Runner = Melody. An equation I never saw coming.
After childhood, I ran only if somebody was chasing me. Running on purpose and because I liked it was not me.
But something happened in 2014. I intersected with Black Girls Run!, a national movement of women who meet weekly in different cities for exercise and community.
I discovered new sisters who trained with me, ran races alongside me, and cheered my every step and mile. There were women who’d lost nearly 100 lbs because they started walking and running with Black Girls Run! (BGR).
My first meetup in August was encouraging. I learned more about BGR Orlando as I walked through Jay Blanchard Park with my friend Jessica (who encouraged me to join) and ladies in the Eastside group. A week later, I joined the Eastside sisters for a run with BGR Melbourne. I did a three-mile walk and jog with new friend Beverly. It was the first time I’d ever done that kind of mileage.
But work and priorities soon hit keeping me busy and tired. For a year, I fell off the BGR wagon. September 2015 arrived and I decided, “Mel it’s time to get connected again.” I discovered a BGR meetup five minutes from my house, and life has never be the same.
From September to December 2015, I completed two virtual 5Ks, ran 83 miles, and walked 29. My speed improved as I moved into a 14 minute mile and sprinted 13 and 12 minute miles for short periods.
Melody became a runner. Melody is a runner. What the what!
January 24, 2016, in my hometown of Atlanta, I completed my first live race, the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K. It was 30 degrees and the course was hilly, but I beat my previous 5K time. I had one 12 to 13 minute mile, and two miles under 30 minutes. I also finished under 45 minutes, a new personal record for me.
This also was a huge milestone in life, PERIOD. Running changed me. It’s helped me see my determination and how much strength my soul contains. You have to be determined and strong, and maybe a little bit crazy to run outside ON PURPOSE in 30 degree weather.
A few days after the race, I read a hilarious article about a dog named Ludivine who accidentally ran a half marathon and came in seventh place. Ludivine inspired me to make plans for my first half marathon this year. I told Jessica and the following text conversation ensued:
Mel: “That dog ran a whole 13 miles and came in 7th place. That’s freaking amazing.”
Jess: “He’s a dog though. They love running.”
Mel: “You should be excited that I am inspired.”
Jess: “Teresa encouraged you, I encouraged you. But nope, the dog inspired you.”
Mel: “For 13 miles (that dog ran). And by the way he is a she.”
Jess: “I’m glad you’re inspired though. All dogs look alike to me. Until she puts a pink bow in her hair she will be a he.”
Mel: “Her name is Ludivine. She’s southern. From Alabama.”
Jess: “Looooooooooool I’m done.”
Jessica can throw shade on Ludivine all she wants, but I’m proud of her! And I’m excited to see where my 5K, 10K and half marathon adventures take me this year. I’m confident with my BGR sisters we’re gonna stomp plenty of pavement.