Monday, March 16, 2015

My Story

It's Monday, Fitness Post Day. The weather is amazing the last couple days and today,  so I am very excited to get outdoors and run without all the layers!
 At my job, we have been collecting stories from our runners of  why they run.  I, personally, have enjoyed reading each of the stories. I love to understand people and to know their story.  I love to hear reasons of why people feel accomplished, what they are overcoming.  Some of the stories are simple and still others are quite detailed. But, personally, some of the stories have even challenged me, or reminded me that my worries of life are not all that big compared to what some others have to conquer.
  If you have followed my blog a long time, you have most likely already heard my running story, and why I do it. But, in light of reading other runners' stories, and in light of the fact this this week marks the anniversary of my mom's passing 4 years ago, I am going to share some sketches of my story yet again this morning. Some of my readers, I know, are new friends. If you already know my story, feel free to skip today and I'll catch up with you again tomorrow or Wednesday ;).
  The bottom line is: I run because I love it. I run because I am passionate about the sport. That's the bottom line. But the story behind why I love it is detailed and in depth.
 If you knew me growing up, you know I was more of the drama nerd/band geek. I was not athletic or inclined in that way at all. In fact, I often said I can't, specifically about running. But in 2008, having moved back to Ohio after living in Florida 7 years, I sat on the finish line of the Air Force Marathon as a volunteer, watching all these different body types and sizes cross the finish line, and decided, if they can do it, I can do it.
 My journey of running started out simply because I wanted to prove to myself I could, in fact, accomplish something I'd told myself for years I couldn't do. I had no idea when I began that journey that I would fall in love with the sport, that it would lead me to my now career.
  Starting out was hard, no doubt. Many days I wanted to give up. But for the first time in my life, I wasn't going to let the voice of "you're not good enough... you can't do it..." stop me. And I conquered. I didn't set out on the journey with the goal of a 5K. I, like a crazy person, chose my first race to be a half marathon. And I fell in love with that distance and with the sport. All in all, I love to run because it has helped me overcome the doubts that have so often pounded on my door and barged through the positive parts of me.  Simply accomplishing that first race back in spring 2009 taught me I am more than I allowed myself to believe or see. And running, through all these years now, has  helped me through the hard times.
   Running has helped me push through depression and anxiety.
     Running has seen me through grief.
   Running has helped me be a better me.

 Simply because it is something I make time to do because I love it.
 I don't run to lose weight or to accomplish some bucket list.
  I don't run for a cause.
    I just run for me.
 It may be selfish, but running has led to some beautiful moments for me. Including, but not limited to, my now being immersed in the culture daily as my career.

  The last piece of my story of running I will touch on is the grief piece. I began running before my mom was re-diagnosed with cancer. But, reality is, running helped me through that time.This week, that topic is on my heart and mind a lot, as it is only natural to be recalling that journey since this week marks 4 years of mom's passing.
  I recall quite clearly this one day in November 2010, it was unseasonably warm, and I went out for a long run, under the last leaves of fall gently caressing my skin as they quietly fell.  I felt amazing for a few moments. Mom was fighting cancer pretty hard, but she was so positive and determined. After that run, I went out to mom's and  had lunch with her, and we played games (our favorite game, Dutch Blitz) and talked, drank coffee, and laughed. We had such a great time. That was the last day I had a conversation with my mom like that because the next day she woke up and couldn't talk, couldn't write. The cancer overnight had pressed in on her brain that quickly. That run, that moment of freedom and that last day of normal conversation with mom is one which will forever be imprinted on my mind.
   The next many months, the last of mom's life, I ran because it kept me "sane" through that process. Mom passed on March 20. I was scheduled to run a half marathon 2 weeks after that date, and I had not trained to the best (obviously there were higher priorities) but I ran that race, one I will never forget. I ran that one because I knew mom would want me to, but also to tell myself I would be okay.
   My passion for running has fueled the 5K we put on (in memory of mom) to raise scholarship funds for nursing students. At first, putting on that event was a way to process grief to a certain degree, to turn a sad situation into something positive. But, as time has gone on and grief is no longer what it once was, the event is less about grief and more about the students who get the scholarships. It's about being a light to others, doing something for someone else. It's not about mom. It's not about me. It's about God's love and light being extended through a simple passion of mine.
   And that event, ultimately led to my career now at the marathon office, where I am very proud to be on staff. Like any job, there are challenges to be found there. But, the entire process that led me to this point has been God-orchestrated, and I couldn't be happier than to be part of it and sharing that as part of my life story.

 So, why do I run? Because I love it. Honestly, running is probably one of the first deep passions I developed as an adult. I love my family, I love being a mom. Don't get me wrong in those aspects. I enjoy many activities. But, running was probably the first passion I discovered as an individual adult. Something just for me.  My story is no greater than anyone else's. But, since it was fitness Monday, and a week marking a significant time in my life, through which running has played a large role,  it seemed the appropriate thing to write today.


  1. Rachael, your story just gave me full-body chills. I began with a smile, noting that you, the self-proclaimed non-athlete chose a HALF MARATHON as your first race. You're such a go-getter. And then I read about your mom. And I identified with it so much. I've never lost anyone that close to me, and can't even gather the words to say anything about it (so please forgive me), but you have so clearly set an example of what someone who shares our beliefs would do. You are such an inspiration. Your story is so magnificent. I am so blessed to get to call myself your new friend! Keep going, girl. Keep going.

  2. Aunie, Thank you for your kinds words. I am SO glad to have you as a new friend as well! Thank you. I have not been without some crazy mistakes the last few years, but it's all served to shape me into a better me. I just hope my story can be used. Somehow.