It’s true, I still don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up. But, I can tell you what I want to be like.
I want to be like Virginia. Virginia Farneman was the first woman to join the 7 Continents Club. She’s run over 240 marathons total, including:
… 1 on each continent
… 1 in all 50 US states
… 1 in each Canadian province
… and countless others in amazing places like Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Scotland, England, Portugal, Spain, Egypt, Israel…
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
The kicker here is that not only did she do all of these amazing races, she did them all within 5 years!
And I thought I was a busy girl.
I had the pleasure of meeting Virginia this week at an event hosted by the Run Club at my local Life Time Fitness. Although Virginia doesn’t run anymore, thanks to a knee injury, she still cycles like a madman and has participated in tons of long-distance cycling events on top of all her marathons and ultramarathons.
You would think that a woman who has accomplished so much would be larger than life, and you would be spot on when it comes to Virginia. She’s petite in stature, but her personality quickly proves that she is quite the firecracker (don’t you love that twinkle in her eyes?). She’s also very humble and absolutely hilarious. When asked about the 24-hour races she’s run, (races plural, as in more than one) she replied, “Oh yeah! You can just do one!”
Some of her favorite races include the Big Sur Marathon and the Avenue of the Giants Marathon, but Virginia and I also share some local favorites that she tried to run almost every year when her schedule allowed – the Columbus Marathon, the Flying Pig, and the Air Force Marathon. She’s also completed Disney’s Goofy Challenge (half marathon on Saturday, full marathon on Sunday) – her thoughts? “They gave me 3 medals – I was tickled pink!”
For what it’s worth, I’m right there with you, Virginia!
Virginia claims that she’s not normally that competitive, but throw her husband into the mix and it’s game on. She didn’t start running until relatively later in life, at age 45. Before becoming a runner, she played tennis and worked on a farm. She shared that before she started running, she was cocky, but quickly learned that she was wrong – running is very different than playing tennis or throwing hay.
At first she was very self-deprecating about her running accomplishments, blaming most of it on her husband. But the conversation turned toward why she ran, it became clear that she believes in the lessons running has to teach us all. “Running gives you inner peace and security. You can say you tried, and that’s what really matters. It makes you a better person.”
I loved meeting Virginia, and some of her advice came just in time for me – when asked about the mental side of running, she said that it’s all about the mental tricks and games you play with yourself. Running hills? Her advice is…
“Don’t look up. When you look up, you can see the hill. But if you look down, it looks flat, and after awhile you believe it is. There are no hills when you look down.”
You better believe I’ll be channeling my inner Virginia between miles 5 and 8 come Sunday morning!