'Running reminds you that even in your weakest moments, you are strong.'
I became drawn to running at one of my weakest moments at the start of 2015, when I made a commitment to myself that I would run my first half marathon as my New Year's Resolution. In order to become physically healthy enough to achieve that goal, I knew that I would have to face and overcome a great deal of my own internal struggles and push through many mental blocks that had lived inside of me and held me back for many years. What I didn't know was that 2015 would not only turn out to be one of the hardest years of my life, but also bring me to a place of great strength and courage. Running provided me with a community of strong women who pushed me to train and not only run my first half marathon but complete several 5K's, 10K's, 15K's and even challenge myself to a 30K Trail Run. I didn't know it at the time, but with every finish line I crossed, difficult training day I pushed through and every mile I cried and struggled to get through, I was gaining the strength I needed to face the difficulties I was experiencing in my own life.
Fast-forward to the beginning of 2016, I was trying to slowly pick-up the pieces of my life after surviving a draining divorce, an international relocation back to New York and something much more devastating, a traumatic assault that left me feeling vulnerable, weak and broken. I decided what I needed was to run. I didn't want to run; I felt defeated, tired, and without my running buddies I didn't think I could complete a race but, I signed up for a 10K through New York Roadrunners. I cried and pushed my way through every mile without stopping and ended up achieving a PB. The overwhelming feeling of strength, accomplishment and peace I felt crossing the finish line was what I needed, and it reminded me that running is essential to my physical and mental health. And with that race under my belt, I set my goal for 2016, which was to complete my first full marathon back on US soil.
Many of my family and friends had heard me talk about running in The New York Marathon, but what I didn't tell many people was that my goal was to run for a charity that I felt personally connected to. I scrolled through the lists of organizations registered with The New York Marathon and found The Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization I had followed for years and now felt compelled to e-mail and apply for a spot on their team. To my complete surprise, I received an e-mail confirming my spot and set a goal of $3,500 to raise by race day.
With that being said, I truly hope you assist me in not only meeting my goal of raising $3,500 but exceeding it as I begin my journey towards my first marathon in my home city as I proudly run for The Joyful Heart Foundation this fall. I encourage you to follow my training and my progress both on this page and on my Instagram @mindfulbalancedliving. And if you're based in New York, come down to watch me complete my race with my team-mates on November 6th 2016!
A little about The Joyful Heart Foundation,
When Mariska Hargitay began playing Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims, the content of the scripts, as well as the research she did to prepare for the role, opened her eyes to the epidemics of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.
1 in 3 women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point during their lives;
Every two minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States;
More than 5 children die every day in the U.S. as a result of child abuse and neglect and up to 15 million children witness violence in their homes each year.
But what really opened her eyes—and ultimately, her heart—were the thousands of letters and emails she received from survivors disclosing their stories of abuse, many for the first time. Her response was to create Joyful Heart.
Since 2004, Joyful Heart has evolved into a national organization with hubs of service in Honolulu, Los Angeles and New York. We are paving the way for innovative approaches to treating trauma, igniting shifts in the way the public views and responds to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and reforming and advancing policies and legislation on the city, state and federal levels to ensure justice for survivors.
Our mission is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues. We deliver our mission through a program portfolio that includes the three integrated areas of Healing, Education and Advocacy.
Our Healing programs are designed to provide survivors and those who care for them with improved access to healing techniques and wellness practices that are holistic—addressing the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual effects of their experiences, all in the nurturing environment of community. The goal of Joyful Heart’s Education programs is to change the way society thinks about, talks about and responds to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. Simply put, we seek to turn up the volume on these issues. Our Advocacy programs seek healing and justice for survivors of violence and abuse. We work in partnership with federal, state and local government, nonprofit organizations, law enforcement, advocates and survivors to bring attention, funding and reforms to improve criminal justice responses to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. The cornerstone of our Advocacy work is our effort to end the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits across the country.
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