I have been running pretty regularly again. I had to get in shape for the Fort2Fort Mackinac 5-miler even though my motivation fizzled out a couple of weeks before. That trip was so fun, and I felt so good during the run that it helped me remember why I loved being in a social running community. My favorite running days were in Memphis when I was a member of Memphis in Motion. I trained for a half marathon and then felt inspired to go for a full marathon a year later right here in Chicago. I joined that group when I was struggling with depression after my divorce, and the running and social connections healed me. Then I moved to Baton Rouge and it was too hot and too hard to find a running group with a similar makeup. Since then, my running career has come in fits and starts.
I’m glad I keep trying. I know it’s good for me. There are days when I totally forget I’m moving, and I get in a zone that takes me to my happy place. Or I go on a race trip with girlfriends and we laugh our asses off after a good sweat and post-race celebration. The pandemic dealt another blow to my motivation, but I’ve been trying to get back on track. This week I got on the Runner’s World website to try to pump some energy into my running mojo and I saw that there was a Run Show in Chicago. And I had to go to Chicago to pick up my friend Angel Sunday morning. Purrrrrrrfect!!!! I registered and booked a hotel.
I got there early this morning so I could snag some of the pre-show giveaways. I got some reflective shoelaces, lip gloss and a really nice Jute bag. There were some other coupons but nothing I wanted to use. My main goal was to get motivated, be around some like-minded people and buy some new running shoes. I didn’t buy any last year, and the two pair I have are past their prime. I kept hesitating because I didn’t know if I was committed. This week I signed up for a 10K in July, a 7.5 miler in September and a 9-miler in November. I’m committed. The money is paid. Now, I gotta pound out the miles.
I met a really nice woman in line and we chatted until the show opened. Carl Lewis cut the ribbon, and I was excited to get to hear him speak first thing. He was very personable, and his memories took me back to when I first started running in 1982. The Inspiration Stage had a great lineup, and I listened to most of the speakers. When there was a break, I went looking for shoes and ended up buying some cushy Asics Nimbus complemented with some custom insoles. I fell in love with insoles last year when I was working at Wanderlust. They give me so much more support, and I need all the support I can get these days.
The afternoon lineup turned out to be the real treat. There was an alcoholic and addict whose recovery is in large part to his running. A female amputee talked about her recent accomplishment of running 104 marathons in 104 days. An African-American Ironman finisher with diabetes told his story. Not only did he get healthy himself, but he has started opening health care clinics in barber shops in black neighborhoods. It was fascinating to hear his story and see the difference he is making in people’s lives. And The Marathon Whisperer had once been a really fast competitive runner until she got hit by a car. Now she’s a motivating coach who encourages people to run for fun and quit getting stressed out about time. She was such a happy person!
Several women who play unique roles in the running community held a panel discussion on women, running and building community. It was beautiful to see the diversity of race, age and body size on that stage. I had read about Mirna Valerio in Runner’s Word years ago. She is called the Mirnavator, and she had a blog that made her famous called Fat Girl Running. I’ll put a list at the end of all the speakers so you can read about them if you want. Each of them were motivated to run because they could inspire others and make a difference in people’s lives. Running can be competitive. But today I got a real snapshot of what the modern running community has become. National running events used to be full of young, fit men and women. Eventually, the age ranges expanded. But now there are all kinds of runners from different walks of life with different motivations and unique challenges. It was very inspiring to see. I guess that’s why they called it The Inspiration Stage.
I walked away excited about being a part of the running community again. If I hadn’t been so hungry, I probably would have put on those running shoes to go for a run. But I’ll be up and at it tomorrow. My hotel is close to a number of trails, and I’m motivated. I hope the rain will hold off. But after I saw the challenges that those speakers have overcome in order to run, I should be embarrassed by letting a little rain stop me.
See the links below for some of the speakers I heard. Their stories are worth reading about. And if they inspire you to get off your ass and go for a walk or run, then I’ve done my job!