I got this idea because of one of the stories in my emails while looking for those who would aid in my quest to raise funds for the Run to Home Base 9k race here in Boston. I decided to talk for a little about my inspirations for running (really the reasons I started running) and perhaps later I’ll share a note about why I continue to run.
First, I’d like to share my brief story on how Mark Ecker changed my views of myself and running. Keep in mind, almost nobody knows this story, as it’s always been kind of a private thing. It was my senior year in high school. I was looking for something just a little more to do in the fall, several of my friends had started doing cross country running either this year or years previously, so I decided I would attempt to join them. Well I went out for a brief run with my friends earlier in the week (I couldn’t even run a mile non-stop). At my first practice, I fell behind, VERY far behind. Mark came back to talk to me, offering words of encouragement and inspiration. Back then I had a hard time believing in myself, but Mark saw the potential.
Now here I am today, a legitimate distance runner with a half-marathon and plenty of other smaller races under my belt. When Mark would come home, we were always so interested to hear about all his stories (and why not?! they were almost always awesome!), so much so that I never remembered to tell him about my running, or how he had inspired me looking back on those events. Years after Mark’s kind words, it would be his inspiration, and the role-model of my sister (who had never been a runner, just like me), who would propel me to becoming the runner I am today.
Yes also my sister. The same one I’ve called “evil” and “bitch” more times than I can remember. Oh what it is to grow up! Having finally done so, we’ve become much closer, and I’m proud to say that I really look up to her. Sure some of it is still sibling rivalry, but it’s certainly different than it used to be. My sister was never a runner. Growing up, she did dance, cheerleading, and softball (until she tore her ACL/MCL), and she was always good at these activities, but never was she a runner.
To be quite honest, I’m not really sure what drove her to start running. If it was simply wanting to be in better shape, or just to prove to herself that she could do it. But going from being a total non-runner, to doing half-marathons, really inspired me. Heck, if she can do it, so could I. I signed up for my first 5k at Hartford and I started “training”. I used quotes because when I think back on it, I almost feel silly. I couldn’t run a mile! How was that training?? But I stuck with it, increased my runs, and broke through my barriers. 1 nonstop mile, 1.5, 2. By the time the race came, I still couldn’t run the whole 5k without stopping, but I’d made leaps and bounds of progress, and I wasn’t about to stop there.
When I first started running, I had no IDEA what was going on. Sure you think running is just going out there and running, but I was very serious about the goals I wanted to accomplish. So I recruited the help of my one-time enemy (funny how these things work out) and now friend, Sara Bernard, a fantastic athlete and amazing runner, having, at that point, several LONG distance runs under her belt, including half and full marathons. She was me pseudo-coach, and her instruction and advice, really helped me get through some of those rough patches in the beginning.
So thank you Mark, for offering me inspiration, kindness and faith. Thank you Steph for showing me that I could do it if I tried hard enough. And thank you Sara, for helping me along the way.