Plenty of reasons to celebrate.

Last Sunday night was the Celebration Banquet for a very successful 2013 Moms on the Run season.  This is my third year running and coaching with this group of amazing women, and I am humbled, empowered, stunned, encouraged, inspired, and just so very very happy to be part of this awesome group.

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Here are a few of us after the Officer Silvera Memorial 5k last Saturday. Pretty amazing, eh?

We celebrated with women who went from ground zero to completing their first 5k.  We celebrated with women who had lost 10, 20, 30 lbs. or more over the summer while remaining faithful to our training program and nutrition challenges.  We were inspired and moved to tears when we heard the story of one of our coaches training for Twin Cities Marathon while pushing her brother in a wheelchair so HE can finish HIS first marathon.  I watched women smile, laugh, hug, wipe tears, and show off the proud glow fresh from the previous day’s 5k festivities where miles were run and goals were crushed – our common commitment to fitness, friendship, and fun brought us together and it was clear as I looked around the beautiful room full of stunning women (many of whom I had trouble recognizing in beautiful dresses with makeup and hair done…I’m so used to seeing their beautiful ponytails and running clothes!) that these friendships were so much more than the casual coffee date or happy hour kind.

It’s an amazing group.  The brains and passion behind the whole organization is a pretty amazing woman as well, and one of the most humble and compassionate people I know.  Over the last six years, she has had a very important role in changing the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of women…positively.  Blows my mind.  The owners and coaches for the 23 locations – same story. Pushing, empowering, believing, challenging, encouraging…women to be stronger, healthier, and happier.  I am so humbled to be part of this group.  So humbled to be in a coaching role when I feel like I have gained so much more than I have given.  When one of our runners came to thank me for introducing her to this group and told me that it was because of me (a few of us who ran and biked a beautiful 20 mile trek along the Twin Cities Marathon route together last Fall, actually…I certainly can’t take all the credit here) that she came to run with us and set goals…5k – done…working towards 10k and 10miles!  I realized that I’m a part of that too.  Wow.

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I run and I train and I push myself because I love it and I need it.  I started exercising and running first because I was so very mad and so very sad to lose my Mom to health issues that she may not have had if she had made healthier choices.  I kept running because I had people I loved challenge me, train with me, and run with me (my niece Johanna, but I have since trained and raced with my nephew Jason and niece Katie too…as well as a slew of BRFs who inspire and challenge me every day).  I still keep running because it makes me feel good (while it makes my body scream in that hurts so good kind of way).  I have met some of the most amazing people and developed rock solid friendships with those who share my passion and commitment.  I do this for me.  I do this for my family – I had to say goodbye to my parents too soon…I don’t want my kids to have to do the same if I can do anything about it.  I do this because I can run races for good causes and raise money for things that are very close to my heart (please check out my fundraising page – I’m marathon training in honor and in memory of my Dad – and YOU can help make a difference for people affected by Alzheimer’s Disease with a generous contribution!).  This should have occurred to me before now, probably, but I never really thought of who was watching me…and while I was busy being inspired to do my best by someone or something…someone else was taking chances and setting goals because I inspired them.  ME?  Really?!  Wow.

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The other thing I love about this group of women…and this is a little hard to believe since we ARE a group of WOMEN…this is pretty much the only thing in my life that exists sans drama.  My MOTR running friends are busy, tired, stressed, focused, friendly people who come together to sweat away the stress and bask in the endorphins.  Family drama.  Relationship drama.  Work drama.  Home drama.  We all have it…we share stories about it.  But this group is our vacation from drama…and the friends I have made have zero strings attached and zero drama.  Just people who are doing the best they can with what they’ve got when they can.  It’s amazingly refreshing.  It’s so much more than a running group.  It’s a support group of the best kind.  The kind that knows exactly how to cheer you up when you’re recovering from an injury.  The kind that watches your kids so you can get in a much needed run.  The kind that throws baby showers and cooks meals for our new mamas.  The kind that go out of their way with generosity when someone loses a loved one or is fighting a horrible disease.  The kind that you can spend 30+ hours in a van with on no sleep while running up and down steep hills on gravel in the middle of the night…and still get along the next day (Right, Ragnar Ladies?!).

To Karissa, to Steph, to our coaches and runners at Bunker, Blaine, and the Dam…THANK YOU!  I still feel like celebrating even though the banquet has long been cleaned up.

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