Sunday, June 26, 2011

In the "Spotlight" with Andrea

Meet the brave, adventurous and pretty Andrea from Arizona!

Life is good. It’s not the same as it used to be, nor exactly what I expected, but life is good. Dare I say, better? I started running as a way to meet friends and belong somewhere, anywhere. After the death of my husband, I felt lost. Not only did I lose my best friend, but I lost my identity. My former life consisted of excitement, flying across the country, jumping out of planes. I soon realized that this was not my hobby, but his. I had no sense of self. I started travelling because I could not stand to be home alone, in the same house. I travelled because I could not stand to be in the same town, in the same state, at all the same places that I used to go. I even moved across the country by myself to get away from all the memories. I was told over and over how brave this was. I never thought it was. I was just trying to survive.
I did not know anyone and I took up running because a couple neighbors of mine were runners. I had been athletic as a child, throughout high-school, but I had not been active for over 15 years. I signed up with a group that would train me to my first marathon. The program was four months long. The very first run that I did was only 3 miles. I thought I was going to die. I was gasping for air and walked over half of it. The first two or three weeks of the program I experienced the worst muscle pain in my quads ever. If I had not paid money for the program, I might have quit. I kept going and eventually it got easier and the pain subsided. And sure enough, four months later I was a marathon runner. I had not even run a half-marathon, a 10k or even a 5k before that. My very first race was a marathon.
I realize that I am not a strong runner, nor a fast runner, but I am an endurance runner. I may not qualify for Boston until I reach 85, but I finish. I survive.
Even though I started travelling to get away, it turns out that I like it a lot. I thrive on new and exciting experiences. I am a person who does not like the mundane, the ordinary. I do not like to be in a rut. I like to rappel off buildings, climb mountains, and jump out of planes. I need excitement to feel alive, to feel like I am really living life.  My bucket list is endless and I will not stop trying to accomplish everything on it. Because of this need for constant excitement, I combine my travel interests with running races. Sometimes I am lucky enough to have friends to travel with and sometimes I am not. I would rather travel and race with friends of course, but I will not let this stop me from pursuing my dreams. It is up to me to make my own dreams come true, not someone else. It is up to me to make my life everything that I want it to be.
I have run marathons in Africa, Thailand, Ireland, Germany, and Arizona. I want to run a marathon on every continent. I run races that are different, exciting, where I can enjoy the experience. Running a marathon in Africa may not be the same as skydiving out of a 727 at 15,000 feet, but hiking Mt Kilimanjaro to over 18,000 feet comes pretty damn close.
In a true sense of been there, done that, I feel a need to enter a new chapter in my life. There are so many great races and wonderful places to visit, but I always feel the need to do something better than the last. I want more. I want more than just an amazing vacation experience only to return to the mundane. I want to be passionate about my work. I want excitement. I want a goal, a challenge to look forward to. I want to do more than just survive. I want to feel alive.
My passion for travel and racing has inspired me to start a travel agency: Travel Dirty.  Travel Dirty will be for active, adventurous athletes at all levels. I am really excited about this business adventure. I have met so many great and amazing friends along the way with running. I’m alone, but I don’t feel like it. Since I have started telling people about my business, it is amazing how many people are there to support me. I’m overwhelmed by the kindness and support of the running community. I am realizing that in life even in the midst of my greatest challenges and fears, I am not as alone as I think I am.  I take comfort in others who have taken the challenge before me. I will learn to graciously accept their genuine support. And give it, too where I can. I am honored to be considered part of this amazing, wonderful community. I hope to share this journey in racing, in travel and in life with you.

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