BENEFITING: A Joyful Heart Foundation
Last year I ran my for the first time, the TCS New York City Marathon as part of the Joyful Heart Foundation's Team and was so incredibly honored to do so and raise over $2,000 in funds for an amazing cause.
My desire was to not only complete my first marathon but use running as a tool for healing and pairing my race with the ability to fundraise for an organization and cause I feel so deeply passionate about was overwhelming, especially those last 3 miles of the marathon as I really reflected on my marathon journey.
While I am not part of any team this year, it is imperative that I once again put meaning and healing behind my miles as I take on for the first time the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
I will once again be using this space as a way to post updates on training and information on my upcoming race.
Below you will find the story of why I not only run but put meaning behind each mile every year:
'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 began to work towards my fundraising goal.
I completed my first marathon with a time of 4:22 and with every mile I ran that day, I felt a sense of strength sink back into my body. There were many moments during my race where I didn't feel I had the ability to continue, I was exhausted, but I remembered why I was running and it was not only for my own strength and healing but for every other survivor like me who has felt broken, weak and defeated.
A little about The Joyful Heart Foundation:
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.