Under Armour Run Camp: The Desert

By Clifton Light

Wow, what a weekend! I had so much anticipation for Under Armour Run Camp over the past months. District Running Collective was invited to attend the camp, and I, along with two other DRC captains, was selected by our peers to participate. We had no clue where we were headed until we received heavy packages filled with sand and UA gear. Within the package was an invitation that vaguely explained the challenge that was ahead of us in the upcoming months. Matt, Corey, and I didn’t have a clue where we were heading to, but we knew we had to prepare somehow.

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So, we trained and ran as much as possible to get ready for wherever we were heading. Luckily, I was training for the Chicago Marathon, so I had less anxiety about how prepared I would be for run camp. We were in the dark about the location until early October while we were in Chicago for the marathon. I saw a text from Corey that said, “So, we are heading to Death Valley.” I was thinking, What are they talking about? I had no clue what Death Valley was or where it was located. So, I quickly checked my email and then Googled it. I discovered that it was in California and is the hottest area in the world based on Wikipedia. What did we get ourselves into?

In the following weeks, we would get more information about the weekend, and that meant we could prepare better for what was to come. It seemed like time flew with the busy weekends of fall racing season — the Navy Air Force Half, Chicago Marathon, and then the Baltimore Running Festival. It also seemed like we didn’t have enough time to settle and prepare. But nonetheless, we were excited.

 

Matt, Corey, and I flew out of Dulles, and all of us were in shock that we were actually headed to run camp and nervous about what was to come. We had a layover in Chicago, where we ran into Kyle who would be a group leader while at camp and Nick a run camp participant who was from the UK. We talked briefly about what we were expecting, but nobody knew what was going on, or we didn’t get any answers.

We finally landed in Las Vegas, where we were met by our shuttle drivers and other runners that were participating. In the shuttle, you could feel the excitement. We drove towards the Las Vegas Strip, and we had all types of ideas running through our heads of what we would do while we were going to be staying in Vegas. As we got closer towards The Strip, we turned away from there to an area we had never been to. I kept saying, “What part of Vegas is this? I have never been to this side of town before.” The driver didn’t have any answers. We pulled up to the SLS Las Vegas which was a nice hotel but nowhere near the strip. When we walked into the lobby, we saw members of Harlem Run and Resident Runners. Again, we talked about hanging out in Las Vegas like we weren’t there to run; but we soon found out they put us in what seemed like the most boring hotel in Las Vegas. There wasn’t much going on other than a few people around the pool area, and the casino area was so quiet. I asked about walking to The Strip, but we were told it would be a three-mile walk, so that wouldn’t work. I should have known that this past weekend would be more about business than pleasure. We headed to our rooms and on our beds was UA gear that included everything we would need for the next day. We received an itinerary that outlined where we needed to be during Friday night and early Saturday morning. Most noticeable was our 4:45 am shuttle departure from the hotel in Vegas. That kind of ruined the entire mood of being in Las Vegas, knowing that we weren’t going to stay there for the weekend.

The thing I looked forward to the most while in Las Vegas was eating, and we had a dinner at 7pm at Honey Pig, which we heard was a great farm-to-table restaurant. While at dinner, the group, which was made up of DRC, Harlem Run, and Resident Runners, ordered pretty much everything on the menu along with beer and wine. We were having a good time enjoying dinner, and then some other folks from UA appeared that we met previously, along with a woman that I had never seen before. We were told she was a special guest. I kept eating and didn’t think anything of it. She asked for our attention and began to talk. Immediately, I could tell that she was serious about this weekend. She explained that she would be important to us over the weekend, and we would need her. I remember her saying that she would be a part of our world and that she would welcome us into her world with a serious expression. She then had a list of food and drinks that we should avoid the night before we headed to the desert. Everything she said we should avoid was ordered already. She told us that her name was Kellie Nightlinger and that she would be our survivalist expert. Everyone asked why we would need her for a run camp. She explained that at some point in the desert our lives could be in possible danger and that’s why she is important to us. I immediately got nervous and thought to myself, I didn’t sign up to be put in danger. I got so nervous, I couldn’t finish the wine I had ordered.

 

We left dinner and headed back to get some rest because we had a 4:45 am shuttle departure time for the desert. I remember waking up out of the comfortable hotel bed early Saturday morning just wishing I could sleep a little longer and enjoy Vegas. We met in the lobby, and we were told to only carry the things we would need for running, and they would hold on to the rest of our bags. All of the information we would receive over the weekend would be vague. So, I packed all of the running gear I had and anything I thought I would need.

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The ride to the desert was dark, cold and long. It was a two-hour drive on a cramped shuttle in complete darkness. We drove along and as the sun rose, we were able to see the desert. Everyone immediately became excited. The views were crazy. We arrived in Death Valley and it was a complete ghost town; we stopped for a few pics. There weren’t any signs of life until we saw a wild donkey on the side of the road. We drove more and pulled onto a dirt road with white UA trucks. We placed our gear into the pickups and drove another 45 minutes up a canyon with winding, hairpin turns with over one-hundred-foot drops on the side. I never looked out my window. On the way, our driver told us about a story of a runner who veered off the trail during a training run from being delirious and died from heat exhaustion. I was thinking, What are they trying to do to us? We decided that we would stay in groups and never run alone. When we reached the top and were dropped off in the middle of nowhere, we saw our UA reps. Everyone was pumped. We quickly changed into our running gear, and we were warmed up by Sandra, a UA run coach, immediately.

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We started in an abandoned mining town, Leadfield, located in Titus Canyon. The pack stayed together for the first mile and then we began to separate into groups of four. We were heading downhill, which felt great for the first two miles. Guys from Resident Runners and I flew downhill at a sub-seven pace. We approached mile five and noticed we were still going downhill. It seemed like there were never-ending, winding twists and turns and, it was a task trying not to turn an ankle running on a gravel path. The views were great. Every few minutes someone would say, “Wow, look at that!” This was probably my favorite run, and I never ran 11 miles that easily and fast.

 

Once we were done, we headed to lunch. We were told by Molly, our cool driver, group manager, planner etc., that lunch would be a clue of how dinner would be. We pulled up to a picnic area and were handed a weird package of food. She then started to set up a portable stove. We would use that to boil the water to place in our dehydrated packages of food. I ate the dairy-free spicy beef chili and mac and cheese (it took a lot of salt and pepper to give it taste).

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After lunch, we headed to meet up with a crew of drivers that took us on a Jeep tour through the desert. It was cool! We stopped by the Devil’s Golf Course which has these huge salt crystal formations. Afterwards, we continued on throughout the desert. This was the first time we saw groups of tourists checking out desert landmarks. We headed back to meet up with Molly at a nice resort within Death Valley. Everyone got excited. We saw a swimming pool, tennis courts and basketball courts. Most of us were excited to get a chance to take a shower. We all thought we were going to spend our night there, but as soon as we all got out Molly told us to head back into the van and not to touch our gear bag. She said she had a surprise for us. We drove about 45 minutes on a bumpy, dirt path and in the distance we could see bags lined up in the middle of the desert. Everyone in our group said, “Oh hell no! What is going on?” We got out of the van and there were book bags, sleeping bags, tents, and folding chairs with our names on it. Two people were assigned to each tent. Immediately our group went crazy, cursing, and letting poor Molly have it. We couldn’t believe we were staying overnight in tiny tents on the desert floor. We eventually got the tents put up, and Molly suggested that we begin to figure out what we will eat for dinner before it gets dark at 6pm (It was already 3 pm). It was almost dark and Kellie, our survival expert, appeared and was impressed that dinner was being prepared and our tents were up. She had a chat with us and had guidelines from the park ranger regarding our stay overnight in the desert. There was a long list of rules. Most importantly, we couldn’t throw any trash on the ground, leave food opened, and nothing could touch the ground other than water. If we had to do a “number two” outside, we had to dig a hole using a shovel and cover it up. The toilet paper would have to be placed in a bear container. While on the campsite, we saw two tarantulas. After that, everyone was on the lookout. It had gotten completely dark at 6 pm. You couldn’t see a few feet ahead of you without a flash light. But this is when we started to get the most comfortable. We knew we had no choice but to deal with being out there. We sat around and joked for a couple of hours until we went to bed. It was only 7:30 pm, but it seemed like it was midnight. I wrote in my journal that was provided by UA for most of the night and listened to music. I finally fell asleep and it was tough. Every noise I heard outside of the tent, I would jump up. It was hard to sleep because there were rocks all over the desert floor in my back. I slept for maybe 3 hours total and woke up around 4:15 am happy to be alive and to see the entire group was intact.

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We had a 5:15 am shuttle pickup time to take us to a yoga session. I was so happy to see Molly and the shuttle van. I didn’t want to spend another minute in a tent. We headed up about 40 minutes to the top of a mountain peak named Dante’s View. It was dark and freezing. When we arrived, we saw candles lined up along the ledge of the mountain. Yoga was led by Nichole Avery. She helped stretch out all of the soreness from the run before and from sleeping on the desert ground. For most of us, she helped us stretch out our soreness individually as she walked around. I will never forget her saying, “We want happy spines, no sad spines”, as she helped me straightened up my back. We left yoga and headed back to the campsite to pack our equipment and to eat breakfast.

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Breakfast was the usual dehydrated food, oatmeal, fruit, and random snacks. I was so over eating pretzels and snap peas; I just wanted real food. We were told to eat as much as we can, continue to drink plenty of water, and to make sure to take our hydration packs and signal mirror for this run. We knew it would be serious. We packed the shuttle and headed on another long drive. Along the ride, mostly everyone was sleeping. Along the road, we started to see signs with the message, “Caution Runners Ahead”. We had no clue where we were going, but these signs gave us clues to where we were going to run. We drove for about six miles on that road seeing these signs and then we made a sudden turn off the winding road, headed onto a dirt road. This road seemed like it would never end. We continued on the road until we reached a dead end where we saw a UA tent filled with the other group runners. We stretched and did a dynamic warmup led by Sandra. It felt like we were being prepared for battle almost. I was getting my back and ribs taped by the medical staff. I saw some others getting their ankles taped and putting sunscreen on their bodies from head to toe. We did a UA chant to get everyone hyped and we were off.

We took off in a large pack down the dirt path of Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. I can’t believe at one time it was once the ocean floor. The terrain was filled with rocks and sand, and the sides were filled with hardened salt crystals. Because of all of the runners’ dust that was everywhere, my nose and throat were completely dry. By mile two, the packs started to separate and smaller groups were formed. We could tell it would be a rough day. I managed to catch up to Team 1, filled with mostly ultra-runners and triathletes and I was determined to stay with them. I knew there was no way I could run alone in the lonely desert.

By mile nine, everyone started to get delirious, but we kept pushing. We could see aid stations in the distance, but it seemed like they were so far away as we saw the winding hills and turns. I was with a fun group though. We made up a pineapple song along the run and throughout, everyone was looking forward to drinking for the post-run celebration (Specifically, Fireball and Gin and Tonic). We were on the dirt for about 10 miles, and we turned onto the main road. It got much easier once we hopped on this road. It felt natural, and there wasn’t any dust. We ran in single-file along the shoulder of the road, going up and down rolling hills and trying to get each car that passed by to honk. When they did, we would give a huge cheer. We had no clue how long we were going to run, so we tried to enjoy every minute of it. At the last aid station, someone told us that we only had three miles to go. Everyone got pumped and decided we were going to finish strong as a group. As we approached the finish line, we locked arms and crossed. It was the most climatic finish to a run I have ever experienced.

We finished at a resort, and we headed inside where some people got massages, V12 shot, or got hooked up to an IV machine. I was just happy I was able to take a shower finally. They had an open bar cocktail reception and dinner for all of the participants, and that was the most fun. We finally got a chance to mingle with all of the other groups and got to relax. Things escalated quickly, and we hung out for most of the night. It was a good way to end the tough weekend.

This run camp challenged us both mentally and physically and forced us to overcome adversity and the unknown. Looking back, it helped prepare us to become stronger as individuals and as runners, and I am happy that I got the chance to participate.

About Clifton Light: I’m a DRC captain, and I’ve been running with the crew for three years. I #RUNDRC to inspire the community and my peers to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

We Will: DRC Takes On The Baltimore Running Festival

By Kimberly Kirby

At last!

It was finally race weekend, and I could not wait to join my DRC family in Baltimore.  I remember that Friday before the race really, really well.  My bags had already been packed for 24 hours due to my excitement about running my first half marathon with my running family.  I kept thinking about what it was going to feel like spending a whole weekend with them. I also felt extremely blessed that we would kick off the weekend at the Under Armour Headquarters for a tour and shakeout run.

Before heading to the Under Armour Headquarters, I met the crew at the Marriott hotel.  This was also the first time that I saw the other Under Armour-sponsored run crews! They didn’t even treat us like we were a separate run crew — it really felt like one team, one family. I was so very excited after meeting the runners from Harlem Run and Resident Runners, and I could not wait to board the bus with them and go “home” to the UA Headquarters. It really felt like Team UA on the bus!

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As soon as the shuttle bus reached the beautiful UA campus, I noticed their photographers snapping photos as soon as we walked off of the bus.  It felt really special that they were documenting every single thing from our visit. The next thing that I noticed was a group of runners from Dunbar High school.  They were in their practice uniforms, and these young men looked so excited to share their time with everyone. I was extremely proud to have these high school seniors experiencing this moment with us. I knew then that we were there for more than a tour and a shakeout run. We were there to connect with other runners who love to build community through health and fitness. We were there to hear from the UA brand and as to why it was supporting us and our running goals so much.  We were there to build a connection, a family, and memories.

During the tour, I specifically remember seeing on the huge touchscreen display, “Under Armour Welcomes Run Crews.” There were a LOT of pictures from DRC, Harlem Run, and Resident Runners on THEIR UA screen. It was unbelievable.  I became so overwhelmed with emotion and grateful that they took the energy to put together such a touching and awesome welcoming display.  It really added a personal touch to our visit.

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The actual shakeout run was amazing! I have only been running since March 2016 and I run at a real beginner’s pace.  When we gathered for the run with UA Coach Sandra, I remember saying to myself, “Everybody is a faster runner than you!!!” To me, it felt like they all TOOK OFF at a lightning-speed pace.  My beginner’s legs were freaking out during the run, and my mind tried to tell me that I should have stayed back and skipped the run.  Nobody made me feel like a beginner runner though.  As I struggled to keep up, I met Alison from Harlem Run, and she took the time to get to know me along with some of her other teammates.  I didn’t yet know at that moment that she was the “Powered Feet” person that I had been following on Instagram.  What I did know during that moment was that I felt included and not excluded during my “struggle run.”   Another thing that was powerful during this run was the fact that I met a young man who had never made it to a DRC run on a Wednesday.  We ran together on the way back and he asked me a lot of questions about DRC and our run days. I was so excited that I had another opportunity to share my love for DRC with a new person! I could barely breathe, let alone talk, because I was trying to keep up with the group; but somehow I was able to speak to him.  I’m pretty sure I talked his ear off because at the end of the run he told me, “I’m going to come to DRC one day.” THIS made me forget about how tired I was, and we both ran back to headquarters together.  He thanked me for running with him and for me this was reversed déjà vu. I’m always the one thanking somebody for running with me; I’m not used to anyone thanking me. For me, this is the DRC experience coming full circle. Some days you need the crew to help you run and other days you are helping somebody else run. It’s amazing!!!! I would have NEVER thought I could help anybody else…other than myself. 😀

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When we returned to campus from the run, we learned some great stretches from Coach Sandra. I was worried that I wouldn’t even be able to run the half marathon the next day because I was so tired from the shakeout! Once we did some painful, yet amazing stretches, I felt like a brand new person.  This part was extra special to me because everybody was feeling some sort of pain during the stretching and we were all recovering together. It felt like a real team!  We were all listening and doing the same stretches at the same time. There was something communal and special about this moment. I can’t exactly put it into words; I was just so grateful that I was a part of it.

Fast forwarding to the actual race day!

Under Armour gave us the honor and privilege of “all-access” to their tent for the entire race day.  This really made me feel supported as I was about to venture into my very first half marathon. I felt reassured that if I needed anything, it was all in the UA tent.  This was a huge relief, and any anxiety that I was feeling went away!  The tent had all of the recovery tools that a runner could ever need after a race. I felt so grateful for UA supporting us during our race.

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I will never forget what it was like when I finally arrived to my wave group. I was Wave #5, which was the very last one, and I could not have been more proud that I made it to this very moment.  As I waited for the half marathon to start, I could see the marathoners run past our wave and I cheered them on. This was the calm before the storm. I was awaiting my chance to run 13.1 miles, and I was wondering if the hills were really as bad as everybody told me they were.  As soon as my race started, I learned very quickly that the hills were absolutely terrible! There was a hill right at the very beginning of the race!  I became nervous, but I just ran right along with everybody else, praying for the best.

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The Baltimore Running Festival’s half marathon was an incredible experience. The hills kept coming, one right after the other. I really was starting to feel like this was a cruel joke by mile five.  Never in my life have I experienced so many hills during one run, and I couldn’t believe how fast they kept coming.  Baltimore has an incredibly supportive running community. It seemed like the whole city was on the sidelines cheering throughout the entire course! Community members were yelling encouragement, blasting music from their cars, giving out treats, you name it! They were there for us as we ran each mile. Around mile six is where my left leg started to give out. I couldn’t feel it! My mind tried to freak out and become scared, but I had to just keep moving.  Shortly after realizing that my leg was in so much pain and basically not functioning, I heard “Hey girl!” I then felt a hand on my shoulder and another voice saying, “Hey!!!” I turned and Alison was on my left and Clif (one of our DRC captains) was on my right. I was so happy I forgot all about my leg! They stopped to ask me how I was doing, and I told them I was in pain. Alison asked where, and I showed her. She assured me that I was in pain from all of the hills. For some reason, this soothed my worry. I’m not sure why, but as soon as she said that I felt like I could run the rest of the race. It was simply the hills’ fault and not mine! Clif told me that I was doing well and to keep it up. I was so happy to have some love from my people and to see some familiar faces! As they told me to keep it up and ran to finish their races, I was running with a huge smile on my face.  Just that small moment of time spent with some really dope runners made me feel like I was a part of the team. I no longer was the new girl trying to keep up with the group. They easily could have just run by me, but they didn’t. They saw me, noticed me and spoke to me.  This made me feel like what we were building were true relationships. Relationships matter and to build relationships through running just takes a bond to a different level.

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Somewhere between miles seven and nine is where the pain really became unbearable. My leg was really hurting, and the hills kept coming! I was really about to take a turn on “Doubt Lane” and stop running. Right when I was thinking about stopping, I heard another familiar voice. I looked and it was Ashlee, another one of our DRC captains! At this point, I felt like they were more like my guardian angels. They kept showing up right when I needed somebody! Ashlee walked with me and asked me how I was doing. I told her the same story about how my leg was hurting. She told me to drink more water to try to ease the cramps, so I did just that!  She then asked me if I was ready to run or if I wanted to walk.  I told her I wanted to try to run with her just to get me going again. So off we went. She ran, and I was right behind her…not for very long though! I was so happy because once I started running with her I never stopped again! I also never thought about “Doubt Lane!” I just couldn’t believe how much that time spent with her really changed my mindset.  Knowing that somebody else cared enough about you to ask how you were doing and to run with you at your pace just to motivate you is incredible!

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So there I was, wrapping up the last part of my very first half marathon. I was absolutely exhausted. I just couldn’t believe how hard this race was, and all I wanted was a bed!  The sun seemed to be getting hotter the longer I ran! That wasn’t very helpful, as I never knew that my body could produce such a large amount of sweat (ewww!). I felt absolutely gross and weak.  As I ran my 11th mile, I ran right into the DRC Cheer Squad! I was so happy! They were absolutely LOUD, HAPPY, and AMAZING! I forgot all about my leg, and I ran to them as if they were my long-lost family members. I wanted to give them high fives and hugs all at the same time.  A few of them actually ran with me just to get my spirits up. I just couldn’t believe it. Seeing their energy gave me energy.  A confetti bomb went off, and my hands were up! I was so happy!!! They gave me life, and I absolutely love confetti! This is when I officially knew that I was not in this race by myself.  The support from DRC is just overwhelming. I wanted to cry happy tears, but I didn’t have any energy left to do so. For once, I felt like I belonged in a community that supported me no matter what.  I really cannot get over the fact that this is a group of real people who literally love to run and support other runners.  As I crossed the finish line, I felt so very proud of myself. Yes I was in a lot of pain, but it was all worth it.  As I walked to receive my medal, I saw another DRC captain…Carlos! This was special to me because he is the captain of my pace group on Wednesdays….Go Cruisers!!!  So, there I was with another familiar face receiving my very first medal for 13.1 miles.  I remember that I was in so much pain walking back to the UA tent, and he was right there to make sure that I was okay just like Ashlee, Clif and Alison did.  It’s automatic…If you are a part of a run crew, the run crew has your back!  We ran that race together, and we fought together. We recovered together, and we will get back out there and do this all over again someday…together.  Under Armour has a popular mantra that is very encouraging. The mantra simply states, “I Will.” Because I had so much love and support from Team UA (DRC, Harlem Run and Resident Runners) this weekend, I completely feel that it’s fitting that my mantra is now “We Will.”

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About Kimberly:

I joined DRC in March 2016 and it was really “love at first run”.   I actually quit running four years prior after a really hard race in Cape Cod.  DRC allowed me to heal a wound I never wanted to heal.  I never thought I would run again, and DRC has made me believe that I’ll never think about quitting anything else ever again in life. I’ll just keep trying harder to achieve my goals in all areas of my life.  I feel blessed that my faith led me to a church where I met a friend who then led me to DRC.  Life is good!

 

I Put On For My City: My Chicago Marathon Experience

By Chasity Cooper
October 9th, 2016, I accomplished one of the biggest goals that I had set for myself in the last year. And while crossing the finish line in my hometown of Chicago was definitely one of the most gratifying moments of my young adulthood, the journey leading up to the 26.2 miles wasn’t always easy.
 Here’s my story. 
My training for Chicago officially began at the end of June, which also commenced of one of the hottest summers that I’ve experienced since moving to The District almost six years ago. I quickly learned that my best bet would be to run early in the morning before the sun came up or after work at sunset. There were days when I was uber motivated to get those miles and others when I absolutely dreaded lacing up my sneaks to hit the pavement. But I knew that this process would be an ultimate test of discipline.
When you’re training for a marathon, there are a lot of things you must sacrifice because of your training schedule. Multiple times, I turned down joining friends for #SummerFriday happy hours and other social events because I had to get up early (read: 5 am) and run over 10 miles the next day. My diet didn’t change drastically, but I did stop drinking hard liquor (but not red wine, of course) and eating certain foods for almost a month leading up to the race.
Giving up these things, while they may seem difficult to some, were a test of my strength, focus and dedication to running. If I wanted to fully enjoy my first marathon experience, I knew that I was going to have to let go of some things in order to get to where I wanted and needed to be.
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The morning of October 8th, I took my own shakeout run to Leone Park Beach in Chicago near my mom’s crib and as I stood on a ledge that overlooked Lake Michigan, I couldn’t help but feel at peace for the first time since I began my training. All of the sweat, tears and time I put into practice were finally going to be tested on that beautiful 26.2 mile route that I had heard so much about. The days leading up to Sunday’s race were probably the most beautiful because I received a great outpouring of love and support from so many of my friends and family that left me feeling motivated and even more ready to tackle this journey.
Race day typically brings on so many emotions, but I’d have to say excitement outweighed them all. I didn’t run with music, nor with my Nike+ App on, because I wanted to absorb my phone battery every sight and sound that I would encounter along the route. It wasn’t until Mile 15 that I really started feeling pain in my knees, so I had to amend my strategy a little bit. But nothing will ever beat the feeling  that I felt running past the DRC + ThreeRun2 Cheer Squad at Mile 18. The confetti cannon (along with Ashlee, Corey and Jasmine running at my side) gave me so much life and a moment in time that I’ll certainly cherish forever.
Confetti.jpgAs I approached Mile 26, I heard a voice call out from my left and, sure enough, it was my Mom and sister clapping and cheering from the crowd. Definitely a proud family moment for sure.
I honestly couldn’t believe my entire life once I crossed the finish line. Knees and shins were shot, face was super salty and ashy, back hurt like crazy – but I got my medal.
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Before I end this post, I must take this time to give a few shout-outs:
  • My mom + sister Llyoandra for waking up super early on Race Day and venturing to Downtown Chicago among the millions of spectators to support me.
  • My friends Kelley, Jordan and Ashley (pictured above) for taking a car, train and bike share to come cheer me on *lol*
  • My co-workers Tali + Heidi for helping me get those extra miles in after work hours.
  • My entire DRC family, but specifically Keshia, Rob, Jasmine, Traci, Yves, and Tai, who helped push me during those longer runs across The District on Saturdays. Thanks for dealing with my complaining and what not, y’all. 😉
  • And of course, a host of amazing family, friends, and co-workers for sending nothing but love, encouragement and good vibes my way before, during and after my marathon.
I was super proud to not only represent my hometown, but DRC as I crossed the finish line of my first marathon. This was definitely an experience like none other, and I can’t wait to challenge myself to become a better athlete in the months and years to come. GooseIsland.jpg
About Chasity Cooper:
I began running with DRC in March 2015 for two reasons: one, because I had to fit into a bridesmaid’s dress for my cousin’s wedding by July 1 and two, because I knew I wanted to challenge myself to try something new. My first run was beyond dramatic (I really thought I wasn’t going to make it) but thanks to some extra encouragement from Ashlee, I finished and even returned the next week. Soon, I would discover that running was more than just a way to stay in shape –it was a new world of community and support for me. 

iRunDRC because it’s family. Yes we come together to run miles, train for races and celebrate our athletic successes, but we also challenge and support one other in other facets of our lives. I’ve built friendships with individuals who I don’t think I would’ve met otherwise. I’m forever grateful for the camaraderie and proud to run with such an amazing group of people.

Midnight on Mars IV: An Experience Out of This World!

By Kimberly Kirby

 

Butterflies, smiles, and a racing heartbeat…

These were my feelings from the marvelous Midnight on Mars IV weekend.  I could not wait to go to the Friday welcome party.  As I walked into Lab 1270, I was blown away because it was absolutely perfect for a “runners lab.”

I loved everything about the beautifully rugged space.  I felt right at home as I took pictures of all of the DRC swag. For me, it was DRC heaven.  It was at that moment that I realized I truly was a part of something special. I always knew in my heart that DRC was special, but to see everything mounted on the walls and all around took my love for the squad to another level.

I was able to share my love for DRC with two inquisitive ladies. My main focus was to be able to influence one of the ladies to come out on Saturday! She was on the fence, and I was so happy that she took a risk and joined us. I was so excited to welcome a new person to our crew, and I absolutely could not wait to return on Saturday.

When I woke up the next morning, I had a million-and-one things to do before I could see my crew.  All I could think was “Hurry up, lady. You have to get to your squad.” I knew that once I made it back to Lab 1270, everything would be right in the world again.

As I arrived back to the venue, I was SO IMPRESSED to see the professional photographer!!!  I am in love with pictures, and I could not WAIT to take a picture (or two) in my DRC gear!  This really sealed the deal for me. Not only did I get to spend two days with my crew, I was able to capture this very weekend all in a professional picture. I was truly in PURE BLISS!

Another thing that impressed me was seeing old and new faces all wearing the same shirts. This was a unifying moment for me. I didn’t know everyone, but I at least knew that everyone was here for the same reason — to run The District.

Fast forwarding to the actual night run…

We were separated into two waves, took our traditional group picture, and then we were off!  All I remember were the memories that I made with my fellow running buddies and that dreadful 14th street hill.  I really wanted to turn around and go back to Lab 1270, but I couldn’t. I had my whole squad there pumping their arms right alongside of me. Everyone was encouraging me to keep going, and so I did.  The actual run was a complete struggle for me, but I didn’t give up. I actually ended up running one of my fastest 5Ks ever.  I couldn’t believe that I did so well, even after the hill and feeling like death.  As I ran to the finish area, my two friends were motivating me to sprint. Actually, they were yelling and I needed it! I sprinted all the way to the end to be welcomed by our awesome receiving line. I grabbed my medal, and all I could ask was, “Where’s the water?!”

Just as the run ended, we THEN were off to the DC Pavilion where we partied with THE Black Alley Band. This was the icing on the cake for me. There are two things that I love: dancing and running. I was able to do both of these things with the squad that I hold near and dear to my heart. Nobody really could tell me a thing! I was on Cloud 1000!

I really could go on and on about this past weekend. I’ll end this rambling post with one thought: Join our run crew and watch how you grow in running and in relationship-building. It’s truly a wonderful and freeing thing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. THANK YOU, DRC!

 

About Kimberly:

I joined DRC in March 2016 and it was really “love at first run”.   I actually quit running four years prior after a really hard race in Cape Cod.  DRC allowed me to heal a wound I never wanted to heal.  I never thought I would run again, and DRC has made me believe that I’ll never think about quitting anything else ever again in life. I’ll just keep trying harder to achieve my goals in all areas of my life.  I feel blessed that my faith led me to a church where I met a friend who then led me to DRC.  Life is good!

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