Earlier this month we had the pleasure catching up with Impi ambassador Molly Cuevas, who ran across the United States to support and bring awareness to the Challenge Athletes Foundation (CAF). Molly started her journey in Santa Monica, California on April 1. After running an average of 40 miles every day, she completed her cross-country run in Montauk, New York on July 1. Over the course of three months, Molly successfully brought awareness to CAF, and raised a whopping $63,000 in funds for the cause. We chatted with her about expectations, lessons learned, struggles and favorite moments. Check out our interview below:
How was Balega involved during your run?
Balega was very involved ever since the beginning when I was training, and throughout my run. During the prep time, I had done several Facebook Lives with my coach (and fellow Balega Impi ambassador) Bree Sanders, and that was also when this blog series started. Throughout the run, I did Facebook and Instagram Live events, as well. Balega also provided me with all the socks I needed for training and the big cross-country run. Balega's involvement has been incredible and I am so thankful for all of the exposure the Balega team has given me and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
How did the run live up to your expectations?
Running across the country was easier than I thought as I didn’t end up running as fast as I thought I would. I took my time every day, so overall it wasn’t as intense as I had anticipated.
Surely over the 3 months of running things didn’t always go as planned. Was anything completely unexpected?
The weather in the midwest was unexpected. Thunderstorms and rain were way more frequent than we thought. We had to adjust and divert our plans - it kept things exciting. I also ran at a considerably slower pace than during training. In the beginning, my runs took about seven hours and by the end, they took about nine. But took it on day-by-day, and stopped caring about how long it was taking, and really focused on “the now.”
Tornado devastation along the run.
Any dangerous situations / concerns?
Yes, we dodged two tornadoes that were just a couple miles away. My mom listened to the RV’s radio to keep track of all the tornado warnings.
What was your favorite moment(s)?
I don’t have one specific favorite moment - but I will always remember the new people that I met who came to run with me. I am so grateful for the complete strangers that took time out of their day to run with me, and helped take my mind off what I was doing! I am definitely planning to stay in contact with those people.
Molly running with the “Mayor of Running” Bart Yasso. Yasso was the Chief Running Officer for Runner’s World magazine - he is one of the most beloved figures in running, and the author of Runner's World Race Everything.
Biggest thing you learned?
I learned that I am capable of anything, and that there is so much more to life than many of us can appreciate. Experiencing and seeing new and unexpected things was so eye-opening, and the whole journey taught me to appreciate everyone’s differences. I also learned to stay light-hearted through the little things that really aren’t so important in the grand scheme of life.
Did you ever have a day where you just wanted to go home and be done?
I never wanted to stop the run and go home. However, mornings were definitely hard because I wanted to keep sleeping or be done with my run already. Whenever I got started, though, I was fine. I enjoyed the run so much that I actually really miss it now!
You clearly had to consume a lot of calories during your run. Was it hard to adjust to eating so much, and did it get old after a while? How has it been going back to a normal diet?
Eating so much was difficult in the beginning. I felt sick the first three weeks because of it, especially after lunch. I adjusted my lunches to be able to eat less food, and just ate more at dinner. Overall, I enjoyed eating whatever I wanted, even if it did get old after awhile. I loved being able to eat all the desserts I wanted. Going back to a normal diet has been fine. I’m enjoying eating normal amounts of food - and vegetables and salads. But I am still eating dessert every day!
Daily lunch and dinner portions.
Anything that you would do differently?
My mom, my friend, Whitney and I all agree that we wouldn’t want to change anything about the experience. I felt very prepared, and really confident with my nutrition and training
Do you think you’ll step foot in an RV anytime soon?
Probably not - but it was nice being so self-contained. We spent some nights in hotels, but the RV made it so easy to be ready to just go and run in the morning.
Molly and her crew drove across the country in their trusted RV.
Did you feel like you succeeded in your goal of bringing awareness to the CAF?
Yes! I was able to raise $63,000 in funds. People followed the journey through my social media platforms and were inspired to follow and learn about CAF as well. CAF has a northern California chapter, and I will definitely continue to support them.
How has your body/mind adjusted to being back home? Are you still running every day?
I didn’t expect it to be such a big adjustment. I took two weeks off from any exercise. Towards the end of the run I really pushed through the pain. But once I was done, my whole body just hurt. I’ve started getting back into Pilates and weights. Right now I can really only run about three miles!
How has the run inspired you to continue your athletic career?
I have no specific plan. Overall, the run opened my eyes to show me what I am capable of achieving - and not just physically - but with raising money and awareness for a cause like CAF.
Molly celebrating at the finish line with her friend, Whitney and her mother, Jillian in Montauk, New York.
Did you run in the same Balega sock the whole time or did you change based on the day and how your feet were feeling?
I ended up wearing only the Enduro and Silver socks when I ran - I needed the extra cushion when running for as long as I was, day after day. The Ultralight is still my favorite, however, for runs under 40 miles!
What kind of support did you receive from the Balega Impi ambassadors during/after your run?
I had a lot of Impi support throughout my run! A lot of them were always cheering me on by sending me messages every week, following along the journey, and some even donated to CAF! I did try to meet up with some to run, but unfortunately logistically it wasn't ever able to happen. Overall, it was great to feel the Impi team support!
Molly during one of her daily 40-mile runs.
What has your experience been like being an Impi, and what does it mean to you?
My Impi experiences so far have been great. It's an instant support system and group of inspiring people to bond with. The whole team is so positive and looks out for one another, all the while accomplishing badass goals. I am so thankful to be part of such an inspiring team. I enjoy keeping tabs on the Impis and what inspires them to run. I have taken a nice month-long break from running, so seeing their posts has definitely been instrumental in wanting to get back out on the roads and trails.