Becky Findley (left) with fellow Unbound Trailblazer Xandra Alpiser.
Feb 20 2017

Reflections from an Unbound Trailblazer

Finding inspiration to push through to the end of a race


By Becky Findley, Unbound International Evaluations Manager and Unbound Trailblazer

We’ve all been there. That point during a run when you begin to think — “how much longer? Why am I even doing this anyway?” Unbound Trailblazer and staff member Becky Findley shares her reflection on her pursuit to overcome these feelings and become a “real” runner.

I’ve almost reached mile 22, and I’m feeling beat. The weather is unseasonably warm and humid, and my legs are sore. I signed up for this marathon to test my limits, and, in this moment, I think I’ve found them. In this moment, the topic cycling my brain is the question of why I signed up for this race.

Like most runners who began in adulthood, starting to run was a struggle. Going to the park was a humbling act. Other runners zipped past with an elegant combination of speed and athleticism while I struggled to find my stride with the grace of a duck. Quickly, I’d lose my breath, slow to a walk and wonder if I would ever be a “real” runner.

Gradually, my walk breaks decreased, my speed increased and I became more comfortable running in public. I signed up for my first race — a 4-mile course. The start line was packed with runners. Did they realize that I was not a “real” runner?

My adrenaline was pumping as the horn blew, signaling the start of the race. The course was hilly, and the distance seemed overwhelming. But as I grew weary, I found motivation to continue from those around me. Sure, some of the runners were clearly comfortable, but there were others who were struggling, like me, but determined to keep going. Spectators woke up early this weekend morning to line the roads with signs that read “Way to go Mom!” or with jokes to make the runners laugh. When I finally crossed the finish line, I was breathless and sore, but immensely proud.

Since that first race six years ago I have run plenty of 5Ks, 4-milers, a dozen or so half marathons and two full marathons. I have experienced my share of running lows: illness, injuries and just plain bad days. Thankfully, the lows are balanced with incredible highs: accomplishing personal records for time and distance and the continual discovery that I am stronger than previously thought.

When Unbound announced the opportunity to join the Trailblazers, I happily joined. Being an Unbound Trailblazer has married my hobby of running with my passion for supporting young people around the globe in their pursuit of education. Wearing my Trailblazer shirt has been a conversation starter, allowing me to share Unbound with other runners. Being a Trailblazer offered me a new way to meet other Unbound sponsors with whom I am sharing the path.

Next to the sign marking 22 miles, a young Superman and a Wonder Woman twirl in circles. As I approach, they run to me. Their arms jut out to offer me high-fives. Their joy renews my spirit. I check my watch — I’m on pace to beat my previous marathon time. Suddenly the 4 miles ahead don’t seem so rough.

Do you have a similar story or advice for fellow athletes? We’d love to share it! Email you story to outreach@unbound.org and you might see it featured on our blog.

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