Yuri DibbleComment

Badass Human #4: Ultra Runner Sheva Willoughby

Yuri DibbleComment
Badass Human #4: Ultra Runner Sheva Willoughby

Guys, this #badass is one for the books. She is an architect, a fellow CHS alumni, and an Ultra runner. We are talking 100 mile races...and no, that's not a typo. 

Sheva and I grew up together, and she has always been someone I looked up to. She was the first person I ever saw wearing Lucky Brand jeans, she was the first person I ever knew who shopped at Whole Foods and drank SmartWater (am I showing my age here?) she was always fun to be around, and she always worked hard and paid for her own shit. I have always admired her independence. 

This admiration did not stop after high school, or college, or in the 12 years after college that she has spent busting her ass to get all the licensing required to follow her dream of becoming an architect. She currently works in Colorado Springs on projects as large as St. Joseph's Hospital, to tiny one room renovations...and still, my admiration does not stop there. 

Sheva is an Ultra Marathon Runner. This means she consistently runs races beyond the "typical" 26.2 miles, all the way up to 100 mile races - and we are not talking freshly paved city streets. A lot of these miles are logged running up and down mountains, and traversing through all types of rugged terrain. 


I'll let her racing resume speak for itself:

  • 3x Pikes Peak Ascents 
  • 2x Pikes Peak Marathon (second time I won first in my age group with a time of 5:47)
  • 1x ‘Doubling’ (running both the Ascent and Marathon back to back)
  • Berlin Marathon
  • Attempted Run Rabbit Run 100 miler (something went wrong early on, not sure what, but I couldn’t keep any food down from mile 21-60ish and then my IT band wouldn’t allow my leg to bend so I had to drop out)
  • Leadville Silver Rush 50 miler
  • Dirty 30 (30 miler in Golden Gate State Park)
  • North Face Endurance Race – 50 miler 
  • TransRockies Run (6 day stage race (run-camp-repeat); 120 miles with 20,000+ elev. gain) 
  • OCC (55km with 3,000m elevation gain starting in Switzerland and finishing in Chamonix, France – around Mount Blanc) 

YOU GUYS, I TOLD YOU. She is even an ambassador for some of the most well known running brands such as Reebok Ragnar Relay, Four Athletics, GU (sports nutrition), and No Fine Print. Plus, she is just an all around amazing soul...not like, a fake nice-to-everyone kind of soul, but a genuine, down to earth, badass. 


Here is Sheva's take on ACE's BAH questionnaire:

What does an aligned and centered life look like to you? 

When I read ‘aligned and centered’ my mind instantly gravitates to the words balanced and intentional. I feel most aligned and centered when I can achieve a decent balance in my life, and when I feel like I can be intentional and put my heart into everything I am doing. Whenever one of the balls I’m juggling, (work, family, fitness, fun) gets out of whack I feel ‘off’ and its not my favorite. 


Can you recall a time you consciously took yourself out of your comfort zone? 

Ha! Yes! Turns out I get uncomfortable pretty easy I guess because it seems like I am out of my comfort zone all the time. Whether its going to a social function where I don’t know anyone or pushing past my comfort zone in a workout, or trying a new movement at the gym, or having a difficult conversation with my husband – any one of those things make me feel vulnerable, and that’s uncomfortable. BUT, almost without exception I emerge on the other side grateful that I forced myself to follow through with whatever it was. Am I always able to overcome my own self-doubt? No. But, I try not to beat myself up over it. Instead I try to take a mental snapshot of the moments when I DID push myself out of that comfort zone, took a risk, and had a favorable outcome. Another trick I often try is to ask myself, ‘what’s the worst that can happen, and am I ok with that.' Most of the time recalling those victories or deciding I am okay with whatever the outcome is works…but sometimes, just like everyone else, I get inside my own head and cockblock myself. Guess its just part of the journey right? 

(Editor's note...I freaking LOVE the fact that she used "cockblock" in this post....LOL)


What does your perfect day look like? 

The perfect day for me is the kind of day when I can look back at the end of the day and be proud; proud that I was the best version of myself that day. A day where I am able to balance allllll the things. A day where I actively practice gratitude and kindness. A day where I put my head down and put in the work without complaining. A day where I take the time do be intentional and not do things half-assed…really use my whole ass! Reality is that most days I am stoked if I achieve even ONE of these things. 


More importantly, what would you eat that day?!? 

ALLLL the things! Haha. I am at an interesting transition right now. I am finally making the connection between what I eat dictates how I feel. I mean, I have always KNOWN that, but it never really hit home until recently. It was more of a ‘I cant eat this’ or ‘I have to eat that’ kind of mentality. SO, on one hand I want to say that I would eat donuts and cupcakes and all the fruits…but then I would feel like dog shit and not be motivated to do anything probably. Breakfast would be avocado toast with bacon, egg, arugula and sriracha mayo, and coffee obviously! Lunch would be sweet and spicy (paleo) meatloaf with fingerling potatoes and a pink lady apple. Dinner would be a burger-patty-salad with all kinds of tasty fixins with a few sweet potato fries and allll the brussel sprouts and some dark chocolate for dessert! 


How do you handle negative emotions when they arise?

Depends on my mental state at the time. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes I get pouty and have a pity party for myself. Ideally though, I try to really be honest with myself (which for some reason is way harder than it sounds) and figure out WHY I am feeling that way. Usually its some stupid insecurity or me caring what other people are doing or thinking etc. I think it’s important to acknowledge those negative emotions though, even if you know they are silly or stupid and embarrassed to admit you have those kinds of feelings…its human nature. The context of the emotions also dictates how I handle them. For example, if I am in the middle of a race and start getting negative I first problem solve and then make a plan of action. If I am just being shitty I’ll remind myself that what I am putting out into the universe is what Im getting back, so unless I want to have a shitty time the WHOLE time, I better shape up. Ultra races are a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows so you cant get too bogged down in the lows or they’ll crush you. Sometimes I just try to ride it out and ignore it. Other times I try to think of all things going right, even if they are as simple as ‘I’m still moving forward’ or ‘I haven’t puked yet’!  


Can you recall the last time you took a leap of pure faith?

Yes! Just this week. I’m not quite ready to share with the world what is was just yet though. But, it was just like any other time – I was equally excited and terrified. After much deliberation I concluded I would a) never be ready b) if not now, when and c) whats the worst that can happen and can I deal. Perspective is everything. Deciding to view ‘failures’ as a helpful and necessary part of the process.  


When do you feel most “yourself?”

Hmmm…good question. I guess I feel most ‘myself’ when I make decisions based on what I want to do and not what I think other people think I should do. When I am unapologetically me. 


Can you divulge one current struggle you are working through?

All the things listed in the previous questions! Every day! One recent struggle that really bothers me is comparison. I know a million times over that ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ but that doesn’t seem to stop me from doing it. I often find myself wanting the results without wanting to put in the work. SO frustrating! This not only messes with my head but also discounts all the hard work that other person has put into said thing. The way I have been trying to combat that is by putting more energy toward gratitude. What this looks like in practice: me thinking of things I am grateful for while I get ready for work in the morning and by putting my nose to the grindstone and just doing the work (whatever that may be) without complaining (too much). 


Imagine you are completely content. Now, can you describe what you are doing in this image?

I am aligned and centered and traveling the world adventuring with my hubby! <3 


If you had to choose, what would you say you are most proud of in your life?

Hmm…my perseverance! To keep going when the going gets tough! 


What’s one thing you think we all as humans have in common?

Struggle. I think its easy for us to forget that #thestruggleisreal for everyone, not just ourselves. 


What traits do you find badass in other humans?

Kindness, compassion, tenacity, perseverance, focus, overcoming fears to tackle goals, not caring what others think of them, being a giver more than a taker… 


What traits do you acknowledge are badass in yourself? 

Empathy, perseverance, work ethic and silliness. I think its hugely important never to take yourself too seriously. 


Do you have one (or two) non-negotiable items you must include in your day to be the best version of yourself?

Exercise and gratitude! 


Any advice for other people who might be trying to harness their own badassery? 

Just go for it, whatever ‘it’ is! You’ll never know unless you try. You are so much more that you think you are! And, what you put out into the world is what you get back, so stop focusing on the bad/what’s going wrong and think about what’s going right. Envision where you want to be/the kind of life you want to have, like REALLY want to have, not some fake ass bullshit, don’t lie to yourself! So cheeseball, I know. 


God. I just love her. There is so much good stuff in there. Can you #fangirl someone you grew up with? Apparently so! 

You can follow Sheva's journey on her IG: @_shevinator_. Go on and show her some love...she will also motivate the shit out of you, so beware!

Until next time!

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