In the sixth grade, in the last weeks before school ended and we became seventh graders, Mr. Halling said that if anyone was interested in running cross country next year in middle school to sign their name on the sheet in his hand. I did, thus beginning my running career.
I ran throughout high school, usually in the back. I barely made the varsity team my senior year and I was just another face, nothing special. Yet, I still logged more miles in the summer than most of my teammates because there was something about running. It was special, just for me. In the ninth grade, while trying to define myself, I wrote a poem called, “A Silly Girl Who Likes To Run.”
In college, running was my companion at 3 a.m. when I couldn’t study or at 5 a.m. after a long night at the school’s newspaper. It was also my enemy as I battled deep self image issues and forced my finger down my throat. One week, I loved it. The next, it try to destroyed me.
After college, I sought to find more from running. I raced my first 5 K since a community race when I was 13. I even started to train for a marathon, the initial purpose for this blog. But a new career endeavor and a bum knee sent those ambitions on the side. Running was there, but not consistently.
In 2010, I moved to Niger, West Africa, to work as a volunteer. On a red dirt road, alongside the rising African sun, I found a passion for running that didn’t exist. But, it couldn’t last as I was forced to leave the country because of security reasons.
Back in the U.S. running was my savior, my only reason to get out of bed. I ran my first half marathon. I planned for a full, but as usual, life got in the way.
I came back to Africa in October 2011, this time to determine to build a lasting relationship with running. Up and down the mountains of Lesotho, running was the only piece of home I could in such a strange, foreign place. In those minutes, flying through the wind, I could be with me and find a piece of myself that didn’t exist.
Somewhere inside of me, I found a true love for running and through the mountains of Lesotho I came alive. I trained for and ran an ultra marathon, one of my greatest accomplishments in life.
Now, I am running again and this time I am not running for me.
I chose to run the Chicago Marathon as part of Team World Vision, because if I can’t do something big I will do something small. I run because clean water should not be a privilege.
26.2 is just the start.