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JenK 

Day 57.
Cameron.
Cameron, along with his dad (who has been a pastor colleague of mine since November) and sister and a couple friends came down today to do part of the day at RAGBRAI. He rode 20 miles on his bike, then ran another mile with me.
Cameron will be starting his second year of cross country in about a week, and it'll be a little different this year - he'll be racing a 5K instead of a mile because he moves up to JV this year. He isn't too concerned though.
Cameron has been steeped in running - his dad and sister are both runners too. He's also been in track for a couple years, and though he races a bit of everything, his favorite is the 800. 'Two laps and you're done,' he said. It's impressive to me - that is not something I hear a lot as the middle distance can often feel like a painfully long sprint.
He still had a lot of energy when we went out, despite the heat and the miles ready on his legs. Thanks for the run Cameron - it was great! πŸƒπŸΌπŸš΄πŸΌ

Day 56.
Abby.
I met Abby today when she rolled into Spencer after riding part of the first day of RAGBRAI. We had some friends that did the last leg of today's ride together, and we happened to run into them at the expo at the fairgrounds - which is no small miracle when you consider there are over 15,000 people milling around. I convinced her to be my running partner today - after she'd ridden 20 miles and I had ridden 60.
Abby is originally from Connecticut, where she was born and raised. She went to the University of Connecticut for animal science, and after two years of veterinary school at Iowa State, she found herself in Fairmont on a swine internship (we do know our pigs in that area). She then met our local bike shop owner - and here she is. If I had a dollar for every person I've met through him, I'd be rich.
Abby played sports all through school, most notably hockey, soccer, and track. A nasty concussion several years back derailed a lot of that for a while, but recently she's been finding her stride again (thanks to some awesome doctors) and is getting back into doing what she loves.
Abby was such a good sport to come with me (and I was running in my Chacos to boot). Maybe I will be able to make running happen during RAGBRAI after all. πŸš΄πŸΌβ€β™€οΈπŸƒπŸΌβ€β™€οΈπŸ’¦

Day 55.
Miranda.
Today was the result of another serendipitous scheduling moment where I needed someone to run at a particular time and just happened to get not one but two out of the blue texts from people asking if I needed someone to run.
Yes, yes I did.
Miranda met me this morning to run in the fog before Logan and I headed off to RAGBRAI for the week. It was a still, sticky morning.
Miranda was home for a short time this weekend, and I was fortunate to catch her while she was. She's been doing an internship in Iowa where she is going to school for agronomy, among other things. Her summer has been comprised of mating plants - yep, she helps plants have sex (it was too funny not to include).
Miranda runs mostly now to blow off steam if she is angry or stressed, but when she was in high school, she ran both track and cross country, starting in 7th grade. She initially did it to meet people, since prior to 7th grade, she'd been at other smaller schools.
She improved quite a bit over her career, with her proudest moments being running between the packs of boys and girls varsity runners during the 10 mile homecoming runs her junior and senior year.
In addition to running, Miranda and I share a love for the outdoors and for photography. Sometimes, you just have to slow down to enjoy the view. 🌱🌷🌻

Day 54.
Carmen.
I woke up this morning to thunder and rain, but it had mostly cleared off where we were by the time we met to run. I had seen Leah (an earlier runner in my series) at the coffee shop Wednesday and learned she and Carmen were planning to do a long run today, and since I was planning to do a long run as well, I jumped at the chance.
Carmen is one of the group of ladies in town I look at as running role models - the ladies in their group have all qualified for Boston at one time or another, some several times.
Carmen started running in college because she had a friend that did, and the rest is history. She's run nine marathons so far in her career (three of which were Boston), and lots of halfs and other races. She and her husband and two kids live outside of Fairmont.
As we ran down the road together, lightning flashed occasionally from a storm off in the distance. It was beautiful really.
I knew this morning would push me, and it did. I looked down at my watch at one point during the run to see that our average was a good bit faster than my normal pace, even more so for a long run. What surprised me is my perceived effort - moderate, but not unbearable. Even so, it set off alarm bells in my head, and as I backed off to let them go (my fast was still slow for them), I ran the last two miles of the first leg back to my house. That was the end of my run for today - six miles of a planned 16. It was a struggle to make the decision to stop - it wasn't out of exhaustion but out of desire.
This streak has taught me so much about running, about other local runners, about drive, about struggle, but mostly, about myself. Running today with Carmen showed me again what I can do if I stop listening to my watch and listen to my body instead - today in the form of pace, not mileage. Had I decided before I got to my turnaround point that I was only going to do six this morning, I would've stuck with the girls and think that I could have. So much of running is a mind game. These runs have filled my mind with inspiration and hope and courage and joy and today was no different.
Thanks for the run Carmen, it was fun to finally spend a little time with you! β›ˆπŸ’¦πŸƒπŸΌβ€β™€

Day 53.
Martin.
I met Martin to run tonight after he got done lifeguarding - one of the first nighttime runs I have done in a while. I got him to run just a mile with me - though he easily could have gone farther.
Also, I underestimated the speed of long legs - even ones that haven't run much since track season.
Martin started running cross country and track in 7th grade. He'd done the Fairmont Summer Run prior to joining - and had to walk part of the half mile. Needless to say, he was a little overwhelmed.
That didn't last long.
In the last three years he has managed to break 6:30 in the mile and claims a sub 23 minute 5K. Perhaps more significant than that are the friends he has made along the way - now teammates.
I remember Martin from Sunday school - one of the last classes I taught during my time at Grace - and in addition to growing as a runner, he has grown into a kind and thoughtful young man too. πŸƒπŸΌπŸ‘ŠπŸΌ

Day 52.
Iliana.
I met Iliana the first year I coached cross country. She was a 9th grader then, and already a standout - though unless you watched her race, you might not know it. She's not one who jumps at the spotlight, even though she's been in it more than once.
Iliana and her family moved here from Texas near the beginning of 7th grade, and she ran track and cross country. It was tough for her (and her coaches back home, who made her promise to do track that year in Fairmont) to leave. One of the other girls from the team got her into cross country her 8th grade year.
Iliana started with an 18 minute 2 mile, and she now claims a 19 minute and change 5K time. She's improved - a lot.
Some of her favorite moments of her running career have as much to do with her teammates as with her accomplishments. Last year was an amazing year for them, with the girl's team winning both at Milaca and at State. The connection between the girls was so strong by the end of it - they spent a lot of time together, after all.
This is Iliana's last cross country season, and she's one of the captains this year too. She has hopes of breaking 19 minutes this year in her 5K time. I am so excited to watch her race (she loves racing - not something every runner will say), and lead as well.
And seriously, that smile gets me every time. πŸ˜€πŸ‘ŸπŸ₯‡

Day 51.
Marissa.
I actually saw Marissa while I was out running with someone else one day and in passing, suggested we run sometime. Turns out she had been thinking about asking to run with me anyway - and here we are!
Marissa lives in an area of town where every direction means a hill at the beginning of her run and a hill at the end. I wouldn't go so far as to say she likes it, but she does embrace it - This girl can handle a challenge.
Marissa started running while watching her brother play baseball - she'd race some of the boys while she was at the games - and she was pretty good. She started track in 7th grade and developed her skill as a sprinter, first starting in the 100, 200, and 400, eventually progressing to the 800 in her later years of track. As she gained strength and speed, she excelled at the longer distances.
She's no stranger to challenge - her family has seen it's fair share lately. Just over a year ago, her brother was in waterskiing accident (his recovery was nothing short of a miracle), and just a few weeks ago, her father was in one. He is home recovering, but having a second similar accident happen was like reliving the first one.
The heat was oppressive as we ran, and we stopped at one point to get a drink for her pup (he was along for the run) and rest in the shade at the park. Just before we stopped, Marissa mentioned something I said to her three years ago when I had coached her in cross country (she participated for one year). It was that if you were struggling during a run, just pick a point a short distance down the road and focus on getting to that. Then do it again, and again, and again. She still remembers those words - ones I still use myself as I run.
As we finished up the last hill, soaked in sweat and tired, we both said how glad we were to have gotten out that day despite how gross the heat had been. It's just like life - put one foot I. Front of the other, and if you can, find a friend to do it with. πŸ‘ŸπŸΎ

Today.

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