Be Your Own Hero: An Employee Spotlight on Account Manager Kelli Bullock
Orthus Health Account Manager and runner extraordinaire, Kelli Bullock, took on the Daytona Ultramarathon this month. The race theme was "Be Your Own Hero" - and she's ours too! We sat down with Kelli to talk about her running and race experience, how she trained, and how she stays motivated.
1. Tell us about the race. Where was it? When was it? How long was it?
Last weekend, I ran the Daytona Ultramarathon! I had the choice between running a 50k, 50-miler, or 100-miler. Since this was my first ultra, I chose the 50k.
The race is point-to-point instead of a loop, so the 100-miler goes from Jacksonville to Daytona. The race was about 32 miles down the Florida coast, from Flagler Beach to Daytona Beach. Most of the route I was running on the sidewalk next to a busy road, but the last 3 miles I did get to run on the beach where the race cars used to drive before the Daytona 500! It took me a little less than 7 hours to complete my 50k - I ran from about 2pm to 9pm.
2. How did you get started running? When did you first start running races? What was your first race?
Growing up, both my parents were avid runners, but my dad specifically ingrained my love of running. He used to be a physical therapist in the United States Army, so running and being active has always been a big part of our lives. I grew up running Turkey Trots every Thanksgiving, 5ks and “Fun Runs” every 4th of July, etc. I was never really big into sports and didn’t consider myself athletic, but running was always an important outlet for me. The first race I seriously trained for was my first marathon in 2018. Before training for that race, the longest distance I had ever run was 6 miles!
3. What do you love about running? What motivates you?
I love running because you can do it outside, you are in control of your effort, it doesn’t require any equipment, and it is a functional exercise that helps make daily life easier. Running has taught me to listen to the signals my body gives me and helped me learn when to push and when to rest. I’m motivated by good music, my support system, spending time in nature, taking care of my body, and looking back on the progress I’ve made.
4. How did you train?
I adapted a 50k training program to fit my lifestyle. Most weeks I would run 2-4 times Monday through Friday, and then do my long runs on Saturdays. Would I have performed better if I had followed the training plan exactly? Maybe. Would I have stuck to the training if I hadn’t adapted it to fit into my life? Most likely not. Something I learned along the way is that the “perfect runs” aren’t what get you to the finish line. What really makes the difference is consistency – just getting out there day after day. Showing up and putting in the work no matter what. And ALWAYS remember the all-important rest days - you can’t grow if you don’t let your body rest and heal.
The biggest tip I would recommend, in running and in life, is set small goals for yourself and reward yourself for each accomplishment. While running the race, I couldn’t dwell on the fact that I had to run 31 miles total or else I would start to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Instead, I focused on how I would get myself through the next couple miles, and planned a reward for myself once I got to each milestone - like listening to my favorite song or taking a quick walk break. It can seem impossible to accomplish a lofty goal, but if you break it down into small, achievable goals, you will stay motivated. You will keep crushing those smaller goals until they add up to achieving the main goal.
5. What made you want to sign up for the race?
One of my biggest weaknesses is consistency. I excel at short-term, high-intensity bouts of effort, but struggle when it comes to long-term maintenance. However, long distance running is one thing that you can’t procrastinate. Your body must go through several physical adaptations to allow you to run for such an extended amount of time, and those adaptations take time and consistency. You can’t force your muscles to strengthen immediately or your joints to instantly handle high impact. You must be patient, be consistent, trust in the process, and take care of yourself. I signed up for this race to prove to myself that I can overcome my weaknesses, and that I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to!
6. What was the hardest thing you had to overcome in training and/or during the race?
This race was a LOT tougher than I was expecting. It seemed that everything that could have possibly gone wrong, went wrong. The weather was much warmer than predicted, the course was on a sidewalk next to a busy road rather than the beach views I was expecting. There were no aid stations in sight, and I was misdirected into a loop that added an extra 1.5 miles to the 31+ I signed up for. I hit my lowest point and burst into tears around 7pm - the sky was pitch black, cars were honking at me, my knees were killing me, and there were no other runners in sight. After taking a few minutes to feel sorry for myself, I realized that no matter what attitude I had, it did not change the amount of miles I had left. I could choose to be devastated, hopeless, and miserable for the next 2 hours or I could choose to change my attitude and make the best of it. So, I turned on an album that made me laugh and I could sing along to, texted my support system, and repeated out loud, "I am a warrior, and I can get through anything." I put one foot in front of the other, set small goals, and PREVAILED!
7. What was the best part about completing the race?
The best part about completing the race was the fact that I finished it! I set a long-term goal, overcame adversity, and achieved what I set out to do. I can honestly say that I have grown and learned so much about myself, and I am so grateful for that opportunity. I have never felt stronger, more empowered, or more proud of myself.
8. Would you do it again?
Honestly? I am very grateful for the experience, but now that I’ve accomplished this, I have other goals I want to achieve.
For me, it's never been about being the fastest, the strongest, or better than others.
It’s about challenging myself, showing up and putting in the work, and valuing myself enough to achieve the goals I’ve set!
Congrats, Kelli! You make us proud!