“Oh my God, you inspire me. Thank you!” a woman yelled to me from her minivan. I smiled quietly to myself as she drove away. I was in shock, most yell, “Are you crazy? What are you doing? Do you need a ride?” It was the middle of January in Kentucky which meant high winds, heavy snow and below freezing temperatures. I was finishing up a Monday night tempo run and I was ready for it to be over. I could see my house and I felt the warmth of my family sitting in front of the fireplace, I couldn’t wait to get home. Until a woman stopped and thanked me for inspiring her. At that moment I could run for days. She drove away so quickly I did not have time to thank her for motivating me. I found myself running past my home and into the park, my 5 mile run turned into a 10 mile run and I felt great. I ran with ease just because of a few words from a stranger; “Oh my God, you inspire me. Thank you!”
I am often asked why I run (I believe many runners are asked the same question). When my love affair with running started in 2005 my answer was simple; “I am trying to move forward from an ex and running controls my mind.” I ran the 2005 Chicago Marathon to prove I had moved on. In my mid 20’s my answer was, “Because I can (and all the girls I graduated with were getting heavy and I didn’t want that to happen to me). ” Today at 29 years old I run because it inspires. I found I can do extraordinary things with my passion for running.
Running is not about me but the other people I come in contact with through the sport. We are a small family of runners in Kentucky. Our little active community sticks together through thick and thin. On our long Saturday morning runs we have each other as support. Let’s face it most non-runners think we are CRAZY! They can not understand why we would want to run 20+ miles on Saturday morning. Why not sleep in, spend time with our families? I believe the answer is different for every runner. Running provides me with a peace of mind which makes me a better mother and wife.
I often run alone because it is the only time I have to myself. No phones, emails, husband, daughter, or work. Just me and the endless road. I love the sound of the wind, my feet hitting the ground, and just being outside. I love the outdoors! I never listen to music because it is a distraction and it forms a disconnect between myself and the earth. Being alone allows me to develop mental endurance. Once I hit mile 16 in a marathon my mind continually tells me, “You can’t do it, not this time! I see an open bar, go have a cocktail and relax! No one will notice if you just stop! QUIT!” It is a constant battle inside my head and I have to tell myself, “I CAN! You are almost there. It’s a walk in the park. It’s simple just place one foot in front of the other.” I often start to solve math problems because it keeps me distracted from the pain and negative thoughts. I am not good at math but it is a method I found works for me. Before I know it I see the finish line, I am coming down the chute, I am picking up speed, I am passing those who are dying off, and I am crossing the finish line! At that moment I am proud, humbled and filled with excitement, I am ALIVE! Then the tears come and I am thinking about what race I can register for next. Crossing a finish line is such an unique feeling, I wish I could share it with everyone.
Here’s to inspiring others to leave the comfort of their homes and explore. There is an entire world out there, go play!