It is fitting that my very first pinterest board I created, a long long time ago was named "Run Love", full of fast horses, motivational quotes, pictures of our super stars like Shalane, Kara, Kate, and Joanie. Running and I don't have a complicated relationship like many describe. Running and I truly have something that over the past 21 years has been unconditional.
In 1996 I started running, and quickly feel head over heals for the sport. As a kid I was always told I was smart, I excelled in the classroom and was somewhat proud of it. But I didn't have to work very hard to get an A. I had to pay attention, and there it was. Otherwise the common words I heard that were used to describe me were "obnoxious", "loud", and "bossy". While it didn't change the way I chose to take on the world, they weren't exactly uplifting or kind words to define oneself. When I started running I wanted to be a 200m runner, but quickly was moved to the mile after running 6:14 in gym class. I won one race, and I was hooked. As running took over my life, and I poured my heart into the sport I began to hear new words used to describe me. Instead of "bossy", and "loud", I was now referred to as a "leader". Instead of "obnoxious", and "has too much energy", I heard "fast", and "has potential", and "tough". Yep I could get my team warmed up, and ready to go before practice, or a meet. I felt pride in this leadership role. It gave me more and more confidence, with each passing day of helping to lead my team. I felt that running was my domain. A sanctuary of sorts where I was able to define myself in a bright new way. I believed I was fast, and I knew I was tough. If I was beat in a race, it pissed me off. So running quickly taught me to work hard, and be disciplined in a darn near religious way. I loved running with every ounce of my being, and I knew it loved me back.
|Racing for the Marlington Dukes in High School|
Through the years it hasn't always been easy. I have broken my foot four times, partially torn both my achilles and my hip flexor, hurt my sacrum, and had a hamstring issue that lasted 3 years, and just flat out had years I could not race well to save my life. But none of those things were running's fault. I overtrained, wore inappropriate footwear, didn't sleep enough, and treated my body like a trash can. I never felt that running let me down. I felt I had let it down. But sure enough when I healed, it was there waiting for me, filling my heart with all the flutters, bringing tears to my eyes, showing me the same love it did years and years prior.
|2008 Olympic Trials|
Running has given me incredible friendships, the chance to see incredible places, and most importantly the opportunity to reach out and be a meaningful part of peoples lives. For those things I could never be more thankful. Looking back on the past 21 years that running and I have shared together, and all of the amazing, hard, fun, challenging, heartbreaking, and freeing experiences it has given me, brings me
such joy. My life would look totally different if it were not for the amazing #RUNLOVE I was so lucky to find.
|Best Friend from High School--XC Teammate|
|College Teammates, University of Akron|
|The best training partner and friend a gal could ask for Nicole Camp.|
|My fun, weird, and goofy Cleveland Elite Development Teammates.|
|Heidi Greewood, my #runlovechallenge partner of 2016.|
The list of incredible people who are and have been a part of my life thanks to running would go on, and on. So to me #runlove is the unconditional love that I have for this sport that has shaped my life, and given me more than I could ever give back.
I love you. Thank you for embracing my weird, quirky, outgoing, loud, obnoxious, and high energy personality and giving me a place to comfortably be me, and feel at home in my own skin. Thank you for being you.