Where My Feet Have Carried Me

I often describe myself as a recovering Type A personality – I love to write out a to-do list just to be able to cross off my daily accomplishments.  I’ll outline and edit and rewrite a vacation packing list over and over to make sure I don’t forget anything (you know, so I can cross that off my to-do list).  And in the “before children” phase of life, most things generally followed my well-thought-out plan.

brandiOnce the “with children” stage of life began, I realized that I had to lose (some of) the lists or I was going to lose my sanity!  But still, old habits die hard.  I still remember that sunny afternoon around a kitchen table at my family’s Easter gathering,  telling my aunts and cousins my plans to run a half marathon the following May.  Without saying a word, they all raised their eyebrows as they shifted their gaze towards my two toddler girls on the floor playing with my newborn son.

Okay, so I wasn’t a runner (yet) and I’d never enjoyed running in the past but really, how hard could it be?  I just had to do it once, because at some time during my last pregnancy I thought running a 13.1 mile race sounded like fun, then I could cross half marathon off my to-do list and move onto my next unlikely challenge.

A couple months later, my son made his debut and I was cleared to start running – to allow my feet to carry me into this new, intimidating world.  It was a *big deal* when I was able to go the 1st mile without stopping…then my feet carried me 2 miles without stopping.  I still had no idea how I was going to finish 13.1 miles – running, walking or crawling – but I fell in love with the peace and solitude that came from short runs after bedtime.

By the time race day rolled around for the 2011 Mini Marathon, I was hooked.  Not so much on the running, but on the way it made me feel during and after my run.  It wasn’t long after that race that I realized running had become much more to me than an item to check off my to-do list.  What I didn’t realize is how many other people were taking notice.

The very next year, I coaxed my brother into running his first half marathon with me…okay, much faster than me!  In 2013 two of my uncles starting running, mostly 5K’s and local races in southern Indiana, both gradually working their way up to higher mileage.  In May of 2014, I was thrilled and honored to be my mom’s biggest cheerleader as she completed her first half marathon in Cincinnati, The Flying Pig. (A ridiculously hard first half marathon, I know! But she rocked her “hometown” half – hills, elevation changes and all!)

brandi2And on the morning of November 1, 2014 I was fortunate enough to head to the start line of the Monumental Half Marathon with my brother and sister-in-law plus 2 of my aunts, 2 of my uncles and 4 of my cousins – the first half marathon for nearly all of them!  There is truly no better feeling than crossing the finish line to find so many familiar faces – except, maybe, the sudden and surprising realization that you played a small part in inspiring these people to take those first steps towards reaching their goals.  Goals they may not have ever even considered if you hadn’t been so obnoxious with the crazy runner girl talk all the time!

Like so many others, I have God-sized hopes and dreams and plans for life.  For as long as I can remember, putting my thoughts into words becomes its own form of therapy. I have an inner dialogue that would drive most people crazy because it is never-ending and overloaded with detail.  Maybe it’s because I’m a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher, a leader, a helper, a chronic procrastinator, a wanna-be multi-tasker and a recovering Type-A personality.  Or maybe it’s just because I’m human.

Six years ago, I made an impulsive decision (at 7 months pregnant with my third child) to run a half marathon.  I had never run any kind of organized race in my life of any distance.  Ever.  I hadn’t actually *run* anywhere in nearly a decade – but running the baselines at tennis practice in high school was never a favorite past time.

It was supposed to be a Bucket List thing.  One and done.  Just to cross off of my to-do list. Just to be able to tell my kids the story of “that one time” when mommy ran 13.1 miles for fun.  Just to prove to myself that I wasn’t afraid to try something new, even if I thought I was setting myself up for failure.

Thank Goodness it didn’t happen that way!  Friendships began and lifelong bonds were formed over hundreds (okay, thousands) of cups of post-run coffee in the wee hours of the morning years ago.

By the end of 2016, I will have completed my 18th half marathon along with several shorter distance races (5K, 10K, quarter marathons). My feet have carried me on Runner Girl Road Trips along Magnificent Mile to the Chicago Half Marathon and through famous (and beautiful) horse farms in Kentucky for the Horse Capital Half Marathon. I’ve had the privilege of running through Walt Disney World long before the parks open – around Spaceship Earth and right through Cinderella’s Castle – in a tutu and running shoes for the Inaugural Princess Half Marathon Glass Slipper Challenge. It was absolutely a magical dream come true. And I love seeking out new races on vacation or as an excuse to visit a dear friend far away.

But more than that, I love watching my daughters and son follow my lead. They want to race me to the end of the road and back. They want to stretch with me in the evening. They want to earn their own sparkly butterfly medal from the Indy Women’s 5K or race across the 50 yard line of Lucas Oil Stadium during the Colts 5K. As my feet carry me across finish lines with them by my side, it is in these moments I am reminded that the greatest influence I have is with my children. I am forever grateful that my feet have carried me through so many teachable moments with them.

Accidentally inspiring (coaxing … begging …) family members to run a half marathon continues to be a joyous occasion. And being intentional about teaching my kids to create God-sized dreams for themselves is a responsibility I don’t take lightly.



brandi3ABOUT BRANDI: Though she calls Indiana home, Brandi loves to travel near and far with her husband and three hilariously crazy kids! She can’t live without Jesus, her Runner Girls and coffee. Preschool teacher by day, professional blogger and freelance writer by night, you can follow along with Brandi and her Runner Girl Adventures online at www.javaandsole.com. You can also find Java & Sole on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram {@javaandsole}


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