We’re taught to follow our passions and told by doing so we’ll never work a day in our lives. In some ways, this is true. In many ways, this is the story of my career development, but I recently went through an eye-opening, professional experience that felt worth sharing. I took a “passion pause“. It’s a story that follows my passion for running, but my need for self-love. I’ll warn you this is going to be a long post without fun pictures, but the story feels like it needs to come out of me because there might be others who can benefit.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize I’m a runner. Look at my blog, my Instagram feed, my closet, and my accomplishments, and you’ll find they are are filled with everything running. My dresser spews ridiculous quantities of wicking shirts, my running shoe collection is out of control, there are GU’s in my purse, and if you meet me at a party I’m most likely talking about something running related. This might be boring to most, but I geek out on it! If you’ve ever read my About Me page (most of you probably haven’t and that’s okay), I mention that I recently left my corporate job — well, that’s what it used to say. But what I didn’t share was that I left my corporate job at Brooks Sports. Yes, I left a dream job with a dream company in my dream field of work to go off and dream. WHAT? REALLY?! Who needs a pause from that?! It sounds crazy, but I’ll explain why this time off provided the perspective I needed to become a better employee.
A resume glimpse beyond my 5 years with Brooks reveals almost 16 years of working in the running shoe industry — approximately 9 years with Finish Line and then almost 2 years with Fleet Feet Pittsburgh before Brooks. It’s been a long time and by far the greatest experience for my professional and personal growth. It’s taken me places and given me opportunities I could have only dreamt about. I’m a runner who followed my heart and landed in a running company. What could be better?! Well, yes, to an outsider this is the perfect match, but inside I began having feelings of self-doubt and unhappiness. What happened to me was what I’ve heard happen to so many others. I worked hard — really hard — and found myself moving into roles that left me feeling empty. I was grateful every day that I was employed with a company whose purpose I embodied, but there was something that wasn’t clicking. I was frustrated with myself and couldn’t stop moving long enough to figure out what was causing this uneasy feeling. I needed to step outside my own head to gain a better understanding of where I was in my life.
There was NO plan for what was going to happen next, but I knew if I followed my heart I would end up finding it. I turned in my computer and brought all my belongings home on my last day at Brooks, but my mind and heart never fully separated. I reflected back on why I was in this profession, and what it was that made me so happy when I began this journey 15 years earlier. It didn’t take me long to realize that my calling to this industry is bringing excitement and energy to running, and being on the front lines and engaging with people is where I thrive. Nothing makes my heart happier than watching someone cross the finish line of their first race or to support someone in taking their first leap from walking to running. The energy I receive from being around people who share the same love for the runners high is indescribable. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
Four months after my passion pause began, the perfect opportunity to return to Brooks presented itself. My energy was full, and I was ready to lace back up with Brooks. This time, in a completely different role than my previous. Now my focus is centered around building community programs through the Brooks flagship store in Seattle. A match made in running heaven. I’m working to build upon the affinity for the run: inviting people to run with us and commune with us around what makes us all live happier lives.
Running is a metaphor for life. It’s long, surprising, exhausting, challenging, rewarding, humbling, and exhilarating. Our experiences shape our lives and continuously change our perspective. From time to time, it’s a natural feeling to want to stop the world and get off. Remember the race is still going to keep running without you, but take that porta-potty break, high-five a bunch of friends and dance with the bands. (In other words, be still, reconnect with friends, and have some fun!) Don’t be afraid to re-find who YOU are! And then remember to get back on this ride called life. I did, and I learned a lot about myself.
What I now know to be true:
- My desire to welcome others into the running lifestyle is strong.
- Outdoor industry folks are my people.
- My blood is Brooks blue.
- I’m a work-a-holic.
- Life needs a balance of work and home, and it’s up to me to create it.
- Not having a plan is a plan in itself.
- Eat Happy Run Healthy was part of this adventure and will continue on!
If someone sat me down and asked me to state my purpose in life, I would have to say that I feel it is to be on the welcoming committee of the sport of running, to encourage others and coach when needed, and to be a cheerleader for the Brooks brand. There’s no way to give back to running, so it’s my job to pay it forward.
I’m blessed that I have family and friends who supported me, thankful that my husband allowed me to leap without fear, and grateful for doors that reopened. Hope to see you at the Brooks Trailhead soon!
QUESTION: Have you ever taken time off to rediscover yourself?
The season for running in the dark has arrived. Along with holiday candy comas and face-stuffing festivities, we endure the challenge of keeping up with fitness while battling shorter days and low-light conditions. Don’t fear the darkness! Get out there! But first…
Check out these 10 tips to help you stay safe and seen while running in the dark:
BE BRIGHT – We can all thank the running industry for continuing to offer head-to-toe options flashing back to the neon colors of the 80s. Thank goodness! Wearing the most illuminating colors on the run is the brightest move you can make. The science behind how our eyes react to color is fascinating. Bright yellow is best for dusk while neon green is a more visible color as eyes adjust to the darkness. Of course once it’s pitch black, those neon colors are ineffective and the retroreflective pieces take over. A car’s headlights pick up the mirror-like surfaces of the reflective material, making you shine like the star you are! (Want to geek out about the science of colors and how fluorescents work? Read this.)
Oh, and I just ordered one of these bad ass lighting/reflective vests to try — the Tracer360 from NOXGEAR. A fellow November Project member was wearing one at a workout, and the functionality looked awesome. I’ll report back.
GET LIT – Now that cars and cyclists can see you, let’s make sure you can see the road. Headlamps are
Running the Nike Women’s Half in San Francisco has always been a dream of mine.
A couple weeks prior to the race, I was filled with excitement when Mecque, my buddy from Fleet Feet San Francisco, welcomed me to pace with her in the half. Um, YES!!! My original plan was to run alone, but having a run partner is always an added bonus. Plus, she’s full of vibrant running energy, AND she knows the San Francisco running scene like the back of her hand.
The best part about running with Mecque? Besides showing up with a Rockstar energy drink in her hand and a smile on her face, she’s also rocking a Flip Belt with a MINI Jambox. It’s like running with a personal DJ. When the road is normally filled with the sounds of heavy breathing and running shoes hitting the pavement, crushing a few miles to the beat of Pit Bull can be pretty motivating. I’m pretty sure we had groupies at one point in the race. I’m not the kind of runner who traditionally wears a running belt, but I’m now thoroughly convinced I need both of these contraptions.
My alarm was set for 4:50 AM. Enough time to eat, dress, stretch, and perform all the appropriate morning bathroom duties (ahem), before meeting her at 6:00 AM. The hotel I stayed at was only 2 blocks from the starting line making it was easy to drop our bags and head to the corral. With 25,000 runners jammed into the city streets, there was an expectation of morning chaos, but everything flowed like water. Sunday also happened to be Mecque’s birthday. She was targeting a 1:55 finish for a PR. Even though I wasn’t 110% confident my body was going to hold up on the hills, I promised Mecque we would do our best to pace to her goal. Originally, my plan was to just cruise through this race, but I there was a bigger purpose.
The race began on time: 6:30 AM. Races always begin with the cluster of slowness that you have to weave through, but we spread out nicely within a mile of the start. The first hill to speak of was at mile 2 and we gave a little push to get to the top. The sun was coming up and greeted us with a clear morning. No fog, but it was around 63° and there was humidity in the air. I was already sweating and took note that I should be drinking little sips early and often to stay hydrated.
A little past the 5K mark we headed into Golden Gate Park. (Our 5K split: 27:42, 8:54 per mile) We needed to make up a little time, but I wasn’t worried. I’d never been in the park so I was taking it all in. As we continued running west, the course brought us closer to the beach where a light headwind started to pick up. My hair was already drenched in sweat so it was like having my own personal air conditioner. We continued weaving through the park. Every once in a while a breeze would drag the scent of eucalyptus across our noses — ahhh, natural running zen!
Running is my fitness love language. But runners don’t just run anymore, and group workouts aren’t really my “thing”. I’ve struggled for years trying to find another type of training that fits who I am. But six weeks ago that all changed when I found November Project.
I received a tweet from a random dude (@jwlevitt) inviting me to check out the November Project. He told me to just show up. I’d never heard of this “project” and assumed it would be starting in November. I’ve since discovered it’s quite possibly the greatest, ongoing, FREE fitness movement ever to exist. Period.
That tweet aligned with the stars on a week my running buddy was out-of-town, which meant I could cheat on her without guilt. I showed up alone. 6:29 AM. Gas Works Park in Seattle. I trudged up this huge hill in the park called Kite Hill boasting one of Seattle’s most epic city views.
wake up with us. here.
Most would say I’m an outgoing person, but ascending alone upon 80+ people is a bit intimidating. Just then a total stranger threw a massive hug in my direction. I went in for the embrace! I’ll remind you again that this is Seattle. For those of you who haven’t been introduced to the culture here, let’s just say the “Seattle Freeze” can be a bit chilly. I grew up in the south and spent time on the east coast — people HUG, that’s what we do — but not here. It’s like a whole thing to break down the hug barrier in Seattle. (FUN FACT: this one time I took a personality test that basically told me I hugged too much. Lame.)
Then out of nowhere pops this guy with enough energy to light up Time Square — he’s our fearless leader Casey. He welcomes everyone, especially those who are new, and informs us that part of November Project is waking up together. I think what he really meant was, “we’re trying to wake up the entire city of Seattle”. It goes something like this:
(WITH EVERYONE JUMPING)
LEADER YELLS: GOOD MORNING!
TRIBE YELLS: GOOD MORNING!
LEADER YELLS: Y’ALL GOOD?
TRIBE YELLS: FUCK YEAH!!!
LEADER YELLS: WAKE UP!
TRIBE YELLS: WAKE UP!
LEADER YELLS: TOGETHER!
TRIBE YELLS: TOGETHER!