Rekindling My Relationship with Running

Running and I weren’t friends at the end of 2016. Nope – we had what is often referred to as a “falling out”. I had a really tough training season and I just about turned my back on running altogether. Let the pounds pile on and took a non-committal approach to training for most of the year. But despite my disenchantment, my love for running and the community it has brought into my life was at the core of the miles I willed myself to complete in 2017 and 2018. It had me recollecting on how running and I met.


It all began in 2011 when at the urging of my marathoner boyfriend, I signed up for a NYRR Beginner Running class. I’d always wanted to get into running and the format of this class seemed less intimidating than running on the treadmill for 30 minutes or trying to keep up with more experienced runners in group environments. The class started simply by having me walk for 1 minute and run for 1 minute.

Each subsequent week, the running segments would gradually increase until I was able to run for 20 minutes non-stop. I felt like a million bucks once I did that.  I eventually graduated to their Intermediate Level class and signed up for my very first race – the Fifth Avenue Mile.


When I signed up I had no clue that the idea of the race was for it to be an all-out sprint so naturally I freaked out. But when I arrived at the starting line and saw the different shapes, sizes and abilities of the women in my heat and immediately felt relieved. Long story short – I survived and decided to sign up for a 4-mile race in Central Park with the goal of running the entire distance nonstop. Mission accomplished.

As is often the case with running, tackling that goal led me to look for bigger challenges and I decided to take on my first half marathon – the 2013 Brooklyn Half. Who would have thought that a one mile race would lead to a 4 mile race that would lead to a 10K race that would lead to a half marathon that… yup … led to a marathon. If anyone had told me back in 2011, when I was huffing and puffing down Fifth Avenue that I’d eventually sign up for and run my first marathon, I would have replied with a deadpan, “Nah son…”. Yet there I was, toeing the line at the start of the 2014 NYC Marathon.


What an ode to running this journey has been. It has helped me stave off anxiety, has afforded me the opportunity to use my miles to pay homage to loved ones I’ve lost; it has helped me bring things to the surface and face-off with them as I pound the pavement and has become a conduit that facilitates self-commitment and self-care. And of course, it paved a path to Harlem Run, a community of leaders, activists, advocates and runners I hold so near and dear to my heart.

So yeah, me and running had a falling out. Every relationship has its ups and downs. But after six years, 6 marathons, 15+ half marathons and countless training miles later, I think me and running are gonna be able to work things out. The boyfriend that introduced us is long gone but me and running? We’re gonna be alright…


- Ma

Harlem Run Retreat 3.0: Refocusing on Mind, Body, & Soul

Every year I take several journeys to different countries with the goal of traveling and getting to know other cultures and ways of life. Next to fitness and running, traveling is one of my biggest loves. When Harlem Run announced that we would be doing our third retreat internationally, I knew that I wanted to attend.


However due to life circumstances I realized that I was not going to be able to attend due my finances. I developed a major case of #FOMO! However, thankfully for me working two jobs and making hard decisions, I was able to save the funds and go on this trip. I had been to Costa Rica before, in March 2015. I was separated from my ex husband and was feeling lost, depressed, and unaware about everything and anything.

One of my closest friends, Luz, pretty much forced me to take this trip and I was immediately changed by their traditions and worldviews. Costa Rica’s way of life, Pura Vida, emphasized taking it easy and just enjoying the moment. This was exactly what I needed at that particular time in my life. When I left Costa Rica in 2015 I felt like I was centered and found hope and life again. As corny as it sounds, a weight was lifted off my shoulders.


When I came back to NYC, I signed up for the gym without telling anyone and this is how my lifestyle journey began. So, attending this retreat in Costa Rica, for me, meant so much more than just another vacation. This retreat was coming full circle. I have been through some rough times in the past 8 months but many don’t know because fitness keeps me going and helps me cope with it all.


This retreat brought the best of all my worlds into one: food, running, two of my closest friends, fitness, sun, tanning, traveling, self-care in all areas -- Mind, Temple and Soul. Costa Rica holds a special place in my heart and this is the only country out of all the places I have traveled to, that I have come back to again.

The second time around was different. I was greeted with excitement, everyone wanting to see what our time abroad would hold. I was greeted with food, hugs, and smiles. I was also greeted with a nice bag with my name on it. In the bag were candles, Harlem Run sunglasses, a bandana, and a bracelet. Now, if you know me you know I love arm candy, but this was not just any arm candy. This bracelet has been braided by Amir, Alison, and Raydime and had a message that read, "Reality has limits, imagination is boundless."


This set the tone for my trip. I wasn’t here to just have a vacation, I was here to take it all in, mourn my losses, appreciate my body, mind and soul and re-center myself on my future.  We stayed in Santa Teresa, a small town in the coast of Pacific Ocean in Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica. We had a small villa with our own pool and access to beach, which was just perfect.

After the rough past several months I have had in all life domains, working 7 days a week, plus being a mentor, and being a pacer for Harlem Run, I was so thrilled to just sit on the beach and soak it all in and be thankful for it all. Throughout the day, we participated in amazing workshops while also finding free time to just enjoy ourselves and reflect.


On the day before our last day, we went on an excursion to Turtle Island and what an excursion this was. We got on a speed boat, had an incredible view, went whale watching, and went snorkeling! This was a big deal for me, as I don’t know how to swim and never get into water unless I’m able to touch the bottom with my feet or hold onto something. However, since I had been taking swim lessons, I made a decision that I was going to get in the water and I did.

At first I was panicking internally and freaking out but everyone was so nice and helpful in calming me down before I got an anxiety attack and I was able to just enjoy myself. We then drove to another area and I was able to jump off the boat and snorkel with no fear at all. This was a major accomplishment and like many others I was able to do them with my running family, Harlem Run.


Harlem Run has brought a lot to my life but it has especially encouraged my sense of curiosity ... of wanting more, growing, and developing while sharing these experiences with others, and helping them on their journeys as well. This trip felt full circle and I was able to see the growth in myself and feel pride in who I had become since 2015, when I felt lost and without hope. 

Here I am now in 2018 having purpose, being grateful, and being on a retreat where I was challenged everyday with some people that I had just met for the first time. So once again, thank you, Costa Rica, for helping center me and bringing me serenity while helping me refocus on future goals.

Thank you, Harlem Run, for creating a space where I am allowed to just be me and for creating a retreat that allowed me to get to know other people and focus on my mind, body, and soul. Thank you for the community that you continue to create and develop wherever we go. Thank you for helping me be a product of your idea that turned into a vision and mission that I live day in and out.


~Adalgisa "Lisa" Rivera

Harlem Run News - March 2018

What can we say, we've had a lot going on and we are only 3 months into 2018! Were you able to keep up with us!?!? Costa Rica was home to our third annual #HarlemRunRetreat. It was a beautiful and transformative experience as we all learned the value of getting comfortable being uncomfortable.  When we returned, we hosted our third installment of #HarlemRunStairs uptown at Highbridge Park with a packed field and sneakers for everyone, thanks to Under Armour. Stay tuned for what is to come. We look forward to you joining us!

NYC Half - Sunday, March 18th


Are you running!? Volunteering!? CHEER WITH US - we'll be at East 105th Street (~ mile 11.4). The route has been changed this year, but we'll still be there to cheer everyone on as they power through to the finish!

Women's Event - Monday, March 26th

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Save the date for our annual women's event, Monday March 26th at #MonNgtRun in celebration of #WomensHistoryMonth. The details will drop soon, so stay tuned.  Also keep your eyes peeled every Wednesday this month (via Instagram), as we will spotlight powerful women who inspire us!

Boston Marathon 2018 - Monday, April 16th


In preparation for the 123rd running of the Boston Marathon we want to see who is running and cheering. Fill out our SURVEY HERE.


Right Where I Needed To Be

After cheering for the NYC Marathoners in 2017 I was determined to make 2018 my Comeback Year. I was thinking about ways that I could restart and what I could do to get motivated. On cue, I opened up Instagram to see a post by Harlem Run saying, "Join us for our Harlem Run Retreat 3.0 in Costa Rica!" 

That was my sign. At first I will admit that I didn’t have the means to go, but I made it work. I knew this was the move I needed to get me inspired again.


Fast forward to Retreat Day -- it's already 4:30AM and I'm on my way to the airport to catch my 6AM flight. The train conductor announced that there was a sick passenger on the train and I was worried I was going to be late. What a way to start the day! There were so many thoughts & feelings going through me, and I was convinced I'd miss my flight for sure. I took a deep breath and told myself that I was going to make it on time. I just put those words out to the universe.

A few minutes later the train started moving and I made it to the gate just on time. I had the whole flight to reflect on what had brought me here and prepared for my experience at the retreat. I landed in Costa Rica 6 hours later (phew!), feeling relieved and ready to get moving. Even with all the roadblocks, I finally made it to Costa Rica and was reassured that I was right where I needed to be.


The Harlem Run Retreat was the opportunity for me to breakaway from my running hiatus, fears of judgments within the running community, and reflect on my life as as a plus-sized runner. I was also there to fuel my life's purpose of inspiring and motivating others (as well myself) when I came back to the New York.

 At the San Jose Airport, I was anxious and nervous. I met with about 12 other people, mostly strangers to me, that I had never met or interacted with through social media before ... I found almost immediately that the commonality of Harlem Run immediately started bonding us together as if we were lifelong friends. 


Throughout the Retreat I would learn that all these people had interesting background stories, amazing lives back in the US,  and impressive reasons that they decided to come along on this trip. The bonds that we all made during our time in Costa Rica will not soon be forgotten, and I'm grateful to have met everyone. 

The Harlem Run Retreat allowed me to really step outside my comfort zone, to not let fears stop me from living my best life!  As I reflect back on my time in Costa Rica, I think of all the quotes and experiences the girls shared and how they perfectly captured what I learned while I was there and what I would bring back to the US;


Use your time wisely!

Exercise is a privilege.

Be Fearless!

Live with No Limitations...PURA VIDA!


Creating a New ‘Me’ Through Running

Why do I run? Similar to many others, I have struggled with making healthy food choices and incorporating a consistent workout schedule into my life. In 2014, I made getting healthier and prioritizing exercising one of my New Years Resolutions ... corny I know! But I began setting goals for myself.

I soon established a schedule of running and Crossfit into my life as a means of getting healthy. Running was not something I enjoyed at first but with time, I embraced it and it became my “me time”. It became the time carved out in my schedule to focus purely on myself and destress from work or personal issues while jamming to my favorite music. This time to reflect helped me to feel more at peace, and make running a consistent part of my routine.


My new healthy hobby also helped me learn more about myself, as I set out on long runs and got a chance to reflect on the reasons I got into fitness. I soon began to increase my awareness overall of my strengths and weaknesses. I can’t begin to describe how running has helped me become the person I am today. 

In my fitness journey, I found another love - Crossfit. Crossfit, a high intensity interval workout that incorporates teamwork and group activities, gives me the functional strength to run faster while running gives me the aerobic endurance to push through crazy intervals (known in CrossFit as “WODs”). I love seeing how my two favorite workouts complement each other and help make me stronger overall.


Diving into the fitness world and seeing the things my body has been capable of has helped me deal with issues regarding my body image. I often felt that I did not measure up to the images of beauty that I saw on TV or in magazines. This impacted my self-esteem and the way I viewed my body. However, once I started to observe my gains, and achieve more fitness goals, I felt empowered. I gained a confidence in what I was able to do, with less focus on what my body looked like while doing it.


I began running at first alone, then with my sisters, which made consistency a challenge. I started signing up for races to hold myself accountable for training and keeping up with the sport. I was lucky to have a cousin, Jonelle, who recommended Harlem Run. The nurturing, social aspect of Harlem Run has helped me to make running a consistent part of my schedule.

The Harlem Run Monday and Thursday Night Runs have helped me move out of my comfort zone while striving to become faster. I’ve also learned how to simply enjoy the experience and make friends along the way. My Harlem Run experience has strengthened my journey towards simply enjoying running as a therapeutic way of fostering a stronger and more aware ME!


- Anik

How Harlem Run Shaped Me

Sports and physical activity have been a huge part of my life since I was a child. The first sport I ever played was baseball, as a left fielder. However, I always had a desire to be a pinch hitter so that I could sprint around the bases and show people my speed.

After a few years of playing baseball as a youth, my attention started to shift towards playing football. Throughout middle school and high school, I played wide receiver, a position that my coaches felt best suited me since I was able to run my routes rapidly. It was always fun eluding tackles and fighting off defensive players.


As crazy as it sounds, my favorite part of playing baseball was dashing towards home plate to score a run while my favorite part of playing football was surging towards the end zone to score a touchdown. This passion I had for sprinting lead to me taking a stab at running track and field in high school. I was inspired by sprinters like Maurice Green, Florence Griffith Joyner and Michael Johnson.

My favorite races to run were the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash. It was tough running at high velocity of speed but the thrill of racing against other sprinters in short amounts of time was a thrill unlike any other. Running track soon became my favorite sport to participate in during high school and college.

After graduating college, I continued doing sprint workouts on the track, but I began to notice the long distance runners jogging a slew of laps around the track.  At the time, I thought to myself that those are a ridiculous number of laps they are running! I definitely respected how they were able to keep a consistent pace for such a long amount of time but I felt there was no way I would ever do that.  It seemed like running long distance was way too lengthy and such a prolonged process since being a sprinter was in my blood.


Curiosity soon got the best of me, so I decided to get out of my comfort zone - sprinting - and took on the challenge of running a half marathon. Little did I know what was in store for me when it came to training!  My training remained the same as what I did for short distant races:  sprinting 200 meter and 400-meter dashes at a fast pace.

On the day of the race, I felt overwhelmed since I  I was used to running against 8 people with a goal of getting first place.  Once the horn was blown to start the race, I immediately starting running at an extremely fast pace and was passing by loads of runners. All I had on my mind was sprint past the person in front of you. At first it felt great since I was “winning” the race against the people behind me, but after only a mile of running, reality set in.

I hit the infamous 'wall'. My heart was beating a million miles an hour, my lungs were on fire, my legs were cramping up, and hundreds of runners were flying past me. At the time, all I could think was, 'How the heck am I going to be able to run 12 more miles and complete this race?'

For the next 12 miles, I lightly jogged and walked my way to the finish line was experiencing major pain throughout the race. After I completed the half marathon, I said to myself, I am not about this long distant life ... I ended up going back to sprinting and running distances under 400 meters.


After running that half marathon, I always had a thought lingering in my head of what it would take to run long distance properly. I felt a void since I did not perform, and knew I was capable of more. I wanted to redeem myself. In May 2016, I began to research running groups in Harlem with the goal of getting tips on long distance running. A friend of mine told me about Harlem Run, which was the icing on the cake for me.

The first day I ran with Harlem Run, I was amazed by how many different people were a part of the group.  I came to realize that everyone runs with different goals in mind and that its not all about “winning” a race. Pacing is key! All I knew was sprinting.

The greatest thing about Harlem Run would have to be the pace groups. Running with the pacers has helped me build my stamina with distance running while providing me with methods on how to gradually increase my tempo.


After a few months of running with Harlem Run, I decided it was time to start taking the correct steps to run in another half marathon. Everyone at Harlem Run was more than happy to give me advice on getting through my next half marathon, which paid off. Ever since joining the group, I have felt both physically and mentally prepared to run in multiple long distance races, and I have done it in a healthy and appropriate way. I am so grateful that Harlem Run continues to assist me in bridging the gap from sprinting to long distant running.


- Jason

New City, New Outlook on Running

Running has been part of my life ever since I can remember. I started running mainly to stay physically fit, but I quickly discovered that it also kept me mentally sane. I enjoyed being quiet and alone, I was never pursuing any time nor speed goal, and I just enjoyed being on my feet. No watch, no time, no music, just me.

I was introduced to the world of running races by my sister, Evelyne. She likes challenges and always goes above and beyond when it comes to competition. She once came to me and asked me to join her in a 10K. I was shocked. Me?? Doing a race?? Aren’t races only for athletes and elite runners? What kind of craziness is this? 


Sure enough, I signed up for it. Our training was pretty basic. The goal was to run the same path over and over again until we reached a school that is exactly 5K away from home. Then, we would know we were prepared. That was it. It was a such a terrifying experience but it felt great to accomplish this challenge! I discovered that yes, anyone can run a race, no matter how fast or fit one is.

A few months later, Evelyne asked me to join her for a half marathon. Okay, now that was serious business. It took her more time to convince me, but she did it. To be honest, I was having so much doubt and anxiety. Even after signing up, I was still trying to find a way to escape this race. How could I possibly achieve something this big? I would need to commit and commitment was not my cup of tea. Plus, I don’t like running “like that”.

This time I knew we needed a better training plan. Mainly because I was so sick of this famous path we were doing all the time! We found a training plan online, I bought a running watch and some “real” running shoes. We were ready. I was scared to death, but equipped like a champion. The way I felt after finishing my first half marathon is hard to describe. I was beyond proud and wore my medal for a week. I accomplished something huge. Thanks to Evelyne!


When I moved to NYC in 2015, I tried to keep up with running, but unexpected obstacles came my way. I used to run at night, by myself and with the sound of the wind. But now, running by myself at night was no longer peaceful and freeing. There were people everywhere, all the time.

I started to fear having to go out by myself. I started to hate going out of my building, fearing all the comments about my body and my outfits. I did not know how to deal with all that nonsense. So I stopped. I started to stress, my sanity leaving me slowly, and I started to hate everything about my new city. I was so angry and mad at myself for not being strong enough to fight back and claim my rights in order to do something I liked the way I wanted.

Also, like any young adult moving to the city, I needed to meet people to eventually make friends. But let’s be realistic. How am I supposed to make friends as an adult? I was so hopeless and I had no idea how to get out of this circle of unhappiness. 

During a trip back home to Canada, a conversation with my best friend helped me realize that my way of coping was not effective. I had to make some changes -- now. He had me write a list of objectives and most importantly, modalities of how to achieve them. My goals: make friends, get familiar with New York City and get back to running. Joining a running club seemed like the perfect way to combine and achieve these 3 goals. I searched and found this group: HARLEM RUN. Thanks to Google!


The first Thursday night at Harlem Gets Fit changed my life. It changed the perception I had of fitness groups. It changed the perception I had of New York City. I met people from different ages, shapes and fitness levels. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, I was shocked! I quickly became a regular member of Harlem Run. I met so many inspiring people, visited so many places and ran so many miles with them!


Soon enough, I got inspired to run my very first marathon … in Paris!! My biggest accomplishment up to date. This incredible journey was made only possible thanks to the infinite support of the Saturday Morning Running Crew (SMRC), the strength built in HIIT class, the love received from all my new HR friends and my beloved partner. I never felt alone and I was amazed by all the people believing in me before I did. I am so thankful for all those veterans runners who gave me all their tricks and cues to train like a pro! They made me believe that I was capable of everything.

Joining Harlem Run saved me and was the best coping strategy ever! It changed my life in March 2016 and keeps changing it today. The friends I made through Harlem Run are way more than running buddies.  They are my family now. We push each other’s limits. It is a circle of inspiration and positives vibes. I feel very blessed to be part of this community, this group, this family.


Thanks for all the love and support!

- Isabelle

How Fatherhood Impacted My Sport

In 2016 I got to experience my first New York Marathon. It was a huge accomplishment for me and I immediately knew I'd do it again. I just didn't know how different it would be the second time around. Longer runs, more mileage right? I was prepared. Right?

A few weeks after finishing, my wife and I found out that she was pregnant and I was excited. I would be running the NYC Marathon and my son would be there to witness me cross the finish line. Who wouldn't be excited? While I could envision that, at the time I couldn't imagine how it would impact - and change - my training for the 2017 Marathon. Becoming the father of a newborn baby only 4 months before Marathon Day was both a great motivation and challenge to making it to race day.


Being a father is an amazing experience. Like running, you can prepare for parenthood as much as possible but you still don't know what it will be once the day arrives. My son, Noble, has endless energy and joy that makes fatherhood fun but also exhausting. And it's those sleepless nights that made my 2017 training the toughest it's ever been. It was one of the hardest things that I've had to do mentally.  

My son came at the very beginning of marathon training. That meant getting up two to three times a night to support my wife with breast feeding and adjusting to this new life in our home. The first couple of days were great - the excitement of the baby had us going but when it came time for me to start my training runs, my body was not happy. My legs were sluggish and heavy at times.


What I quickly learned was that training was not going to go the way I had planned. Instead of running out to train while my son slept, I sometimes needed sleep myself. My legs felt "out of practice" and more importantly my mind was in a completely different place trying to find my way as a dad. In a weird way the marathon felt both super important and also secondary to my larger life. The stakes were higher in so many ways and I knew I'd have to take a different physical and mental approach to the marathon this year.


To start, I had to learn to run on my son's schedule, not my own. It wasn't always easy. For the first few runs my legs didn't even feel like my own. My pacing was all over the place and it almost felt like I was starting from scratch.

Another side effect of new fatherhood were the bad eating habits. When you're exhausted you eat what you can, when you can. I wasn't eating unhealthy things but I wasn't eating regularly and my meal sizes varied, drastically, depending on how much time I had to eat. This definitely added another layer of difficulty to my training.

I knew that I wasn't training in the most optimal way but I also knew that I didn't have very many alternatives considering my priority had to be my son. There were times when I had to consider that I wouldn't be running this year's marathon and even thought about deferring until 2018. However, there were also times when I remembered how important it would be for me to complete it another year and have that medal to share with my son. So I pushed through.


I did shorter training runs and signed up for races that could count as my long runs. It took a lot of my mental and physical effort to push through each of those runs and races, especially when my body and brain were not fully cooperating. Overall, the process took a toll on my confidence and my ability to run at a pace that I was normally accustomed.  It also didn't help that I was hoping to PR this year. Sometimes that goal felt like a complete fantasy. Soon, just finishing became the only goal I could envision.

Throughout my training I had good runs and bad runs and races that left me feeling strong and others that filled me with doubt but through them all I kept my son and wife in mind and used them as motivation to finish.

That same motivation held true for race day. I knew they were sitting in the grandstand waiting to see me and I couldn't let them down. On marathon day I started out strong and felt good all the way through Brooklyn but was hit with terrible legs cramps going up 1st avenue and hit a mental wall where I was questioning whether I'd make it to the finish line.


In the moment, I can honestly say that the only thing that kept me going was knowing that I didn't want to let my son down. No, he didn't know what was going on or even know what a Marathon is but it was important to me that he see me cross - and that I get to see him. So I ran, and walked sometimes, but kept going. I can't describe how it felt to see my son as I approached the finish and see him smiling at all of the excitement around him. It felt so good to finish and be able to put that medal around his neck. The 4 Minute PR didn't hurt either!

While being a new father made this year's marathon tougher than ever, having my son also made it super rewarding and gave me something to share with him for a lifetime.


- Shawn

The Women at Rikers Island Won't Let Me Quit

3 disc bulges in my lower back. Piriformis Syndrome in both glutes. Sciatic nerve pain in my right leg. Wrist sprain. Nerve pain in my neck. 8 months of physical therapy. All of the aforementioned happened to me shortly after signing up for last year's NYC Marathon.

After running casually for 20+ years, I’d never run a marathon in my life, so I made the decision last year that upon turning 40 years old, I’d mark this milestone by completing a marathon. Though I wanted to go into race day healthy, I still found myself Piriformis and glute pain right up until the marathon ... along with pretty gnarly knee pain that I somehow developed along the way.

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I also knew that due to my injuries, I was grossly undertrained - I knew it and I felt it, but my reality has always been for my spirit to not let me quit, no matter the circumstances. It’s not so much my own fighting warrior spirit that has stubbornly kept me going to the gym, running on Monday nights with HR, and completing races along the way ... Much of my fighter’s energy has come from my clients at work, who have not let a single day pass where they haven’t mentioned how excited they are to see me continue my running journey, despite any setbacks or challenges.

Who are my clients? They are incarcerated women at Rikers Island’s all-female Jail, Rose M Singer Center, lovingly referred to as “Rosie’s”. As a a social worker at RMSC, I am tasked with running therapeutic groups with the women throughout the day. Given my life-long love of running, I’ve managed to incorporate running and discussions about physical activity into all my work. Most of the time, the women think I’m nuts for loving running so much. But more so than not, I get a lot of positive responses and genuine curious questions about how this passion of mine for running began.

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After hearing a few months before my marathon from my physical therapist that I should essentially cancel any idea of running, I started talking about running less and less with the women, ultimately silencing all talk of the marathon as it hurt too much to even discuss. However, my attentive ladies started noticing that I stopped talking about running and started calling me out on it! They began asking, "What’s happened Ms. G? What’s happened to all your running ramblings?"

Trying to ignore, deflect, and side track their questions was IMPOSSIBLE as these are some of the most persistent and determined women you will ever meet. To do so would not only be offensive, but it would go against my practice in transparency and genuineness. Finally, seeing I couldn’t get around their questions, I shared my prognosis and injuries and that I ultimately wouldn’t be able to run this year.

I expected the women to be disappointed upon hearing this but instead I got: "No Ms. G, get outta here ... Even if you walk, YOU GOT THIS", "Don’t give up! You’re the strongest and most dopest person we know ... rock that shit out!", "We’re cheering for you Ms. G!", and so on. This went on for months.


Hearing this day in and out started sinking in and where I, for months, dealt with the despair of not being able to run my first marathon, I now started thinking it was possible. The encouragement continued constantly from not just the inmates but from our uninformed personnel alike - all ranks. It became so that I could no longer NOT make an attempt to run. 

 I ultimately made the decision to run my first marathon. Physically, I was not ready, but mentally, I was able to dip into that fighter's spirit to tackle scary thoughts and feelings. On race day, my heart was FULL knowing that I had the backing of 700+ women and 400+ uniformed personnel, who were all tracking and rooting me on along my way through 26.2 miles of unknown challenges.

Had it not been for the ladies of Rosie's, this would've never been impossible. My form of gratitude to them was truly in completing. Seeing that their voices are not often heard, listened to or cared for by societal judgment, I ran so that their voices could, and continue to ROAR. Thank you to my ladies for helping me renew & find my spirit!


- Vanessa