Micha was born in Busan S Korea and raised in Philadelphia. She played softball, karate, ballroom dance, tribal bellydance and earned a Psych Degree from University of PA. Micha was painfully shy and didn’t talk to anyone in school until 5th grade. In her own words:I took a leave of absence from college without telling my parents. My friend who was in the Reserves told me I should join the Marine Corps. I walked into his recruiter’s office and said I wanted to be a machine gunner and he laughed. I maxed out my flex arm hang and sit-ups on the spot. I took the ASVABs the next day and scored a 98. They tried to get me to go OCS at that point. I declined with my reasoning that I really thought Parris Island was so much more badass and knew I’d have to go back to school so I opted Reserves. My MOS was 6821 (weather observer) and went to Chanute AFB for 4 months. I was stationed at MCAS El Toro 93-94 then NAS Willow Grove for remainder of my reserve duty. ATDs in the summer at some really fabulous bases like Ft Dix, NJ. One year we actually had it at El Toro. Hahaha.Running was always my weak link. It was something I had to do to pass my PFT. My first inkling of wanting to run a marathon was hearing Oprah complete the MCM. My first registration was back in 2008 or so when urged by one of my dance students who was into running. I went to the local running store and got a pair of Brooks Glycerine, running tights and a tech tee. I had no idea how to train and after one or two runs, I abandoned the goal and I DNS’d, not that I even knew what a DNS was back then.
Fast forward 4 years, post divorce, post closing my business of 10 years. I was overweight, smoking in the closet, and really depressed. I felt beaten down and defeated. I had 4 young children to take care of and after some horrible post divorce dating experiences, I thought I’d give running another go. At this point, I decided that I am my weakest link. And running was a weak link. I had started cleaning up my diet and lost a few pounds and tried running one day. I actually pulled out those old Brooks. I couldn’t even run a mile at that point. Then one day I ran 6 miles on a treadmill and it felt great. Then I decided to do a virtual half marathon to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims. I nearly died. But I was hooked. I did a couple of 5k races and then after running the MCM Historic Half, and a Diva Half Marathon, I signed up for MCM in 2013. Long story short, still had no real idea about training and after a long European cruise a week before race day, my then boyfriend and I both DNSd. I felt so shitty about this one because I started getting involved with online running groups and I’d had some great running moments. I was determined to show up next time.
My first marathon was 2014 MCM. I finished. Afterward, I got it into my head that I could do an ultra. What’s another 6-ish Miles I thought? I plugged the trigger on Jan 1, 2015 to run my first ultra. North Face in DC. Then came Altras, a partial tear in calf muscle, but I showed up and finished.2015. But I didn’t feel like a real ultrarunner until I finished my first 50 Miler. To train for this, I ran a self supported multi day 200k in Korea, the summer of 2015. It took me 5 days of running. Fell a little short of my goal, but still proud of myself. I wanted to do it in 4 days…a 50k every day. But one day was so hot and humid I could only muster a half marathon.
◦Jan 2016 I finished Avalon 50 and I finally felt comfortable claiming I was an ultrarunner. April 2016 I returned to North Face for my second 50 Miler. I haven’t done much racing in 2017-2018 due to car accident last year. Got into cycling and triathlon but we won’t talk about that here. 🤣
◦It’s been a wonderful journey and partly due to MURCA I’ve come to re-embrace my love for ultrarunning. This year, I’ll run MCM a 4th time if I don’t do Javelina 100k. If I run MCM instead, I’ll do Devil Dog 100k in December. My 2019 “A” race is the Zion 100. Bucket list races: Leadville 100, both mountain bike and foot race.
Micha’s three nuggets of wisdom:
- Be resolved. Ultra happens in the mind first. Then train as consistently as possible. It matters.
- Comparison is the thief of joy. Great to be competitive with others and yourself but there does exist a healthy boundary. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Self-shaming is never productive.
- Mentor others along the journey. We learn so much by helping others.