Note: This is Chris Petruccio’s report on his first ultra, the Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic.
Chris gives us much more than just a bare bones accounting of his first 50K race, so we are dividing it up into 4 segments.
On a cold February night in 2011, I did something I hadn’t done since basic training back in the grand old year of 1988, I went for a jog!
I’m still not sure why I did it. I just did. My wife Melissa, our two boys and I live on a one mile cul de sac street. I made it almost halfway that night. Although I had quit drinking, weighing 212 pounds, being 5’5” tall and leading a very sedentary life style, my eyes were opened that night. More changes had to be made if I was going to be completely healthy.
I continued each evening to venture out into the cold dark night. Funny how things change. Not that long ago, I’d venture out to a cold dark garage and shot gun a few beers to try and kill the pain now I was welcoming pain into my life as an invited guest. In a healthy way this time. I guess pain is relevant. With two weeks of running in the books, I set my first goal to run two miles like I had done in basic training. I made up my mind that I was not going to quit and I didn’t. At one o’clock in the morning, on a weeknight it’s pretty hard to find someone that is as energized and proud of you as you are of yourself for something you just did. I wanted to share it with the whole world. My wife was proud of me, she always has been. Even in the “lost years” of my life.
In April 2011, Missi purchased a getaway package for two at Cook Forest Lodge for my birthday. There was a 5k there that weekend so we registered and ran it together. It was fun.
In May 2011, I quit running. I decided I was going to be a farmer. I started raising cattle on 80 acres of land near our home on a handshake deal. In October, the guy pulled the rug out from underneath me and the dream was over. This rocked my world. Even though I still had a full time job, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do in my spare time. That night I went out for a run. It was surreal. I had found the high I had been looking for... the runner’s high.
A few days later, I went up to the local running store and purchased my first pair of real running shoes to seal the deal. While I was there the young man behind the counter informed me that there was a 5k in my neighborhood that upcoming weekend.
Sunday morning I got up early to read my Bible and go to church with my family. While reading, I came across a verse that said something along the lines of all runners run the race but not all get the prize. Run in such a way as to win the race. I quickly closed my Bible and changed into my running clothes. Missi asked me where I was going. I told her I was going to win a race and proceeded to the 5k event. Up the road I went with a hunger within me that I can not explain, registered and towed the line.
Within probably the first 1000 yards or so, I realized I wasn’t going to win this race but decided I could still run as if I were going to. I made the final turn and headed for home and to my amazement my boys were standing at the finish line video recording my finish. We hung out for a bit just because we were having fun and enjoying the morning. Wouldn’t you know it, they called my name. Third in age group, 40-44, Chris Petruccio, Chesterland.
My boys were there to see me get my first medal. It was by far my finest hour in the last couple years. I learned my first truism about running during that event. The only person you’ll ever compete against is yourself.
Click here for Part Two, Discovering Ultras