Running Across the Country-Jessica Goldman Goes For It

I recently had the chance to chat via email with Jessica Goldman a member of my running club, the Rochester Runners. Jessica is planning to run across the country starting in California in April. I’m constantly in awe of her training: she runs upwards of 30 miles a day and recently completed her first 100 mile race, The Ghost Train Trail Ultra, this fall finishing third female. I wanted find out the reasons behind her cross-country trek and to get a little glimpse into what its like to train and plan for such an adventure.

Q: You plan to run across the country. That’s amazing! Where did the idea come from and what made you want to do it? I did a solo bicycle trek across the USA in 1999. Once I started running high miles I started wondering if I could do the same journey on foot.

A snapshot from Jessica's cross-country bike journey in 1999.

A snapshot from Jessica’s cross-country bike journey in 1999.

Q: Tell me about why you are running and the organization you are running for? I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia. The day seemed glorious and exciting as I travelled by taxi with my new host family into the city. Little did I know how much that trip would change the course of my life. Although it all happened in a flash, my mind holds reels of imagery from the incident that still play back in painful slow motion. A farmer tried to cross the busy street. The careless driver did not slow down. I can’t be sure, but I feel like we were looking into each other’s eyes when his face struck the windshield. A crowd gathered to lift the vehicle and pull him into the street. My language skills were limited but at one point I got them to put him in the taxi with me and we were going to take him to the hospital. But when the police arrived he was dragged back out. I was hustled back into the car and taken away from the accident scene. Surely this man could not have survived those severe head and body injuries without medical treatment. But not having closure I spent months trying to find him. No trace. I felt numb, powerless and unable to complete my Peace Corps assignment. I came back home. I cannot change or fix what happened that day. But I can try and raise awareness and help people in the United States who are in a similar situation. The Brain Injury Association of America aids people who have experienced a brain injury. Their services are nationwide and include people who have survived traumatic accidents, strokes, or have been affected by other diseases. In the spring of 2014 I will attempt to break the women’s world record for running across America. I will be going alone and pushing a 50 lb cart of camping gear and supplies. My mission will be extremely challenging, however; my challenges will be temporary and self chosen. People with brain injury are frequently dealing with a lifetime of challenges that are often unrecognized and unnoticed. I hope that I am able to bring America’s attention to this cause and ask everyone to join in and make a donation to BIA America in order to make this project a success.

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Jessica as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia.

Q: Running across the country is such a huge undertaking. How do you train to run across the country? I have been running high mileage for several years now. I log over 100 miles per week on average. When I am able to I run 30+ mile days back to back.

Jessica trains in all weather and terrain, running 20-30 miles a day. She plans to average 50 miles a day in her cross-country trek.

Jessica trains in all weather and terrain, running 20-30 miles a day. She plans to average 50 miles a day in her cross-country trek.

Q: What will your days look like? How far will you run each day? What will you eat?
Where will you stay? I will be attempting to run an overall average of 50 miles each day. My pace will vary by weather, terrain and elevation. I eat a plant based diet and will be bringing some vegan protein powder. I will be trying to find food wherever I can in stores restaurants and convenient stores along the way. I will be pushing my stroller full
of camping gear but also hope to stay in hotels on occasion when they are available and affordable.

Q: What gear are you taking and how are you carrying it? What kind of “course support” do you have?
My friend Josh Roberts has helped me to modify a Bob Ironman stroller. It has a compartment made from dry bag material to store my clothes food and camping gear. We have also installed a swing arm so that I can freely move my hand while I run rather than having it fixed on the handlebars. It has a rear view mirror, bicycle bell and reflective tape for safety. I have a 2.5 gallon collapsible water jug, hydration pack and water bottles to get me through some long stretches in the desert. I will be carrying a live tracking device so that people will be able to see where I am on the map when they go to my blog. Because my route is so long I went with a Garmin Etrex 20 for navigation. My mother plans to visit me on highway 50 in NV. She will do some food and water runs and assist me with lodging.

Jessica, the cart she will be pushing and the cart's creator.

Jessica, the cart she will be pushing and the cart’s creator.

Q: I imagine the logistics of a cross country run are kind of crazy, what have you done to plan your trip? In reality you can’t plan this kind of trip in detail. Factors such as weather, traffic, injury and unforeseeable events make it impossible. The most crucial aspects will be having the right gear, being in good health and rolling with the punches. Planning the route has been complicated because pedestrian access is very limited in some areas. I have done my best with mapping programs and have made many phone calls to State Police to plot the course. I have also done extensive research on weather averages and patterns for the areas I will cross.

Q: How can people help and follow your journey?

You can follow Jessica’s journey on her blog: Goldman Goes for It

Please like and share Jessica’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JessicaGoldmanForwardMotion

Make a donation to The Brain Injury Association of America: http://biausa.donorpages.com/ForwardMotion/

Jessica is also seeking sponsorship and donations to help with food, supplies and other costs related to the trip: http://www.gofundme.com/6vszzw

 

–Sarah

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