg, at Hypo2. He would ask for updates and encourage me when I doubted myself. I experienced moments of “imposter syndrome,” wondering daily, “Who do I think I am, running a 55K? I know I will be walking a portion of it. I’m not really a runner.”

Flagstaff Front Runners coach Emily and Gregg kept me from going too far down that rabbit hole. Emily talked me through a particularly bad run. No way could I possibly run 34 miles on Sept. 17. I was done for sure! Her calm voice told me otherwise.

At four weeks out, my group offered to crew for me. Again, imposter syndrome. “A crew is for the elites, which I am not.” Down the rabbit hole I go, only to be pulled out by my crew, Kirsten Wesler and Esther Cullen.

The day arrived. Butterflies, doubt and exhilaration were all present. “These running shorts are ridiculous. Look at all these elites! What was I thinking?”

Oh well, we are here and off we go. At one point, I couldn’t believe I was on the trail running a 55K, but seeing other runners with their bibs sealed the deal. I could see Barry in front of me. I felt good. I wasn’t an imposter. I was a runner. I was running with runners all around me.

The energy was fantastic and magnetic. I kept moving, knowing my crew would be at mile 10, ringing cowbells to encourage me. I kept moving all the way to the finish line, where my crew and Barry were waiting. My heart was about to explode. As soon as I crossed that mat, I would be an official ultrarunner. What? Yes!

I am not an imposter. I am a runner. In fact, I am my own version of an elite runner.

When she’s not running, Ylandra Wimmer works as an education specialist at Tuba City Boarding School, commuting daily from Flagstaff.

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