Courage Strength Grace – Running for Sherry

Yesterday morning I woke up around 3:00AM drenched in a cold sweat.  It was the second night in a row this happened to me.  I guess it’s those lovely things we call hormones, but whatever the cause, I really really hate it.  I felt a dull headache creeping up on me and worried that I was getting dehydrated which would really not bode well for me considering I had a 22 mile run to tackle in a few hours.  I drank some water and took a couple ibuprofen and tried to get back to sleep.  Thankfully that worked and when I got out of bed at 5:30 I was feeling a lot better.

At 8:00 we hit the trails for our run.  The weather was colder than it’s been in a long time.  It was raining and snowing off and on all morning, but thankfully temperatures were just above freezing so the trails were not icy.  Many of us were running in Sherry’s honor and several of us were wearing the bibs for the virtual run.  It was really wonderful to be a part of this massive, collective movement for healing.

I almost always run by myself for my long runs.  Yesterday was different though – yesterday my buddy Chris and I ran together the entire way.  Having him to share those miles with made all the difference in the world.  We kept one another focused.  We distracted one another.  We talked.  We listened.  We sped one another up and we slowed one another down.  The first 14 miles were an out-and-back on the trail and the time ticked by peacefully as we ran in the snow and the rain.  We were both feeling good and strong.  We were running smart.

Mile 1: 8:39
Mile 2: 8:50
Mile 3: 8:51
Mile 4: 8:37
Mile 5: 8:34
Mile 6: 8:34
Mile 7: 8:39
Mile 8: 8:33
Mile 9: 8:37
Mile 10: 8:32
Mile 11: 8:39
Mile 12: 8:35
Mile 13: 8:36
Mile 14: 8:28

We were hoping to run somewhere around an 8:30-8:45 average pace for this run, and were executing it perfectly up to this point.  We thought we would run the next four at about the same pace and then try to pick it up to race pace for the last 4 miles.  I’m really not sure what happened, but the next 4 miles were a little faster than we planned.  We were actually running into the wind which should have made it harder for us, but we were feeling good so we just went with it.  This run was an awesome example of negative splitting.

Mile 15: 8:20
Mile 16: 8:24
Mile 17: 8:10
Mile 18: 8:09

After Mile 18 it was time to hammer it home.  We wanted to shift into high gear and run home at race pace, but it was insanely difficult for both of us to catch our groove.  The wind turned and we were running right into it.  It was a tough 4 miles for both of us.  But we didn’t give up.  We grew silent and ran through our pain, each aware of the other’s fight.  Each determined to get through it and get home.

Mile 19: 8:20
Mile 20: 8:23
Mile 21: 8:09
Mile 22: 7:51

I thought about Sherry on and off throughout my run, but never so much as I did that last mile.  I repeated the words that were printed on my bib: COURAGE. STRENGTH. GRACE.  Over and over again in my head.  I felt anger and sadness and fear and I rose up to meet them, even through my exhaustion.  I imagined Sherry’s courage, her strength and her grace and how I know she must have fought with every ounce of her being against the evil that came at her.  I wanted to fight against it, too – in whatever way I could.  My heart swelled and ached and a fire burned inside of me.  My run was a prayer.   I ran as hard as I could on those tired legs.  I stomped out the bad and kicked evil in the butt.

And it felt GOOD.

Total time – 3:06:33.  Average pace – 8:29.

12 thoughts on “Courage Strength Grace – Running for Sherry

  1. Nice 22 miler, Jess! It is not unusual for me to experience night sweats as well when I am putting in high mileage. It happened A LOT during 50 miler training. I did a lot of research and basically, your endrocrine system/hormones get confused. The body is an amazing machine though and will adapt! I think it is pretty common with runners, but not a lot of people talk about it.

  2. That is an awesome run. I'm jealous of your running buddy… I need to find someone willing to do my 20's with me. 🙂 Love how that last mile brought it all back to Sherry, great post!

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