This morning the first runners took off to start a 178-mile relay race around Lake Tahoe, through Genoa and Virginia City and back to Reno. The Reno Tahoe Odyssey is unlike any other race and is far from a competition for most. Around 260 teams gather to support each other and have a great time as they run a beautiful historic and scenic course. Each runner averages three legs of the race and survives on little to no sleep. Thousands of people come together for one event with little competition and a ton of camaraderie.
To the runners:
Cheers to you! You said “Yes” to this crazy idea! Maybe you ran last year and maybe this is your 13th year running, and you came back and said “Yes” again. Committing to your team, training for your miles and preparing for the unexpected, this race is no easy feat. This is a true physical and mental challenge. The people who come back year after year and the ones who spontaneously agree to participate, these are all of the people who make this event so much fun. It is hard to commit to the unknown and it is also hard to commit to repeating something you know was extremely challenging that you have done before.
It is far from glamorous as you spend 26+ hours in a van with people running and sweating, and trying their best to sleep through adrenaline. You might be sleeping in a hotel at the lake, in the Walmart parking lot, or in your van. Here’s to you for stepping out of your comfort zones to be willing to push your limits and grow through discomfort.
Recognize your supporters. Every runner gets to do this kind of race that lasts two whole days because of someone else. Someone who supports what they are doing. They support the adventure and the challenge. Maybe they are watching your kids while you run, making meals for your team, or even just the one saying, “yeah, go for it!” when you presented this wild idea. These people are the balance that allows you to develop yourself and become resilient.
Once you finish the race you will be completely wiped out, but you and your team will be united and proud because you all did it. You will be stronger, more resilient, and more likely to do an adventurous challenge again. Nothing feels better than running to the finish line of your leg with your team cheering you on. Runners, get out there and cheer everyone on, push yourself, and have an amazing time! I will be running leg 12 so I hope to see you all at the finish line! Good luck to all of the teams!
A few years ago a friend asked me if I wanted to volunteer to be a coach for Girls on the Run Sierras, the Nevada/California branch of Girls on the Run International. I just had my son and I was beginning to go back to school for my MBA, and I felt like my plate was full, but I decided to give it a shot anyway and make the time. My dad volunteered to coach all of mine and my siblings’ sports teams growing up, and I thought it would be fun to be on that side of the sport.
Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization that inspires girls to be happy, healthy and confident through an experienced-based curriculum that integrates running. The program is for girls 3rd-5th grade, and 6th-8th grade, and focuses on building girls up in a team environment so that they can learn to support each other, embrace their differences, and recognize their own limitless potential. Through lessons and practice, girls learn to understand their own values at a young age, and gain confidence to make decisions for themselves that are in line with those values. They learn gratitude, compassion, and build resilience through running. At the end of the season the girls all run a 5k so they can see what all of their hard work had led them to accomplish.
“We believe that every girl can embrace who she is, can define who she wants to be, can rise to any challenge, can change the world.”
When I started as a coach, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be a good fit because it was hard to connect with the girls as a new coach in the first few lessons, and I wondered what experience I had that would actually make a difference for them. Over time we built up a relationship as I learned more about each individual girl. I learned about their dreams, their home life, things that happen at school, and concerns they had about friends and relationships. As I got more and more into coaching, I was so engaged because I felt like I was actually making a difference. I didn’t have any life-changing wisdom for them, but just being there was what mattered. Having a coach who comes to practice everyday and shows them that they are important to the team, and is there for them when they need to talk; that is what they needed.
This organization is so inspiring as they work every season to teach girls self-reliance, strength, and values. Everything they do revolves around the idea that they can do whatever they put their minds to and are willing to work for, and that girls should build each other up rather than tear each other down. Having girls experience this kind of support system before they hit middle school leads them to have confidence and a growth mindset, which can give them a major advantage in the brutal middle school years.
I learned so much about myself from volunteering and really expanded my circles of concern and awareness. I learned that I can make time for whatever it is that I care about, and that I shouldn’t be limited to caring about the things that only effect me or are visible to me. Although I remember how tough it was in those years as a girl, helping young girls going through the same struggles just wasn’t on my radar. Doing something that I normally wouldn’t do led me to have this life-changing experience that I will always value. Those girls are always on my mind, and when I see them continuing to succeed with the principles they learned through Girls on the Run, I know they are going to go on to do great things.
Consider how you can help someone or an organization in your community. Even if you are not sure how to help, sometimes just being there for support or giving your time can make a big difference to someone in need. Like the values behind this organization? You can donate to Girls on the Run Sierras HERE, which supports the program and sponsors girls who don’t have the financial resources to join the program. Girls on the Run always need running buddies to volunteer to run with the girls and support them on their 5k. If you live in Reno, head down to a Reno Aces game on May 14th, where a portion of the proceeds from every ticket benefits Girls on the Run, Sierras.
It seems like every week there is a different running event going on in Reno. In April, there are going to be at least 9 different races, each with different themes and charities to benefit, and that is not even including the Tahoe area. The running community in Reno has exploded in the last 10 years. Participate in one 5k and it will all make sense why.
I grew up running in sports, but after high school it was harder to find the motivation without a coach telling you what to do and a team who you would let down if you slacked in your practice. I decided to run my first 5k when I was about 3 months pregnant with my first son. It was the Leprechaun Chase in downtown Reno and I felt confident because I had the best excuse ever if I needed to walk or was taking it slow. I was pretty intimidated and had no idea what to expect. What I found was that there were a lot of really fast runners, but also slow runners, walkers, parents pushing strollers, kids, and grandparents all running together. Families and friends cheered on strangers from the sidelines with motivational signs and chants. When I finished, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and I felt like part of this incredibly supportive community of people who were all doing this thing together.
Since then I have ran numerous races in Reno and Tahoe, and this will be my 5th year running the Reno Tahoe Odyssey, a 178 mile, 12 person relay race around the Reno/Tahoe area. Running has given me a sense of empowerment over my health, happiness and my ability to meet goals. I have learned to accept failures and to praise myself for my efforts. Overall I have become much more resilient, and that has given me confidence to take on other goals that I might have otherwise felt were out of my reach.
Here are just a few of the ways that running adds value to your personal development journey:
There are a lot of factors (technology, careers, families, busy lifestyles) that contribute to making it harder for us to find the time and confidence to connect with others. We naturally crave connections with others, and it is so important to invest your time into something where you feel a sense of belonging; where you are part of a tribe. They push you to be your best and elp lift you back up when you are at your worst. In a running community, everyone is at a different level and no one judges your speed or your process, but rather they praise you for just being there and giving your best. It is a great discipline to teach yourself strength, not only physically to push through when you feel weak, but also mentally to talk yourself through it and believe that you can succeed. Belonging to a group lets you see that people are not judging you, and that they value your presence, and helps you work on accepting others and letting go of your own judgments.
There are a lot of curve balls that life throws at us, but with running, you are in complete control. You set your goals, find motivation from within, and tell yourself when it is time to push harder, take it easy, or call it a day. Your performance is the outcome that comes solely from the motivation you give yourself and the actions you take. There’s no one else to blame if the outcome isn’t what you expected, and there is a lot of personal accountability that comes from that. There’s also a lot of personal gratification and there’s nothing like the feeling of running that last stretch to the finish line and knowing that all of your hard work has paid off. The best part; the only way to fail is to give up. You ran 5 miles yesterday and only a half mile today? Awesome! You got out there and did it. Small efforts still make a contribution to your goals; don’t give up.
Resilience and Confidence
Running isn’t easy, especially if you are just getting started. Every season when I start to train for the Odyssey, I am dying trying to run a few miles. It is something that you work on day after day and you can definitely set yourself up for failure if your goals aren’t realistic or if your negative self-talk is overpowering you. When you come across something that is physically and mentally difficult and you are able to push through that and keep going, that resiliency that you build up spreads to other aspects of your life. You start to see that you are strong and what you are capable of if you really apply yourself, and that is a powerful feeling.
If you live in Reno, check out a list of upcoming races here, and even more are listed at www.race178.com. Regardless of the level you are at now, I encourage you to sign up for a 5k in your city, even if you want to walk it. You might surprise yourself how much fun you have while setting goals for yourself, building strong transferrable skills and most likely benefitting some local charities too.