Reigniting the Spark

The first time we met Anna was at the first dinner of our Adventure Wellness Retreat in Costa Rica this past March, 2016. We knew instantly that there was something amazing about this girl. Of course over the week of the retreat we really got to know Anna and felt a lot more then just a spark of inspiration from her. She is an amazing person and we welcome Anna as one of our Run Like A Girl Ambassadors!

The memory of my first race dates back to 1987 when I was 6 years old. It was a local family YMCA road race in my home town Wallingford CT.   My cousin ran the same race with me and was equally as nervous. We promised to hold each others hand the whole way. At the starting line, I held my cousin’s hand tight. When the mayor sounded the bull horn, we were off and running. Do I keep my promise… or let go to race through hundreds of legs towards the front? I chose the front. That was the first race I ever won. I still have the trophy, the only race award I ever kept! I often wonder why that memory is so vivid. Maybe it is guilt from letting go of her hand or the adrenaline I felt running and winning.

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I suppose my running carreer (Iv’e never thought of it that way until now) started with that local YMCA race. At the age of 9, I completed my first Sprint Triathlon at our summer cottage in Maine. I remember my Dad taking me out on the hills in the back country roads with my single speed bike. My legs burning like crazy on the up hills and spinning out of control on the way down. It wasn’t easy and I’m sure there were tears, but it made me realize I could do anything. In both Middle school and High School I broke the school record for the 400 meter and 4×400 meter relay and surprisingly still hold the record. After college, I got back into running and started with a few 5ks which then quickly turned to half marathons, marathons and 1/2 Ironmans. I completed my first Marathon in 2004 and my first 1/2 Ironman in 2006. However, I quickly burnt out. Running continued to be part of my life, but races weren’t.

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At the age of 35 and three children later, I have many miles behind me. Many glorious miles. My favorite times have been running on the backroads of Maine however my happiest miles have been over the past 8 years pushing a single or double jogger with a Springer Spaniel in tow. I’ve pushed my three kids up numerous hills with my legs burning like they did when I was 9, reminding me that I am capable of doing anything. Nothing stopped me from hitting the road but what I didn’t know then, was that I needed those runs. Running took on a different meaning for me. Those morning runs with my kids kept me sane. They made me a better parent, and really were my therapy.  It’s a yearning to disconnect from life, shut out the world, the noise and simply connect my feet to the earth and go. It allows me to think without distraction. Even though I need to run and love to run, the spark I found in myself back when I was 6 seems to have faded. Something was missing.

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What’s missing, you ask? I have a husband girls dream of, 3 terrific kids, a job I enjoy and friends I can rely on. Life seems great. Right? Not until recently when my cousin (the same cousin I ditched in my very first road race) sent me a link to Run Like A Girl Retreats in Costa Rica. I am not one to turn down an opportunity and felt I needed to do something for myself. My husband was in full support and before I left, wrote me a note with encouraging words. He motivated me to figure out what I really wanted out of my life. He asked what direction I wanted my life to go when I returned. He told me to slow down in order to enjoy every moment of the trip, to savor the taste of a hot cup of Costa Rican coffee, the sound of the wind blowing in the mountains, birds chirping in the jungle, the water rushing down the river. To simply absorb as much as I could and appreciate every last bit of it. So, I willingly ventured off to Costa Rica with RLAG thinking I was simply escaping reality for a few days, but for me it turned into something much more profound. Into the jungle I trekked, off the grid, surrounded by pure natural beauty. I quickly realized THIS is what I was missing. Running through mountains, racing myself, pushing my mental and physcal limits to the max, all while being surrounded and supported by Mother Nature. She has so much to offer me, much more than concrete. She has inspired me. I felt the burn in my legs as I hiked to the Summit of Ena, bringing back the spark I felt as a young kid. What a glorious feeling. Feeling alive again with endless possibilities. I never want this feeling to fade. There is something magical about Chakra and the Mountains of San Jeronimo.

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Spending one week in the lush, untouched mountains has opened up my world. I’m not an emotional person, but being surrounded by such beauty, challenge and inspiring people made me cry. It made me want more in life and I certainly feel it has changed me somehow. I feel thoroughly inspired to pursue more challenges with 50k trail races, the 2017 Coastal Challenge and opening my own business. Inspired to be a better Mom, wife, daughter and friend. I left for Costa Rica in a funk, feeling stuck and I returned wanting and needing more. When the RLAG girls approached me at the end of the retreat and invited me to be an Ambassador, I was confused. Me? Why me? I am an ordinary Mom, wife and healthcare professional, but maybe they saw something more. So, with that said, I am absolutely overjoyed and honored to represent RLAG in all that I do from this point forward in my running career! You can follow my ordinary running life on Instagram: mumontherun80

My Life: There’s a connection. A calling. A desire to be close to mother nature and soak in all she has to offer. To run, to explore and to search for the next challenge. Pura Vida.

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