Harlem Run Takes on Paris
This month, a group of Harlem Run ladies took The Movement abroad to Paris where they ran the Paris Marathon and got to sight-see and make incredible memories. This week and next week, we'll highlight some of the Paris Crew's experiences running abroad. Have you taken a run-cation? What was the best part? Let us know in the comments!
This adventure fulfilled many items on my #BESTLIFELIST. It was my first international marathon experience. It was my first time in Paris. It was my first all ladies runcation trip. It was also the first time the marathon distance was actually a training run. I was not worried about finishing this, seeing as it is my 5th marathon or getting a personal best time. I was happiest to be with the amazing women on this one-in-a-lifetime journey.
It seemed like forever ago when I heard about the Paris Marathon while in Chicago for the first time back in October. At the time, I thought I would never do another 26.2 so it wouldn't hurt to look it up for more details. Little did I know that a bit of curiosity would lead to such a trip! This trip was so special for me because I learned that my training prepared me for this trip as well as this race. I learned that my mental training was just as important as anything else. We are so much stronger, courageous and resourceful than we think we are! We have what it takes to meet any unexpected surprises. It mattered what I trained myself to say to myself during my runs. It was even more important what I said to myself when I found myself on the course during a hotter than expected day and my body wanted to quit.
I could talk about pacing with Joanne for 17 miles at my goal pace. I could talk about Lisa, who is a master at cheer station support! I could talk about seeing Karen, Raydime and Isabelle on the course and checking in to see how everyone was doing. Each memory holds a special place in my heart as one that I will never forget because I was part of a team that came to conquer the Paris Marathon. My HR family made this race one of the top 3 so far because we left as friends and came back as sisters.
If you are considering a marathon or even a distance you have never tried, I will say this...your team has your back. I say to you, courage and when you feel yourself slowing down toward your goal or during the race...consider saying to yourself allez, allez and go, go, go!
Paris…oh Paris. I didn’t think I could top my marathon debut at the 2014 NYC Marathon until now. 2016 was a difficult training year for me as I battled a major injury that nearly derailed my opportunity to run the 2016 NYC Marathon. Although I made it to the start and completed it, I struggled with my mediocre performance. Ideas of Paris Marathon were floating around and I adamantly relegated myself to cheer duty. Wasn’t sure I had it in me to run another marathon when I hadn’t gotten over such a tough year.
In early December, I quietly signed up for Paris but wasn't completely sure I would follow through. Then almost on cue, in late December, a post popped up in my Instagram feed. Harlem Run Captain Alison Desir announced her plans to run from Harlem to Washington D.C. to raise money and awareness for Planned Parenthood. A fire was lit in me. Then I noticed the date of the race – April 9th, 2017. It would have been my sister Rose’s 50th birthday if she had survived her battle with breast cancer. The writing was on the wall. I would run the marathon in her honor.
I'd shared my news early on with a few friends and run fam but kept mum until about a week before we were scheduled to depart. I announced my news to the girls during a planning dinner and received their full support. That would set the tone for the entire trip. I toed the starting line with a flower in my hair - to remember Rose - and battled the 75 degree weather all the way to the finish. It’s difficult to find the words to describe the level of support and encouragement this Harlem Run team provided me without getting emotional.
Inspiration from 2 strong women led me on this journey with a group of fierce, powerful women taking on an international 26.2. They were truly the epitome of women supporting women and I am so grateful for them and to have had this experience.
Wow, my first marathon in Paris ... the most amazing experience in my life. January 2016 I went uptown to Harlem for my first run with what is now my running family. I'll never forget the love and smiles. Kai welcomed me as if he knew me and I'll never forget the hugs; I love hugs. 2016 started with the Midnight Run as I knew I wanted nothing more than to finally give myself to running. I ran with HR for most of the winter on Mondays and Thursdays and ran my first half marathon, the Women's Half, in April. I couldn't believe that I ran a half and the first thing that came to mind was "Well if I can ran a half, I don't see why I can't do a full marathon".
I set a goal to do the 9 +1 to qualify for 2017 NYC Marathon. I ended up running 4 halfs, including my first international run in Lanzarote, Canary Islands. Running is something that I do for me, myself and I ... it's my passion and I'm so in love with it. No matter what is going on in life, when I am running I am happy and at peace. My running grounds me and it kind of resets me to keep going with my daily life challenges. After each run, I feel refreshed and new again. I feel fabulous.
This is some serious self love work that I've done the last 24 months. There were some high and lows with injuries but it all just made me stronger and more determined to continue to invest in my running and myself. I finally have something in life that is truly mine, I own it and that is very precious to me. I like to think that my enthusiasm with my running has influenced the people around me to take care of themselves a little more for a healthier them. My family, co-workers and friends embrace my running excitement as I share this part of my life with them. I am happy who I see when looking at the mirror and I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to share Paris with a group of amazing women. I will forever love them; we have a sisterhood for life. Running has empowered me with knowing that I can do so much more in life.