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Running for Eliza

September 9, 2022

Friday Feeling, Inspiration for Women, Female Runners

The last time I rose at 3:45 a.m. to run was on April 17, 2017 in Boston. In order to get to the start line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, a bus filled with 100 women running with Team #261Fearless in honor of Kathrine Switzer’s 50th anniversary ground breaking run was leaving. Just like then, I had my running clothes laid out anticipating the fogginess of one’s mind that early in the new day.

But this time I was getting up to run by 4:20 a.m. in sister solidarity with Eliza Fletcher and women all over the country, especially a group out of Delaware, who asked women to run virtually with them. Eliza was a busy woman and ran when she could, like so many of us. Her choice was to run in the early hours of the day before work started and her children rose. A woman’s choice to run is her choice. The time of day she chooses to run is her choice. No one or nothing should stop it.

Unfortunately someone else didn’t see it that way, abducted her and eventually killed her leading to front line headlines and a mix of rage and deep sadness for the loss of a woman who was only out to get in her morning jog.

I wanted to run for her. I wanted to run for sister solidarity. I wanted to run to bring attention to Eliza’s story. I wanted to run because I love running.

The darkness of the sky, only lit by a full moon with a rainbow circle around it, most likely thanks to Eliza watching from above, along with the cool September, dewy breeze, awakened my senses. Living on a country road without lights, I couldn’t run on my road, but my very large deck built into our hill surrounding our pool, was a better choice than running on my treadmill. I wanted to be in the elements just like she was.

With the sound of crickets ringing, I put in my airbuds, turned on my music, and the song “Stairway to Heaven” started playing – a recent favorite song since losing a dear friend to cancer the month prior. It seemed appropriate to keep it on as I ran, repeating it. I blew a kiss up to the sky hoping Eliza would catch it and look down watching me, a total stranger, and all the other women running in her memory today.

As the Fitbit hit 4:20 a.m., the time Eliza was abducted, I was starting to get my runner’s high enjoying the physicality of my body, tenacity of my spirit, and beauty of the dark. I thought of all the women running today and over the weekend thinking of Eliza and proving women can run when they want as long as someone doesn’t stop them.  

Thank you Eliza for your spirit running with me, just like my 261Fearless sisters ran with me at the start of the Boston Marathon. With a woman by your side, or in your heart, running and life is beautiful. We shouldn’t stop doing what we love, no matter the reason or cause. 

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