Gazelle Girl: finding empowerment through running

Gazelle Girl
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GRANDS RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – The Gazelle Girl Race is quickly approaching!  On April 22, 2018, the 6th Annual Gazelle Girl Race will take place downtown in Grand Rapids.  Some runners are braving the half-marathon race this April.  Heidi, a member of the running organization, Sole Sisters, is one of these brave souls. “10 Miles, Darren McCarty, P!nk, and my own kind of beautiful” is her second blog entry, telling her story of reaching 10 miles in her training and the empowerment that has followed her success in training.  Meet Heidi and read her story below.

“10 Miles, Darren McCarty, P!nk, and my own kind of beautiful”

It was quite a weekend for me, to say the least. It started with Saturday morning when I started and COMPLETED 10 miles! It was my longest distance yet, and my recovery was far faster than the previous weeks. It was a mental high for me and I am so ridiculously proud of myself! My knee held up, although it was painful the last few miles.

It’s pretty incredible how the mind is the secret to success.

I KNEW that I could do this. Right, left, right, left…a constant one foot in front of the other. I felt like a superstar approaching the end of mile 10. Even my music playlist cooperated and the song that brought me to the end was ‘The Final Countdown’. My pace picked up, my head was high, and I finished strong. I was that woman with her fists in the air and happy dancing in the parking lot! All I have been thinking since Saturday is “I ran 10 miles and less than 3 months ago, I could not make it a mile without walking.” I’m realizing that it’s truly something to be proud of. No speed records are being broken, but I no longer care that most are faster than me. 13.1 miles…I’m going to accomplish that on April 22 -there is no doubt in my mind!

Moving on to Sunday, my rest-day from training – For months I have been waiting for the P!nk concert. Sunday was the day. Still on a mental high from Saturday’s run, I met my friends for a pre-concert cocktail. None other than Darren McCarthy of the Detroit Redwings was in the bar and he so graciously came over to take pics and chat. I love Red Wings hockey, and now I have pictures with not 1, but 2, great players. We were pretty thrilled with this chance encounter.

Now on to P!nk – Anyone who knows me realizes that I love her music. It has inspired me and speaks to me in so many ways. What an unbelievable show. Without a doubt, it was the best I have ever seen.

She is a powerhouse. A strong woman who makes no apologies for doing it her way. That is what I wish to be – a strong healthy woman who is her own kind of beautiful. 

Running has had the most astounding effects on me. Physically, I’ve lost 18 pounds. My body is becoming more muscular in a lean and strong way. My skin is more vibrant from good eating, water, and simple joy! Emotionally, I am in such a good place. My depression is gone and I wake up happy and ready to face the day. The mirror is no longer my enemy. That’s a really big deal.

One of P!nk’s songs says “You’re so mean when you talk about yourself, you were wrong. Change the voices in your head make them like you instead. So complicated, look happy, you’ll make it, filled with so much hatred, such a tired game. It’s enough, I’ve done all I can think of, chased down all my demons, I’ve seen you do the same.” This song resonates with me…it WAS me. The self-loathing. Comparing myself to the pretty girls I’d never fit in with. Not belonging. Feeling unwanted. I was in such a horridly dark, and lonely place, until I came to terms with the fact that it would never change until self-love was a huge part of my life. I’ve missed out on a lot of living due to my hatred towards myself.

We don’t get a do-over but we do have a future… and my future will be a much different life. 

Sole Sisters has changed me. I see myself very differently. My own kind of beautiful is showing. It started from within and shows on the outside. Every mile puts the old and ugly past behind me. I run for me, for my 6 children and 2 grandsons, for my husband, for Lisa who has taught me true bravery as she fought breast cancer with class and positivity (and she is BEAUTIFUL with that shaved head!), for my Sole Sisters, and for every woman out there who thinks “I can’t”, or “I’m not good enough”. Sole Sisters has given me something I have never felt before….a true sense of belonging.

Every single female deserves to be surrounded by positive, supportive women who celebrate them as they are.

It took me 50 years to find this out. Now I feel driven to be one of those positive and supportive women.

This Saturday, I have a goal of 12 miles. Easy? It most certainly isn’t. Worth it? A million times, YES! One month remains until my Gazelle Girl Half Marathon. The woman who couldn’t run a mile in January is churning out double-digit miles now. I am truly the poster child for “If I can do this, anyone can”. Sole Sisters gave me an opportunity that is priceless. Running is part of my life now. It’s where I find my headspace cleared, my body strengthened, my mood elevated. It will help me be the woman I want to be. A woman who is Strong. Vibrant. Loving. Positive. Healthy. Happy. 50 isn’t too late or too old. For me, 50 was exactly the right time! 13.1 miles….BRING IT!


Meet Heidi

Meet Heidi and other Sole Sisters, as they share about their first steps on their Gazelle Girl journeys.

Read Heidi’s first blog post, “Just A Pair of Shoes.”

About Sole Sisters

Sole Sisters is a West Michigan non-profit organization that seeks to enrich the lives of women in transition through running and being active. Every year Sole Sisters holds a scholarship program to  assist women who have set the goal to complete a running event, but may not have the proper support system in place or know where to begin.

The Sole Sisters scholarship recipients receive:

Sole Sisters Scholarship recipients are new to the 10k or half marathon distance and will receive a scholarship and training support to complete either the Gazelle Girl 10k or Gazelle Girl Half Marathon on April 22, 2018. The scholarship package includes:

  • Entry into either the Gazelle Girl 10K or Half Marathon

    • Training gear

    • Training schedule with group activities

    • Mentor/peer support

    • Boutique experience

eightWest and WOTV 4 Women are supporting The Gazelle Girl race and the Sole Sisters program and will be following two of the scholarship winners journey to race day!  Click here to register for Gazelle Girl 2018 – 5K, 10K, or Half Marathon!

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