I gave in, after being asked about the um...let me see, I don't know? The ba-jillionth time if I blogged? Would I blog? Do you know about blogging? Can you blog? And finally being told... "You are funny, you need to blog." I decided to blog. You see, she had me at "you are funny." :-) So, I gave in. Not from peer pressure or anything like that but, because I felt that you all needed to know some history from the woman and co-partner of the company that was not only selling you medals, but sharing with you a person, a family and a community. A community which starts with little ole me and continues with all of you amazing Full Medal Runners and Walkers (I can't forget my walkers)! We run or walk our 5k's, 10k's or half marathons. We then get a medal for our hard work and give to causes. Sounds to me like a big 'ole SCORE! Right?
Where did this "Full Medal Runs" idea come from? This is actually an idea I had in 2008 but I do not want to skip ahead too much and spill the beans all in one setting so let's begin with last year.I had the most wonderful opportunity to spend time with my youngest kid knowing, that she was going to move to Arizona within 8 months. You see, with a couple of days' notice, Traci and Sean went from individuals to married folk and Traci's new husband was and is a hard working Air Force man who was at that time stationed in Arizona.He was also at that time off to deployment in Afghanistan and would be deployed those 8 months she was to stay with us. Believe what you have been taught as Momma does know best and Traci's mom (me) began training her for what would be her first marathon, before her husband came to steal her away from me (I mean, take her into the sunset and start their new life together).I knew that running and time with our awesome group of slightly older ladies would be the glue to hold her together while her husband was away being attacked by missiles on what seemed at the time like a daily basis.Sean is back safely from Afghanistan and Traci has completed 2 half marathons this past year and a couple of 5k's. She has also completed a few of our Full Medal Runs virtual runs. I believed that the "virtual" runs would keep us connected virtually and would also keep Traci running. We also wanted to give you all an awesome FULLmedal and our designer dude, aka the man I sleep with is also a very proud military man so, the name just made sense (to me). It took a while for the family, friends and husband to quite get it. Honestly, I don't think that they get it yet but, that is ok with me because you all get it! You REALLY get it! Shameless channeling of Sally Fields there for you older folks.
Here is a little of my personal history for your reading pleasure... After 9/11, I was dealt a major blow by losing my main job and shortly afterwards began my running, walking and marathon journey in 2002 with a local group which at that time was called USA Fit. I was a newly unemployed licensed life insurance agent/notary/income tax consultant/real estate agent but a full time 34 year old single Mom of 3 absolutely beautiful kids (by this point I had been single for 6 years). I had been dating off and on and off again and one of the guys that I dated suddenly fell ill in his home in April of 2002. After being diagnosed with a brain aneurysm he went into a coma for 3 days, before being declared brain dead and officially passing away. Brett left behind a son and daughter who I loved and love dearly. Although we were not "serious" his passing still hit me and my youngest daughter pretty hard as his kids had become a big part of our small family. After Brett's passing and in July '02, a very close friend suggested that I begin training with her for a marathon and I agreed to commit (what a commitment) to the training program. Honestly, I had no idea what a marathon was? I thought we'd go around the neighborhood a few miles and that would be the just of training.I did know that Oprah had completed a marathon a few years earlier. And, because Oprah did it, I knew that there was a pretty good chance that I could survive this marathon thing too. Plus, it would take my mind off of Brett's sudden passing and the challenges of life.
And so began my training and life as I knew it changed. It changed FOR-EV-ER! Hehehe, I stole that from Sandlot :-) Back then I wanted no pressure to run, it had to be an easy marathon (I was a complete amateur huh?) so I trained with the walkers. However, in the beginning, I would RUN! I would take off like a prized thoroughbred at a championship race and me and my 13 - 14 minute mile and would leave my new walking friends in my DUST! And, you know what I learned? I learned that I absolutely LOVED running. Who needed Friday nights anyway? I easily gave those up to meet with this new awesome group on Saturday mornings which were small sacrifices in comparison to what I was gaining. I was gaining a love of my city, a love of people, strangers that I can now not live without. I learned a love of running and a love of myself. I was becoming stronger each week as we went from 2 miles to 22 miles on training days. Yep, 18 to 22 miles on a Saturday were the norm for a few weeks in this new crazy thing they called marathon training life.
(Brett, Kelli, "Little" Brett & Shandra B.) It was a great thing that I had become stronger because in November of 2002 my will and strength would be tested yet again. The news reached me that my best friend was in need of a donor liver as she was being moved from the ICU in San Diego to a unit in Los Angeles at UCLA. My friend, my sister, my mentor, my singing buddy (the girl could SANG!) would not get that donor liver and left us on November 11th that same year. I was honored to sing with Shandra in a local rendition of the musical "Hair" in 2011 and my last performance for Shandra was singing Amazing Grace at her funeral. If I close my eyes right now I can still hear my girlfriend Shandra's voice loudly as I type these words. She would often say to me, "Nichell, you have no idea of the amazing things that you are meant to do in this life. You cannot begin to see the wonderful things that God has in store for you that you will accomplish. Girl, you have a gift and you have to use it!" Well, when I hobbled across the finish line with my 6 bleeding blisters to show for it in January 2003, following Shandra's passing, I began to understand her words (26.2 miles alone for 6 hours will wake a person UP). I was meant to be more than a statistic. I was meant to continue to sing and soar and I was meant to inspire you all with not only my words, but with my life experiences which includes crossing that finish line not only once but as of last Sunday 31 times (including 4 virtual half marathons and I have 10 that still need to be earned). I do what I do because I am supposed to share with you all and as many of you have said to me, "you really seem to care about us." You know what? I do care and I look forward to your comments and posts daily.
That was a little taste of what is to come. You asked for it and now you have got it and NOW you have created a MONSTER (albeit a nice one)! Keep on running, walking and inspiring others to do what we do.
Remember thisRUN, IT DOES A BODY BETTER!Until we meet again my peeps!
(Me at the halfway point)
(Traci and my son Jason at the finish)
Full Medal Runswww.fullmedalruns.comwww.Facebook.com/fullmedalruns