I was shoulder to shoulder with mostly women I had never met or ever run with in an all women’s marathon in a country I never visited before. In fact for two decades I had been nervous to fly over the ocean after the Pan Am 103 bombing that almost took the life of a best friend. My sons urged me to let them fly to Europe as their friends started traveling abroad to which I always answered “no” in fear of their safety.
But there I was having traveled safe across the pond with my youngest son to open horizons for my sake and his future dreams of traveling. I knew if I could be fearless and fly over the ocean with him, I could let him fly on his own one day not gripped with fear. Sometimes we just have to live a fearful experience to be free from it. As my son hugged me good luck on my 7 mile leg of the marathon relay team, I was proud of my decision to take yet one more risk and travel to run in an unfamiliar place at a new distance with women I didn’t know but who joined me in the experience. The organization 261 Fearless has an influential way of inspiring women to join a community of other women across the globe and in their own communities through the love and fitness of running. I am so grateful to them for that gift.
As I took off on the first leg of the relay, I was hugged by my international teammates – Tanja Bucher of Switzerland, Jo Moseley of Northern England and Melissa Stringer from Kansas City in the USA who joined us when Josie Cessar of Malta had to back out due to a family emergency. Running mostly by a river through knee high grassy trails, pass cows in pastures, lambs dotting distant hills and muddy inclines and descents, I took in every moment I could running. I wanted to stop and take photos but heard myself say, “Take in the images with your eyes and soul so they stay with you forever.”
The 7 miles by far were not my fastest run because trail running is so different than anything I had run before but it was glorious in so many ways. My asthma was kicking in throughout the run but I just kept going until I saw my son and two teammates waiting for me at a quaint bridge where I would pass the race onto my new friend Jo. Teammate Tanja and my son Adam joined me in the last bit of mileage over the bridge. It was a memory I won’t forget especially since my son ran with me for a short bit.
At the finish line tent, I waited with 261 Fearless friends enjoying homemade English tarts, gluten free brownies, and tea! The English love their team even if they just finished running a full marathon. As each of my teammates finished their legs, they joined me in the tent until we our last runner was approaching the finish line where we joined her running hand in hand to the finish line! The entire 261 Fearless running team then sat down in the spring sunshine to chat. My son joined us since he volunteered while I ran and then he and I headed off to the coast to dip our feet in the English Channel in Sidmouth.
I discovered some real truths while traveling abroad and running in this race to inspire you today:
* Women are wonderful no matter where you go. We warm up to each other quickly creating instant friendship. Women love other women’s spirits. Make sure to meet as many new women as you can.
* Any fear can be erased from your mind if you have the bravery to face what scares you. Only in tackling our fright, can we be free to live.
* To truly enjoy life, you must live new experiences. If you can’t face a new experience alone, invite someone to join you. It makes it easier and more pleasurable.
* The world is a fascinating place with a million vistas to see. Make sure you travel enough in your lifetime to witness new destinations.
* Anything you experience in personal life is applicable to our professional life. Meet more women to open your business horizons, conquer entrepreneurial fear by trying something that makes you nervous, say “yes” to more opportunities, and visit more places to meet more people to connect with globally at conferences, events and even races.
I hope you have time soon to take up a run on a muddy trail past animals, streams and hilly vistas enjoying every moment and allowing the experience to change you forever in the most positive light.