It’s not a course, it’s a community.  A community of runners who convene at a start line and run for their purpose.  That purpose could be a mom, a husband, a child, themselves, a friend.  That friend could even be you, and you both just don’t know it yet.

Over the past year, I’ve met remarkable people with remarkable stories, all on the course.  Don’t underestimate a simple ‘hello’ or ‘what brings you here’ and what the subsequent miles of conversation can become.

I met Suzy at the Tinkerbell Half.  She runs for her mom who inspired her to run after having completed multiple marathons, all while raising 3 daughters on her own.  Suzy’s mom would push them in a stroller and when they got old enough, bought them bikes to ride along-side her.  When a tragic car accident ended her running career, Suzy’s career began.  She committed to running every run for her mom, who now gets to keep Suzy’s medals.

I met Sharon on a training run. That she carried my mom’s namesake meant instant trust.  She was new to running and training for a 5K.  Her mom was recently lost to cancer, so Sharon runs for her.  Having gone through a seemingly parallel experience, even down to the run in mom’s memory (though for me, it was the Chicago Marathon), we bonded instantly and are still friends today.

Rock n Roll LA was for me.  I had just completed Chicago, felt great and so donned in my Wonder Woman costume, I hit the course.  It also happened to be the anniversary of my first half marathon ever, RnR LA 2012.  Naomi, a stranger, approached me for a picture with Wonder Woman and I happily obliged. Little did I know that around Mile 9, this stranger would coach me to a PR.  30,000 people, and she found me at mile 9 and said,

“Wonder Woman! What are you here for. Why are you running?”

To which I responded,“Well, I’d like to PR if I can…”

“Ok. Let’s do it. You’re gonna PR.”

This stranger ran with me the last 4 miles to a PR of 2:22, coaching me all the way.  … and I’ll see her again for the last 10 miles of the LA Marathon next weekend. That’s the running community.  You give to it and it gives back.

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This year, I’ve had the remarkable experience to be a TSFM Ambassador, among a team of high-caliber runners dedicated to the sport.  Whether fate or otherwise, I’ve been blessed by the running community to be among such great runners each with a story to share, a reason for running.  When you run the SF Marathon this year, focus on form, nutrition, breathing, but if you see one of us Ambassadors on the course this year (and you will) don’t forget to say hello and ask our reasons for running.  The stories can fascinating, inspirational, larger than life or beautifully simple.  We can’t wait to hear yours.

I look forward to meeting you out there!