The itch came in May 2019. I had just completed the Devil Dog Challenge in Fredericksburg, a 5 mile race followed immediately by a half marathon. It hit me then that I may actually like long distance running. I mean REALLY like it. Enough to sign up for my first marathon. So, I did.
The consistency and focus of training allowed me to recognize the positive impact that running had on my mental health, something I knew to be true but really experienced over the months leading up to the race. I also discovered that being in a community of runners is one of the best ways for me to maintain positive mental health. Additionally, I was thrilled with family and friends’ support of CKG through donations, which only fueled my training even further.
The day before the Richmond marathon, Susan Lindsay of CKG shared the following message, “You have already won the race because you challenged yourself to set a hard goal, and you trained with purpose. Tomorrow is the celebration.” This became my mantra as I awoke race morning. The long months of training were over. With a joyful heart and a smile on my face, I stepped onto the course in full celebration mode. My family and friends posted up throughout the Richmond course in support, and they lovingly deemed me the “smiling runner.”
I did not want to miss a thing on race day-the James River and its winding beauty, the communities of neighbors cheering from their porches, the T Rex whose costume filled with wind but who did not stop. Nor did I miss the pacer who continued to lead his group despite his foot going numb or the effort of my sister to push her daughter in a jogging stroller to get me through mile 23.
It was a glorious day. A celebration unlike any other. And now that I’ve got the itch, I’m not sure it can be stopped.