Amy Compston isn’t done running yet. Far from it.
The 28-year-old Ashland woman, who finished among the top 15 percent of females at this year’s Boston Marathon, is training for a grueling 50-mile Ultra-Marathon in Nashville, Tenn., this November.
She is into her second week of training and is getting some long-distance coaching from Eric Grossman, a college professor in Virginia who was the U.S. Ultra-Marathon national champion in 2008. They connected from a story about Compston that appeared in the newspaper.
Compston is also using the Ultra-Marathon experience to raise money for mission work in Uganda. She has a new website — amyforafrica.com — with ways to give. Compston is hoping individuals will make a donation for every mile she runs in the Ultra-Marathon. There is also room for corporate sponsorship, she said.
Every donation is listed on a donor wall with special recognition for bronze ($100), silver ($250) and gold ($500) club members. The goal is to raise $10,000.
“You can donate directly to United Christian Expeditions from the website,” Compston said. “We’re not handling any of the money but every penny will go to projects in Uganda. There is such a need there.”
Compston said she was hooked on supporting the Uganda missions effort after watching a video at her church, Unity Baptist in Ashland, that showed children singing at the Penne Paris Schools. The church supports missions in Uganda, including two schools — named after the late wife of pastor Floyd Paris.
“It really touched my heart,” Compston said. “From that point on, I started supporting that need. At one point last year we considered adopting from Uganda but, where it’s so remote, it’s almost impossible. I felt God calling me to that area, I just didn’t know how.”
So she turned over her running skills to the calling.
Compston took one week off of running after returning from the tragedy-marred Boston Marathon where she finished about 30 minutes before the bombs exploded near the finish line. Her family — 21 followed her to Boston — was within several feet of the bombs but had left the area less than five minutes before they detonated.
She self-trained for the Boston Marathon and has been a given a book that Grossman helped to write to train for the ultra-marathon.
“The key is finding a plan and sticking to it,” she said. “Finding one that fits your schedule.”
That’s not easy for Compston, a full-time ER nurse at King’s Daughters Medical Center and a mother of four. She understands the next few months will be grueling but has full support of her husband and the rest of the family.
“I asked them if they were willing to do this with me,” she said. “They said, ‘Why not? Let’s do it!’’’
So far the training hasn’t been bad, she said, but it’s about to amp up.
“I’m running about 40 miles a week right now but in about three weeks is when it really will get tough,” Compston said. “I’ll be doing a lot more long runs (than training for the marathon). Over five days I’ll put in about 70 miles. It’s training your body to run on fatigue you’re going to get that day.”
The pattern is running 24 miles one day, 18 the next day and then, after a day’s recovery time, running 15 miles the following day. The rest and recovery is essential, she said.
“I learned through Boston that rest is crucial,” she said. “You learn something every marathon (Compston has run three). I had that couple of weeks where I hit a rough path (in training). One thing that is crucial, I have to work into this, are things like naps with Jarek (her youngest son). Especially at this level of training, the body has to have time to recover. It will catch up with you.”
Compston said she tries not to look ahead in the training, choosing to take it one day at a time.
After writing a journal for eight weeks prior to the Boston Marathon for the newspaper, Compston has seen her popularity grow. She has also spoken at many of the civic clubs in town and to church groups. Her powerful Christian testimony keeps the attention of the audience.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity that God has given me,” she said. “People do know me now and know what I’m doing. It’s a platform he has given me to use for him.”
Compston said her goal in the ultra-marathon was to finish in nine hours or less. She is trying to average 10:48 covering the 50 miles. During the Boston Marathon, which is 26.2 miles, she ran at a 7:55 pace. “Toward the end of that, I could feel it,” she said. “I don’t want to feel it that early.”
Of course, those pace times includes bathroom breaks and eating, which runners must have to complete the grueling runs.
Instead of running a 31-mile race, she chose the 50-mile ultra-marathon because “I really wanted to challenge myself. I know I could do 31 (miles). I’m trusting God will get me through. There are points during a race that you really feel bad and I just recite Bible verses over and over. I’m preparing myself mentally for that now.”
As for Uganda, she has never been but is making plans to visit on a mission trip someday.
“Even when I was a child, I said I wanted to go to Africa,” Compston said. “We started going to Unity and they had a mission in Africa. It’s like it’s all coming together.”
To say Compston is off and running would be an understatement.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2648.