To kick off our blog for the year we have invited our loyal ambassador Roberta Horn to share her experience as an endurance athlete who has persevered through many challenges. We hope her story may inspire you to not back down in difficult times, and to "follow your dreams, take a chance because life is short, and life is about living."
By Roberta Horn
I was born in 1959 with an hereditary birth defect, club feet. From the time I was baby until around 8 years old, I always had cast on my little feet after numerous surgeries. Growing up I was always shy about how I looked, kids were cruel and made fun of me and my feet. I kept them covered. Never went swimming, avoided P.E. when we would practice on the balance beam. I was always interested in being healthy and as I grew older, I spent more and more time in the gym, concentrating on my fitness. As an adult I still had the same shyness about my feet but the same goals of fitness.
In 1993 I was rear ended in an auto accident followed by a bad chiropractic adjustment that left me paralyzed with a broken neck, C2/C3. In the medical world it is known as a hangman’s fracture. My chances of surviving the surgery were minimal and if I did, there wouldn’t be much of a life for me. Well I did survive the surgery and I wore a halo brace in my head for 3 months followed by months of various neck braces and slow rehabbing until I was finally allowed back in the gym. Happy Day!
I continued to work hard on my fitness and soon was back to myself but with limitations. My doctors said they removed part of a bone from my hip to fuse my neck and that my neck would always be in jeopardy of injury or worse! They told me that I should never, ride a bike, ski, snow board, jump rope, run, the list was endless! Well that was not living in my opinion. One day in 1995 I was sitting on the beach watching people surf and I thought to myself, I want to do that! I called my doctor and told him my plan and his reaction was not very favorable but I said to him, “life is about living doctor! I am not living, I need to do this, for me!” and so I started to learn to surf and also trained and competed for a year in Long Distance Paddle Board Series. Was I scared? You bet I was! I was so scared I might fall and get hurt but stopping was not an option for me. I do have some physical limitations from the injury but if I didn't tell you what they are, you wouldn't really notice. I remember taking off on my first real wave and what a thrill! I truly felt alive!
In 1997 I met my husband Glen. He owned San Diego Surf Shop back in the 70’s and early 80’s and is now retired. He still shapes surf boards and spends 9 months a year in the desolate parts of Baja. We both are athletic and love the outdoors. Since meeting and marrying Glen, I now spend months in Baja. He was the first man who made me feel comfortable about myself. He has helped me to be more comfortable about my feet even though I still cringe at the thought of wearing open toes shoe or flip flops. It’s a work in progress!
As the years went by I continued to work out and surf daily. One day I decided I needed more cardio so I started to run in place! What a thrill! 5 minutes turned to 20 minutes then down the street for a few blocks! Before I knew it I was running half marathons and full marathons! I was never a fast runner, a middle to back of the pack runner but am comfortable with that. I am so grateful to be able to do what I am doing. After a few years running marathons I heard about ultra marathons. A distance longer than 26.2 miles, really? That sounded great to me.
And so it began. I trained hard, always running, weight lifting core work and tire dragging, I experimented with what nutrition would work and wouldn't work. I met some amazing ultra runners who have guided me along the way. One friend is Catra Corbett, an amazing ultra runner who has been instrumental in my nutrition choices. One day Catra posted on Facebook about a new fuel she was using, Muir Energy. I absolutely loved the idea of all natural, only 5 ingredients used. I tried the Cashew Vanilla and was hooked! I have NO stomach issues at all, ever. It is my first go to always. I am always talking about it because it is that good!
Since I started ultra running 2 years ago, I have done one 52 mile race, two 50k’s, two 100k’s, three 24 hour races (including one on a treadmill) and recently a 48 hour race. I have several more planned for 2018. I do have issues with my feet during races, not because of my shoes or blisters, but my club feet. I have adjust to whatever is happening, stay positive and keep going. I have learned that I can do so much more than I ever thought possible and that if I keep trying, I am always going to be a winner.
The ultra running community offers so much. The people are caring and supportive. I feel like I finally fit in somewhere.
Follow your dreams, take a chance because life is short, and life is about living!
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