The Beginning of The End That Created a New Beginning


How do you begin a blog post that discusses the end of an amazing experience. I guess just…..discuss it. I can say that I had never heard of the Fifth Third Road Warrior program until my running coach from Gazelle Sports posted that applications were being accepted. I filled out the application and didn’t really think much after that. However, then I received an email about a personal interview. I was totally convinced (and remember telling Sarah Gust this) that they were simply interviewing everyone that applied. She later informed me that was not the case. The personal interview went well. There were lots of laughs (I am good at the laughs), so it is always a plus when people I am talking to take the laughs in a good way. I remember looking at the 6 month schedule and thinking that it was a lot that was expected of us, however, I was willing to give it all a shot.

Fast forward to training that began and I remember being all over the board. I was not nearly as fast or as up to speed with regards to endurance as everyone else. And there were definitely times where I questioned if I was right for the team. Coach Amy and Joann, however, always reassured me. Through training I learned the amazing personalities of my teammates. And we all fit together nicely. We went through some crazy weather (right up until race day), some weird injuries, so much illness and sickness it seemed never ending. We all stuck it out, though.

Race morning was early. I had only about 2 1/2 hours of sleep (which is pretty normal). I had decided early on, due to the tenacity of my teammates who upped the ante, to run the 10K – my first. To date I have run approximately 35 5k races. But it was time to move on up the running ladder. Then, due to some injuries, some teammates who were planning on running longer distances had to drop down. But something that is totally amazing considering the season we all had…..EVERYONE PARTICIPATED!!!! Some may not have run the race that was planned or trained for, but they did it!


Race morning was cold. And I tend to get VERY warm when I run, but made the last minute decision to wear a long sleeve shirt under my C-Snip charity shirt. This would come off about halfway through the race. And I am sure I looked real good running AND disrobing at the same time. And I remember thinking when I hit mile 3 that I could have been done had I NOT been all crazy and decided to run an additional 3 miles. I also really liked that at about mile 4 there was a nice sign that said, “1 MILE TO GO!” and in small letters above it “25K runners”. Nice, RBR, well played. Luckily my $100 TomTom never lied to me.

With about 3/4 of a mile left, teammate Liz was all dance-dance waiting for me by the I196 overpass. You know, like it was all cake and ice cream once I made it to her. It was not, but, it was really good to have her there. A little further up was teammate Sarah Bender who kindly reminded me I was almost there and both ladies took some of my attire – Liz, my shedded long-sleeve; Sarah, my Nathan water belt. Turning the corner, not being able to really feel much other than pain in my right foot, there was a large cheering crowd. And there they were….my gazelle peeps. Most specifically, because of her phenomenal cheering, one Jill Beckwith. Seeing her made me instantly start to cry. The support from the women (no offense guys, ya’ll support great, too, but my ladies are amazing) that I can call friends is always overwhelming in such a great way. Hauling ass to the finish, foot painfully numb, can not really breathe, I cross the finish. As my friend Janet Carpenter says, “she’s a weeper”. And I am. My family would agree. I drop, try to catch my breath and cry at the same time, and just take a few minutes to relish in the fact that in the end, running 6 miles instead of 3 miles was not really that bad. Did I meet my goal time? No. But my overall goal, the goal I said during my personal interview for the Road Warrior program way back in December I wanted to reach was met wholeheartedly. I wanted to feel good about what I did. Two years ago I could barely walk around the block without deciding it was better to go home and sit on the couch. Now I just completed a 6 mile race.

And while the Riverbank Run for me was only 6 miles and 96 minutes, it all actually added up to …….

  • Overall Miles Walked/Run: 345.58
  • Overall Hours Spent: 70.51
  • Total Workouts: 113
  • Total TV’s Powered: 1057
  • Total Donuts Burned: 195.73
  • Friendships Sealed: 14
  • Overall Experience: PRICELESS.

We trained on a track indoors, in the snow, in the ice, in the rain, in the sun, on bikes, in the pool, in pain, in fun, in hatred (of hills), in silly outfits and underwear. We ran fast, we ran slow, we walked, we stood in awe of others and learned of kindred spirits within each other (I was so glad to have “Salty Scott” on my side of someone else who gets all face gritty and salty white post hard runs ūüôā ). And always happy to make sure that I showed Jim “Beast Mode” Bomhof up in my antics,¬†because lord knows someone had to do it.

In the end, this experience was one of the best experiences of my life. It pushed me past my limits and allowed me to realize that there is more for me out there other than a 3 mile race. That speed and time is not all that matters all the time. That setting goals that are whatever you want them to be are ok. Because they are my goals. And I am the only one that can crush them, make new ones and crush those too. But without these people, I never would have realized this.

So to all my fellow Road Warriors:

  • Sarah “Smiles”¬†Gust
  • Sarah “Sarcasm +”¬†Bender
  • Sarah “What Time?”Mariuz,
  • Court “Always Makes You Feel Good” Ziegler
  • Liz “Pave My Own Way” Heeringa
  • Lisa “I Will Get It Done” Barrett
  • Scott “Salty and Fast”¬†Fitzpatrick
  • Mandy “Always Ready”¬†Kitchen
  • Crystal “Solid Helping Heart” Funckes
  • Tommy “The Voice” Dylan
  • Jim “Beast Mode” Bomhof
  • Amy “I¬†Love Hugs”¬†Polega
  • Joann “No, You Will Do It”¬†Karpowicz and
  • Dan “2 Hour Club” Oumedian

Thank you. Thank you all for the positivity, for the support, for the laughs, for the tears, for understanding, for the fun. But most of all, thank you for being a part of my journey and my life. You all mean the world to me.