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I ran more than 2,016 miles in the Run The Year Challenge!
I’ll never forget the day I started running 40 years ago. I was 12 years old and walking home with my girlfriends from swim practice. Passing by a local park, a coach noticed my group and asked us if we were interested in jumping into a running race. I joined the event, confident I’d be able to compete. By the time I crossed the finish line, I knew I’d found a new sport.
Now two years into my 50s, as I reflect on why I continue to run, I come back to the sense of community. My current team, the Western Mass Distance Project, embodies what I love most about this sport: true, lasting friendships formed in the name of finding our best athletic selves.
As a fan of elite runner Kara Goucher, I was instantly intrigued when I saw tweets encouraging her followers to take the Run The Year Challenge supported by her husband’s coaching business, Run The Edge. I’ve always tracked mileage in a paper journal, so I was attracted to the idea of capturing my distance online. Being part of a movement driven by Olympians was icing on the cake.
The challenge was to run the same number of miles as the current year. What started as a neat thing to try grew into purposeful training. Just like cramming for a test, it might be possible to pile on the miles in the end—but I wanted to have a better outcome and get to the finish healthy. Each mile needed to have intention and I was excited to see the total number grow every time I logged in.
Along the way, I’ve garnered inspiration from the stories shared in the Run The Edge community. While I enjoyed seeing the gold star earned for each 100-mile increment, it was the notion of getting people running and putting one foot in front of the other that really got me hooked.
At the beginning of September, I reached the point where I knew I’d hit the 2,016 mark. I planned my route and set out to run the final 11.6 miles. A busy workday ahead, I started very early in the morning with a headlamp. Feeling meditative on the quiet path, I ran watching the sunrise. When I came to the end of that run, a rush of adrenaline passed through my body as the realization of meeting my goal set in. I couldn’t wait to get back to my computer and enter in my miles.
The digital bib, which read “2,016 in 2016,” confirmed my achievement. By the end of the year, I’ll likely have run between 2,500 and 2,550 miles total, but it won’t be the number that matters. It will be all the memories and moments shared with fellow runners that make this an experience I will never forget.
Running taught me patience, persistence and dedication. I haven’t always been patient when it comes to training. Getting to the finish requires daily dedication and taking small steps to build a strong foundation.
Learn how you can join Run The Edge’s Run The Year Challenge for 2017 on runtheedge.com.