So I was up at 5am (ok I hit snooze until 5:20....ish) to get to SLO by 6:45 for the team run this Saturday. We had to start 30 minutes earlier today because the SLO Full Marathon team was running their 20 miler today. I was also running 14 miles when the highest mileage I have done so far this season was a 10 miler. That’s a big jump to go from 10 to 14. So we had added challenges to this weekend’s run.
But it turned out to be the best run yet. And not even because I ran my best time or with the least amount of pain. Nope. It was because of the people I met out on the course. And it actually started before we got on the course!
We were standing in the park getting our last minute briefing from the team manager when a car drove by and stopped. The window rolled down and this guy started yelling at us. I turned to look and the guy had his arm out the window and was shaking it so we could see the sleeve of his sweatshirt. It said, “GO TEAM!”
He was yelling, “Go Team!!! Thank you! I’m a survivor! Thank you!”
By this time he had gotten the attention of most of the athletes. So he kept going, “Thank you Team! I’m a survivor because of you! Thank you! Go Team!” Then he waved and drove on.
Our team manager told us he was a survivor and had recently moved to the neighborhood. What a coincidence that he moved into the neighbor where we stage most of our training runs! I hope to see him again. What a great start to our long run!
So we take off and one of my mentees (Katie) decides to run with me. I love running with Katie because she talks....constantly!!! Not only does she talk non-stop but she has a cute tamber to her speech that is naturally upbeat and that is great on a long run. Also, I don’t have to work to hard to keep the conversation going with her. Which is great because I’m trying hard just to keep breathing let alone talk! :)
I knew running with Katie would cause me to go out at a pace too fast for me and I would be struggling toward the end. But I didn’t care. Not only is it nice to run with a partner, but as long as you’re not racing, it’s not the worse thing to struggle a bit at the end. Anything that adds difficultly to your training improves your training, (unless it causes injury of course. That doesn’t help anything!)
So we headed toward AviIa Beach. We chatted about how crazy it seems to run from one town to another. But that’s how it is when you get to big miles in your training. You may be somewhere shopping or whatever and you suddenly realize that even though you are miles from home, you could run home if you had to. It’s pretty cool to know you can do that...on foot!
So we are still in SLO and I see this couple on their bikes. As they go by we wave and exchange “Good Morning”s. I tell Katie how I love the friendliness of the weekend morning athletes. People who get up at 0:dark:30 on a Saturday morning to workout instantly understand they share a rare commonality and an there is an automatic affinity there.
Then at a couple spots on the course, I cross paths with Kris. That’s really fun to see each other as we run down a course. He always stops to give me a kiss which of course makes my day!
Katie was running an 11 mile course. So she peeled off from me at mile eight to run the rest in on her own pace. Good thing too as I was really slowing down and the pain was starting to creep in. I had six more miles to go. Just a 10k. I could do this. But it was going to hurt a bit and take some mental grit.
About a mile after running by myself, I was on the Bob Jones’ Trail just outside Avila Beach when I saw the biking couple again heading from Avila back toward SLO. I wondered if they would recognize me this far from where we first met and without Katie with me. Well I knew the lady did at least because as she passed me on her bike she yelled, “Hang in there! You can do it!”
“Thank you so much!” I answered.
I wish she could know how much she helped me by just that short comment.
I made it to the end of the Bob Jone’s trail and started up the mild hill toward the resort. I saw a couple of women jogging down the hill toward me. So I veered to the right to get out of their way and one of the women changed her direction and started running right toward me. Weird. But OK.
I turned my face toward her and started to say “Good Morning” when she raised her hand and asked, “Can I get a ‘high five’?” I thought why does she need a high five from me? She’s the one who looks like she’s marathon ready 365 days of the year, not me. But I responded, “Hell yes!”
She high fived me and said, “Thank you! I’m a survivor.”
OMG! She was already passed me but I shouted, “Thank you so much! That is AWESOME!” over my shoulder.
Again, I was disappointed to know that person who cared enough to give me a little encouragement will never know how much that helped me!
Fast forward to mile 13 of my 14 mile run. I was coming back from the pier with only one mile to go. I saw a group of five people walking toward me walking a super cute little fluffy dog. I NEEDED a hug from that little dog to make it in the last mile. I was tired, sore and ready to stop!
As they approached, I asked in my nicest possible voice, “May I please say ‘hello’ to your dog?”
“Of course!” the kind lady said.
Luckily, when I squatted down to pet the dog, I managed to hold back a groan. I was sore! :)
“How far are you going today?”
Gasps from everyone in the group.
“But I’m almost in. Just about one mile to go.”
They were all so nice and shared kind words. I told them thank you for the encouragement and the doggy hugs. I was sure I could make it in the last mile now. they sent me on my way with more words of encouragement and I did indeed make it in the last mile!
By the time the route was done, I had used up the last morsel of my physical and mental endurance, which means I pushed myself just the right amount! Outside of a TNT Event, I have never had a run where I had had so much encouragement, especially from the exact people I am running for! That made all the difference!
It was an incredible run!