Melissa and Sonja were kind enough to share their story with us on an earlier blog, and agreed to let us follow along as they #DareTheDistance with us this season!
Moving up from the 80’s 8K to a 10-mile run; Melissa was excited to release “the beast” she has been training, and her fellow runner and supporter, Sonja, was excited to see Melissa get some distance under her belt, or her laces, and see what she could do.
Melissa was a little scared that she wasn’t going to complete the Run for the Water, but once she got going, she did much better than she expected. During the race she felt awesome because she believed in herself and kept herself motivated towards the finish line. She felt incredible after too, because when she crossed the finish line, she realized she could do anything she put her mind to.
Sonja was also nervous before the race due to others making sure she knew what the cut off was before they were disqualified-3 hours, 15 minutes. This was something that had come up in several conversations and unfortunately, Sonja, being as human as she is, let it begin to worm its way into her head: the doubts of what would happen if whichever scenario happened. During the race she started realizing that Melissa was going faster than the pace they trained for, which was 15-minute miles to be safe to ensure she wasn’t going either to fast but not to slow either. Sonja started getting excited as Melissa continued to pass people, especially going up the hills when so many others walk; she continued to run up each hill. There was only one hill she walked a small distance at the very top, other than this she ran the entire ten-mile route. When they were coming up to the finish line, and they had just hit two hours a few minutes prior, Sonja felt a medley of excitement, happiness, and pride. Melissa crushed her goal of completing the race in about 2 hours and to keep her feet moving the whole time. Sonja also reached her goal of helping Melissa reach the finish line in the allotted time and keeping her moving forward.
Melissa’s most memorable moment was when she would yell out “mile 2, 8 to go” and so forth. Everybody in the race would cheer along with her. Sonja was amazed at how many people would recognize her hand in coaching Melissa as she encouraged her to tackle a hill and proceed to tell her what she could do to train as well. It was interesting to Sonja to hear others advice such as telling her to have Melissa eat this, or walk at certain points. It reminded Sonja of when she was pregnant, and everyone started telling her about their pregnancy, and what she should or should not do without even knowing her. The running community is very much a family in this way of wanting to help others do their best.
Sonja’s best memories of this race were the same as Melissa’s, merely from a different perspective: Melissa yelling at each mile marker how many miles she had completed, and how many more were left and then the cheers of those around her. It is something Sonja believed many runners think, “ok 3 miles down, 7 to go.” Hearing someone yell it out, loud and proud, makes it feel more real, like it is actually happening and that the race is going to get completed. Sonja’s favorite memory is watching Melissa speed up as she rounded the corner for the finish line and throwing her arms in the air when she crossed under the arch. She had done something that others didn’t think she could do and at one point she even wondered about but now it was done! She had proved everybody wrong, including a version of herself who at one point did not think it could be done.
Melissa is looking forward to running in her first half marathon and sharing it with her Austin family. She is also looking forward to adding another piece to her distance challenge puzzle and eating well-deserved breakfast tacos. According to Sonja, Decker is the most challenging of the five races due to the vast number of hills, and the weather that has been very cold during the Decker marathon in times past. She is also looking forward to watching Melissa continue to conquer the hills which is the main thing they will continue to work on: getting up the hill. Sonja is looking forward to watching her and Bonnie complete their first half marathon, again something both ladies have been told they should reconsider since they have special needs.
Melissa is training by working with the Warriors Fitness Club on Monday mornings. Run Lab has both women training their core on Monday and Thursday evenings. She will also train with Ship of Fools on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Melissa will also train with Kayleigh’s Club on Sunday afternoons.
Sonja is blessed that Melissa is very active already and loves to be moving. Run Lab has graciously offered Kayleigh’s club members access to their core classes on Monday and Thursday evenings and they are tough. Both women will continue to run together on Tuesday evenings with their great Ship of Fools running group for speed training. On Thursday evenings, they will either work with the core class at Run Lab or Melissa will be with her Warriors Fitness class as she isn’t keen on running on dark streets at night. They will do Melissa’s long runs on Sunday afternoons when the sun is up, and the path is lite. Sonja feels so blessed that different organizations are working together to help them both. She states that it is such a blessing to see the support Melissa has received since she has started this journey. On almost every run now, someone says hello to Melissa. They recognize her from her job at Randall’s or from one of the areas where she workouts. She is quickly becoming a celebrity just by running and not stopping.
One more piece of the puzzle is complete, and both runners are continually working towards the next piece together, taking on the increasingly more difficult challenges head on. We’ll be watching for you both at the Decker Challenge!