This month, I wanted to introduce you to Audrey…newly appointed BAMR, and member of Twisted Sisters.   All of the ladies on our Twisted Sisters team have done relays before.  Only one of us has been lucky enough to participate in CLR (Nicole).    While most of us are fresh off our relay experiences, Audrey had to reach back to 1998 for her last relay memories.  Here’s a little bit about Audrey and the Why and How she is taking on CLR after such a long running hiatus.

Rewind the time clock to 2012, Audrey was turning 40.  She wanted to usher in a new decade by feeling better about herself.  She started running, in part because it was the only thing she knew she could fit into her day, and also because she had a treadmill and running shoes.  She would need to move the clothes that were currently draped over the treadmill, but all in all, running seemed like the most convenient way to get in some exercise.

And, she had these two crazy neighbor gals who seemed to enjoy it.

Audrey started out by running a mile, then gradually working her way up to longer distances.  Running wasn’t something she particularly enjoyed or looked forward to.  Her hips started to hurt, so she stopped out of fear of risking further injury.  She had been down that road before, and didn’t really see the benefit of pushing on with something that she just wasn’t all that in to.

Having signed on to run a few Hood to Coast relays (1997 and 1998) with her work team in while in her late (and injury free youthful) 20’s,  Audrey had experience as a runner.  However, she had never run more than 5 miles during her training, and she had never run any other kind of race.

Now fast forward to summer 2013, and those crazy running neighbors of hers…

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Amy and I were fresh off of Hood to Coast with our Twisted Sisters team.  By “fresh off” I mean we had finally showered all of the sand out of everywhere, and my van was airing out.  We were trying to stay awake, having a lovely Sunday BBQ over at Audrey’s house, reminiscing about our crazy weekend adventure.

There had already been talk about trying for a different relay the next summer among our Twisted Sisters team, and Cascade Lakes was the one we all wanted to do.  Audrey, lover of all things Central Oregon, said “the only thing that would get me running again would be to do a relay in Central Oregon.”  Challenge Accepted.  I told her if we got a spot in CLR, she would have a spot on our team.

Audrey went for a run the very next day.

Why, you ask?  Here’s why… in her own words.

“I love the mountains and stark contrasts between water, red dirt, brown rock, and blue sky.  I especially love how wide open it always feels – the sky and horizon and desert – so different from home, yet not so far away.   And before I even ran (again), I loved the idea of running alone and mindfully in that sort of environment, being surrounded by the jaw-dropping beauty and the awe of nature.  I imagined that the scenery would make my personal achievement more deeply moving and life-affirming.”

She was excited about the experience that potentially awaited her, but scared because her hips hurt again.  Feeling a little defeated and scared Audrey brought up the pain over a bottle of wine.  As we discussed her plan to return to running, hopefully pain free, and actually enjoying it, I mentioned the Galloway Method.

Thankfully, Audrey embraced this whole-heartedly and never looked back.   Kick-starting her training with the run-walk method (3 min run/2 min walk) gave her the confidence to ramp up her mileage without risking injury.  She enjoyed the fact that she could breathe easily, and just when it was starting to feel like too much, it was time to walk again.

The beauty of the run/walk method is that you give your body critical recovery time before it is desperately begging for it.  And then when it’s time, you’re ready to go again, because you didn’t empty your tank before stopping to walk.

Since beginning to run again, Audrey has discovered a few other things…

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She ran her first RACE!  A few of us on the team have been involved with this little race that raises BIG money for MANY different non-profits.   Audrey, a master-recycler, is the Waste Management coordinator for Cause and Event Portland.  In addition to raising lots of money for worthwhile causes, a big goal of the race committee is to be as green as possible.

Audrey signed up to run the 5K, and Amy and I ran her in over her very first official finish line!   I’m pretty sure she was now officially hooked, our plan all along…(insert evil laughter here).   After crossing off the 5K, Amy and I got her to sign up for the Shamrock Run (she ROCKED the 15K!) and her first Half Marathon, Rock n Roll Portland.

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Through it all she also discovered the value of running with friends.  We went for a walk today, and she confided that she was really nervous to run with Amy and I for the first time.  The two of us had been doing this running this for so long, clocking respectable race finish times, and throwing around words like “tempo run” and “track workout” in everyday conversations.

What she didn’t know was that Amy and I both had those same feelings at various stages in our running journey.  Amy wrote about her first run with me on a Run Oregon post that captures the true spirit of running with girlfriends, and I remembered the first time I ran with my Twisted Sister teammates Brandi and Kristine, both strong mother runners whom I had admired for so long and did NOT think I could hang with.

We all eventually came to the same conclusion… running with your girlfriends, and the time you spend with them, is what matters.  Not your pace, or your mileage, or anything else.

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I’ve been injured for quite some time, and have missed so many of my long weekend runs with my girlfriends.  The carrot that I hold in front of me, and what keeps me focused on recovery, is my Girlfriend Relay weekend.   When I am well enough to start running again, my girlfriends will be there to run/walk with me until I can run more than walk.  We will just have that much more time to catch up on everything that’s going on in our lives!

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You can check out more of Cyndie’s writing on her blog: (Re)Discovering Running.