My running life is an unfinished story that really began on my 39th birthday. I hope to keep adding chapters as long as I can lace up my shoes. Much like the idea behind 261 Fearless, I began running to gain back the self confidence I had lost in my late 20's and 30's. I was unhealthy, both physically and emotionally. A therapist counseled me into finding something that would set me off on a path towards well-being. So, on a cold March morning back in 2003, I put on some baggy sweatpants and a sweatshirt and laced up some old sneakers. I was able to run about a block, but I walked one and ran one until I could calculate that I had run a mile (I don't even think Garmins existed back then, or if they did, they were not part of my lexicon).
I got out every morning and eventually, I was able to string the blocks together and run a full mile, two and eventually five. My body began changing, and my head started clearing through the fog. After that first triumphant 5 mile run, I declared that I wanted to train for a marathon, Having watched Joan Benoit Samuelson's gold medal run in the 1984 Olympics and then go on to win the Chicago marathon the following year, I kind of had it in the back of my head as something I would like to accomplish some day and then, someday was now. I was mocked and told that I would "never" run a marathon. That is all that I needed to move from being fearful to fearless, not just in thinking I could run a marathon, but also no longer fearing the changes that I needed to make in my life.
From 2004 to 2014, I completed 10 marathons, numerous halves, and three Hood to Coast relays. I needed a break, as I was a bit burned out. My job responsibilities and the 2014 NY Marathon collided the week before the race, I was exhausted, and I barely wanted to get up in the morning and head to Staten Island. This time, a kind and supportive partner talked me off the ledge and held my hand at the start and at the finish, as we crossed both lines together.
A few years passed, I lost my fitness, I gained weight, and I generally missed the discipline of training for a marathon. I tried to come back in 2018, but I went out too hard and too fast and injured my knee. Physical therapy, swimming, and then regular Pilates and time in the gym, coupled with my marathon training and I was able to finish my 8th Chicago marathon this past October. It was the first marathon in a long time where I genuinely ran happy the entire way. Not a PR, but I call it a PR for my 50's.
Now, realizing a desire to run the Boston marathon, here I am. On an impulse, and probably still feeling the afterglow of the Chicago marathon, I found 261 Fearless. I probalby would never be able to qualify for Boston on my own, so I am grateful that I have found an organization that is really part of my story. I want to take what I learned about myself, and what I have accomplished over the years and help other women find that same joy that running brings me. Empowering women with confidence, a renewed sense of self, physical well-being, and a community that supports one another is the foundation of this organization. Women helping women. We all need that in these times.
All of that said, here I am, asking you to support me in helping me reach this financial goal. No contribution is too small.
261 Fearless, Inc. is a global non-profit organization founded by running pioneer Kathrine Switzer. 261 Fearless uses running as a vehicle to empower and unite women globally through education opportunities, the creation of local 261 running clubs, communication platforms and events.
Our 261 Fearless Mission:
· To empower women through running.
· To inspire, motivate and educate women globally, helping them find the joy of running through our non-competitive, judgment-free 261 running program.
· To help provide running opportunities for women, independent of social, religious or geographical background.
· To bring women around the world together through a supportive network and share strength with each other
Through these actions, 261 Fearless breaks down the barriers of geography and creates a global community for women runners of all abilities to support and talk to each other, encouraging healthy living and a positive sense of self and fearlessness.
To empower women, education is key. 261 Fearless, Inc. uses the funds raised to educate women throughout the world to become certified 261 Fearless Coaches, continuously providing them with high quality training and support. In addition, funds are used to:
· support certified 261 Coaches to establish and operate local 261 Clubs where they bring the 261 Fearless mission to their communities, supporting women as they take their first steps in running. These local clubs help women find their joy in running, live a healthy life, become empowered and raise their self-esteem through running.
· provide virtual and real networking opportunities – events, conventions and/or gatherings - for 261 community members to exchange and learn from each other, in turn breaking down barriers to help them be fearless.
Our main goal is to bring our 261 Education Program and 261 Club Model of social, non-competitive running to women all over the world, especially to those who still live in fearful situations. The creation of 261 communities for women leads to positive and fearless transformations.
Learn more about 261 Fearless at www.261fearless.org
Thank you for supporting the 261 Fearless community!