In The Artist Date, Weekly Forum Discussion

Written by: Liz Chamberlain; Lizzie Lou Mixed Media

Life is for participating, not for spectating.Kathrine Switzer

When I read these words for the first time, they resonated so close to my heart that I was frozen for a moment in time and had to reread them. I remembered saying something very similar to this a year prior, when I decided to start running. How did this woman get inside my head?

When I began learning to run, I was dealing with and starting to come out of a deep and nasty depression, following a head injury at work which took years to heal and resulted in a complete change in the way I thought and acted. I came to a realization through art journaling that I was merely a spectator in my life, and the lives of my kids. I watched as things happened, day in and day out; I looked forward to time alone and dreaded being with people in the real world, including my kids. In a moment of clarity, I decided things had to change. I needed to become an active participant in their lives — and in my own — before it was too late, and too much time passed by. My boys are very active, so I decided that I wanted to participate in the kids triathlon before my youngest was old enough to do it on his own. But to do that, I needed to be able to run without feeling like I was going to pass out.

All you need is the courage to believe in yourself and put one foot in front of the other. – Kathrine Switzer

Kathrine became a role model to me as I learned more about her. Her book, Marathon Woman, is a story of her life and all the amazing things she accomplished by being fearless and putting one foot in front of the other, opening the door to women around the world to become empowered to do whatever they put their minds to.

Fifty-one years ago, Kathrine was the first woman to register and officially run the Boston Marathon. In the legendary run, the angry race director tried to remove Kathrine from the race by taking off her racing bib, the number 261. That number 2-6-1 has become a symbol of empowerment and support, strength and unity among women around the world, thanks to Kathrine’s derermination to finish that run focusing on one step at a time.

To be fearless does not actually mean to be without fear, but rather to be afraid and then do it anyways. To trust yourself and dig into your inner strength.

Running became so much more to me than a physical activity or a social event. Each new distance or faster time proved to me that I was stronger than I believed.

One day, I had the opportunity to meet Kathrine, as well as run the 2017 NYC marathon with her team, 261 Fearless. Their goal is to raise and empower women, resulting in a greater social good. This experience was out of this world! The inspiring stories of triumph; unity over a common mission. But most importantly, I was able to use her inspirational story and tap into my personal strength, my innner courage to push through that run, proving to myself that I can continue to put one foot in front of the other — even when I am tired and sore. Through Kathrine, I was able to learn to believe and trust in myself. I am forever indebted to her.

If you ever get a chance to chat with Kathrine in person, enjoy it! Soak it all in!

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