Four Jobs, CrossFit, and a Dream: How Liz Bell Completed an Ultramarathon
One day during the CrossFit Games, Liz Bell ran 16 miles.
Between shifts running the Barbell Voodoo booth in Vendor Village, she found time to run a distance most CrossFitters–let alone the general population–could never imagine taking on. For Bell, though, she didn’t think it was close to enough.
The long-time runner and CrossFitter since 2019 had set her mind on an ultramarathon. With her and her husband’s anniversary coming up at exactly the same time he was scheduled to be sent off for basic training, she knew she didn’t want to spend the day alone. Besides that, her intrinsic motivation took her the rest of the way.
- “I’m not an elite athlete, but just knowing that I can do these things that a lot of people can’t or won’t do,” Bell said. “I see a lot of people out there in wheelchairs or overweight and I’m happy everytime I see someone on the trails, I’m happy to see them walking. But they’re not going to do what I’m doing. I’m doing it because I can.”
To train leading up to her race, Bell was doing only one focused running workout every week, relying otherwise on CrossFit workouts at her gym (where she also coaches), CrossFit Westchase. Part of this struggle was her commitment to the 75 Hard challenge, which dictates that participants should do two 45-minute workouts each day. So even if Bell did run long distances in order to prepare for her upcoming 46-mile race, she would still have to do another workout. Between this and her jobs, it wasn’t feasible.
Because her husband was set to leave for basic training in the military, Bell had to take on extra work to support the family. On top of her regular job as an athletic trainer, she took on bartending shifts, coaching at Westchase, nutrition coaching with First Phorm, and work with Barbell Voodoo.
When race day arrived, that 16-mile run at the Games (a month ago at the time) was the longest run Bell had completed. Now, she faced down a race nearly three times the distance.
- “I knew it was a mental game,” Bell said. She recalls that for the first 12 miles, her morale was high. After that, things got tough. “I was mentally like, ‘okay, three miles at a time, I can do this.’ I knew that I (could) chip away at it, it was just a long chipper.”
Besides her ability to push through challenges she’d never seen before, Bell said her recovery after the race was much better than she expected.
- Bell: “I recover really well, and I think CrossFit has a lot to do with it. Because I constantly practice fitness and nutrition, the recovery process is so much better than what I’ve heard from other people.”
Even when the going got tough during the race, Bell says that she was lucky to have her sister and friends cheering her on throughout. When that chipper mentality she knew so well from CrossFit started to fade, she was able to rely on them.
- “The only thing that kept me from quitting is that my sister was cheering me on,” Bell said. “I was like, I feel like I’m not crushing this, but I’m gonna complete it because there’s so many other people that believe I can do this.”