As a national sponsor of the Girls on the Run SoleMates charity runner program, Garmin is partnering with this great organization to further their mission and share the stories of the women and men who are “running for a reason”. Runners can sign up for any event — runs, walks, bike rides or triathlons — and raise funds that will support their chosen council of Girls on the Run. Want your next race to help change lives? Find out more here.
This month’s story comes from Joe, who stepped way out of his comfort zone to train for and compete in an Ironman triathlon. And while his sons and others are inspired by his feats, Joe shared how he was inspired by a third-grade Girls on the Run participant who benefitted from his fundraising efforts.
Previously a runner, I quit running as my interests and time went elsewhere. My involvement with Girls on the Run SoleMates for the Chicago Marathon in 2010 motivated me to get back into running for good. I had run the Chicago Marathon twice before, but had been absent from the sport for 12 years. My friendship with Heather Foy who was the director of my local GOTR council (in Indiana) was my reason for becoming a SoleMate. Open entry for Chicago was closed, but I came across the SoleMates entry and figured, let’s do it. I would be the first SoleMate for the local council so without Heather's help, none of this would have been possible. It was a great experience for me, but the biggest impact was yet to come. I raised money for the local council, which would provide girls who were unable to pay the participation fee the opportunity to be a part of this great program.
This spring I had the wonderful opportunity to run in the GOTR 5k as a running buddy for one of the girls in the program. When I walked away that morning, I felt like I probably had gotten more out of that run that the 3rd grade girl I was running with. She was one of the girls who without financial help would not have been able to participate in GOTR. I was able to see firsthand the money I had raised at work and the influence this great program had on this young girl. I thoroughly enjoyed jogging those 3.1 miles with her and the conversation we shared. But for me, there was nothing better than being beside her as she approached the finish with her mom and sisters holding signs and cheering her on. It is a memory that I will have forever.
That morning confirmed that my decision to do Ironman was the right one for me. I’m a single dad of two boys who watch every move I make, and they encouraged me more than anyone to do Ironman. I don't have a lot of money, so the training was a burden on me and my kids but they, along with what I learned from being a SoleMate, kept me going. I trained on a mountain bike due to the cost of purchasing a triathlon bike. I ended up being able to borrow a friend’s road bike that was a little small, but something I was able to make work. I kept my sights set on my goal and my kids’ excitement in my mind as I continued to put in the training hours. In the end, the only thing that mattered to me is that my kids saw that I had given everything I had to reach this goal, regardless of what obstacles stood in the way. Seeing my kids’ faces when I crossed that finish line and knowing that they got to see their dad do something many deem impossible was worth everything. On August 28, 2011, with my boys there watching, I became an Ironman. They will be able to remember that day and know, if my dad did it, I can do it.
SoleMates has given me the opportunity to rejuvenate a love I once had. I completed my second marathon this year and fifth overall on Sunday, October 9 when I ran the Chicago Marathon once again. I have become an Ironman, but the road does not stop there. I am already looking forward to competing in two more Ironmans next year as well as 3-4 marathons. My goals are no longer to just finish, they are now to see how fast I can finish. Without GOTR and SoleMates, these goals wouldn’t exist for me.