It Takes a Village

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After writing my post about how hard I’ve worked to keep running, I have felt the need to follow it up. Because my fear is that I came across as some kind of self-made-woman. Nothing could be further from the truth; it has taken a village to raise this runner.

It’s important to recognize those who have helped raise and shape you. Partially for humility’s sake, but also because these will be the people you lean on when times get tough. Your village can help carry you when you don’t have the strength to go on.

My village (in no particular order):

Joe and Kelly Bails
Joe has been my running coach since the early summer of 2009. It makes me proud to say I’m the first client he ever took on. A mutual friend had referred me to him, encouraging me that if I were to get some short term coaching I could learn a few things to become a faster runner. She was right, Joe made me fast. Under his care and guidance I broke PRs in every distance. But it wasn’t because he made me faster that I’ve remained a client, it’s been his care whenever we’ve hit an obstacle. Life is full of them and it’s helpful, necessary, to have someone guide you through them. Joe has directed me out of injury, recovering from my surgeries, and through the chaos of my pregnancy. He was the one making sure I did no additional harm to my body and was also the voice telling me to be patient, that we would make it through whatever was standing in the way.

I include his wife, Kelly, in my village because they are a coaching duo. But also because I’ve gotten to know her personally. She’s inspiring the way she coaches her clients, especially her Women’s Beginning Running group. She truly believes in a person’s ability to run and reach goals. I’ve also gotten to watch her train first hand and the dedication she has.

But Joe and Kelly are more than just coaches to me, they’re family. They took me in. Literally. I lived in their home for 6 months. Pretty sure I’m the only client they’ve done that for! They sowed me so much love and hospitality. So when they encourage me to keep going, I know it’s not about retaining another client (though I wouldn’t say that’s their mentality with any client), I know they sincerely care and are rooting for me to succeed.

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The Dragonuks
My younger sister, Malorie, is the President of my fan club. She hasn’t been able to physically cheer me on at every marathon, but those she is at she always has a poster made for me. A few of those posters hang in my basement as a means for daily encouragement. Whether she’s at the race or not, she composes a playlist for me. It’s amazing her ability to select songs that just really pump me up and provide extra encouragement. She gets it and she gets me; I couldn’t take a step without her.

My mom is my official cheerleader. She’s been to 10 out of 11 marathons. This year was my first marathon without her; she passed the torch on to Nick. Getting to travel to Boston and New York with her as been so incredibly special. The time together has brought us so close as mother and daughter, but also as friends. It takes a lot to stand around for hours, just to get glimpses of me going by. But my mom would never complain. She hops fences, catches trains, runs down streets to see me as many times as possible. And while I’m not around, she makes friends with other people in the crowd. Seriously, after every race she’s telling me about how she met so and so who was there to watch what’s their name. I love running for the community of runners, and my mom has found her own community in the crowd.

My dad is the best. His work schedule makes it difficult to be at a lot of my marathons. I usually run one in the spring (planting season) and one in the fall (harvest). But he does his best to make it to the ones he can. And when he can’t and it’s a larger marathon, he takes advantage of the runner updates via texting. On occasion he’s been known to email his coworkers on my progress or how I finished. He’s a very proud dad, which is all the more encouraging to me.

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MY Family
Nick and Milo are the newest additions to my tribe. In some ways, they’ve taken over the roles of my parents and Malorie (though they are in no way complete substitutions). Nick plays a vital role in the day in and day out training, making sure there is time in the day for me to run. He celebrates the every day runs, making it easier for me to keep at it. Milo has no idea how important he is yet, but nothing’s sweeter than seeing your baby’s face at the finish line. It’s exciting for me to think about how he’ll grow up with a sense of normalcy about going to Mommy’s races.

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I could go on and on. My friend Jenni who is another cheerleader. Ricki and Kimmy who have been amazing training partners and friends. The list of names just keeps growing. But the point is my greatest accomplishments in running, in career, in family, have always been at the hand of those around me. I think that’s a general rule of thumb. That at any given time, you can think of your own village who has supported you through life’s ups and downs, twists and turns. Even more exciting to me is the thought that I’m a part of someone else’s village.

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