Let me rephrase that. I’m the daughter of a PE teacher AND a Gym Class failure. In Junior High School I wouldn’t run a mile. Not a single mile. The thought of getting sweaty, of being lapped by the athletic kids, of coming in last, was just too much. So instead, I did NOTHING. NOTHING at all. I failed for lack of trying.
5 years ago, after having my third son, I decided it was time it was time to stop being afraid of physically failing. I had 3 boys in 2.5 years. I was tired, I was overweight, I was ready for a change. I registered for my first 5K and announced to my family and friends that I was doing it – because then I was accountable to more than just myself. 4 months later I crossed my first finish line.
Over the past 5 years I’ve pushed myself past my comfort zone. First it was a half marathon, then two and three, then I announced I would do ONLY ONE full marathon. ONLY ONE. When I finished the marathon, my entire family was there, including my Dad, the retired PE Teacher. He told me how proud he was of me, and then said “ok, you did it, that’s enough.” I may have redeemed myself with my dad, but marathons are like childbirth, after a while, you forget about the pain and want another.
When I heard about the ISF Dream Team in early 2015 I sent Coach Tom an email. I said I wanted to join the team, but wouldn’t be their strongest runner and asked if I could be a part anyway. He welcomed me and invited me to join them for a run. At the time, I didn’t truly understand what the Dream Team was all about. I went to my first team run on an early summer morning, all alone, not knowing a single person. I feared it was going to be gym class all over again. I soon realized it wasn’t about being fastest or who would run the longest distance. It was about running for a greater purpose, running for a cause, running for a cure, running for Isabella.
In Fall 2015, I ran the Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon with the ISF Dream Team. We all gathered at the starting line, wearing our purple. Coach Tom helped us stretch, put us in the right frame of mind, and reminded us why we were there. Of all the races I’ve run, this one was the most emotional. Throughout the course, I continued to see spectators holding purple signs cheering on the Dream Team. During one particularly grueling hill, when the crowds had thinned and I was struggling, I looked to the sidewalk and saw Stuart Santos. I had never met him before, but I knew who he was. I yelled “hey ISF!” and he yelled back “go Dream Team go go go…”. I could still hear him cheering when I made it to the top. I swear it was knowing that Isabella’s Dad was on the sidelines that pushed me up that hill.
It’s the feeling of running for something bigger than myself that pushes me to keep going. To know that this Dream Team of ours is making a difference, in Isabella’s honor, motivates me at each and every run. This year I’m running the New York City Marathon and the Charlotte Half Marathon in the same week. 25 years ago this Gym Class Failure refused to run a mile and now I invite you to share in my journey towards 39.3.