In 2012, I volunteered with the Autism Society of Colorado at the Colfax Marathon. Watching runners cross the finish line, upturned giddy grin, exhausted skip in their step; I wanted THAT! I remembered living at the Belmont House in Chicago, one day at 8am every October thinking, "please, no more cowbell", peering out my window with fascination as thousands of people ran past. I returned home from the Colfax Denver race and immediately signed up for the sold-out 2012 Chicago Marathon via Girls On the Run.
I was completely ill prepared for my very first marathon. I thought 15 minute miles was fast enough. I thought an apple and one Cliff bar was sufficient fuel. And I thought I knew how to get to the start line...2 miles in the wrong direction, I literally sprinted to Grant Park and burst into tears when I was told I missed the start. A GOTR staff saw me, escorted me to the still open start line, gave me a huge hug and encouragement, and off I went...the very last person to start the race.
That moment of crossing the finish line 6:30 hours later, knees taped, mustering up the last bit of energy to pull off a sprint across the finish, collapsing into a huge grin; that moment will stay with me forever as one of the greatest accomplishments and life lesson in a city that never let me fail. The next year I actually trained, maintained a pace between 8-10 minutes, and shaved 2 hours off my 2013 Chicago finish; collapsing with an even bigger grin into my parents' arms.
As a school counselor, I've met several young ladies who have benefited from the empowerment of the Girls On the Run program. I too benefitted from that same support and encouragement. I am very excited to be raising funds and running with such an amazing charity for the 2014 Chicago Marathon. For every $100 raised, I will be donating an hour of volunteer time to Girls On the Run of the Rockies.
Run strong, Run smiling
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