“Running gave me confidence to do things I might not otherwise have done.”
Written by Hope Rush
In early 2011, my good friend, who is also known to be very persuasive, said to me, “Hope, you need to run Covered Bridges Half Marathon.” I looked at him and laughed. I told him that while I am fit and love to exercise (and sometimes run), I had never run more than six miles. Oddly enough, the idea to run a half marathon intrigued me. I was ready for a challenge and felt the need to prove to myself that I could do something that felt scary to me.
You see, the challenge to run came at a difficult time in my life.
My marriage was struggling and wasn’t working anymore (after many years of trying) At the same time, I wanted to do the right thing for my two sons (ages 4 and 8 at the time). I was 38 years old, trying to balance full-time work, being a mom and figuring out the future of my marriage. I felt stressed and insecure about what my future would look like.
After a few days of thinking about running 13.1 miles, I called my friend and told him I wanted to race Covered Bridges. I asked a girlfriend to join me in the challenge and we secured a spot in the race. I really didn’t have anything to lose, but perhaps a lot to gain.
I looked online, downloaded a half marathon training program for beginners and then began my love affair with running.
I followed that training program as if my life depended on it. I was going to do this thing with all of my heart and give it my best. Doing anything halfway is just not my way.
Running that first half marathon taught me many things but most importantly it taught me that:
1. I’m capable of anything, as long as I’m willing to be uncomfortable and push myself beyond what I thought was possible.
2. Consistent effort, even on days when you don’t feel like running, gets you results.
The weather doesn’t always cooperate. Sometimes there’s not enough hours in the day. Find yourself a good running rain jacket (and cap), set your alarm before the rest of the world wakes up….. and RUN.
3. My body and mind LOVE the feelings I get from running.
4. There is such a thing as good hurt!
5. The body is an incredible thing…
6. The mind is even more incredible … mind over matter is really a thing, especially when your legs are screaming at you to STOP!
I’ve run Covered Bridges Half Marathon every year since 2011 (and many others since then) and finally met my goal in 2019 with a time of 1:45:56 (my goal was anything with a 1:45 in front of it). Now I want to beat that time!
In 2015, I decided to try for another goal – the Marathon. I figured I needed to try it just once. If I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to do it again.
Well, my love of running grew even stronger with that first marathon training. I chose MDI as my first marathon, which is not an “easy” course, with more than 1,600 ft of elevation gain. My goal was to finish and finish I did, in just over four hours and eighteen minutes. Crossing that finish line at the MDI Marathon in Maine with tears streaming down my face sealed my love of longer distance running. I was in pain and tired, but I was also hooked!
I ran my fifth MDI Marathon in October of 2019. My finish time was 4:00:59, and I mistakenly thought that I would PR every year, which I did for the first four races. I was a minute slower, but I realized it was ok and that not every race is a PR. I ran strong, and finished feeling pretty good. I enjoyed every bit of the 18 weeks of training and I’m now ready to try another marathon or perhaps even something longer and on different terrain.
All I know is that running reminds me that I am strong and that I am capable. Running gave me confidence to do things I might not otherwise have done. Two years after training for my first two half marathons, my husband and I divorced. We are amicable now and good partners in raising our two children. I am ok and better because I run.
I’ve met wonderful people through running. These people are so clearly part of my tribe. We laugh. We share stories about our lives. We love running shoes! We run races together. Most of all, we all understand how important running is in our lives. We understand the highs of setting a PR and then the lows of being injured or not making your race time.
I’m thankful every day to be part of this special group of athletes and look forward to meeting more of you along my own running journey.
~Hope Rush lives in Lyme, NH with her two teenage boys and two cats. Professionally, she spends her time working as a marketing communications executive at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. When she’s not working, she is running, or thinking about running and new running routes. She also enjoys vegetarian cooking and experimenting with baking healthy treats. Hope has run five marathons so far, every one of them the MDI Marathon in Maine, and plans to run many more. For her 50th birthday, in 2022, she hopes to run the Vermont 50k, which would be her very first ultra.