Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 3, 2013

'Beautiful experience' for Compston

Mark Maynard
The Independent

NASHVILLE, TENN. — Amy Compston exceeded even her own high expectations in Saturday’s Ultra Marathon 50-mile race.

The 29-year-old marathoner — and the Amy behind the Amy for Africa mission effort — finished second among female runners in a time of 7 hours, 36 minutes and 14 seconds. Her goal for the 50-mile race was to finish in under nine hours. She maintained a 9-minute per mile pace throughout the race, averaging 9:07 for the 50 miles.

There were 105 runners participating, including 30 female, on a cool fall day.

With the help of her husband Chris, who ran 12 of the last 14 miles with her, she accomplished the goal with room to spare.

She said the support of Chris and her family and friends who made the trip to Nashville made all the difference. They greeted her at several aid stations with loud cheers and a large Amy for Africa banner that her brother, Andy, brought to the race. The group became a favorite for all the runners who received encouraging cheers, too.

“It was something I looked forward to every mile,” she said of the greeting. “I could see my pace pick up when I could see them and hear them. It was such a blessing.”

Compston has been training for her first Ultra Marathon since signing up after returning from the Boston Marathon in April. She also dedicated herself to run for missions in Moyo, Uganda, and spoke at several area churches, civic groups, jails and recovery groups in the area over the last five months.

The mission (amyforafrica.com) raised $41,916 during that same five-month period as Compston shared not only about her running and competing in this year’s tragedy-marred Boston Marathon but her recovery from 14 years of drug and alcohol addictions. She credits the recovery to surrendering her life fully to God last July.

On race day, she was a determined woman, said her husband Chris. “Her strength, I can’t get over it. She just never slowed down.”

Compston said she received a mental boost when Chris joined her at mile 36. The longest she had ever run before Saturday was 31 miles.

“When I was out there I really wanted first but I’ll take second,” Amy said. “I can’t tell you how many times out there I said ‘Praise the Lord!’”

She also found herself singing church hymns or repeating memorized Bible verses when negative thoughts would enter her mind. Her husband wasn’t planning on running a half-marathon but he found himself singing “Amazing Grace” with Amy on the run when things got tough.

“When I felt cramps come on I started quoting scripture and then started singing ‘Amazing Grace,’” he said. “The cramps went away so I think it made a difference.”

Amy said the advice of professional runners, especially Eric Grossman who advised her via email in her training, was a definite advantage.

“The advice the pros gave me was awesome, especially the nutritional advice,” she said.

Compston said she felt empowered throughout the race and even prayed for a shower for the last 10 miles — and it rained.

“It was really amazing, a beautiful experience,” she said. “The race itself was hard but I never hit the wall, so to speak. It never happened. I might have gotten a little delusional. A siren went off once and I thought it was my sister Traci (Vazquez) screaming.”

Compston said she will “take a few weeks off” before starting preparation for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.