Over the last few months I've learned what makes a good runner. Before this "lesson" I thought a good runner was made by the amount of pain they could endure, the passion they had, work ethic and the list would go on in this direction. However once I got injured I quickly learned a good runner is someone who, even when they are injured, can keep their head up and do all necessary to stay positive. It turns out I am not a good runner! It's something I work on every day and even now that I am back running I'm fighting. For me it seemed like I couldn't have gotten injured at a worse time. I put my heart and sole into New York City all races leading up to it were not what I wanted but I didn't care I had my eyes set and I was ready for a big race. Well it didn't happen, I felt like I was knocked down, but managed to stay positive and turn my focus to Houston. To my surprise training just kept getting better UNTIL my body was done. So I did all this training for months just to end up injured. Understand I've never dealt with injury and I didn't deal with it well. For me it sent me into a sort of depression. I'm not going to lie I was so mad I just started to not care. I was eating crap I would never eat, drinking beer a lot and just feeling sorry for myself. I'd do all the PT stuff, weight lifting and so one, but what I wanted to do was run. When I realized I couldn't even run a lap at the gym in boot camp I started crying, yes in the middle of boot camp. It just seemed so unfair! I know I sound like a cry baby. Trust me I've had a lot of hardships in my life and I was able to make myself deal with them with the attitude my mom instilled in me. I'm a tough girl but for some reason this was the one thing I couldn't deal with.
I've blogged about how I really wanted to run people down on my Elliptigo while they were getting to enjoy running and I couldn't but what I haven't blogged about yet was the one woman who I didn't want to run over. The one woman who had no idea that her stepping foot out the door every morning made me change my attitude. Valerie Howard kept me going and I could never thank her enough!
Every day while taking my kids to school I'd see Val out running. I am telling you there were days it was well below zero and Val was still out there running. Days that even if I was healthy I probably would have been on the treadmill complaining about the cold. Not Val, not only was she out running but Val was out there with the biggest smile on her face. It was her amazing smile that made me realize how much I wanted to be out there too. I wanted to be out there just loving the run! Last year was so focused for me. Don't get me wrong I loved it, I loved getting a new PR with most races, I loved pushing myself to new limits and seeing what it could do. Yet I know I got a little caught up in it and stopped just remembering why I do this. I stopped smiling while I was out there I was too focused. Val made me realize how much I love this sport.
On a beautiful Colorado day I was out enjoying my Elliptigo (which basically saved me from losing my mind!) I got to thinking. How could I thank her? At this point I had no idea who she was and didn't really want to just chase her down with my car and give her a heart attack! During the ride I thought maybe I could give her a pair of shoes, I mean it was the least I could do for her keeping me from going off the deep end. When I got home I wasn't sure the idea was good at all but I emailed our team rep and adidas reps with my idea. This is when I realized what a good organization I am part of. Not only did they approve it but they loved the idea. Scott, Lauren and Cody were more than happy to get me a pair of shoes for Val. In a time when a lot of runners are worried about their sponsorship for them to be so giving made me even more excited to be a part of this team. It's great to know Adidas and BOulder Running Company care about more than just the elite runners. They really do want us to make a difference in our communities. They want us to be ambassadors for the sport, to really get people excited about running, to encourage people to keep it up. I know it's cheesy but it really warmed my heart! Not only am I part of a team that is full of incredible talent but I am a part of a team who has moms, accountants, engineers, teachers and countless other occupations yet they all still kick butt! For our team leaders and sponsors to be so supportive of us is something I know non of us could ever begin to say thank you enough.
Ok I really just ramble. Now I needed to find out who this amazing woman was without freaking her out. Luckily I have a friend in the neighborhood who seems to know everyone and Jodi knew exactly who I was talking about. I emailed Val immediately and asked if she would mind if I blogged about her. I explained what a help she was to me and she was thrilled. Val was very surprised that someone who had trained for the olympic trials was inspired by her. Val is a big inspiration to me, she has three children and still gets out there to run. After talking to her I can see she really just loves everything about running. She is one of the nicest people I've ever met. While I am back to training I can't help but smile every morning when I see Val out on her run. I'm not sure what inspires most runners to get out the door but these days when workouts are less than what I expect of myself I just think of Val. A woman who has so much on her plate but still makes tine to get out there. Last year Val also had an injury and she can relate to the feelings of sadness I had not being able to lace up.
With all the support my community has given me I feel like giving just one pair of shoes is not even close to what I should be doing to give back. T from now on I want to make sure to give back. If it's helping at races, helping young kids or just getting out more to talk to fellow runners. Even this weekend as I sit in DC waiting to run my first race I'm taking from all those who have supported me. My training hasn't been what I want and I can't even begin to know what to expect from myself but I do know it's a point to start. From here on I can only go back up and I will use Val and all the others as my inspiration!!