I still remember that day… May 2010 when I finished my first 10k. I couldn’t believe I had done it. I had just finish my first ever 10k race and the sweetest girl just put her arm around me and said, “only 7 more miles for a half.” I admit, I wanted to punch her but I was too tired and elated from doing what I just did. Four months later, that same sweet girl and I finished my first half marathon. I couldn’t believe it! Me? Someone who just completed what seemed impossible, a 10k, and here I am finishing a half marathon. I was hooked. Running became a part of me.

Do I always love running? No way! But I do love what every run brings out of me. Some days it’s the silence with just my footsteps and breath. Some days it’s seeing so much beauty that I have to stop and take it in. Other days it’s simply getting out the door and turning around after a few minutes and saying, “Not today Melissa, but maybe tomorrow.” Running has taught me so much about growth, patience, commitment and myself.

That all brings me to Gazelle Girl 2012 and my first time pacing. I wanted to give back for all the times I have had someone next to me on my own miles. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and not just for myself. I wanted to pace. It has been every Gazelle Girl Half Marathon that I am proud to say I have been a part of as a pacer. This year marks a new era that I gave up being the wingman to all my half marathon ladies and being the person that gives them support as a Pacing Coordinator for the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon. I hope to inspire and lead a group of women that will be just like the same bestie I had in 2010. One who believes in me, is there for me and reminds me to just run and have fun.

And now for the final chapter in my story… the present. I just finished my third marathon in October in Detroit and I am beyond proud. Training is so hard no matter what distance you are running because it takes time and dedication. I will never claim that I trained perfect because life happens. I have a job, an amazing son, and a life filled with amazing people and sometimes these things need to come first. However, I am still proud of what I gave and the fact that I finished with a time of 5 hours and 6 minutes. You bet I walked… especially when there was a big crowd because it was like my own parade. Running has taught me to be present in the moment and to feel and experience that moment.

I truly hope that every Gazelle Girl running has “that moment”. I hope that you find yourself in a sea of amazing women and smile… because just like them, you are a Gazelle Girl and you are doing it.

~all my love and best wishes, Melissa