Positive running story – Jessica Toney

Our positive running story this time is on Jessica Toney, a runner from San Carlos, CA. Jessica became a runner relatively recently, and attended one of our intermediate women’s running camps in September last year. She impressed with her ability to listen closely, improve rapidly, and ask some great searching questions! Everyone at camp also fell in love with her 6 year old daughter!  She also surprised everyone when she shared that she is a road rally champion driving a Porsche!  (Jessica is pictured second from the left above.) We asked Jessica if we could interview her and share her positive running story – here is the result of our interview:

Can you share the background to your running history to date?
I’m a relatively new runner.  I did my first 5k at the end of 2016 and have been steadily gaining speed and distance since then.

What is it you enjoy most about running?
Running for me is about overcoming my own limitations.  I am not a natural athlete; I have to work at fitness hard. I always feel a true sense of accomplishment when I run. An “I didn’t know I could do that” kind of thing.

Jessica’s after and before pictures from running camp

You registered for one of our 2018 women’s running camps to enjoy five days of focusing on yourself. What was it that decided you to come to camp, and what were your biggest take aways?
I never had any kind of training for running, and the camp sounded like something totally different and outside my normal routine.  Since I had my daughter I haven’t had a lot of time to do things just for me, and the camp had a decadent sound to it: five days just for me! I hemmed and hawed about going, as I had never left my child for so long. But I decided when in doubt choose the road less traveled, and I am so glad I did. I learned I’m a much stronger runner than I ever imagined.

What would you say to a woman runner that is thinking of attending one of our running camps?
It’s a very peaceful experience. It definitely felt like a retreat for me. The structure allows for a lot of down time, and I always felt relaxed.  I was worried about my fitness level given I had never done anything like this before and live at sea level, but the coaches took great care of me.  On the first day I got off the plane and trekked up to the camp where we did a three mile run at 9,000ft. Scary sounding indeed, but I had a coach running with me and it was just so beautiful at that mountain lake. I was a little intimidated as I was the only one in camp who hadn’t run a half or full marathon in the group, but it truly didn’t matter. I learned I can handle distance in a way I never knew before. I learned so much, especially from the video analysis of my stride.  It also was very nice not to think about figuring out meals or doing dishes for a few days.

Jessica with her adorable daughter

You have an athletic six year old daughter. How important is it to you to represent a positive active role model for her?
It’s a little intimidating how much she looks up to me.  Every minute she’s awake she’s watching and emulating me.  There is no escape or down time.  Already though she sees an active lifestyle as the standard and I love that.  She loves doing exercise with me, be it yoga, kicking the soccer ball around, or doing a kids run tied to an adult race.  She forces me to be my best self, and my whole reason for taking care of myself physically is so I can live as long as possible to be with her.

You injured a knee three weeks ago skiing, and you have a 15k race this coming weekend that you have been excitedly training for. Can you share how difficult this has been for you, and what is your plan your recovery, and the race? Does this have a happy ending?
It was so frustrating, with such a short time before the race I had been gunning for since September to get hurt.  I never really had knee issues in the past, so this injury was new territory for me (sprained MCL).  I read a lot of articles about injury to keep focused on a full recovery, not a speedy one. And I waited.  And waited.  No running.  Lots of ice.  I was slow in getting back to exercising. Yoga. Spin. Everything I took easy and modified moves any time it hurt.  I was miserable about the race, but tried to focus on taking care of my body.

In the last few days before the race my knee was radically improving.  Stiffness yes, but only a twisting kind of movement caused pain.  I was still thinking about the race. The day before I went on a mini “test run” around my house.  Just a mile and a half with some hills to see how it felt.  Knee didn’t feel any different. My endurance though, was poor.  I was concerned.  I decided I would go to the race, and see the day of if I would run my original plan longest distance yet, the shorter run, or just spectate.

Jessica with a big smile en route for her 15k race!

Race day I was worried I might be pushing too hard, but I wanted to try safely.  My rules were if I felt any kind of pain that made me say “ouch” I would stop. I was late getting to my corral, and it was crowded as I squatted down to touch the ground.  The pavement was cold and damp. I focused on my gratitude to be at this race, to be in such a beautiful place, to be surrounded by others who also were excited to run. I gave thanks for my amazing body and promised to respect its signals on the run, and for the medical care I was able to receive when I first had my injury. For the weather which was supposed to drench us with rain but instead had given us cool, clear sun. For the organizers who made this race happen and those before them who preserved the park for all of us to enjoy.

I was the last to leave my corral. I had my watch on, but refused to check my pace as I usually do on timed runs. This run was all about my enjoyment.  Nothing else. No time, no PR attempts, no pushing hard. I was going to absorb everything about this run, and I did. I admired the lush diverse greenery of Golden Gate Park. The rainbow of colors from the clothing of the runners. A solitary man stood at the edge of the park in full Buddhist regalia, recording the runners as they passed with a cell phone.  His saffron robes glistened in the light like a morning sun. The beauty of the waves of the ocean as I ran along the Pacific Coast Highway was breathtaking. I noticed people along the course who were walking or stopped to stretch.  I acknowledged their commitment to respecting their bodies and did the same by taking some short walk breaks.  As the course wound it’s way back into the park I admired the stately beauty of the bison who were out to see us. I took it all in.

I also ran my longest distance to date.  My time surprised me; it wasn’t too far off from my hard push running times. I stopped at the medical tent after and had a PT massage and ice my knee, but it wasn’t any worse that it had been that morning. The ultimate run.

Can you share something about you that is uniquely Jessica that no one would know looking at you?
I enjoy both speed and tranquility. I love skiing and am an active road rally champion, but am profoundly affected by art and poetry.

Mum and daughter on the slopes

If you could run anywhere in the World, where would it be, and why?
I’m fortunate enough to live near the ocean, so I’ve had some gorgeous runs near the water. I’ve been to Greece a number of years ago, and would love to go back and run there to feel connected to the ancient world. Perhaps in Delphi, which I think is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

If I could share one message on your behalf to the World, what it would be?
We are all responsible for making our world a good place to live.  Everyone needs to be active about taking care of our Earth, our neighbors, our communities. Focusing on just yourself and your family isn’t enough.

What are your running and life goals for 2019 and beyond?
I’m part of some local trail running groups now, and I’m planning on doing more formal trail runs in the future. Now that my daughter is in kindergarten I will probably amp up my workload, but always want to have my health be a priority.  I know my daughter is learning from me every moment, so I enjoy making each one count.

We wish Jessica every success with her running and life goals for the year ahead!

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