R is for Races

Monday, June 27, 2016

Today on the blog is Angela Alexander - she is the Southern Maryland ambassador of Ainsley's Angels. Angela was one of the first Angels I met when I joined AAA. My mom and I drove 3 hours down to Washington D.C. for an expo that AA was represented at. She took me under her wing, showed me the ropes, and introduced me to this amazing community. I ran my first Ainsley's Angels 5k with Angela and the list goes on and on. A former Marine, she is one tough cookie and an amazing mama. She's an AAmazing friend (she cut ALL her hair off as a fellow Ainsley's Angels ambassador battled cancer) and her heart is go giving. Stay fabulous lady!

R is for Races
By Angela Alexander

When I was in active duty, I hated running.  We were forced to run at least 3 times a week.  I never put forth effort, and I never trained or ran more then when we had our unit runs.  Who ever would have thought that within a few years of getting out, I would take up running again, and while sometimes I still hate it, I love it and look forward to running and racing with my friends.

I'm by no means fast, but I have fun and my friends know any race we do together is going to be fun and an adventure.  Over the years I've ran 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, ragnarians and triathlons.  I often hate the "training" part but look forward to race day.

I will carry the stories and memories of these races with me forever. I'll never forget my first 10k, running through the vineyards (literally) in SoCal, it was a tough course, but beautiful.  My first tri was the first time that I can clearly remember a song at the finish line, that feeling of knowing that I had just swam, biked and ran a race and crossing the finish line to Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney signing "Feel like a Rockstar," I totally got it and I felt like a rockstar.  It pushed me to run faster and I felt like a million bucks.

Since I had conquered the tri, I set my sight on my next running challenge and enlisted the help of 7 of my other friends go run our first Ragnar trail and it was amazing. (Ragnar is long distance, team, overnight running relays that take place in the most breathtaking places in the world. Teams come together to conquer a course over two days and one night, and push their limits, on little amounts of sleep, with friends and a community of runners by their side.) This was one of the most challenging courses I've ever ran.  The starting hill, even the best runners had to break to walk up, and there was a few areas on one of the trails that you had to watch your step and literally crawl up on all fours. But, I'll never forget seeing the city lights from the top of a mountain at 2 am in the morning, or one of my friends telling me she didn't know if she wanted to hit me or hug me after she ran her second leg. (Note she hugged me, and even ran it again the following year).

After that, the Ragnar bug bit me (and my friends), to date I've personally run 6. The SoCal Ragnar is by far my favorite that I've ran so far.  Nothing like running down PCH as the sun is rising and watching the waves hit the shore.  The peacefulness of the ocean and the calmness of the morning makes makes you thank God for creating this beautiful planet and allowing you to witness his wonders. Some of my best memories and friends were forged on a Ragnar. There is something about being cramped in a tent or in a van with 8-12 other people for 24 to 36 hours that bonds you.  You barely sleep, eat horribly and laugh so much it hurts that keeps you going.
Rider Athlete, Ethan

Now I run for not only myself but for people who can't typically run. I have an amazingly inspirational running buddy through I Run 4, Brady J, and I am one of the ambassadors for Ainsley's Angels.  I have now had the pleasure of pushing and enjoying watching the faces and hearing the crowd when you push someone with a disability across the finish line.  I'll never forget the first time I pushed, earned my angel wings. It was the Baltimore 10 miler, I met my athlete rider, Ethan, and the other angel runner, Liz, for the first time.  We took off with all the other chair athletes, and on one particular hill about half way through the race we lost a wheel. While at the time I had no clue what to do, we laugh about it now. Ethan will forever have a special place in my heart and jump at the opportunity to push him at every race we run together.

As I write this, I realize that all of my old memories of dreading running in the Marines have now been overshadowed by the amazing experiences that I have had over the last few years.
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