Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Exceptional Women of Runtellthis

Today I am paying homage to my longtime running group, runtellthis. Collectively, we have run more than 90 full marathons (26.2 miles.) These women are not only my running friends, they are my sisters. They inspire me to reach new heights and dig deeper when I feel I don’t have anything left to give. I truly love them and I pray that you have a supportive, honest, tell-you-the-truth even-when-it-hurts group of people in your life. I feel blessed.

Nellie Gayle, Valerie Tyler & Celeste Wright-Harris
Anyone who happens to drive along Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive south of downtown at oh, let’s say 5:30 or 6 o’clock in the morning usually have the good fortune of seeing a group of amazing, dedicated women running, laughing and bonding as they prepare to tackle the day that lies ahead. The group, aptly named runtellthis, is the heartbeat of Chicago’s South Side marathon, triathlon and fitness scene and has recently spread it’s wings to suburban Detroit and Los Angeles where two of the original members now call home. No matter the location, runtellthis is committed to staying connected and serving as living, breathing examples of what it means to be fit and healthy at all ages. The group is comprised of women with enormous talents — a fitness expert and massage therapist, a business owner, a kettlebells instructor, a Boston marathoner, a writer, an architect, two IT executives and two PhD’s — to name just a handful of their under the radar accomplishments.
They are highly educated, professional, family-minded and unapologetically focused on staying strong and winning in all areas of their lives. They plan, strategize and plot out their marathons and triathlons six months to a year in advance. These women are serious. runtellthis epitomizes class and grace. Oh, and they were running marathons before the world ever heard the name of our lovely, fit first lady (and fellow South sider), Michelle Obama. The women of runtellthis had this healthy living thing figured out years ago and have been passing along advice and wisdom to all who aspire to live a fit and balanced life. Now watch, listen and learn as they continue to commit to something greater than themselves while taking fitness to new heights.

My fourth marathon, Chicago, 2006
Run, tell this story of extraordinary runners who defy what it means to be women of color in myriad ways. They are powerful beyond their own expectations. Driven, smart, and determined beyond anyone else’s.
Run, tell this story of athletes who have crossed finish lines from Chicago to San Diego, from Phoenix to Paris, France. They are as dynamic in their respective profession as they are in their desire to reach deeper, try harder, and grow stronger, mile after mile, race after race. Tell this story of phenomenal women who bring as much passion to the classroom and the boardroom as they bring to the path along Chicago’s beautiful running paths. For this is where they witness the beauty of the rising sun every morning that they have the pleasure to run just one more mile.
Running, thinking, laughing, being. Enduring the heat and humidity of Chicago’s summers and the snow and extreme cold of Chicago’s notorious winters, these women are fierce and unstoppable.

Nellie, Leslie & Celeste with Rudy Christian, 2007 Paris Marathon, Paris, France
Run, tell this story of compassionate souls who care deeply for one another’s well being and the world around them. Who have bonded together to get one another through divorce and death, loss and heartbreak. Who celebrate one another’s promotions, personal accomplishments and childbirth. Tell this story of simply amazing women who define what it means to be competitive yet fragile, stubborn yet flexible—serious about their desire to win on the marathon course and in life, intellectual enough to analyze and dissect the most compelling political and social issues of our time, yet funny enough to perform stand up comedy. Yes, tell this story of hope and inspiration, of tenacity and passion, of women who won’t quit and aren’t afraid to try.
Runtellthis. For this is the beautiful story of athletes, friends, wives, lovers, mothers, daughters and sisters. This is Bernadette, Carmen, Celeste, Frances, Freda and Leslie’s story. And this is Nellie, Noni, Sharon,Valarie, Jackie, Dayi and Valerie’s story.
Tell their story and celebrate them. For each time these women run a race, swim a lap, or bike a mile, we should be reminded of how incredible and inspiring they are.

Dr. Noni Gaylord-Harden

Dayi Peguero

Celeste Wright-Harris

Jackie Jackson

The Phenomenal Nellie Gayle!

Frances Wright

Dr. Bernadette Sanchez & Her Daughter, Eva

Valerie Tyler – Boston Marathon, 2010 (right) With Her Beautiful & Accomplished Daughter, Chanel (left)

Sharon Samuels

After one of our many marathons

Yep, another race under our belts!

I LOVE these ladies!