I often get asked why I run so many miles, so many races. Every runner has their reasons, but I think mine are pretty simple - as an excuse to spend long periods of time playing outdoors, for Jackson, and for the memories.
As a child we spend many, many hours outside. Playing tag, riding bikes, running through the sprinklers, jumping in puddles, and climbing trees. But as we reach adulthood, this falls away. When I moved to Colorado 12 years ago a friend invited me to join a run club. I wasn't "over the moon" about this idea, but I did like the idea of getting outside for a run (and then heading back to the pub for a celebratory toast), so I signed up. Though the running part wasn't so fun at first (and I was always the last person to finish the loop), I really enjoyed the thinking time and the fresh air (even though we were running in downtown Denver). Over the years I've expanded my running to much longer distances and, thankfully, have moved off the road for most of my runs and spend much of my time off the beaten path. The longer distances allow for more time outdoors and wonderful views along the way!
Nearly two years ago I learned of the I Run 4 program (www.whoirun4.com) and signed up to be paired with a buddy. A little over a year ago I was paired with Jackson, a little boy with CHD (specifically, Jackson has a hole in his heart) and epilepsy. Jackson is a little warrior who is now two, and whose favorite animal is the cow. Running for him gives my runs, both training and races, a purpose; he gives me strength...and he's also renewed my excitement for cows. It has been an amazing experience to get to know Jackson and his parents, and I was blessed with the opportunity to meet them when I traveled to Chicago for a race last fall. I look forward to returning to Chicago this fall to run a race, see Jackson and his parents, and to meet Jackson's new baby brother.
Life is about experiences. As a single thirty-something, the world is my oyster as far as what I want to do with my free time. I love to travel and to spend time with friends, and I find that running is a great way to meld these two passions together to create lasting memories. When pounding the pavement I get to see old friends and meet new, explore new cities during the race, and see the sights while playing tourist after the run. Trail running allows me to explore the backcountry and see glorious sights.
I'm happy to go out and do training runs on my own, and many of my favorite memories, such as the one pictured above, are captured in pictures during those runs. Many races provide a more tangible reminder of the memories with medals. A number of my friends choose their races based on the medals, which can often lead to some pretty awesome "bling," but for me, it is often the smallest or most softly-stated medals that mean the most. Regardless the size, I hang my medals with pride and often break into a smile when one of the medals catch my eye, bringing a memory to the front of my mind.
That said, I continue to run - to explore new cities and trails, to make new friends and visit old, to get outside and enjoy the fresh air like a kid again...all the while making wonderful new memories!
Now - a little "bonus" for reading through the end of the blog! I got the rack you see pictured above from Victory Medal Hangers (victorymedalhangers.com) a couple months ago, and the have graciously offered to do a giveaway of one of these medal racks! (Your choice of 1 row or 3 as the rack pictured above, and they'll ship directly to you.) So, let's hear it...
* Why do you run?
* What are some of your favorite memories?
Share a little bit below to be entered into the drawing for a chance to be the newest owner of one of these awesome medal displays! (Please share by 10pm MST on 8/12, and I'll randomly pick a winner on the 13th!) In the meantime, HAPPY RUNNING!!!
Melissa is many things...among them, she is a friend, sister, daughter, dog owner, RunJunkEes Ambassador, Colfax Marathon Ambassador, Skirt Sports Ambassador, Lowry CrossFit member, and a mountain girl at heart!