As part of the Ogden Marathon festivities the marathon brought in running icon and coach Jeff Galloway to act as an ambassador to the race. Now, if you are not that familiar with Jeff, simply put he is a REALLY awesome guy that runs a lot. Ok, while that’s true there is more to Jeff than just that.
Galloway is also a former Olympian runner in the 10,000 meters (or metres if you want to write proper British English), All-American collegiate runner and even now at the age of 68 continues to be an accomplished runner. There are a number of other accolades and accomplishments that I could list here about Jeff Galloway, but this post is not meant to be a biography about him (if you REALLY want to know more here’s Wikipedia for you).
A lot of today’s runners though won’t recognize Jeff solely on his accomplishments anyways. If you are a reader of Runner’s World you more than likely have read one of his MANY columns, if you’ve ran a RunDisney race odds are you’ve seen him since he’s their spokesmen and if you’ve ever picked up any kind of running training book odds are it could be one of Jeff’s MANY books.
I know that I am not doing Jeff’s accomplishment or credentials justice. But, simply put he knows his stuff. There is a reason he is a running icon. And, since I’ve been running I’ve secretly worshipped Jeff. Okay, not secretly worshipped, but admired him. It’s not like I have a shrine lit 24/7 in his honor in my bedroom covered with all running shoes, half eaten GUs and old race bibs. No, not at all.
But, I digress.
So, this past weekend my goal was to meet Jeff Galloway at either the race expo or on the course. I had three objectives for this encounter …
- Get a selfie with Jeff.
- Pick his brain and maybe even shoot the breeze.
- Buy one of his books.
Not a bad plan, right?
Well, after going to the pre-race dinner with my group I ran over to the expo with Becky and Christy so they could pick up their races packets. While they were doing that I basically bee-lined it to Jeff’s booth. After waiting in line like an eager pre-teen at a Biebs concert I finally got my couple of minutes with Jeff Galloway. Or should I say … THE Jeff Galloway?
I told him a little bit about my story. Where I’ve come from and what my goal were. I told him I was looking for some tips and guidance on how I can achieve that goal since I am already 62 races into my 180 goal. I don’t want to just run until I am 40. I want to run until I am 80 (or 100, but 80 seems like a more attainable goal, unless of course … I live until I am 100).
Jeff was really helpful and directed me towards one of his books, Galloway Training Programs. It’s a training program that ranges distances from 10 miler to marathon. Something I was all over considering my goal of a sub-two PR for the half marathon. After purchasing the book he kindly autographed it for me AND took a selfie with me.
Right there would have been runner’s heaven enough for me. But, just wait … it got better!
On Saturday during the marathon around mile nine I ran into Jeff on the course. He was following his usual run/walk cycle. Run for 15 seconds, walk for 15 seconds and then repeat. I could have easily assumingly ran past him like the thousand other runners had already, but I couldn’t let this opportunity pass to RUN with JEFF GALLOWAY.
I kind of reintroduced myself and still remembering me from the night before he asked how my run was going. I told him pretty good considering the fact that I forgot my Garmin. But, I told him that maybe I should just stick with him as long as I could since he knows what he’s doing. So, he invited me along.
I think this was the moment I entered runner’s heaven.
We talked about the beautiful course and how gorgeous the valley and canyon is. I told him how grateful I was that it wasn’t raining and recounted how horrible my 30K went less than a month before on the very stretch of road we were running. I was officially shooting the breeze with Jeff Galloway.
Once, again in runner’s heaven.
I even asked him one of my favorite questions to ask other runners. What got you into running? I shared my story and then he told me about his first marathon and how he went into it unprepared and feeling inadequate because the field of nine runners included one runner that he knew he couldn’t beat.
Even before the race started he tried to pull out and get his money back. Something that the race director refused to do. Needless to say, he ran it and ended up winning his first ever marathon even with taking a number of walking breaks. But, it was that experience that inspired his walk/run method and he told me that he started tweaking it from there. Such an amazing runner and athlete.
But, really the one thing that I came away with was how attentive, positive and uplifting he was. He could have easily dismissed me, ignored me or just ran faster. But, he didn’t. He really understands what it means to be a runner and in a position to inspire and lift others.
He told me that I’ll be able to help motivate and inspire other people with my story. Coming from Jeff Galloway this meant the world to me. Here was this former Olympic athlete, running icon and author of a number of running books giving me not just a compliment, but what I felt … a call to share more of my story.
I’ve been working on my book now for the past couple of years. It’s been going through rewrites, revisions and redos a NUMBER of times. Mainly because I’ve never known really how to tell my story. Is it a weight-loss story? Is it a running story? Is it a weight-loss running story? Or, is it something entirely different.
But, the more that I have grappled with these questions and after getting words of encouragement from Jeff Galloway I think I’ve finally realized that my story is … MY STORY. I’ve got to tell my whole story. I’ve got to my story from the day I was born to now. That’s the only way it makes sense. I don’t want to tell just another running or weight-loss story, I want tell MY story.
And, I will.
In all, Jeff and I ran four miles together. I parted ways with him at mile 13 when there was a line of port-a-potties I couldn’t pass by. I thanked him for the time spent with me and then we parted. But, of course not without another selfie.