After 104.8 race miles in three years, I have decided to hang up my pink running shoes and step away from the racing world for a bit. I will never forget the memories made along those roads or the lessons each step has thought me. Running gave me a way to reclaim and love my body when I felt like it was going rogue. A series of issues and hospital visits had left me feeling like my body betrayed me. We were separate then, my body doing what it willed and I dealt with it as the soul trapped within.
This continued until I met a Spin Class Instructor named Andre. He was one of those rare people who could bring out the best in others through his genuinely caring spirit. He was always smiling and remembered everyone’s name, even if you came to his class once. I loved this about him. Being with him in this class enabled you to shed the weight of the world and see yourself as you did when you were a child…innocent, loved, and full of potential. The best part of the class was the last song, this is where the magic happened. Andre would walk around the room encouraging you to think of what was driving you to be in the class, then harness that energy and pedal through to the end. That is when it clicked, “this is my body” said a bold voice within me. It might be broken, but it is my body and it is still capable of truly amazing things. In that moment I decided to love my body, even in it’s broken state. I was going to honor it by tending to what it needed and I was going to push it to prove it was mine. So I set out to do something I told myself I would never do…I became a runner!
Each morning I went out for a run and the most amazing thing happened. I felt whole again. I could feel my soul and body working together in perfect harmony with each step. There was nothing but me experiencing the moment through the world around me…no hospitals, no fear, no frustration. I wasn’t just running, I was proving to myself how strong I was with each stride! My body was adapting to what I wanted, getting stronger and going farther each run.
This is when I realized that there are a lot of other things I had been asking my body to do that weren’t helping it. Things like sitting all day in an office, skipping lunch, or dealing with the stress of unhealthy relationships. So I started to put my foot down and make some major changes. One by one, I shed myself of negative people and environments. I distanced myself from people who didn’t respect me or treat me the way I deserved. I stopped pouring time into things that were bringing me down. I started saying ‘yes’ to the things I enjoyed. I starting living the life I should have been living all along and now, ironically, I am grateful to my body’s warning signs for being the trigger to freeing myself!
As wonderful as this was, it was not the only thing running did. It also gave me a way to honor and fight alongside my loving Aunt Madeline. While I was going through my own (comparatively minor) health issues, my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. I hate cancer! I had learned that her body was also going rogue, so I did the only thing I knew to do with rogue bodies…I pushed my body harder to fight for her too. With these last several races since she has past being the hardest, I have decided that running my last race during Breast Cancer Awareness month is the best way I can honor her memory. After the Woodrow Wilson Bridge 1/2 Marathon on 5 Oct 14, I will have pushed through 104.8 miles of races in her honor and memory. I may race again one day, but for now, it is time to retire my pink running shoes for her.
My heart and prayers go out to all members and their families who have been affected by cancer. May hope, strength, and peace be with those fighting the battle.
2012-2014 Races in Honor of Madeline Leyda
- 2012 Rock n Roll Half Marathon, Virginia Beach
- 2013 Rock n Roll Half Marathon, Virginia Beach
- 2013 Rock n Roll Half Marathon, Washington D.C.
- 2013 Rock n Roll Half Marathon, Las Vegas
- 2014 Disney Princess Half Marathon, Orlando
- 2014 Anthem Half Marathon, Virginia Beach
- 2014 Diva Half Marathon, Washington D.C.
- 2014 Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon, Washington D.C.