Originally published July 2014

There was a time that when I ran, I ran alone. It started by accident, really. When my collegiate tennis career was over, I needed something to keep me active. I had always enjoyed running and had cheered my dad through marathons as a child. “Sure,” I thought, “why not run a marathon?” On a whim, I signed up for the 1999 Chicago Marathon, printed out a beginner’s training schedule, and set out to run my first race ever. Yep. That’s right, my first race ever…a marathon. I was 23 years old and my friends had no interest in running with me, especially while training for a marathon. So, I ran alone. 

I didn’t know how to run other than alone. The only time I ran with others was during a race, when all I wanted to do was finish as fast as possible. This mentality isn’t very conducive to making new running friends. So, I continued to run alone.

This pattern continued for many years, until life reared it’s ugly head and tossed me a curveball: a broken marriage. Surely I could run away from that on my own, too. It’s always worked in the past, running away from things that I don’t want to deal with, covering them with the cloak of “Serious Training”. Of course running will save me now, when I needed it the most! But with a broken marriage came a broken spirit, which inevitably led to a broken body. A body that refused to run. With no running, no marriage, and no family within 1,000 miles to help me with the day to day, hour to hour challenges of my life, I was left to run alone. But this time, I hit the wall. 

It was at precisely this moment that I quietly stumbled upon a pack. Strong, steadfast women who loved me despite my brokenness. They taught me to trust the pack to walk beside me while I was too broken to move and unable to run. With their support, I forged a new identity that put faith, love, family and forgiveness before everything else. 

Healing takes time – lots of time – and things that have been broken are often never the same once they are put back together. For me, this is great news! Through my healing process, I was able to find gratefulness in ways I never dreamed possible.

These days, I’m so very grateful for my ability to run. I am grateful for an amazing pack of women who surround me not only in running, but in life as well. I’m grateful for my reconciled marriage, a healthy family and supportive network of friends. I may never run the Boston Marathon (more on this topic in a later post). And you know what? That’s fine by me! My life is overflowing with joy and I don’t want to miss a single second of it worrying about the right Nuun flavor or negative splits or if my Garmin will pick up satellite reception. Now, I live to be mindful of the past, hopeful for the future but always living in the present. My goal is to use my ability to run to bring health, happiness and inspiration to others around me. Join me on this journey of finding gratefulness in daily life.