I was high and Carla was drunk when we had our one night stand.
Okay, let me clarify our situation.
I was on runners high...I had just completed a hilly, tough, hot half marathon the day before. Despite an injury and the tough course, I finished the race with all my heart. I felt very inspired and accomplished.
And Carla, well no excuses for her- she really was drunk off bloody marys and craft beer.
Meggie Dials had tweeted me earlier that morning..challenging me to do complete a full marathon within the next year.
Soon enough, Christi, Bri and a few other Perfect Strangers were cheering me on.
(Insert the song Under Pressure here)
A few hours later, I ran into Carla. Her friend Meghan, another Perfect Stranger, had sprinkled the idea of a full marathon in Carla's ear all day.
So by the time I met him up the crew to celebrate Josh Dial's amazing full marathon earlier that morning, Carla made the first move.
"Ashley, I've always wanted to do a full marathon before I turn 30," Carla said from across the table.
"And I've been thinking about doing 26 miles for my 26th birthday November!" I said.
"I turn 30 in December! Let's do this!" Carla said.
She whispered her pace across the table to me.
To my relief, we are around the same pace.
We would make a great team.
Not to mention, Carla is really fun.
It seemed to good to be true...a running partner - at the same pace as me - with the same goal - AND an extra bonus, I love Carla's fun personality and stories.
"Deal!" I said across the table. "Let's do it."
And then I tweeted about our new journey together to make it official and public.
The next morning, I woke up with a feeling of regret.
Maybe not regret...but definitely self-doubt.
Can I really do 26.2 miles?
Can I really commit to the training?
Can I really keep up with Carla?
Can I really stay injury free for ONE training program?
These questions have haunted me for the past two months.
On Monday, Carla joked that she also woke up the next morning thinking, "What the heck did I just agree to!?"
So far, Carla and I have ran together about 4 times. I absolutely LOVE running with Carla, but this Tuesday was a hard run. It was hot. I was sore. I was mentally unavailable. The entire time, I found myself thinking, "Can I even do this? 4 miles seems so far...I can't imagine doing 22.2 more miles."
We ran with one of Carla's friends. The hot weather, lack of hydration and lack of mental strength got the best of me.
"Ash, if you need to take a break just let us know," Carla said when she heard me struggling.
"You guys just run ahead," I said. "I think I'm going to slow down."
I hated to walk, but I felt awful. I am training myself to get out of the habit of walking...and surprisingly we can the first 2 miles with only one 30 second (or so) walking break.
The last two miles, I probably took 3 more 30 second walking breaks. Carla and Lindsay finished about a minute ahead of me, but when I saw them finish I heard Carla yell for me, "FINISH STRONG ASH!"
I pushed my body forward and sprinted to the end of the road.
"Nice work, girl!" Carla said.
I thanked them for keeping me positive and inspiring me to finish strong. Support and motivation from your friends and even strangers, is truly invaluable when your body and mind are weak. Heck, I love the inspiration even when I'm running at my best pace!
I would be lying if I said I was confident in my running, training and this full marathon in general.
I feel anxious and nervous and defeated at times.
Thankfully, just when I'm feeling deep in my self-doubt, Justin perks me up.
He encourages me to run when I'd rather drink wine on the couch.
He helps me eat healthy by cooking fresh meals at home (and now from our garden!!).
He reminds me that beyond anyone else, I am the one who needs to believe in myself.
And when he sees me spreading myself too thin (everyday), he encourages me to step back and make time for my goals (running a full marathon).
Today, I looked in the mirror and noticed a difference in my body.
"I am starting to feel like I look athletic," I said to Justin.
"That's because you are!" Justin said and put his arm around my shoulders. "You're killing it, Ash! That's why I tell you not to give a damn about the scale - because that number does not show how amazing you look!"
He gave me a kiss and said, "I am so proud of you!"
It's about time that I be proud of me too.
Tomorrow, I will run with confidence.
Tomorrow, I will run for me.
Tomorrow, I will run and dream of crossing the finish line on November 3 after fighting through 26.2 miles.