Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 Inspiring People of the Year Camille Herron

Meet World Champion Ultra Marathoner and Guinness World Record Holder
Photo Credit Jetline Action Photo

Nature vs Nurture, by Camille Herron

As we were flying to San Francisco, I was watching the documentary Three Identical Strangers. Three young men who were all adopted meet each other and find out they were triplets separated at birth. Seeking to understand why they were separated, they find out they were part of an experimental study in which each baby was placed in a different family. The separation was done to try and answer the question of “nature vs nurture”. While they indeed have a lot in common, they find out they have a lot of difference too.

The movie made me reflect on my own life deeply- how blessed I am to have gotten the right genes from our parents for ultrarunning and also how my life experiences have shaped who I am.
Both of our parents were great athletes. Dad (and our Grandpa) played basketball at Oklahoma State, and Mom was a swimmer/golfer/bowler. I inherited our Dad’s long and lean body and limbs, while I believe I got my endurance physiology from Mom. I got my ability to be “cool under pressure” from Dad, while I think I got my ability to tolerate pain well from Mom. All four kids in our family played sports. However, I was the only one with the extreme motivation and drive to continue with sports into adulthood.

It was obvious from a young age I was wired differently. I had an innate fearlessness and ability to push to the extreme. I remember when I was three standing by the stove while Mom was cooking and feeling the heat from it. I tried to touch it to see how hot it was and burned my finger. I still have a scar on my finger!

Around the same age, we were at a public swimming pool. I was sitting on the edge peering into the water and wondered how deep it was. Before I knew it I fell in! Not knowing how to swim, I remember sinking to the bottom, looking up, and seeing Mom dive in to rescue me. This incident is why I did not become a swimmer like Mom!

I grew up with a basketball in my hands aspiring to be like Dad. As a girl in the mid-80's, I feel fortunate that Title IX came about 10 years prior. I was never made to feel that I couldn’t do something or lacked opportunities. I remember seeing the first female Globetrotter, Lynette Woodard, on TV—she was the first pro female athlete I ever saw. I dreamed of growing up to be a female Globetrotter.
Photo credit Kurt Schill

When I was seven, I got a basketball goal for my birthday. I’d heard stories from Dad how they’d practice for six hours without water. The following summer, I would practice every day in the heat, without food and water, until I’d start to black out. This is what I thought I had to do to get better! Then, I’d run inside to eat peanut butter and apples, grilled cheese sandwich, soup, pickles, and sweet tea or Coke. I’d come back out and continue practicing. Little did I know I was an ultrarunner in the making!

Flash forward to Desert Solstice last December 2017. 10 hours into my 12 hour World Record, I started getting an intense craving for sweet tea! I don’t remember the last time I had sweet tea. I was having mental flashbacks to my childhood, practicing in the driveway until I’d blackout. You see, it was all ingrained in me from the beginning! All my life experiences prepared me for this moment. They were able to get me some sweet tea, and it hit the spot! I got my second wind and continued to push and break Ann Trason’s 12 hour World Record set in 1991, which incidentally was one of the summer I was intensely practicing basketball!

Photo Credit Conor Holt

I’m 3 ½ years into my amazing ultrarunning journey now. People want to know how I do it. To answer the question of “nature vs nurture”- I believe the culmination of my life experiences are what helps propel my mind and body to unlock the potential of what’s possible. It is through my heart and will that I’ll continue to transcend!

You can follow my amazing journey at Camille Herron Athlete/Coach on Facebook

1 comment:

  1. Just learned about you while reading about the Sri Chinmoy 3100 race. Very inspiring!