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This is the end of week three. Today, I was ready for the 10 miles in the frozen tundra that we call Northern California.

I know. I know it’s colder where you are. But, this is my life. It was 30° when I went out, and with a wind of 8 mph, it felt like 23°. I went out strong. I had gone to an early morning meeting, and waited until 8 o’clock for this run. I couldn’t wait until it was 40° because it’s not even there yet now.

I stopped at mile two for the requisite bathroom stop. And then, I tried to figure out how I was going to get 10 miles in, because, I live in a town with a circumference of 8 miles.

I felt incredibly strong from mile 1 through mile 7. It was cold, but my legs were on fire, and I felt good. I even took off my gloves around mile five, and then my shirt. So I was just in my running tank and arm sleeves at the end of the run.

I was around 2 miles from home, and I had to get another mile and so I headed out to the green bridge that connects Stanislaus to San Joaquin County. My foot started to hurt, and my back was achy a little bit. I had foolishly gotten a massage yesterday instead of waiting until after my long run. I was starting to feel it.

So, as I turned to come back, this little family was coming up to take some pictures. The young man in the crowd looked up and saw me struggling, and said, “Good job! Keep it up!” That’s it. Just two little sentences.

And it gave me hope. Hope that I could again finish this run, ugly as it was, to the end…that it wasn’t a complete loss. For 7 miles I was way under my projected time, and I was still in a fairly decent frame of mind.

I started to think about all the volunteers that are on marathon courses. You have no idea unless you’ve done it how much work it takes to actually paint a sign, and stand there in the cold, bringing cowbells to ring, or cheering on people. It’s one of those non-runner running things that you simply must do if you’re in this community.

The man’s face, the absolute joy as he cheered me on, made all the difference in the world to me and just for a brief moment I felt simply, better.

So, remember that when you see somebody running in your community. That smallish cheer that you keep inside really needs to be heard. Never underestimate how important you are to just that one runner.

Three weeks of LA Marathon training are under my belt. Bring on week four!

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