“Biking is boring, a waste of time and in no way going to make me stronger,” said no one ever! I love biking but when my boyfriend and his posse started coaxing me into racing I said “no way”. Why? Because I am slow and the only girl in the group. After constant nagging I signed up for a race in Temecula, CA. Let’s just say it did not go well! Mile after mile of torture, watching many people pass, I just wanted to sit down and wish for it all to be over. Then, out of nowhere a voice wishing me good luck for making it as far as I had and to “keep pushing girl” gave me a boost. This chick was racing with streamers on her handlebars, how kick ass is that? I later discovered it was Angela, Team Tough Chik Co-captain. I set out on a mission to find out what TTC was all about. To my surprise it was a group for all shapes and sizes! I quickly signed up and could not be happier about my decision to join a group that supports me, yes me! That girl who always stood on the sidelines knowing she could do what the guys were doing (if not better) was finally a part of something bigger than herself. It’s a good feeling to know that when I am down or off track with my fitness I know I can turn to the Tough Chik ladies for a boost of support. And, when I race, I see TTC racers beside me having a great time. That is what being a Tough Chik means to me. We are Tough Chiks and this is what tough looks like!
I have been back at running now for a long while and continue to beat that voice that tells me “I am not good enough”. However, now I feel more ready for support and running friendships. I have pushed past that initial mental hump on my own and continue to stick to my love for running. Yet, I remain pretty alone. This is partially my own fault. I admit to having a wall around me, but those who have taken the time to get to know me realize it comes down pretty easily. It is simply a protective part of my personality. I live in a smaller town and there are not a lot of running groups around here, not like the ones some of my friends in other cities are part of. So at the beginning of this year when I was introduced to a group called Team Tough Chik that was started by Shannon, the amazing creator of Tough Chik clothing, I knew I had to join. I knew I was ready for more support. In fact I not only knew I was ready for it, but I knew I needed it. I may be a loner runner in many ways, but it does not mean I do not crave those running friendships that others have even if at this point it is only virtual. This group also came during a time when I needed it emotionally. I was feeling hurt and like even more of an outsider than usual because a group had started in my community and it was one I was not invited to be a part of. This led me to feeling even more like an outsider and internally I was screaming out “Hey, give me a chance. Get to know me.”. I write about this here because I have grown to accept that hurt and own it. That hurt led me to Team Tough Chik. Why? One of the reasons I have stuck to running is because I have met the most amazing “virtual” running friends. I was never a sports girl in my younger years because I never liked the competitive nature of it all. That is why I always enjoyed running. I could go out there and cheer others on and they would do the same in return. This is the same reason I still love running. It does not matter what size you are, how fast you are, or what your goals are…………..I can guarantee you someone will be cheering for you. When you go to a race the atmosphere is not just competitive, but more exhilarating than anything. Everyone is there for their own reasons and no matter how fast or how slow, each person is respected because they are a runner. I will cheer on everyone, even those who may not cheer on me. Just like on race day the fastest runner will still cheer on their competition. It does not matter. All walls are broken down. That is one reason I love running and why I love Team Tough Chik. This team came to me during a time when I knew I was ready to step out of my shell and look for more support. I may be a loner runner, but I know to reach my running dreams/goals I need friendships and support. This is not something I can do on my own. Through Team Tough Chik I have met the most amazing women. There are cyclists, triathletes, and runners galore on the team. Together we cheer each other on, offer advice, and give genuine group hugs when needed. For the first time in my journey back with running I feel like my dreams are attainable and I truly have this group to thank for that. I do not feel so alone anymore. Of course now I have an even longer bucket list too because now I would love to meet each of my team mates. I finally feel like I have a community I belong in. I place where I can “talk shop” and be welcome. It is a place where I have many times mentioned my loner or shy side and been told it is okay. After all, I may be a confident woman and happy with the person I am yet I am still human. It is always nice to know that you are welcome and accepted. As a member of Team Tough Chik I always feel that way. This group has even given me the courage to step way out of my comfort zone and start a Moms Run This Town group here locally where I can meet other running moms within my community and nearby. Being a member of Team Tough Chik has shown me it is okay to be the quiet loner, but you should also be willing to share yourself with others. Allow people into your life and show them how you shine.