I have told people for years that I started running as a dare. More recently, my perspective has changed. I started running because someone close to me believed in me. How powerful is that?!
The first race I registered for was Chevron Houston Marathon, because my cousin was running it, and invited me to tag along. At the time I was in desperate need of community and structure and had no idea what joy this goal would bring me.
I followed a very, very basic beginner training plan and made it to the finish line, just as proud as I could ever be. However, in the following days, I KNEW that I could finish feeling better and go just a bit faster. I spent the following years training very specifically and honing in on race nutrition. I managed to cut an hour and a half off of my first marathon time.
Something happened in that time period that stood out to me more than anything else. Not only had I found a way to integrate fitness into my life, I found friendships with people who inspired me.
Last year leading up to the 2022 Chevron Houston Marathon race, I knew that I would not be running for a specific race time, but simply for joy, gratitude and the love of our community. I started in the corral with friends, friends who I had trained with, had after-run brunch with, and friends who had cheered for me, just as I cheered for them.
I smiled every step of the way. I remember passing the fire truck with the American flag hanging down in the beginning miles, cheering on the Aldine Drum Line who were getting DOWN, having conversations with strangers, actually stopping to give my mom and my brother a hug, running into a struggling friend at mile 23 and staying with him to bring him home.
And I very specifically remember running through the chute with energy and joy, pumping my hands in the air hoping to get the crowds at the chute cheering. What I received in turn was something that all runners can appreciate, adrenaline. The spectators give so much! Love, energy, strength, support.
This year as we go into the training season, I find myself being so careful to run with joy and gratitude for the ability to move my body and connect with my community.
This is my invitation to you. Challenge yourself. Anchor yourself to a lofty but attainable goal then work your way towards it. The journey is just as beautiful as the end goal.
Blog written by #houambassador Veronica Goebel