As 2019 draws to a close, and we grow reflective, we have decided to compile a few amazing stories from our awesome Run The Year participants. Hearing about these experiences is what drives us at Run The Edge to do what we do! Whether you are overcoming an injury, achieving a new personal record, drawing support in times of grief, or realizing potential you never knew you had, we are constantly awed by what all of you manage to accomplish and endure in 365 days! Read on to see what an amazing year we've had, and to feel inspired for 2020.
AND celebrate with us and share how many miles you accomplished in 2019! Create a custom bib HERE and be proud!
Run The Year 2019...What A Year:
"Last year about this time my mom was wrapping up chemotherapy for a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer. It looked good, but this type of cancer has a 1 in 3 recurrence rate. I knew I needed something to do or I would lose my mind spending every day wondering "is it back yet?" It was then that I saw the ad for Run the Year. I was NOT a runner. I was barely even a casual walker. I quickly did the math and realized I'd need to do about 5.5 miles per day to do the challenge on my own. It seemed like something I could try to do so I signed up. I remember my husband sort of laughing thinking this would be like every other "New Year's" gym membership or pledge I've done and let go over the years and there have been sooo many. January 1 came and I started walking. As someone who had previously avoided any outdoor activity under 50 degrees I had no real cold weather gear, so I quickly learned the value of a good pair of mittens and a windproof jacket. I also learned about gradually building mileage as after about 2 weeks in I was sure my leg was broken when I got my first shin splint. Some time in early February it dawned on me that walking over 5 miles a day takes a lot of time. So I bought an app and started running intervals. At first I could not go for more than 30 seconds at a time. But I kept on going, through cold weather and ridiculously hot and humid weather. I ran before dawn and after work. On a cruise ship and loops in an airport hotel parking lot. I did my first 5k in July and by the end of the year I will have done 13 in total. I can now run a very slow 6 miles (much more if I build in some walking intervals) and I have learned to love weather that is 20 degrees.
Around mile 1750 my mom's cancer came back. It is very advanced and she will not survive. All year long when I would get fitted for shoes or ask a question about gear the person at the store would ask what I was training for and I would tell them nothing really that I was new to the sport and just looking to build endurance and improve my fitness level. I went for a run the day we found out the cancer was back and I realized, "This. I have been training for this." As the news continues to get worse and worse my running has been the lifeboat. I won't ever run a marathon. I won't ever win my age division. However, I have a profound thanks for my 12 minute mile and this challenge that brought it to me. I have 92 miles to go and I will finish. 2020 will be the worst year of my life, but I have a new RTY challenge to look forward to and for that I am incredibly thankful to all of you."
"Started the year off strong by getting my mom involved in running and made it back to run club. I finally did the 8 mile loop that I wanted to do and was excited to tackle it again, but I fractured my tibial plateau in a dirt bike accident and ended up with surgery. I was non-weight bearing for two months and have since been relearning to walk. It's been an emotional and physical roller coaster... But today I just learned I can resume all activities without restrictions. 2020 will be my year!"
"I did 15 miles today. Granted, it was not all at once and it was slow (my pb is 9:42 min/mile for 15 miles). At almost 14 min/mile, it's easy to be discouraged. To compare yourself to others. To compare yourself to you. Just stop. You are here. You are important. You matter. You shut that crap up in your head. You got this."
"2017 400+ team miles with a new hip and later that year a new knee. 2018 going strong until tibia fracture in June. Signed up for 2019 with high hopes until fracture went south. Surgery to repair one year later. Signed up for RTY 2020, Nashville 15k, local half (my first), RnR Dublin half and Philly half. Along the way I have learned about strength training, compression, running mechanics...oh, and shoes. Definitely learned about shoes😆. I have made friends that I am finally going to get to meet in Philly and picked up hubs as a running partner! You’re stuck with me until I meet this challenge😊 (that could be awhile)."
"I had the most amazing year ever - 3 marathons, 2 50ks and a 50 miler. Oh and I had the most horrible year ever - dealing with a high ankle sprain that has had me out of action for the last month! But that's how life goes - ups and downs, twists and turns. 2020 is going to be an epic year of my first 100 miler - gotta keep moving forward!"
-Cynthia Craig Thompson
"So... we had a group, 11 I think from RTY, run the Philadelphia marathon two weeks ago with and for Kathy Crowley Konno who is now home from having her mastectomy. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 and I raced with her in Maine in May 2018. She beat the cancer then. She wanted to run a marathon this year, she posted in January in the RTY group asking about a fall race. I had planned on the Philadelphia half which is part of the weekend and the day before. She asked me to run the full with her. I had run the Burlington Vermont full in 2017 and was not planning on a full again for a bit... but... it was just meant to be. We both got our respective “clearance “ and then it just took off from there! Soon, we had a whole bunch... some did the half the day before, but our group was doing the full. I had joked with her, when it was just us, that we needed TeamKathy shirts. Once it got larger... it was a necessity. Around that time, she had some medical complications with a uterine fibroid mass and started to get discouraged... I created a secret FB group, Team Kathy, for all of us to come up with plans. I got shirts made up for us and wanted to keep it a surprise... I couldn’t. Fast forward to her re-diagnosis of her breast cancer. This was in September. Her doctors all told her to race... she did... and we all banded around her and had the most amazing race weekend. I was there when she crossed the finish line and it was awesome!"
"This was my first time to do this challenge. I’m 58 with arthritis and just trying to stay healthy and just keep moving. I usually do virtual races to keep me moving. But I did my first live races ever this fall. I did a 5K, 10k and half marathon. I’m looking forward to 2020 challenge now. Finished 2019 this evening."
"2019 started with me being 7 months pregnant with ever decreasing stamina for walking/running thanks to gestational diabetes and SERIOUS pregnancy induced edema along with all the normal end of pregnancy issues (small bladder, back pain, SI pain, sciatica). In February, baby came via c-section, which meant a long recovery from surgery. I wanted so badly to get back out running, but it was very very slow going. 3 months in to motherhood, it was May and I returned to work and an occasional walk/run. In came the post partum depression. It was rough. After three more months (now August), I was finally able to stop taking my anti-depression meds and try to figure out how to adjust to life as a mom (hadn't done this in the first six months due to the depression). Now diagnosed as pre-diabetic and began working with a nutritionist and taking metformin. Due to life, running was not as regular as I wanted it to be. Two months later (now October) and still struggling to figure out how to balance everything, but I did my first post-partum live 5k. It was slow. But it got done. Shortly after this, my Grandfather died. Grandmother moved from another state to live in my town. Lots of family drama and time dedicated to Grandma (November). It's now December. I just ran my second live 5k of the year. With three weeks left in the year, and despite all of these obstacles, I have increased my mileage 200 miles from 2018. I'm pretty pleased with this! I found a RTY Team that is AMAZING and I enjoyed getting to know them so much! 2020 will bring my first ever 10k, my first ever half marathon (October), and hopefully more 5ks (as long as they come with race bling, of course lol!)."
"I completed my first marathon! At the beginning of the year, I had no plans on running a full, but then I entered the lottery for NYC for funsies, and when I didn't get selected, I realized I was actually disappointed. So I signed up for Philly the next day. I started training on Memorial Day, and toughed it out training through some significant life issues (as we all do). The day of the marathon itself... well, I almost drowned then almost froze to death (not joking) because the weather was so horrible. But with some of the bestest friends (who I met through RTY) also on course giving me support and hugs as we passed each other on an out-and-back section, I got my medal 🙂 People told me I didn't have the build to go that far (I'm short and round), but I showed them!"
"My running year was a lot like a trail race. It had lots of highs, a few lows, and tons of lessons learned. I met one of my running heroes, Sarah Lavender Smith, after a half marathon at the beginning of the year. In February, I ran my first marathon, a grueling trail race with 5800’ of gain. Whoot! Then in March, I ran my first road marathon in Oakland. Very cool. In April, I ran my first 50k in Mendocino. Magical! (it was also very challenging and took me 8.5hrs). June brought my first international race – a half marathon in Banff, Canada! Gorgeous scenery. I spent the summer doing long runs in the Marin Headlands and flew to Ireland in September for my second international race, a road marathon on the Dingle Peninsula. Jaw dropping scenery and the loveliest people you can imagine. My big race of 2019 was supposed to be the North Face Challenge in San Francisco, a 50 miler with 10,000+ feet of gain. I’d been dealing w/PF in my left foot for a few weeks. It got better, then worse, then tolerable. The week of the race, my right knee flared up. I was still determined to race. The day before the race, I did a short run with up and downhill segments. I felt great! Until I hit the flat section when my knee almost gave out. I was crushed, but also grateful I could be crushed about a first world problem like not being able to run an ultra marathon. I started running in early 2018 and welcome every challenge that comes along because it’s all beautiful, if not in the package we expect.
Find the joy, embrace the joy."
"In 2018 I decided it was time to lose weight. I changed my diet and lost 30lbs.
At the end of 2018 I discovered RTY and signed up with finishing a pipe dream.
I will finish, early even. As of this email I have 22 miles left.
I have continued to lose weight and have lost a total of 53lbs so far.
I have run 5 IRL 5ks this year because of this program and the Facebook community.
Thank you for helping me on my journey. I can’t wait for 2020."
"2019, my Year of Yes.
I set out to go outside my comfort zone, face some of my fears and just be myself, doing what I love! I trained hard, ran crazy mileage and raised my courage! I shouldn't be able to run. I shouldn't be able to take on these physical challenges. I've done things I never thought I could do. My identity was lost after a back injury and 4 surgeries changed my career path. But running gave me a new identity. I am a runner.
March 2019: RTY takes on Little Rock. About 15 of us met up in Little Rock for an epic 'meet up'!. Many of us had never met and were only known as members of Run The Year. But yet, I went. I became acquainted with Lisa McNair after discovering she lived just an hour from me. So we planned on traveling to the airport and taking off for Little Rock! But we were staying in different hotels. The mentor program of 2018 connected me with Stephan Bell. Perfect match! I shared a hotel room with her and her family. Many of my friends begged me not to go: " They're strangers!" " Its not safe! How do you know they wont kill you!" And I replied, "I just know. It's all fine. They're all runners, that makes them ok!" (Something only runners understand). Ran the Little Rock marathon with a 19 minute PR and made great friends! I felt that I finally found my tribe!!
I ran across a race director on Facebook who promoted inclusion and community in his race series, ultra-trail races. After running a 'gentle' trail run in 2015 trails continued to be something I wanted to pursue. This wish again resulted in a RTY meet up and a fantastic tour of Run The Edge! Lisa McNair again joined me in the madness! We joined also Jane Allard and Tim Catalano in a race through the mountains! Danielle Benson tried really hard to join us but after rescheduling the race due to late snow storms it just didn't work.
These races further fueled my courage! I took on a difficult road marathon and 2 weeks later traveled by myself to the mountains to again run with strangers for a trail ultra. If you know me you would know that traveling to Arkansas with strangers, but yet family, and then going to Colorado by myself to take on a race, an ultra, by myself is a really huge thing! I got my first DNF, or as the race director says Did Nothing Fatal. I 'only' completed 30 miles of the 55 I. But I still say I finished because I did get back to the finish area! (LOL). I am as proud of that DNF as I am of any other PRs I obtained!
I am so thankful for Run The Edge for the friends I've gained, the experiences I've experienced and the courage I have found!
I am looking forward to 2020!! I've already registered for 3 mountain trail ultras and two road ultras! Yea, I've become a crazy runner! Theres nothing else I'd rather be!
I am a runner."
"240 plus names ran this year, over 150 uplifting words and over 1300 miles ran. :-)."
I ran 21 races in 2019. This is definitely a first. I have already registered for my longest race ever in 2020. I have created a training plan, and 6 weeks in, doing pretty good at sticking to it. I am super excited to do the Run the Year, and also complete my Amerithon. Challenge in 2020."
Training was TOUGH, but I did my second ever half marathon, 6 years after my first. I hit 300+ for the year and 1000+ since I started running 9 years ago. (Off and on over those years). Did my 5K and day for 10 day challenge and took 7 mins off my time!"
"Running has been tough for me this year. In April I ran a 10k and attempted to finish a half marathon at Disney World, which I have finished the half before but the weather/temperature kicked my butt. I signed up and started the Amerithon Challenge. I’m super excited to Run the Year for 2020, run a 5k and 10k at Disney World along with some other virtual races (Star wars half marathon & Disney’s summer 5k series) in 2020."
"My mom just completed the 2019 Challenge yesterday and was so very proud of herself. Mom was excited and nervous when she received the RTY 2019 from me for Christmas last year. She thought she should not do it because it said “Run” the year and she is not a runner. Through encouragement and her joining the Facebook group to see what others were doing, it built her confidence. She had some set-backs with a car accident and a fall (while out walking) and some extremely hot Florida summer days but she finished her goal last evening. My sister and I walked the first few miles with her at the beginning of the year, some miles in the middle of the year and her last miles last night. She was greeted at the end of mile 2019 by her grandchildren who set up a finish line, threw streamers over her and had a celebratory 2019 miles cookie cake and of course pictures with her well-earned medal. I have included a few pics ;)"
- Sharon Armitage about her mother Sandi Kennedy
Thank you ALL for your wonderful stories. Some were very personal, some funny, and all inspirational!