“I ran 20 miles!” I look forward to this day during every marathon training cycle, but yesterday this one felt different.

I remember praying and focusing on it all week, making sure I was staying hydrated, eating the right amounts of carbs, stretching a lot and just mentally preparing myself. I woke up before the sun, as per usual. I stepped outside with just myself and the open road (my favorite way to run). I took a deep breath said a prayer and off I took to the streets. Throughout the entire run I kept thinking to myself, “THIS IS MY 30TH MARATHON!” with an enormous smile on my face. I am not someone who looks for attention, and in fact I get really uncomfortable when I receive attention or am put on the spot. I enjoy blending in and celebrating others and their victories. But, yesterday I felt this sense of empowerment, strength and downright proudness of myself that I had never felt before. I have learned so much about myself since I became a runner and it truly has changed me in countless ways, for the better.

I use to hate to run when I was in high school and the mile in gym class was literally torture for me, even if I was good at it. I had always been a basketball player so the length of the court was far enough for me. I use to think runners were crazy! But now I am one of those crazies who plans my weekends around my long runs, wakes up early to work out, has more running clothes than I know what to do with, obsessively looks at the weather and loves eating carbs and carb loading more than I probably should. And of course celebrating with donuts after all my races!

Yesterday I thought of everything that has happened to me on my running journey and I am in awe and so thankful for it all, the good and the bad. It’s been almost about two years since that hot 20 mile training day before the San Diego Marathon that I ripped off my wig with tears in my eyes and said to myself, “I don’t need this” and hung it up the moment I got home and haven’t looked back since. This was the first time I had really looked at myself in the mirror and felt truly beautiful in my sweaty running clothes and red sunburnt face. If it wasn’t for running I don’t think I would have found the strength, courage, or guts to get to that point in my life.

Looking back at all of the races, running groups, training runs there is countless people who stick out in my mind who gave me the pat on the back I needed when I was feeling frustrated, or like I wasn’t good enough. There are people who believed in me when I didn’t in myself and everyone who has celebrated and cheered me on along the way. I love all the good luck head rubs I get and the way people have embraced, celebrated and loved on myself in my truest form; my bald head out shining as I am racing down the road. I can’t say thank you enough to everyone the endless support.

Of course I can think back to moments that I would love to erase from my memory, to the people who pointed at me during a race and yelled “Hey baldie! You look like a boy, why are you wearing girls clothes” this moment stung and is something I will never forget, but made me increase my speed that much faster to out run them trying to jog alongside me. To the man in San Francisco who told me I needed to start in the mens corral and stepped right in front of me as he pushed me to the side like I was nothing. It is moments of this I am thankful for my calmness, and inner fuel to make me stronger, better, faster, and to always remember to treat everyone with the upmost respect no matter what.

I can’t believe in three short weeks I am going to be running my 30th marathon, a huge milestone for me and honestly something I never knew was possible or even thought would be a bucket list item of mine. But that’s the thing about life, it never ends up the way we think it will. God has a bigger, better and perfect plan for our lives than we could ever imagine for ourselves.

Running has broken my heart countless times, made me want to quit, made me cry in frustration and defeat but has brought me so much strength, empowerment, acceptance, tears of joy and incredible people that have changed my life in the best ways possible.

I am thankful for this running journey of mine, and all of the people along the way who have taught me lessons, made me stronger, knocked me down, picked me up and have helped shape me into the athlete I am today. I’ve connected with so many great people along the way and am stoked to bring a passion and determination for running to SweatNET Charlotte, an incredible opportunity to connect with people of all fitness levels, backgrounds and different passions. And to be running on behalf of the Rock N Roll Marathon Series this year is another incredible opportunity I am so thankful for! I can’t wait to take on the streets on Raleigh, San Diego, Chicago, Philadelphia, Savannah, Denver and San Antonio!

There will eventually come a day when I can no longer do this, but today is NOT that day and I am so glad! 30th marathon I am ready for you, see you soon Atlanta!

 

 

Editor’s note:

Be inspired!  For more about the preferred studios, businesses and fitness organizations that SweatNET Charlotte has teamed up go to: www.sweatnetclt.com