Gazelle Girl: the passion behind the runner

My Health
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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.  With the race quickly approaching, runners are nearing the end of their training.  While most are running the 5k or the 10k, some are braving the half-marathon race this April.  Heidi, a member of the running organization Sole Sisters, is one of these brave souls. “Just a Pair of Shoes” is her story of joining Sole Sisters, transitioning into a healthy lifestyle, training for a half marathon, and finding confidence in her running and herself.  Meet Heidi and read her story below.

“Just A Pair Of Shoes”

How it all began…

I began my training journey in January hopes of becoming a runner. At 50 years old, I chose to try something I have never done before. There was SO much to learn in a very short amount of time.

The biggest lesson I have learned at this point was that I wasn’t going to become a runner-I already was a runner! Applying for the Sole Sisters scholarship, putting on my running shoes, taping a training schedule to my fridge, setting an alarm to get up early on Saturdays to run outside (even though I hate cold weather), going to the gym when I really wanted to get in my PJs, enjoying a glass of wine, caring about my body, eating healthier food-these are choices a runner makes. What I needed to realize was that the term “runner” applied to me even at the beginning of my journey. Believe me, my first runs were far from pretty, probably spectacular in that “epic-fail” kind of way, but I kept going. That was the changing point for me.

I never expected that I’d actually enjoy running as much as I do. It was on my list of things to try and completing a 5k needed to be crossed off. After that, I’d plan to “retire” from running and move on to other things.

It never crossed my mind that I would run the Gazelle Girl half marathon in April, the 5th/3rd in June, and plan for 10k runs throughout the year. They weren’t even possibilities, let alone reality.

Training for a half marathon is hard work. It hasn’t been all great. Some runs do not go well, as last Saturday showed. Right knee pain threw a monkey wrench into my 7 mile run and required me to finish my morning at a walk. Mentally, it felt like a huge fail. Just one week earlier I had a great run with a distance of 9(ish) miles. The mental high I felt from that lasted all week. Now, training will continue with a probable meniscus tear and knee pain will simply be part of it. It’s not what I wanted of course, but it’s my reality.

Although it didn’t feel like it, both of those runs were victories. Tears of joy and tears of frustration…they are both part of this amazing process.

Every time I choose to get up and get moving is a win. This is hard work, and it’s a commitment to keep going through the good times and the road bumps. Generally speaking, I love how I’m feeling. My physical body feels so much stronger and more energetic. I’ve lost nearly 15 pounds. Those great things pale in comparison to the inward changes. My self-confidence is soaring! Someone recently told me that my “confidence was showing and easily noticed”. That felt so good to hear.

Joining Sole Sisters has had an impact on me, far beyond my half-marathon training. From the inside out, I’ve experienced profound changes. Self-love had been a foreign concept until now. Running with this group of beautiful women has been truly life-changing. Words quite simply aren’t enough to express what they mean to me. These women believed in me. They’ve helped me to believe in myself also. The half-marathon was a goal they set for me early on, despite my doubt and disbelief. In January, I struggled to make a mile. In March, I know that it is possible, I am capable, and I am going to cross that finish line. My wish is that every single woman could feel this same excitement and confidence. It is a wonderful and beautiful feeling.

The shoes

Back to the shoes-I’ve tried to leave my running shoes in a visible spot in my house. They represent my new life. They have carried, supported, and protected me through my training process, just as my Sole Sisters have done. They “retired” last night. I will never put them on to run again, but they will not be thrown out. These old, colorful Salomon shoes are wearing out and breaking down and needed to be replaced, so I could continue to run. I’m keeping them next to my awesome, brand-new shoes.

They visually remind me of one of the best choices I have made in my 50 years. They represent my choosing of self-love.

Just a pair of shoes? They are so much more than that. They carried me on the first leg of my wonderful journey and are my reminder that I am capable of doing far more than I can ever dream. My new life began at 50 and the path that lies ahead holds adventures I can’t wait to experience. It all starts with 13.1 miles and crossing that finish line.


Meet Heidi

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

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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