Mindy Budgor is a newly minted runner who loves a good cocktail on a Saturday night.
Four years ago, I underwent extreme physical and mental training in the Kenyan bush in order to become the first female Maasai warrior. I left Kenya as a member of the tribe and with a toolbox as effective for accomplishing challenges in my New York City life as in the bush.
However, once I got back in America and was neck-deep in graduate school, cake became my best friend and chasing cheetahs on the savannah shifted to the back burner. As a result, I reached a place earlier this year where three New York City blocks warranted a cab ride. Okay, I’m being dramatic—but only slightly. But I wanted my health to be a priority, so I jumped on the invitation from a friend to run the SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver to get me off my rump and literally running.
Right after committing to SeaWheeze, I promptly drowned my worries about making that commitment in a cocktail. That's when reality hit: I needed to run 13.1094 miles without losing a foot along the way. I confessed to a friend that I was freaking out. “I don’t know how I’m going to cross the finish line,” I said.
His reply? “Keep thinking that way and you won’t even cross the start line.”
His comment hit me like a punch to the gut. At that moment, I understood that I had a choice; I could let the energy from fear and doubt stop me or tap into the warrior within and repurpose my negative energy into passion, creativity and sheer determination to achieve my goal.
The next morning, I found a running plan online and adapted it to my fitness level as well as my lifestyle (I was not going to miss Saturday nights on the town to run at 7am on Sunday!). Enthusiasm was easy at the beginning, but by day seven I figured that skipping a day wouldn’t hurt. That's when I got a message from my running app. It said: You ran at this time last week, how about running now? I found myself tying my sneakers moments after.
The day after my first nine-mile run, my legs felt like they were ripped to shreds. I didn’t think my body could handle another run, but found myself tying up my sneakers yet again (it’s amazing how a nagging roommate can exceed any physical pain). And after my Saturday nights out when I just didn’t want to run, I reminded myself that I was doing this for me—and giving up on me was not an option.
The Maasai tribe taught me the importance of personal strength and community, and achieving my running goal was deeply intertwined with the support (sometimes in the form of guilt trips) from friends. And, 40 days after I declared my intention to run Sea Wheeze, I crossed the start line with 10,000 runners while hundreds more cheered us along. My plaid neon shorts, intoxicating smiles and my new found energy powered me through the entire 13.1094 miles. And when a volunteer placed a race medal around my neck at the finish line, I looked back at it and was so proud that I had harnessed the warrior essence, made a plan and, with the help of my community, achieved my goal.
After the race—my hip flexors blanketed with ice packs and a blister the size of an Oreo on my right foot—I was so pumped that I signed up for another race. On Sunday I run the Run10FEED10 in New York. Come join me!