He was not a runner but at age 47, like most of us, Ronald Vargas was feeling the pressures of life. You’ve been there. Family, work, aging, you name it, these mid-life stressors are real.
But one’s ability to “dig deep and keep going” is equally as real and Vargas is living proof of this. “I was not happy at home and didn’t want to be there. So I decided to go walking. Then I decided to walk-run. Then I just ran,” said Vargas, who is a Production Manager at The Greenery and no stranger to hard work.
Now at 57, Vargas has completed five 100-mile races, five 50-mile races, two 24-hour races, one 160-mile race, and numerous marathons and trail runs. Always striving, on August 11, Vargas will compete in his most grueling course to date: the Bigfoot 200, a four-day 200-mile race through high elevations in the Cascade Mountains in Washington state.
Talking about his preparation for Bigfoot 200, Vargas admitted, “There is a lot of pressure. You never know how you are going to do the day of the race. You can do all the training, but you never know. Elite guys even drop miles in.”
So Vargas has been concentrating on his mental game. “I’m hard-headed. I’m a push guy. However, I listen to my body and know how much to push it.” Vargas’ long distance runs have taught him how to tune out everything around him and just look at each foot as it steps in front of the other, propelling him forward toward his goal.
Vargas also has a hardcore training schedule. “Some days, I am up at 5 a.m. and work until 5 p.m. and then go home. I make sure everything is fine, eat, shower, and chill, and even though I’m freaking tired around 10 p.m. I run four to five hours. I have to be prepared for running at night.” During his workouts, Vargas also focuses on strengthening his legs. At times, he will run outside weighted down with 15 to 20 pounds of filled water bottles or inside on a 15-incline with a 25-pound weighted vest.
And yet, regarding race preparation, it is Vargas’ approach to life that gives him the competitive edge. “When I do something, I do it with a lot of passion.” Vargas began working at The Greenery 24 years ago as a crew member and likens his professional success to his running. “Work and running both take dedication. I do not compete with others. Just myself. I do not need to do anything better than chase my own dreams and do it with a positive mind.”
You should know, though, that getting Vargas across the finish line takes more than just training. “I really rely on the emotional support of other people. I wish I could have my best friend go with me, but he can’t go. I also need financial support. These races are expensive. I need three to four new pair of shoes, nutrition, and money to travel for training and to go to the race.” Jokingly Vargas then added, “And I need to sleep at night.”
Vargas manages his stress just as he competes in his races: one foot in front of the other, step by step. “When I get in a low patch, I know I need to dig down into my soul and keep going.” Vargas’ mental endurance has helped him overcome several physical challenges on the race course like losing a toenail, blisters, muscle cramps, and vomiting, as well as personal challenges off the race course. “We all have the ability to keep going.”
To support Ronald Vargas’ race journey, you can donate to his GoFund Me at https://gofund.me/2b16b20d.