Runner: Julie Weiss has a new book.

In 2012-2013,  my neighbor, Julie Weiss did something pretty amazing, especially to someone edging toward couch potato status, like myself. She ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks. That’s not a typo.  Actually, I’m not sure I’ve driven 26.2 miles 52 times in 52 weeks. (Does Uber count?) 

It’s quite fitting that this Sunday is Father’s Day because Julie took on the seemingly impossible marathon challenge to raise money for pancreatic cancer research, and help fight the insidious disease that took the life of her father, Maurice. Sadly, his passing came as the two were focused on unconditional love in their renewed relationship. Maurice was at Julie’s first marathon, and was, at least in spirit, at the last. Clearly, Julie’s story is inspiring on many levels.

I didn’t know about Julie’s remarkable achievement, which is a testament to her modesty. It’s also due, perhaps,  to Santa Monica renters going from long term to more affluent short term renters until they purchase a home or are reassigned by their work.

“Vacancy decontrol” allowed landlords to charge new tenants market rates. In previous decades renters were often close with  their neighbors, now new renters often move before you get to know them. Fortunately, Julie and her husband (also her running coach) David, as nice a person you’d ever meet, have been here for 3 years and hopefully much longer. 

Julie’s book is a deeply revealing diary of a woman — a daughter, mother and grandmother —  plagued by low self-esteem and destructive relationships but is courageously determined to turn her life around. Taking on the marathon challenge to honor her father for a cause she dearly loves, motivated Julie to tackle lifelong demons and make remarkable, albeit difficult, self improvement and find inner peace during the 52 weeks.

If Oprah, Ellen and The View ever interviewed Julie (actually, not a bad idea) they might barely discuss marathons. They would likely focus on how Julie found the strength to repair damage from a troubled childhood and, with David’s help and others, gradually heal herself in a process that continues to this day.

One of my first interactions with Julie was at 7 a.m. on the day of a 5k/10k city sponsored race that begins, seemingly from my bedroom. In actuality, it starts in the Ocean View Park, just below my apartment. I was thus unceremoniously awakened by a bull horn at that ungodly hour and couldn’t get back to sleep.  Grr.

Grumbling, I was carrying my recycling down to the bins on A-level when I ran into Julie.  She expressed empathy that I had been awakened by the race as it suddenly dawned on me that she was IN the race. (If one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor, so it was one man’s annoying noise was this woman’s delightful call to the starting gate.) 

That Julie even attempted a marathon is proof the longest journey starts with the first step.  I say that because, in the beginning, Julie could barely run from one lifeguard station to another. But she ignored negative inner voices and embraced that any progress, however small, was a blessing. (A “lesson,” as Julie notes, that extends way beyond running.)

At times, Julie’s book has the feel of a documentary, as, with each race, she faces various obstacles. One can’t help but be nervous for her, especially in her very first race. It was in picturesque Rome and was captured in a beautiful movie, “The Spirit of the Marathon, 2,” in which Julie was featured.  She did surprisingly well and, feeling invigorated, she moved on to the next marathon.

Among her most difficult races was the “Lake Tahoe Triple.”  As the name suggests, it was 3 marathons in 3 days!  Inspired by the natural beauty of the landscape, Julie powered through.  Another especially taxing race was the “Leadville Marathon,” in Colorado that started at 10,000 feet and went to 13,000 feet! (Brother,can you spare an oxygen bottle?) 

The “Marine Corps Marathon,” in Washington D.C. was also painful until the Marines started yelling at Julie to go faster. As she describes it, “I had a knee injury that magically went away. It was a beautiful experience.”

Dedicating every race to someone battling pancreatic cancer, and overcoming a variety of injuries and emotional obstacles, in all Julie completed 1,362.4 miles. She also raised $500,000 for pancreatic cancer research on her goal to reach $1 million. That’s why she’s taking the challenge again in her current campaign, “52 Races for 52 Faces.”     (https://www.52racesfor52faces.com)

It’s obvious, when she has a goal, especially when it honors the memory of her late father and helps inspire others battling adversity, there’s no stopping Julie. (As for me, I no longer mind the noisy 5-10 k races. Have I evolved? Actually, I just bought earplugs.)

“The Miles and Trials of a Marathon Goddess” is available at Amazon and wherever books are sold. This Saturday, June 15, Julie is hosting a book signing open to the public at The Shores Apartments, 2700 Neilson Way in the North Tower Conference Room from 1-4 pm.  Julie can be reached at www.marathongoddess.com    Jack is at jackdailypress@aol.com

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