Waking up for a run on a Sunday morning after a late night of partying was not ideal, but my friend Steph was only in Toronto for the weekend and I had already committed to join his running club. Steph had only begun running in April and he assured the run would be easy anyways. Two miles seemed doable.
11 AM: After an obligatory weekend laundry session, I carbo-loaded on Kraft Dinner à la Michael Scott. Quick & Easy. Getting dressed was another challenge. Sure, we were only going for a run... but I’m supposed to be a sportswear #influencer. I laced up my Nike Free Flyknits, draped myself in toe-to-toe Nike running gear, and dragged my boyfriend Phil out the door.
2:00 PM: We jogged to the meeting place in around ten minutes. More people decked out in bright Nike running gear met us in front of Prince’s Gate, and Steph rolled up in a black Chrysler 300 with his boy, Meel. “We’re just waiting on a couple more people,” Steph said with a grin on his face. Shortly after, a black Escalade pulled up in front of us. One long leg slid out to reveal a Flyknit Lunar 2 in the iconic Volt colorway set off by all-black Elite socks, followed by the other 6 feet and 8 inches of LeBron James. Pinch me, this was real? 0-100. King James. In the flesh.
This was my second encounter with him this weekend. The first sighting was at the Muzik nightclub on Friday night, but that event seemed like a blur (plus stories of meeting pro ballers at the club seems so unoriginal). My boyfriend rolled his eyes on Saturday morning as I recounted that night, hobnobbing with Tristan Thompson, LeBron and a dope girl named Julz. This time Phil was wide eyed– this was real. LeBron James was his favorite player and no story of a club run-in could compare to being with him in broad daylight.
Tristan Thompson, aforementioned Julz, Rich Paul, and the rest of their crew spilled out of the car.
“That’s @YesJulz!” Phil whispered to me.
“Yes, that’s the girl I was telling you about.” I rolled my eyes. He never listens to me. “She’s the one I met at the club.”
“Man,” LeBron smiled as he stepped towards Steph. “We were up til 8 this morning, and now you got us doing a run right now.”
The conversation confirmed that last night was a hell of a party. Thought I'm not one to care much about parties, it sounded like I missed out. Anyways, it all worked out; this run was more my scene.
2:20 PM: We gathered in a circle and introduced ourselves. I suddenly became hyper-aware of all the pretty girls around me: big booty, curly-haired, #fitspo types. I felt so regular. 'Should I have worn makeup? Should I have done my hair?' I quickly realized how stupid this sounded.
2:35 PM: Pre-run. Ready to sweat. We started off at Lakeshore and ran along the path.
2:44 PM: The first mile was a breeze. LeBron and Tristan hung behind us. Look at me. I’m running faster than LBJ. I was on one. I bounced with each stride and glanced back every once in a while to check up on ‘Bron. We reached the halfway point, and he still didn’t break his stride. Same pace, all throughout.
My legs slowed down. That morning’s mac and cheese was not sitting well. Don’t throw up. Don’t. You. Dare. I didn’t.
2:53 PM: My ego was appalled at how difficult this was. I consider myself a pretty active person – weekly basketball and volleyball leagues kept me busy in addition to 4-5 days a week in the gym. However, I didn’t run more than one or two miles at a time on the treadmill. These thoughts were interrupted when I noticed LeBron was running beside me. My heart raced, much faster than my feet – a combination of excitement, and, well, the guy to my left. Passers-by slowed down to gawk.
“Is that…??” Two cyclists circled around to double-check. “Yup, that’s him. That’s LeBron James.”
A smile plastered my face. I felt good. LeBron inched past me and then farther and farther away until he was just a Volt dot in the distance. I quickly remembered how tired I was.
2:59 PM: Finally, we made it to the end of the route where LeBron waited with high-fives. More people trickled in after us. We were still waiting on a couple more.
“I’ll be right back,” LeBron muttered. He put in his PowerBeats headphones and dashed off into the park. Probably for a cool-down, I thought. He returned minutes later with the rest of the pack. He went back for the last group of people to help them finish the run. Why? Because he is just a good person. How could anyone hate this guy? How did I cheer against him all those years while he was in Miami? Seeing him demolish my teams was rough, despite how cool I thought his sneakers were.
3:05 PM: Once we all regrouped, we formed a circle around LeBron as he led the stretches. “Stretching is very important,” he tells us, head at his toes. “You don’t wanna start cramping.” We all remembered the cramps. I stifled a laugh. I wasn’t sure if he was cracking a joke or if we were all just too scared to poke fun at this.
3:20 PM: And just like that, our afternoon with LeBron came to an end. I got my ass kicked on a two-mile run, but got to meet one of best players in the history of basketball. I realized there’s nothing like a run with LeBron James to inspire you to keep doing it, especially when he was so encouraging throughout the run. Although he won’t be running with me again anytime soon, at least I’ll be more prepared for whoever I run with next.
If you want a chance to #RunWithTheWinners, the group runs in Cleveland every Saturday morning at 10AM. Founded by DJ Steph Floss (official DJ of the Cleveland Cavaliers), follow along on Twitter and Instagram for updates and running routes.