Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Sundays are usually our “long run” day. We had the exact same training schedule this week as last week: Running workouts 6 days a week totaling 47 miles. So the 15 miles our coach scheduled for us today was the same as last weekend ...but what was different, was I woke up absolutely dreading the day. I don’t know if it was the cooler weather (60 F degrees is not welcome for this California girl. To be honest, anything sub 72 F is enough to make me stay in bed hiding underneath my down comforter); that coupled with the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) from hitting the gym twice this week (for the first time since February / Covid-19) did not make for an upbeat, optimistic, positive Jules.
I got dressed, dragged myself downstairs and started packing up my hydration pack with my water bottles, electrolytes, nutrition etc. I couldn’t have moved any slower if I tried. Darin somehow managed to get me in the car and as we drove to the trail, I whinged and complained the whole way there. I ambled out of the car and did a quick Instagram story where I whined for another minute or so to our empathetic followers. As we were wrapping up, a blue truck pulled up next to us. The man behind the wheel is someone we fondly refer to as “The G”. This guy is at the trail EVERY SINGLE DAY (and like I said, we’re usually there 6 days a week). We’ve never actually had a conversation with him...just exchanged a wave 👋🏼 or a friendly smile, but over the course of this year, we‘ve watched him transform before our very eyes.
So we were amidst wrapping up our @Sahara.Strong Instagram story and he rolled down his window and said “Hello!”. We introduced ourselves and he said his name was Mike. Mike proceeded to tell us that he had reconstructive knee surgery last year and put on 100 lbs in the process. Since he could no longer run, he decided to try walking...and also completely overhauled his diet. He proudly explained he was down 85 lbs and nearly to his goal weight. He was actually glowing and I immediately felt better. I was so inspired by his incredible achievements, and his excitement and motivation were contagious. Then we found out he’s from Chicago, so we compared notes on harsh winters and he confessed he’s a huge fan of the Bears which is why he finished his workout early today ... so that he could get home to watch football with his teenage sons. We said our goodbyes and “The G” (I may never actually be able to call him Mike 😉) drove off. “I” felt 85 pounds lighter. We don’t really have any friends in the area and aren’t members of any local running clubs or groups so don’t get to hear these kinds of stories too often. It made my day to finally connect with this man that I see more than my own family...almost daily. Darin and I ”synchronized our watches” (Garmin Fenix 6 Pro for me, Garmin Forerunner for D) and we set off to get this 15 miles over and done with.
I don’t know about you all, but short of playing poker, I‘ve never done more math than when I’m running; something about calculating splits, miles per hour, how fast I need to go in order to hit a PR, I even heard that Paula Radcliffe counts to 100 when times get tough, and so I decided to make it more of a challenge and count backwards from 300 (it’s harder than you think when you’re gasping for air and simultaneously trying not to die). Around mile 9 today, I realized if I maintained my pace, I could PR my half marathon time. I was starting to feel
fatigued at this point, but thought about “The G” and pressed on. Now, to be clear I’m not out here winning any records (unless we can start submitting SKT’s “slowest known times” - Not even sure that’s a thing but if it’s not and I invented it, I’d like official credit™️ haha). So somehow, I managed to beat my personal record by over 5 minutes; on a day I didn’t want to get out of bed - on a chilly October morning that started with an immense amount of self pity and a complete lack of motivation. In fact, I just rewatched the aforementioned Instagram story and I actually admit that I can’t even remember when I last felt that weary and just plain over it.
At mile 13.2, Darin looked at me and smiled knowingly. “Nice!”, he exclaimed. “You went for that PR didn’t you?!?” - we fist 🤜🏼 🤛🏼 bumped and Darin added “You really pushed me those last 4 miles, babe. Seriously, you were flying!”.
I beamed; it wasn't that I was proud of myself for the PR per se, but more that I was able to turn today around. I know that there will be many more days like this ahead. All I can hope for is that I can continue to flip the bad around ... and find some way to make it good. -J
Marathon des Sables 2021
Sahara Strong: Conquering the Sand to End Childhood Cancers Together
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