Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflections of 2013

2013 is coming to a close and for each of us this year has looked very different. For some of us, it was a year of great challenge and change and for others, a year of great accomplishment. I know each of us are looking forward to what 2014 in store for us personally, in running, and for Girls Run the 901. We are excited for all the new opportunities, support, and encouragement that will help us continue to stand beside you and share in your victories and hardships. Here is a bit from each of us on what 2013 looked like.

Janell- 2013 was an all around year of change for me. Some of it welcomed, some took a little more work. Some of the highlights were running the Winter Cross Country Series together as well as the Little Rock Marathon. There is just something about the chemistry when we are all together that I am grateful for which leaves me with a lot of fun memories of laughter and just plain fun. One funny memory is Jennifer and I on an air mattress with a hole in it on the floor= no sleep the night before the Little Rock marathon. Funny now, not so much then. I also had a lot of fun training and racing for the Annie Oakley sprint triathlon. Looking back, this year has been a hard one for me to really get in sync with my training as I had before. I have become ok with that, knowing that I made my best efforts to get whatever I could get in when I could-it just looked a lot different. As a lot of you know dynamics with kids change and for me as this season on their lives they need me. A LOT. I am fully aware that this won't last forever so I'm trying to make the absolute best of this season we are in. Looking forward to new, fun races in 2014  as well as continuing to grow in my training and running!

Debi - 2013 can be described as unexpected surprises! I took a family vacation to Disney and was surprised with a race entry to the Princess 1/2 Marathon. I planned to run a race with my husband but due to injury he could not do it, so I raced alone and reached a PR. And while there were fun races and exciting PRs, what stands out to me are the friendships made this year. I put myself out there and with no expectation in return I came into contact with friendships that will last a lifetime. Went on a girls weekend to do a Tri with Janell and two girls that I barely knew at the time, that turned into some of the greatest friendships ever. Joined local running groups where I didn't know anyone, and met so many new friends that feel like family. My 7 year old daughter asked to run two 5K's with me and did amazing. But the best surprise for me was meeting my running buddy Cecilia! This year has taught me that even though you can have ups and downs and plans change, there is always joy to be found in every situation. Bring it on 2014, I can't wait!

Jennifer- 2013 was a year that covered both ends of the fitness spectrum for me. I feel that for half the year I was working harder and more frequently than I ever have before, from running, yoga, krav maga, to healthy eating. The later half of the year was a struggle between being lacksadaisical  with marathon training and enjoying running with no agenda. I think coming up on the last day of the year, it's safe to say that running with no agenda won out over discipline and devotion to a schedule, but I'm not complaining. I have experienced the Memphis running community like I never thought I would, and I am proud of all the levels of success and determination that I witnessed. I have friends that PRed marathons and a mom that diligently trained for 5ks and her health. 2014 should be a new experience of   less agenda and training and more running for the experience and just because I can.

Dana2013-Where to begin? The year started for me just as I planned, because that's what I do: Plan! I had several races in my sights and several goals to meet. My first was met at the Germantown Half marathon where I PR'd with a sub 2 hour race. Another huge highlight for me was the Little Rock Marathon with the girls. Lots of memories made there! The summer crept up on us and my goal was to concentrate on speed. I did just that and placed in several local 5 Ks in my age group. However, life started having different plans for me that has put my running on hold for the time being. Funny how life doesn't always ask us, huh? Just two weeks after my last race I had a spinal fusion surgery and I am now 11 weeks post operation. Needless to say, this year for me has taken a turn I wasn't expecting but I am trying to fully embrace where I am. I am so very thankful that I am walking distances again! What does 2014 hold for me? Trying not to plan too much, but I do know it will involve lacing up my running shoes in about 5 weeks, but who's counting?

Dawn- As I sit here on the couch this cold December night I think back to the beginning of this whirl wind year that began on a road trip with 6 girls running a marathon in the Windy City. I am so blessed. These 5 ladies have become some of my BFFs and honored to be called their friend! We have some great memories especially in Little Rock, all 6 of us all in one room (shhh, don't tell anyone) and all the laughs and fun all the way through. The Germantown half, they let a guy join the girls by welcoming my man to tag a long on his first half. From short runs at the beach and in the mountains, to the 'just happened to run into you' runs in The Ville and all the training runs for the marathon that didn't happen, and everything in between! I am thankful for all the people we have met along the way and new friends I would not have if not for this crazy ride! Watching these friendship grow in each of our personal lives has probably been the biggest blessing of all! From our baby in the group getting married, another of us hitting a mile stone in age, helping each other with schedules around kids/family, to our maniac marathoner going through one of the hardest years of her life. The bonds are unbreakable! So for me this ride called the GRT901 may have started with a little run in Chicago has become one of the best years of my life! 

Stacey- Oh my goodness, as I read what everyone else has written, I can't believe what all we have done in 2013! Boy, how time flies and WOW have we packed some stuff into 365 days!!! I have to agree with all these girls ... it's been a year of challenges and changes. When I look back at what has been covered these past 1500 miles, I smile at the thought of how I have been stretched to try new things - like trail running and tall socks (still not sold, on the high socks that is - they were ankle socks by the end of the race). I learned that not every race has to be tackled with a PR in mind. At Little Rock we took time to stop and smell the roses and for a few photo opps. It's not how you got the medal that matters, it's that you got it! I was able to rejoice in my son completing his first half marathon (Germantown). I'm looking forward to many more finish lines for him. When my running partner got hurt, I had to learn to train alone (still learning).  As with the other girls, life is changing and time demands change too. A new job left me with less time to run, I have had to find creative ways to get the miles in and learn to be content with how ever far I could go (long or short). Some long runs were split - a little on this side of town, then run my daughter to practice, and finish a few more miles on that side of town. Then there were days I barely squeezed one in. However, it became somewhat liberating to recapture the mentality of running for fun again which has is really hard when so much of your sport is in your head! Ultimately, 2013 brought me closer to these five ladies for whom I am so grateful and blessed to be able to call my friends. Looking forward to where these running shoes will take us in 2014!

We are thankful for each of you and the support you have given us over this past year. Never would we have imagined that a few girls with a mutual love of running would be able to accomplish as much as we have and we can't wait for what is in store. We plan to continue authenticity, discounts, tips, ideas and encouragements in wherever you are on your journey. We have no doubt grown and learned so much through this experience and are forever grateful.

Here's to an amazing 2014! Who's with us? 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Runners 12 Days of Christmas

While we have been so busy during this Christmas season - kids Christmas programs, work parties, family gatherings, and simply trying to keep sane, we were able to manage to fit in a breakfast together after the Jingle Bell Run. We were all reminded how fun it is with all 6 of us together and why we began this journey together. We even got a little creative and made our own runners 12 days of Christmas. Enjoy!

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

1 Awesome Memphis Running Community

2 Car Decals

3 Goals Reached

4 Months of Training

5 Packs of Gu

6 Girls a Running

7 Race Entries

8 Race Tees

9 Port A Potties

10 Toenails Intact

11 Shiny Medals

12 Running Shoes

Merry Christmas from Girls Run the 901!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Inspired...running for the children of St. Jude

"We came to run for the kids of St. Jude, and we did!"

The St. Jude Marathon is a different race, not only do we train to run a certain distance, but we become inspired because we are raising money to help children fighting cancer. Our passion for running truly becomes so much more, this year over $8 million was raised for St. Jude Hospital!

Our race may have been cancelled but that did not stop the passion in our hearts. While we do not promote running when race directors deem conditions to be unsafe, the weather predictions of a severe ice storm did not happen.

So this weekend, all around our city, runners layered up, and headed out in frigid temps. From runs along the planned race course to group runs in Collierville and Bartlett, so many ran their own race.

We want to celebrate everyone that ran, but specifically those of you that conquered your farthest distances!

We thought it would be best to have some of those that ran put into words what it was like for them:

Amanda D: My marathon experience? Unofficially of course Well, I have two words for you. Cold and exhilarating. I went with a group of runners from LifeTime Fitness in Collierville. Our route took us from there to Shelby farms and back. My running buddy, Debi, even commented that we had run through three cities. Ha! So, I guess I should start from the beginning or the first steps on that cold day. I arrived at our meeting spot and there were about 20 or so crazy runners. They were all super excited and you could feel the excitement in the air. They all had such determination on their faces. It made my run seem so much more possible. I was filled with doubt that I could do it. I had had some pretty disappointing injuries that had sidelined my training and my longest (not junk miles) mileage was 15. I just kept thinking, how in the world am I going to run 11 more after that and let’s not forget the .2, haha! But the excitement and determination of all those other runners made me feel like I could do it. When I saw Debi, relief is the best word I could use to explain how I felt. I knew that I wouldn’t be alone on my quest to turning into a human popsicle . We took off and as I started my run I felt excitement in every step! There were cars honking as they passed and there was even a family who braved the cold to ring some cow bells for us. There was lots of chatter among the runners and it felt like a real race! It was such a great experience to see everyone getting out there for this wonderful cause. At about mile 6 or so most of the runners started heading back towards LifeTime Fitness. Debi and I kept running and eventually found ourselves alone heading towards Shelby Farms. Those were the hardest miles by far. It was so cold my glasses were sticking to my nose and I had to take them off. Yet we kept running. We went over multiple bridges that were iced over. Yet we kept running (just not over the bridges ). We had multiple ice covered tree branches that covered our path. Yet we kept running. I just kept thinking that no matter how uncomfortable I was.. no matter what training I got in… the kids at St. Jude had endured so much worse. As we neared the end of our running journey that day it was getting dark and it was getting much colder. Debi said we were at mile 25 and I just remember thinking if I don’t lay all of my heart out here on the sidewalk I will walk away felling that I didn’t do what I came here to do. So I ran faster. My legs felt like lead, my arms were aching; my lips and face were burning from the wind, but I ran as fast as my legs would carry me. Then we were done. Debi said “26.2” and the only thing I could do was laugh.. I laughed so loud! I was exhausted, elated, beat down, but over the moon. I felt like I had done something.. be it so small.. to represent the kiddos. I did it. But I never would have gotten through it without Debi, my running guardian angel.

Katie S: First of all, I can't believe I got out from under that electric blanket. I did it because I knew I'd really regret it if I wasn't part of whatever was going to happen this morning. And I would have. It was neat. There were far fewer people out than I'd expected. But the spirit was there, and there were people cheering, and honking horns and MRTC was representing at Redbirds park. All good. I was hoping to soak up some atmosphere and maybe get 3-4 miles in. Honestly, last night I just *knew* I wasn't even going to get up, but I I did. I got out there. Yes, it was cold, but I saw a friend right away. He couldn't even stop to talk. He was trying to PR the SJ half marathon. I tried for two miles to catch him - mostly because I didn't know the route. Then others passed by, and it was easy all the way to the ballpark. From there I wanted to head back home, via mile 17-18 up Peabody. Ran mostly solo, but saw 6 or so people doing the full. Wow. There were two guys in front of Soul Fish on Cooper with water, kleenex(!) and Gu. Amazing. So worth it.

Angela B: I ran in Collierville! I didn't do a full marathon (I can't bring myself to run 26.2 miles alone, especially if it's not an official race!) but I did a half plus one :-) It was so cold, getting dark, and I had frost on my ear warmer after I finished! The best part was seeing my family at the unofficial finish line and getting to hug my little girl after hearing her yell, "Mommy!! Run, Mommy, RUN!"

Meredith G: I signed up for this race 6 months ago. I had been running all along but my official training plan began the beginning of August. I followed the plan, I researched fuel, I carefully selected shoes and gear- I sacrificed a lot and put in a lot of work at the same time. Yes, I was severely broken hearted to know I wouldn't run that race, but in the grand scheme of things? It was never about me. I had to take ME completely out of the equation. I dried my tears and did what any other runner would do. Got ready to run anyway. How could I not? Cancer and chemo treatments don't get cancelled.... I would run as a St. Jude Hero- race or no race. I didn't run an official marathon, but to me that day and those miles is not something I will ever forget. I would even go as far to say it was more special to me because of all the heartache that was left behind with it. Running that morning helped me grieve the race that never was. I was happy again. I AM a marathoner.

Jennifer M. : There's something to be said about atmosphere on race day was, and I don't mean the bitter cold. There was a special sense of excitement to be running with a group whose spirit couldn't be broken by the unfortunate cancellation of the official race. As about 45 of us gathered to our pretend start line, awaiting the unofficial start siren, St. Jude was on our minds and the group still couldn't wait to run to the hospital. I love the spirit of Memphis runners! 

To everyone that volunteered to graciously hand out water at makeshift water stations, and to those that honked at us to show support, we thank you!! We love this race and our city!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Celebrating St Jude: Christmas Shirt My Town Tee Giveaway

My Town Tees and Girls Run the 901 are teaming up to giveaway 2 free GRT901 Christmas shirts!

With the St Jude Marathon cancelled this weekend, some runners took to the streets to finish out their training or simply to celebrate the reason we all love this race so much: the children! We want to hear your stories. Enter below for your chance to win one of two Christmas shirts.

Giveaway will end Thursday at midnight and the winner will be announced Friday.

*shirts sizes available: S, L, XL

Directions for entering the giveaway are below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway