We came to the start line at the Santa Monica Pier as 10 individual runners. 344 miles through city streets desert heat, and trails only lit by the stars and the moon, we were a family of runners intertwined and connected by this experience forever.

After I first watched a video of the first Speed Project race, I knew this was something I wanted to accomplish. I gravitated to this unsanctioned road race for it’s pure grit, the unknown, and the fact that it sounded so impossible and crazy. So when the call went out last fall to my Concrete Runners crew for willing participants to form a team, there was no doubt it in my mind I wouldn’t be a part of this. I blocked off my calendar and fit this into my finances without question. I knew how draining and exhausting the Hood to Coast 200-mile relay was, but I had no idea what I was about to get myself into by accepting a position on a 10 person team to relay-style-run our way from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

While I won’t go into the details of how much preparation this race took (as a lot of the prep was done by the our EXTREMELY organized captains), I will let you know that if anyone reading this is ever thinking about doing the Speed Project or anything as wildly crazy as it, you must be willing to do a TON of preparation before, and be a completely willing participant which means things like studying the map, learning the terrain, understanding your body, knowing your limits, and understand you must be trained, conditioned, and healthy to complete something like this. It’s not a race you just sign up for and show up, you have to be willing to be a support crew member, a runner, a driver, a nurse, a guide, and most importantly a willing and active teammate.

Our adventure started at the Santa Monica pier at 5:00 am Friday morning, where 19 other crazy teams from all over the world lined up together and a small crowd of teammates lined the empty streets. And within seconds they were off on the first miles of a 344 mile race to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. I was the third runner in our team’s 10 person line up (which changed throughout the race as one of our support crew had to jump in and run miles for both me and a runner who twisted an ankle on the first 6 miles.) To start we all ran 6 miles each. My core team of 5 started in the SUV while we completed 36 miles (6 mile increments) before our first major change off with the RV. We did the traditional way for about three rounds when we started to feel the effects of exhaustion, and lactic acid build up in our muscles. Unfortunately for me, and I hate even admitting this because I preach on this so hard, but I started this race with a known injury. If I had to do it again I would have never started with an injury– I would have tried to find a substitute and the only reason for that is, it put so much more pressure on my teammates and that is totally unfair. I was able to push out my first 6 miles, but by my second round I could only push out 3 before I had to tap out. I still was able to push out a couple miles each segment and when the whole team of 10 switched our strategy for the last 100 miles to 2 mile increments, I was able to contribute my share, but it wasn’t the same.

What hurt the most, wasn’t my injury, but was the feeling of letting my teammates down when they had to run additional miles. I wanted this so bad, that I didn’t think of the affect my injuries would have on 9 other people. While this race was life changing and being there to support my teammates in other ways like navigating and emptying the waste from the RV when no one else wanted that job, I still felt guilty.

Despite my guilt, I still felt so proud to be a part of my inspiring, strong, and dedicated team crossing that finish line. We laughed, we cried, and laughed so hard we cried. We slept in random places all over the RV and ate PB&J sandwiches like they were the last thing on earth (we also ate ALL the junk food) and at one point we thought we were going to be obducted by aliens (okay, maybe that was just me, but for reals that was scary AF!) No matter the miles or no matter how fast our pace was we still completed the 344 mile trek from LA to Vegas in 54 hours and 20 minutes, TOGETHER.  We came to the start line at the Santa Monica Pier as 10 individual runners. 344 miles through city streets desert heat, and trails only lit by the stars and the moon, we were a family of runners intertwined and connected by this experience forever. The amount of effort and teamwork that went into that finish can’t even be put into words here, but if you ever get to experience it. You’ll understand.

A lot of people have asked me if I would do it again and my answer is, as I am sure you can guess, YES! But only if I was healthy and trained properly.

I am still healing my hip and missing running like crazy, I had to defer my April marathon that I wanted to attempt to BQ at, things change, injuries happen and I know that BQ time is just waiting for me down the road. But time for me to take a break and when I can, I will get right back to training with a more focused and determined mind than ever before. Send good vibes! 🙂

-J

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