It was exactly 4 years ago that Dicks Sporting Goods shared a video series called Every Runner Has a Reason, A thirteen part web series about runners and what they run for. I was lucky to be featured in one of those videos. I hadn’t started my blog yet and I thought I’d share a little bit about that experience on this 4th anniversary.

Every Runner Has a Reason

Every Runner Has a Reason

It all started through the social media world. Someone knew someone on Facebook who worked for the agency that was tasked with this campaign and had posted a request for stories. My friend Lisa and I submitted our story and the rest was history.

Lisa and I worked together and she was well into her pursuit of completing a marathon in every state, one of many running goals that seemed impossible to me, a girl who loved to exercise but was not a runner. I was intrigued by Lisa’s running goals, and where running took her. She had an amazing circle of running friends that met often to train and then travel to various states throughout the year to run a marathon.

More than 5 years had passed since my husband died of cancer. He was 29 and I was 25 and I was feeling fairly blah. I was going through the motions of life but didn’t have anything to get excited about and felt like I wasn’t fitting in with most of my friends who were either getting married, having children or moving forward in family life. Lisa helped inspire me to start running. First a mile by myself. Then a few miles with her running group and in 2006 I ran my very first race, a 4.8 miler in Central Park. I was hooked. Each year I only became more and more excited about it all. Running, friends, traveling….I felt like I had finally found an identity that could replace “widow”. Sally, the runner sounded and felt so much better than Sally, the widow. I had found a “family” and felt complete.

a behind the scenes shot during filming of the video. The crew was so great. They loved Duncan and worked hard to make sure he wasn't in the shot. :)

a behind the scenes shot during filming of the video. The crew was so great. They loved Duncan and worked hard to make sure he wasn’t in the shot. :)

It’s hard to believe that I’ve run over 35 half marathons and 7 full marathons over the last decade. If it weren’t for Lisa I don’t know where I’d be today. I’m grateful to Dicks Sporting Goods for finding our story compelling enough to use in their campaign. They even made a TV commercial using snippets from each of the videos.

Without further ado, here’s the video: (note: some of you might have already seen it as I link to it in my about me page.)

You can also read more about my entire experience of filming (including being part of a photo shoot in Charleston, SC too) when I documented it here in my 2013 recap post.

What’s your reason? What do you run for?

I’m deeply saddened to share some heartbreaking news.

Last year I was part of Dicks Sporting Goods Every Runner Has a Reason Campaign. I got to meet so many inspirational runners. One of those runners, Meggan Janota, passed away this morning. She had been battling cancer for quite a few years.

I’m just so sad. Such a beautiful, young woman with her whole life ahead of her. (Meggan is # 3972 in the photo below).

Every Runner Has a Reason photo shoot (a faux marathon)

Every Runner Has a Reason photo shoot (a faux marathon)

I remember feeling terrible that I had to literally give her the sweaty white shirt off my back because they needed her to wear it for a different shot. I remember not even knowing she was sick or in the middle of treatment at first. But most of all I remember sitting around in between takes just sharing laughs with a bunch of runners who understood me and understood how amazing running is.

You’ve probably seen my video but here’s Meggan’s video. Please watch. Please take a minute to say a little prayer for her family as they start their lives without her. And please take a minute to be grateful for this day that wasn’t guaranteed. As cliche as it sounds each day truly is a gift.

I’m probably going to head out in a few for a run. Just a short one. A few miles for Meggan. It just seems like the perfect way to remember her today.

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Yesterday I decided to run a 5k distance in my neighborhood and “push it”!

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Not necessarily “all out” but I focused on getting out of my comfort zone. I am running my first official timed 5k on Saturday and I have no idea how to pace myself! I’m a fish out of water with short runs. I ended up keeping a 9:31/mile pace. I know I’m probably capable of keeping a 9:15 pace. So I’m just going to leave my goal at breaking 30 minutes. Let’s see what happens.

I am off from work today so I took the doodle for a nice walk in the crunchy, colorful Autumn leaves.

Red Autumn leaves

Red Autumn leaves

And then stopped off at the vet clinic to get a 6 month supply of his heartworm and flea and tick preventative meds. Of course he started shaking when we pulled into the parking lot. Poor doodle. He must have thought he was going in.

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Tonight I’m meeting my “wolf pack” for dinner for a little birthday celebration. And in the next few days I have some exciting news to share! I’ll keep you in suspense for now.

Now go have a great day and make it count! 

Welcome to Part 2 of my recap of the Center of the Nation Series. Of course if you’ve missed part 1 just go here.

So we’ve covered off on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and the first of 5 marathon/half marathons which was in North Dakota. Tuesday we ran a course in the geographical center of the nation: Belle Fourche, South Dakota.

Center of the Nation Belle Fourche South Dakota

Center of the Nation Belle Fourche South Dakota. Photo courtesy of Lisa

Before I go on about the race itself I wanted to tell you about a really cool connection that happened partly because of this video and this video and partly because of Belle Fourche being the location. A local resident of Belle Fourche, Tim was getting back into running after some time away from the sport. He saw a few of the Dicks Sporting Goods “Run For” videos (that Lisa, Roger and I had been a part of) and even shared them with friends and family after being inspired. Shortly after, while looking for races on Active.com he noticed 3 in a row that had Belle Fourche listed as the location. It intrigued him and so he emailed the race director Clint. Next thing you know, he came on board to help scout out some courses for the middle 3 events of the series and also participate in the half marathon on Tuesday (and volunteer on Wednesday and Thursday). On Facebook we had a special group for participants of the series and Tim spotted Roger’s name in the group first. Well, after some conversations we finally got to meet Tim just as soon as we landed at the airport. Tim is a pilot and was actually on Roger’s plane coming in.

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Roger, Lisa, Tim, Sally and Elvia. Photo courtesy of Tim

Never did I personally think that the video I was part of would reach and inspire so many. I was actually just excited to share my story of how I got into running. But meeting Tim, who says he felt like he was meeting celebrities, made me realize that those videos were pretty darn impactful and successful! (you can also check out this other video of Roger that is pretty darn amazing too.) And what a total pleasure it was to meet Tim. Nothing better than to meet super nice people all over the country who share similar interests.

Ok, on to the course. The course was situated right at the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce center. It was mostly narrow concrete sidewalk with one stretch along a paved street that was also an out and back course with the full marathoners doing 12 laps and half marathoners doing 6. (the only difference was that the start was sort of in the middle so you went to the right and back to center and then to the left and back to center.

marathonman

It’s Marathon Man

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the bulk of the course was just like this. (more on the handcyclist in my next post!)

I really loved this course. This is where the realization came that the week would feel way more like a family get together than a week of races. (I think on day 1 I was still anxious about how I would really be able to run 5 straight double digit runs and I wasn’t as chatty.) There were runners and walkers of all ages (i think even in their 70s!) and paces which, combined with the course lap repeats left ample opportunity to smile and cheer for others. The biggest cheerleader was a marathoner named Alicia. She didn’t miss a beat, with our names written on our bibs, she was right there chanting “way to go Sally!” I’d nod and give her a thumbs up or sometimes just blurt out “ditto”. I’m terribly awkward and can’t get sensible sentences out when i’m running =)

Most often when I travel with my friends and they are signed up for the full while I run the half we basically say goodbye at the start and I see them later on after they’ve finished so I was really excited to see them every couple of miles. I was so impressed with not just the volunteers and organizers of the event, but the participants too. Everyone seemed to lend a hand picking up trash. Some half marathoners turned into cheerleaders or aid station volunteers when they finished their running. I found myself being the “paparazzi” and taking lots of pictures. I finished the half in 2:29 but have to say I really took it easy and was quite relaxed compared to Monday where I pushed hard. And by the end of this day I officially had conquered something new….back to back half marathons.

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Half Marathon Finishers! Photo courtesy of Tim

Half Marathon Finishers! Photo courtesy of Tim

On this particular course it was almost 90 degrees by the time my friend Lisa was about 22 miles in and she was trying hard to stay cool. Even pouring cold water on her running tights. (someday i’ll post about how I think marathons are THREE times harder than half marathons but temperatures can really cause those last 10 miles of a marathon to be extremely difficult. It was about 20 degrees cooler when I finished my half.) Mike immediately went over to Lisa and started to walk along with her and then called me over. We walked for a while together and I think that helped distract Lisa from the heat. It felt like our training runs where we’d chit chat. And I discovered that I hadn’t really experienced Lisa in the final few miles of a marathon. She was funny! Reminded me of a happy drunk! It might have been dehydration and sun stroke but I noticed it for the remaining days as well. Roger is a numbers guy. With this event being 5 marathons in 5 days in 5 states he thought it’d be cool to finish each day in 5 hours. And so after finishing Monday technically in less than 5 he waited a few minutes before crossing the finish line to get an official time of 5 hours. And so Tuesday, he did the same. Elvia was really enjoying her time on the course. She was like the mayor, just striking up conversation left and right.

ironic that the 4 full marathoners matched?!

Just before the start. Ironic that the 4 full marathoners matched?!

Once we were all finished we piled into the car, made another quick trip to Walmart for a few more groceries and I also picked up a pair of blue running capris for the following day’s run. (Yep, I broke a cardinal rule of wearing something new on race day. I’m a rebel! More on the reason I needed blue pants in the first place in my next post!)

We then headed back to our lovely cabin and I cooked dinner for everyone. This is actually quite funny as I’m not a big cook. And the meal was a hit! I think that right there is a huge PR!

chefsally

That’s potato, egg and cheese that I’m whipping up. A great pre-race meal. Photo courtesy of Lisa

family dinner

Family dinner! Photo courtesy of Lisa

Another successful day! Another run was done! And off to bed we went because we had another 4am wake up call to get ready for our Hump Day run in Wyoming…..to be continued.