Badass trail and ultra runner Ashley Kelly of Vancouver, WA is a lifelong runner and no stranger to the podium. Read about how running gets her through tough times in her Runner's Life story here...
Describe what RUNNING is to you, in 5 words or less.
Healing, Therapy, Living, Acceptance, and FUN.
How did you get started running and/or what inspired you to run?
A challenging childhood called for an effective outlet. Between that and a science teacher/track coach in middle school who saw the runner in me, created a fierce runner. It has become a life line and a gift I never want to take for granted. It makes me a better person and I never want to give that up.
Your favorite running moment?
After a rough first ultramarathon at Smith Rock in Bend, Oregon, I sought redemption at the Mt. Hood 50k. And I was rewarded with a 2 hour and 19 minute PR. And the runner up favorite memory happened at the Boring, Oregon 8K race. I had been struggling for almost a month with being sluggish, overtrained and just plain tired. I went out and shocked myself with an amazing finishing time and a 1 mile PR along with a 5K PR. I hadn’t ran that fast since high school. Took second in my age group and 3rd female overall. I am not someone who NEEDS to do awesome at a race but every once in awhile, it’s nice to surprise yourself.
Who/what do you think you'd be like today if you did NOT run?
Running teaches you to not cut corners and to work hard for what you want. Running creates a person who doesn’t just quit when things get challenging...it teaches you to push forward through. Without running I would be someone who gets discouraged and quits easily. I would be a quitter.
Why do you keep on running? and running and running...
Because I want to be a great example to friends and family. I want to show them that if I can do it, so can they. That if you really want to achieve something you can do it. I want to always be a person who doesn’t shy away from hard work and struggle. Running gives you those tools. And there’s no way to have it NOT affect the rest of your life for the good. That feeling of “I can’t imagine going on but I can’t imagine giving up” transfers over to the rest of your life. There’s so many reasons I keep running. But the main one is because it better prepares me for the twists, turns, and road-blocks that life inevitably keeps tossing my way. Running gives me the strength to live my life to the fullest.
What is your favorite post run/race indulgence?
A beer (Porter) and wings.
Oddest, most unusual, weirdest running experience.
At my first ultra I experienced some pretty awful heat exhaustion. I literally do not remember the last 2-3 miles or passing the finish line. I remember parts of the medical tent...but mostly I only remember this constant need to finish. I had no idea I had finished so I kept telling the medics that I didn’t have time to hang out with them... needed to go so I could go finish my race. Then there was the time I was running in downtown Portland, OR and a stampede of naked bicyclists flooded the streets. I guess that was pretty weird.
50K trail races and naked bicyclists flooding the streets of Portland, Oregon?! Clearly we need to hang out with this girl soon. Follow Ashley and her kick-ass ultrarunning adventures on her blog, Facebook, Instagram @smash_runner, and Athlete-IQ