On Feb. 12, 2012 I ran a half-marathon. And I ran 13.1 miles mostly because so many people had told me I couldn't.
I have a connective tissue disease that causes my joints to be in a great deal of pain most days, even from just walking or sitting. So imagine how tough running can be on my body. Nonetheless, I refused to take no for an answer. I found a new doctor, one who's also a runner and thus understood my obsession and could offer helpful advice. I wasn't going to let this disease or the naysayers in my life tell me I couldn't check off this item on my bucket list. And in February of 2012 I did.
Then I wanted to do it again.
But as I tried to train for Birmingham's 2013 Mercedes Half-Marathon it wasn't just family members and friends objecting. My body was objecting too. The pain that I'd learned to live with became more intense and some days nearly unbearable.
I didn't let this keep me from being active. I still exercised daily, but running was just too much. I put my running shoes on the shelf for a few months and recently tried to get back into the swing of things. My knees, my ankles, and my hips just weren't having it. I began to wonder if this meant I'd never cross a finish line again.
Then I discovered GirlTrek.
GirlTrek is a national nonprofit organization striving to inspire black women and girls to live healthy lives simply by walking. GirlTrek launched two years ago and through social media campaigns has grown to include over 17,200 women who are logging their walks online.
There's a chapter of GirlTrek here in my hometown of Birmingham and I started attending some of their walking sessions for my mom -- I want her to be more active for the sake of her health. Little did I know GirlTrek would end up being an even bigger help for me.
First, GirlTrek inspired my latest story for WBHM, Birmingham's NPR station.
But GirlTrek also inspired me to reconsider my goal of completing another half-marathon. What if, I asked myself while on a solo trek at my favorite walking trail, I walked a half-marathon? This certainly isn't unheard of, but for some reason it had never crossed my mind.
And so I decided that I will complete another half-marathon, even if I have to walk the entire race.
One of the things I find so empowering about GirlTrek is its mantra: “When black women walk, things change.”