My drive east to Arizona for the most action-packed, exciting, stressful, and physically, mentally, and emotionally strenuous, week of my life started off in the rain, and it continued to pour for most of the seven hour drive. I don’t mind long drives in the car, in the rain or not, as long as the tunes are solid and the ride is comfy; thankfully on this trip I had both.
The first stop on this trip to the Grand Canyon state was in lovely Mesa, a town that sits just on the outskirts of the hustle and bustle of downtown Phoenix.
I was invited to stay at my friend’s/teammate’s house, Mary and Dan, (my Alaskaman buddies), for Monday and Tuesday night, because I was going to give a talk and hold a book signing to promote my book, 35 By 35: A Runner’s Quest, on Tuesday night at their running store, Cadence Running Company. The timing for the event was perfect because we would all be heading to Tucson later in the week for SMASH Camp, AKA five days of grueling, yet beneficial triathlon training designed and put on by our coach Hillary Biscay, and her team of distinguished coaches. I have spent five days at SMASH camp before, so I know what to expect, which is scarier than going into it with blissful ignorance.
Camp will be hard.
Meanwhile, I approached Mary about having an even at Cadence back in September, and was thrilled when she responded openly to the idea. I know the most effective way to share and convey my story is through speaking and meeting people face to face, but finding opportunities to do so has been challenging, so, picture me doing back flips when she said, “yes”. However, what I was really looking forward to over these first couple of days of my trip was spending quality time with Mary and Dan.
That quality time started at 4:45AM MST on Tuesday morning.
Mary and I were assigned the same track workout, (one of my favorites), but we were going to run on a high school track, and needed to be finsihed before the students arrived at 7:00AM. Hence, the early wake up call.
“Are the lights going to come on?” I said dopily to Mary as we jogged up to the pitch black track.
“Oh no, the lights will be off.” She replied kindly to her naive teammate.
“Right, of course.”
I may have overstated the level of darkness; we did have the setting moon muffled behind clouds, and a few distant orange parking lots light to guide our nimble legs through each interval. It was enough, but that was it. It was definitely, “running by feel”.
I have never had more fun on a track. I just let my instincts fling me wildly, and loved every single swiftly footed step of it. Plus, I always run my track workouts alone, so I appreciated having the company of Mary, and a few other looney toons who were also running in circles in the dark before sunrise.
Next up was a mellow, two hour bike ride with Mary and her friend, Marsha. We rode around a flat long loop which was laced with few traffic and lots of fun spinning. Unfortunately, I realized while taking my bike off of Mary’s bike rack that my saddle bag, which holds all of the necessities for flats, etc, was not underneath my saddle. “Huh, that’s a problem.” I uttered under my breath. I burned a few calories hoping “The new girl” wouldn’t get a flat.
Thankfully, Simone held up just fine.
The rest of the afternoon was spent running a few errands and then we headed to the shop to set up for the event.
I was so impressed with the shop. I have worked in a running store, so I am familiar with the needful items, but Cadence is truly a step above. This section cracked me up, because both Mary and I share an affection for the large, Scuba-esque masks by Aquashpere. I have tried smaller, more socially acceptable goggles, but these large, and incredibly comfortable options are simply too comfy to walk away from once the secret discovered.
Between 4:30 and 5:00PM, the store started filling up with loyal customers and fellow runners to both attend the weekly group run, and to watch me tell my story of how my book, 35 by 35 came to be.
Mary gave me an exceptional introduction and then it was time for me to step on up to tell my tale.
I saw some familiar faces in the crowd, my friends and teammates, Elizabeth, Rosario, and Tracy were all in attendence and served as a great barometer for when something I said hit home, because their eyes would bug out slightly, and then would be followed by a smile. Perfect!
After my talk was finished a few runners came up to me and asked questions about training, and about the various marathons I have run, it was awesome. Plus, I sold quite a few books. Although, I knew I had really delivered my point when a runner named Al told me, “It’s all about sharing.”
That is what it is all about. I don’t believe my story is any more extraordinary than anyone else’s, I am just choosing to share it, while many do not. I know we can learn so much from each other, so the more people who share their stories the better off we will all be.
All in all, the event was an absolute success, and I am so gratefiul for the opportunity. Thank you, Mary and Dan.
Next stop, Tucson….
If this photo is any indication of what the next five days have in store for us, it’s going to make for some fun reading next week.:)
Finally, for those of you have not seen the new Justin Timberlake video for his song, "Filthy", here you ago.:)