Written by guest contributor, 2016 Ambassador Gigi Poveromo
As a Charlotte Race Ambassador I have been asked to share my running story. For this particularly blog post I was asked to write about Running Friends. Where do I start? I have always been someone who likes to belong to a community. I enjoy getting to know people, their stories, their lives and sharing of myself.
If you ask anyone who knew me before 2014, they would never equate Gieselle/Gigi and Runner. I was the lady who liked things pretty comfortable. I am very much a girly kind of girl. I have practiced yoga since 1997 and I love it. That was where my exercise ended. Various life events starting back in 2011 when I left Financial Serves and moved into Healthcare left me dizzy and trying to figure out what my role in the world was to be. I don’t know that I really have it figured out. But, some things have become clear. I love running, I love being outside and I am passionate now about health and wellness for me, and my family.
In 2011 I started running very short distances a half a mile a week. In 2013 I did my first 5k, the Color Run and I was hooked. I loved every, single, powder puff mile of that race! That year I planned to do a half marathon in 2014. I sent a Facebook message to three very dear girlfriends who had inspired me to run and said, “Girls I am going to do the Savannah Half Marathon one year from now. I want you to come with me.” These girls were already established runners who had become great supporters and teachers to me.” Exactly one year later I ran my first half. I had a great group of women waiting for me at the finish line and I will never forget them or that moment! I have ran three since and am training for my first 26.2 miles.
How can I describe the sacred Running Friend relationship? I struggle to articulate what my Running Friends mean to me. They mean so very much. I have been fortunate because I have some really great running and non-running friends. Running Friends are definitely special. As I get older the desire to do things that really push me outside of my comfort zone has intensified. I lost a very dear friend in 2015 to Cancer. The lesson I learned in her death was, “I don’t want to waste time”. I am going to live large and leave this world really exhausted from living! I want to experience the adventure of life and that has drawn me to running and runners! Runners are a unique breed. They live large by running. They push the envelope physically. They find solace in some suffering. I have come to learn that some suffering is good. It makes you rejoice in the comfortable, pleasantries of life.
As I get older I also want to be around authentic people with good energy who are doing their best to live empowered lives. I want to be around people who are fallible, a little messy, and love the outdoors. Runners are these people.
Runners push the envelope of life. Last year I ran our Charlotte Half Marathon, formerly called Thunder Road. I ran with my friend, a wonderfully strong runner. The first half of the race was joyful. We talked about personal things going on in our lives. That is an important fact of running, you quickly get rid of the facade or mask when you are running with someone. It is really just two souls running. During the second half of my race fatigue set in, and my friend said “G, just look at my back as we run? Don’t take your eye off my back.” She went just a tad in front of me and I listened. I PR’d that race! She pushed me to run faster then I really knew I could.
So running brings the truth out in people. You run, you may get sick, you may spit, you may need to pee or more…and you’re going to discuss or share this information with someone else. The experience of running forces you to cut to the reality of life quickly. When you run with friends you experience it all together: joy, pain, fear, and boredom.
I am lucky enough to be a part of a few different running clubs. I am a proud member of AndWeRun of Charlotte, Fit Frenzy, Sole Society, and the Omega Sports Run Club. The members of AndWeRun and Fit Frenzy are like family. They support and encourage me and tell me to get off my A**. You need people in your life who support you, cheer you, and tell you the truth. In fact I am running my first full marathon, our Novant Health Charlotte Marathon because a few AndWeRun friends told me I should consider it. The notion of running a marathon was a far off goal. My friends gave it voice before I was even ready to hear it. I was afraid and I knew that I had to do it. I am now really excited! Professionally I have a background in Organizational Development, and Corporate Coaching. I have read a fair amount of research that suggests friendships and communities are linked to happiness with life and longevity. Runners have created a really tight, supportive sub community in our great big, sometimes scary world.
So go run! Anyone reading this is welcome to message me with questions on the clubs I belong to (or on the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon). My message is especially to the non-runners or new runners. I am happy to help you. If you are looking for someone to go for one mile or a few with… let me know. Or if you’re curious and just want to learn more about my running experience, feel free to contact me and we can chat (running not required).
I hope to see you on November 12th. Run your race and come say Hi. On that day we are all runners and a great community! One final shout out to my family. They are more than friends and they make running possible. Happy/Healthy Running to all!
Stay tuned for our next blog, in June, about Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital. You’ll be able to read about our relationship and see photos of all the great improvements being made to ensure a great future for the benefiting children!