It’s International Women’s Day. It’s a time to celebrate the strength of women, to acknowledge achievements, to discuss how our differences make us better collectively, through diversity of backgrounds and ideas. It’s a time to listen to women who have different experiences and realities than myself, to cultivate empathy, to ask how I may be of service, to understand that women struggle for basic human rights and dignity all over the world. The fact that I don’t have the same struggle, that I have what the once popular hashtag called #firstworldproblems, is critical to remember.
It’s a day where sport can play such a powerful role in bridging gaps among women, in allowing women of different backgrounds to share stories of the common adventure of challenging yourself, losing yourself, then finding yourself again through the pain and triumph of athletic competition.
It’s what draws me to the stories of other women.
It’s the vulnerability that Kelly Roberts shows when recording her podcast and writing her blog “Run, Selfie, Repeat.” She opens herself up daily, eschewing the body images forced upon women, especially women who run, and daring to be her authentic self which includes humor and compassion.
It’s the passion of Alison Desir who founded Harlem Run to help transform the lives of urban communities through a healthy lifestyle. She then organized Run 4 All Women to raise money for Planned Parenthood so that all women would have access to critical healthcare services.
It’s women I know every day who put one foot in front of the other, who do the best they can where they can from my friend Sue who taught me so much about running and life and perspective to my friend Heather who immediately signed up to run more than 400 stairs with me for the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb as I honor my mom who is fighting her battle for breath.
As I reflect on the women who have made an impact on me (and there are far too many to mention in this blog post. You’d get so bored.) I’m getting excited for October when I’ll run the Queen City Women’s Half Marathon in Buffalo. It’s another opportunity to celebrate the women who have given me strength, the women who show strength even when they are most vulnerable and the women who inspire me to live my passion regardless of what others might say. And it’s a great opportunity for other women in Western New York to discover their own strength, to take a chance on themselves whether they’re trying to run a half marathon for the first time, hoping just to get across the finish line, or trying to set their personal best. (Pro tip: No matter how fast or slow you think you are, you’re setting your personal best for that day.) Time to register and plan the training. Because my celebration of International Women’s Day will have a Part II come Oct 1.