Finding My Strength Through Running

Cassandra Jones.jpg

Where do I start?

Hmm.  Well, I’ve always been a stubborn ass.  Ever since I was a baby.  Just stubborn.  I think that’s what drives my running.  I refuse to listen to my aching muscles, tired lungs or weathered spirit; I just go.  I like the hurt, I look for it like George Sheehan said.  Recently though, I’ve come to realize I’m driven by other things.  Things that hurt in a not so good way but things that push me forward (literally).  With every step, I’ve gotten stronger.  I’ve gotten better and over those painful moments/memories.  Well maybe not over them but I can live with them.

Have you ever had a long run in which you’ve found yourself in tears?  It comes on quite suddenly; a big wave of a memory or emotions you’ve blocked out; forgotten about.  You cry, you’re overwhelmed but you’re moving.  In that movement, you’re able to cope; to hang on and push past whatever may have been holding you back.  I’ve never felt more human, more vulnerable or more unstoppable than when I’m running.  It’s such a wondrous, mysterious thing.  I get lost out there but I’m not lost at all.  I’ve found pieces of myself during those long runs.  

Someone asked me what I think about when I’m running.  I answered, “Everything and nothing all at the same time.”  

As many humans here on this lovely earth, I’ve been through some shit; abuse, a broken family and failed relationships.  I gave my daughter up for adoption in college.  Having her was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  I run for her, to become a person she would be proud of.  

I didn’t know who my biological father was until I turned 15.  He still isn’t a part of my life.  I run for him.  I run to prove to his wife that I’m not a mistake.  I run to prove that he has missed out on something great.

After I obtained my bachelor’s (which is a miracle), I moved out to Nevada.  I would later find out that it would be one of the best decisions I ever made; not an easy one but a “worth it” one.  It reminded me that I was alone.  That’s always been hard for me.  Hard to the point where you tear up just thinking about the word or when you try to say it.  I split with my daughter’s father soon after the move.  The adoption was too hard on both of us.  We knew it was the right thing to do but again, it was far from easy.  

I was now in a town that never sleeps, alone (there it is again).  My grandma passed after my breakup and I couldn’t afford to fly across the U.S.  I got into drugs, smoked a pack a day and drank way too much.  I was a long way from the collegiate athlete who worked her ass off to get out of Illinois.  Then I met him.  I met my husband.  However, he had demons of his own.  We were together for over 3 years, married for most of it.  Last year, we got divorced and I lost my superhero.  

I really dislike moving.  It’s never been a very exciting event for me.  It’s always been scary and lonely.  Once again, I was moving—with the little I had; actually and emotionally.  What was good is that during our relationship, I started racing.  I ran miles and miles out in Northern California.  I ran my first half marathon during our marriage and 2 full marathons.  I had my sights set on Boston and then our marriage crumbled.  It came crashing down and I was all alone again.

I had no money.  I wasn’t planning for my marriage to fail.  Alone.  Alone.  Alone.  I found a little apartment in a safe part of town that I could barely afford.  I was lucky to get it.  I landed the place right before Reno’s housing crisis exploded.  I cried some of the worst cries in that apartment.  I would come to work early just so I could cry out all my cries before anyone else got there.  It sucked, all of it sucked horribly.  

Then these amazing things started to happen.  Someone down at the spin studio I use to go to religiously (I could no longer afford it) decided to buy someone a month of spin for Christmas.  The front desk worker told the couple I would be a good candidate for the gift because I hadn’t been there in a while.  I saw the Full Pedal email confirming my unlimited month and called to report the error.  Instructor/Manager Jimmy, who I love and has spun me through my shit (unbeknownst to him), laughed and said it wasn’t a mistake.  It was a gift from another Full Pedal attendee.  I was SO grateful.  It was exactly what I needed.  I needed to refocus and get my shit together.  

I gave the couple, who was still anonymous to me, a card.  Of course, I poured my heart into that card and told them how much it really meant to me, what I was going through.  Then, Jimmy told me they wanted to pay for my Full Pedal membership for an ENTIRE YEAR.  I lost it.  I went to that damn studio almost every day at 5:00 am, sometimes twice a day.  I swear by that place.  It made me feel strong again.  It saved me.  

I spun my ass off.  My luck was starting to really turn around.  Later, I saw a contest on Instagram put on by a local race series.  They wanted us to tag our training photos using their hashtags and the winner would get a free race entry.  I had been wanting to run the marathon but was still having a hard time financially after the divorce.  A $120 marathon just wasn’t in my budget.  So I started tagging all of my training photos and guess the f*ck what?!  I won the contest.  I won an entry to the Downtown River Run Marathon.  I now had a goal, something to focus on and train for.  I continued to spin and log miles.  Funny thing about this race, it’s a Boston Qualifier.  Boston was now back in the forefront.  

One of my favorite things about running is that it’s yours.  No one can take it from you.  You earn every step, every mile, every medal.  Running has never let me down.  I’ve gotten everything I’ve put into it.

I knew that if I got to Boston my dad would have to come and I did.  I’m running the f*cking Boston Marathon in 2018.  Oh, and guess who’s coming watch me run it?  My dad.

I’m almost done with my Master’s, I’m a certified spin instructor, I’m getting a promotion in a month, I’m a big through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada and my mom and dad are going to watch me run the Boston marathon next year.  

“Move, because movements can become moments.”