I have run a lot of marathons in my life. Every time I run the whole point is to do better than the last and I’ve been working towards the ultimate goal of qualifying for Boston, finishing my last marathon just 58 seconds too slow. When we moved out of the city, I had a lot of unexpected time on my hands and so I registered for the New Jersey marathon, one I’ve done two times before. I signed up for the full 26.2 with the plan to finally qualify for Boston. At the time that I registered I was unemployed and had time to run outside and time to train. This time I was sure I was going to get Boston! Well, in typical Jessica fashion, my innate need to constantly hustle and my inability to say no to work, caused my unemployment to turn quickly into four jobs. The only time I could find to run outside was when I was on vacation in Florida and the most that I ran was 5 miles. Before that 5 miles, the last time I ran outside was sometime in November just before the weather turned to freezing cold and miserable. So needless to say, that Boston qualifying marathon was not happening this week. It’s not the first time I got overly ambitious and then life took over but instead of being upset about it and disappointed in my myself, I decided to turn this into something completely different. I decided that today’s marathon would not be about me.(it’s always about me I know but not today) It wasn’t about how fast I could go or the praise that comes with it. When I realized mid vacation run in Florida that the full 26.2 miles I was supposed to be running in less than 6 weeks was unlikely, I decided to switch to the half and make it about teamwork. I decided to run this one alongside my two very best friends in the whole wide world. My best friend Amy ran the New Jersey half marathon several years ago along side Meghan while I ran the full marathon. She finished despite having a horrific case of bronchitis. Though she was proud of her finish, especially given the lack of oxygen to her lungs, she knew she could do better. We agreed that each year, the three of us would return to New Jersey and repeat our races; both to maintain some level of physical wellness but also as an ode to our friendship. Well it’s kind of hard to run marathons while pregnant and thats exactly what Amy was the last two years. She now has two beautiful baby girls. After having her first daughter, Amy worked a full-time job, commuting in and out of the city and juggled that with the responsibilities of motherhood. This lifestyle definitely limits your ability to take care of yourself and so she struggled with losing the baby weight. After the birth of her second child, she knew she needed to make a change. She set goals to get healthy, not just for herself but for her husband and children. She’s lost a ton of weight since beginning this journey. She is significantly leaner and her clothes look awesome. Her arms are jacked and holy cow what happened to what used to be considered a thick ass!? All of that is amazing and I know she feels great when looking in the mirror but it is so much more than that. She literally glows from self confidence, the knowledge that she is strong and powerful and from being genuinely happy in her life. She’s made a very valiant and conscious effort to be comfortable in her own skin and model that same sort of mentality for her daughters. We live in a society that brainwashes us into believing we’re not good enough every single day and she’s taken on the values that living life unapologetically as yourself is the most fulfilling way to live and she wants to instill that into her baby girls. And so, she decided that she would rematch with the Jersey shore and beat her previous half-marathon time, not just for herself, but to show her little girls that they too can do anything they put their minds to.
She followed the Nike app and trained like a champion very diligently every weekend. Unfortunately shit happens, and while holding her youngest she fell on the stairs and due to her impeccable mama bear instincts to keep her daughter safe she threw out her own back. This of course happened less than two weeks before the half marathon that she has been working incredibly hard for. This was not going to stop her. We spent all day yesterday massaging, stretching, hydrating(wine counts right?) and praying to the muscle Gods that she would feel OK.
This morning we woke up to a cloudy sky but the rain held off and our positive-vibes-only energy amped us up to the start line.
We all woke up with different goals today. Meghan‘s goal was to catch up with her girlfriends. We joked along the way that with our busy lives it takes running a half marathon to have time to get to gossip with one another. Amy‘s goal was to finish faster and stronger than the first time and to make her family proud. My goal was to make this race about anybody but me. Marathons have become for me something extremely selfish. Its MY time and MY accomplishment. I want to do well on them and I want everybody to know about it. I want the accolades that come with cutting off time from your last run. I want to flaunt my marathon medal on the gram and remind people that I run marathons. Plural. But today, all I wanted was for Amy to feel the results of her hard work. I wanted her to feel as good as she looks. I wanted her to let the adrenaline take over and let pride wash over her as she neared the finish line. I wanted her to indulge in the emotion that comes from facing a fear and conquering it. I wanted to be there for her when she hit that “wall“ and remind her that though she had pain in her back and foot that she’s been through almost 24 hours of labor; far worse than this. I wanted to be there for her on this race the way that she’s been there for me my whole life in so many other ways. She’s been there for me emotionally, physically and overall just lovingly.
I gave myself several pep talks today to not stress out about the time, to just relax and go with the flow. What I thought was going to feel like forever, running this race significantly slower than I have done in the past ended up flying by so fast I wondered what happened to miles 6 through 10. At the very beginning of the run I proposed that every mile marker we each say something that we are thankful for. Every mile we each stated something different; some things as silly as “I just pooped in the porta potty, that’s what I’m thankful for right now“ to “I’m thankful that I have this body and it allows me to move.”
We talked about our goals big and small. We talked about our lives, our spouses, our jobs. We talked about real raw and difficult topics and the most insignificant stuff that we deal with day-to-day. We spoke to strangers and took high-fives from spectators but most importantly we spent time together. I didn’t spend time looking at my watch or stressing how fast I was going, I didn’t even know what time it was. I was just there. I was present and I was with my girls living breathing and being positive. As I write this (talk to text while I drive home in the car) I realize I still don’t even know how fast we ran and I don’t care one little bit. We were accomplishing something together, empowering each other and celebrating ourselves together.
When we rounded the corner around mile 11.5 the ocean air hit our faces and we realized that not only were we doing something really incredible but we were doing it side by side. Our lives are all so busy and so hectic and they’re only going to get more busy and more hectic as the years go on. Distance between our homes will become greater but the love in our hearts will as well.
So much of what I do at work is to try to empower women to realize how incredible they are. I LOVE when I get to teach all female classes and those quotes on instagram written with a pink background about fixing each other crowns are my favorite! Women who empower women are the BEST and I want to be friends with those ladies. Women who do not think like this, you know the type, the kind that have resting bitch face and critique other women’s outfits must not have friends as special as mine. I have become a strong, confident woman and I’ve accomplished a lot in my 33 years of life. I’m always motivated and gosh darn it I am a hustler but none of that would be a reality or even sustainable if I didn’t have my girlfriends. Amy and Meghan are my Wolfpack and together we are fricken unstoppable. I wish this kind of friendship, this kind of support system for all females because though one strong woman is fierce, a group of strong women… Now that’s a force.