Posts Tagged ‘C25K’

St. Louis Run for Congo Women

Women for Women International display.

This summer I decided to get back into running shape and tackle an organized race again. I already had the race in mind that I wanted to complete, the St. Louis Run for Congo Women. Run for Congo Women is a fundraising run that benefits the Women for Women International (WFWI) Congo program. Run for Congo Women started with just one woman, Lisa Shannon, running a 30.16 trail run in Portland, Oregon. She raised and astonishing $30,000 in a single run to help rebuild the lives of Congolese women.

Two years ago I ran/walked the 7K St. Louis Run for Congo Women, so I was anxious to get back on the trails and see how the event had grown. The first Run for Congo Women I participated in was nothing more than one registration table and a limited staff of about 5 volunteers directing race participants to the trail. There were only a few volunteers, but they took the time to talk one on one with the race participants about the the fundraising leg of the Congo Run, Women for Women International. WFWI provides these women with financial and emotional aid, job-skills training and small business assistance so they can rebuild their lives. Even though it was a small race in 2007, the energy and support showcased for the cause being supported was very humbling and stuck with me for the next two years.

St. Louis Run for Congo Women

The race site before we began the run.

The morning of the race was cool (about 40 degrees), dry and sunny; a beautiful day for racing. What a difference two years had made for this fundraising run. The single registration table had multiplied, and now there were at least 5 different booths set up for registration and information about WFWI sponsorship. Before the run began, a woman from the Congo spoke about how appreciative she was that so many participants came together to run and show their support for the millions of women in the Congo who need help rebuilding their lives. Her testimony was very emotional as she spoke about the tragic circumstances so many women are dealing with in the Congo.

Before I knew it, it was time to start the run. The trail was wooded and hilly which took us around the perimeter of the park. The runners quickly thinned out after the first half mile as everyone hit their pace. The quiet morning run gave me a lot of time to think about why I was running, and how lucky I was to live a life filled with so many things I often take for granted. As I ran, I thought about the innocent women and children who were facing brutal torture and rape on a daily basis. I thought of the women who have nothing, but still continue to take in orphaned children and bravely face each new day that will certainly be worse than the last. I’m taken aback by the adversity these women face everyday, yet they continue to have an unbreakable spirit that sustains them. These women deserve a voice. They deserve the opportunity to rebuild their lives.

St. Louis Run for Congo Women

Congolese women singing after the race.

I was so proud to be able to run that morning, knowing that the funds raised would help to support women and children who needed basic human rights like medical attention, food and schooling. As I crossed the finish line of that race, it was a bittersweet moment. I knew our efforts of the day were an accomplishment, but I couldn’t help but think about how much more still needs to be done. My somber mood was quickly shifted as I made my way over to the site of the event. Congolese women were singing and celebrating. The excitement about raising money and awareness for WFWI was everywhere. While we haven’t ended their suffering completely, we did do our part that day. Step by step we can make a difference in this world.

Sara at the 2009 Congo Run in St. Louis

Just after I crossed the finish line.

My plans for next year include more than just running one day for these women. I want to volunteer and help the race in St. Louis continue to grow. Do you have a Congo Run in your area? Will you be running for the women of the Congo in 2010?


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Shoe Shopping

My current running shoes are much older than I care to admit. The last pair of running shoes I bought were Nike+ compatible to go with my ipod Nano. I’m ashamed to say it, but two years later, I’m still wearing the same shoes for running, workouts, spin class, etc. Yep, I know how bad that is.

Seven weeks ago I kicked off the C25K running plan. After completing two of my training runs last week, I woke up with a sore ankle. By the end of the day my ankle was tender and swollen. What have I done?! I knew I couldn’t put off shoe shopping any longer.

Amanda, my go-to fitness gal and fellow F2BT blogger, suggested that I leave it to the professionals and go somewhere that would give me a proper shoe fitting. She said my ankles would definitely thank me for this. I knew she was right, but I was a little nervous about going to a store that specialized in helping runners. I don’t feel much like a runner. I’m just a newbie at this sport, and I was sure I would get laughed out of the store. Also, I was nervous that they would insist that I needed to buy a pair of really expensive shoes.

So, last weekend I hit the stores. I gave myself a budget of $100 and intended to embrace the help of some footwear professionals instead of just picking the prettiest running shoe off of the rack. I started out at Dick’s Sporting goods and I lasted about 5 minutes. There was a giant wall of shoes, about 10 other people browsing the shoe department and no workers anywhere in sight. I scoped out a couple of displays and realized I needed to head to a specialty store if I wanted to find the right shoes.

Off to Fleet Feet! Several friends recommended Fleet Feet for their service, and the promises on their website sounded nice and welcoming. “Whether you walk, run, or simply need a good fitting pair of shoes, the experts at Fleet Feet Sports will work with you to evaluate your foot’s gait and natural biomechanics to help you select a shoe that offers the best fit and function for you.” And, I must say that is exactly what they did.

The shoe expert who helped me took me through the fitting process step by step. He analyzed my foot and found out what my running goals were so I would end up in the right type of shoe. He really took the time to figure out what I needed and he came up with a match. As it turns out, I’ve been buying my shoes a half size too small for years!

My new gear and October event calendar.

My new gear and October event calendar.

After a test run around the parking lot, I was sold. Not just on the shoes, but the whole experience. I found out about some social running clubs available in my area and an upcoming midnight 5K run that sounds like a lot of fun. I left the store with new shoes (the Saucony Progrid Guide 2) and socks, the October calendar of events and a renewed desire to hit the trails.

I definitely recommend giving the professional fitting a try if you are looking for new running shoes. It was an experience that I unfortunately put off for much too long. I can’t help but think that all of my previous running endeavors might have stuck if I had found the right shoes years ago!

Do you have a favorite running shoe? Have you ever had a professional shoe fitting?

– Sara

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