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November 2023-Anna Ball

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. (Where you’re from, what you’re doing now…etc)
I grew up mostly in Maryland, with a few years living in England, though I have lived in the Hills for over 30 years. I was just out of college, travelling on my first trip out west, we stopped in the Hills for a night,  and I knew that this was the place I wanted to be.  

Q: How long have you been running and how did you get started?
I have been running off and on for a few years but this past season I decided I wanted to run more–and would like to be able to run 50 miles on the BH 100 next summer.  It all started when one day I was WALKING my mountain bike up a hill and this man comes running by without any apparent effort on his part.  We struck up a conversation and he said he was going to be directing a 100 mile running race.  ( This was Ryan Phillips). I was utterly flabbergasted.  I could not fathom people running for 100 miles. So I volunteered to run an aid station ( Bulldog) and was completely and wholly inspired by the all the runners who came through.  I decided that someday I would like to run the BH 100.   And then in 2013 or so I decided to run the Michelson 1/2.  A friend got in touch with me and suggested that I use my run to raise funds for her amazing group Running for Rescues.  Runners raise money and then she funnels the money to animal rescues.  Even though she lives in Connecticut, because of my race, she also donates to local Black Hills area  rescue organizations too.  It’s a really great organization and I was proud to have helped her raise money.  Later  I realized I could keep my feet warm in the winter with running where I couldn’t keep them warm by mountain biking and then In 2014 I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. I did get to run about 10 miles of it. Emoji 

Q: Would you rather run with a group or alone?
I prefer running alone.  I enjoy my time out in the woods, taking photos, watching birds sometimes, hanging out on a nice rock, and  just being out on the trail. And I don’t want to worry about slowing other people down or waiting for me.  But I really enjoyed the trail race series.  It is very inspiring to watch people run UP trails and the camaraderie is so nice, especially when runners are coming back on the out-and -backs, and they cheer me on, saying that I’m “doing great” or “good job”.  It’s really awesome.  I learned also, from the series, that I can push myself , running for longer times before walking, and actually running up those hills.  Well, some of them.

Q: Do you prefer roads or trails?   I definitely prefer trails.  I came to running because of trails.  I’ve never actually run on a road or sidewalk before but that will probably have to change this winter so that I can train for next summer.

Q: How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
Hoo boy!  That’s the question isn’t it? I haven’t solved this yet.  But when I DO listen to that voice in my head telling me how much I would enjoy it, I’m really glad I got out.  ( Even when I don’t particularly love the run, I’m still glad I did it). I made a schedule for myself–that is helping too.  And this winter when I am running on roads, it might be easier–because I can run out the door without taking that extra step of driving to the trails.

Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?
Besides getting to be out in the woods and prairie, it’s how healthy I feel. My lungs, my legs, my heart–it all just feels really good.  I also am more energized and motivated when I get home form a run.

Q: What’s the most valuable lesson you have learned from running?
Here is a funny thing.  I am a slow runner and often come last or nearly last in the trail race series, BUT, I took first place in my division!  The Athena division.  Simply because I showed up for all, except  for one, of the races! So yeah, just keep showing up–what a great metaphor for life!
Another lesson is that my 57 year old body just doesn’t jump up from the couch to running like crazy like it would have done in my 30s or even my 40s.  Injuries stink.  I learned I need to strength train as well as strettttttttttttttch.

Q: What are your running goals for the future?
Next summer, BH50 mile race.  In the future, all of the distances in the BH100.  And I’ve been googling vacation races–Antelope Canyon looks so incredible, as well as Iceland, wow–how awesome would it be to run all over the world in beautiful places.

Q: What is your favorite running memory?

This summer I got to pace my friend Teresa Verburg for a 5 mile section of the Lean Horse 100. ( She promised me that I wouldn’t have to be running very fast  at the point where I paced her Emoji ).  It was SO COOL to be a part of her run!  I met wonderful other people, including her other pacers, and again it is just so inspiring to watch people do incredible things.  

Q: Who inspires you most? Everyone–all of y’all. You are all amazing Emoji.  

I also get inspired by books such as Born to Run by Christopher McDougal–a book about how our bodies are literally built for running and the incredible running feats of the Tarahumara Indigenous people in Mexico.  Another is Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run.

Q: What advice do you have for new runners?

Have fun!  And if you are an older beginner runner, DEFINITELY stretch and strength train.