Rosie Morrison, LLMSW
Program Director, Cancer Support Community
To say that I’ve never been much of an athlete would be putting it mildly. Until recently my greatest athletic achievement was winning a really competitive board game. So when our wonderful Events Coordinator Gloria Jones asked if I wanted to sign up to run a 10K with the Strides for Hope 2015 team, I declined. I just didn’t think it was possible. I had never run more than two or three miles, and those were rare moments years ago.
Then she asked again. And again. I’ll take this opportunity to say that Gloria is really good at her job. Over the next few weeks she slowly convinced me that I was capable of this, recalling the amazing Striders in years past who had gone from beginners to distance racers all while raising money and awareness for the Cancer Support Community. Training for a 10K began to feel manageable, and participating in Strides offered a new way to engage with this organization that is such a huge part of my life. So I signed up.
I convinced my best friend Anna Scodel to join me, and together we committed to raising $5000 for CSC. Anna and I trained together long distance—she lives in San Francisco—sending daily updates, sweaty post-run selfies, jokes, and encouragement. I took it slow and followed a training plan. Knowing that friends and family had donated was all I needed to put one foot in front of the other on days when I just wasn’t feeling it.
The best moment of my training was the KDB Melanoma 5K, my first race, which I had the pleasure of running with my Strides teammate, friend and colleague Alena Williams. A few weeks later, I ran my first 5 miler through downtown Ann Arbor. And just like that, I was a runner.
On December 3, the Strides for Hope team traveled to Negril, Jamaica, for the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K. Leaving wintry Michigan for a tropical resort was a welcome treat, but bonding with my teammates was the absolute best. Serving as CSC’s Program Director, I am constantly awed by the incredible volunteers and donors who make our work possible. What a privilege it was to join 40 of them for this challenge!
Race day was a blast and, at times, a struggle. We started at 5:15 a.m. with record heat already in the 80s. The sun began to rise during my final mile, burning away the fog and bringing with it another 10 degrees. But when my feet started dragging, our mission kept me moving. Crossing that finish line was exhilarating! And gathering after the race with my team, offering high-fives and cheers, was the most wonderful feeling.
On a personal level, this race was truly life-changing. Training for Strides was the beginning of what I hope is a lifelong journey as a runner. I learned that every personal record is important, no matter what that means for you. Instead of comparing myself to others, I celebrated every little milestone. I smiled for days after my first three mile run and I’m still surprising myself. Just this weekend, I did my longest run yet: eight miles. And on April 3 I’ll be competing in the Ann Arbor Half Marathon!
I’m so proud to be a part of the 2015 Strides team. Together we generated over $90,000 in revenue for the Cancer Support Community. So now I’ll take a page out of Gloria’s book and say: if you’re considering signing up for a race, you can do it! Better yet, join us for Strides this year. And just in case you need a little more convincing… we’ve narrowed down our next destination to Costa Rica or the Bahamas.