Courtney Schwartz is from Andover, Minnesota and lived in 7 different states before starting kindergarten. Courtney shares her home with 2 Shi Tzu Bichons, Patches and Tucker. Courtney recently moved back to Minnesota to be closer to her family after the passing of her Grandfather. She is currently studying biology with plans to complete her Undergraduate degree in the Fall of 2018. Following undergrad, she plans to attend Dental school and receive her D.D.S.
Since July 4th, 2017, I have run 6 Half Marathons, and my first full marathon (26.2 WHOLE MILES). You'd think a phrase like that would be said by someone who's been running years. In reality, it's being said by someone who, 6 months ago, did not own running shoes, much less able to run more than a mile or two in them without nearly collapsing.
In the middle of June, the prospect of running 13.1 miles was daunting, to say the least. At the time I was a sad and unmotivated young adult going through the motions of everyday life. I hadn't the faintest idea of what I was passionate about and struggled to complete day-to-day tasks. That all changed on the morning of my 21st birthday when I met the best training buddy I could ever ask for, Ashley.
Ashley was about to run Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. All I could think about in response to the mere idea of that was how IMPOSSIBLE the prospect sounded. Much to my surprise, Ashley said that she would be willing to run with me if I ever wanted. Even more to my surprise, I expressed interest, effectively leaping out of my comfort zone in the process.
Fast forward 3 weeks and many training runs (followed by at least as many tears, of course) later, and we were running our first half marathon on The Fourth of July.
I loved the challenge of the run, despite having absolutely NO idea what I was doing during it. All I knew upon crossing the finish line was that I was hungry for more. So, naturally, we found another half marathon the very next weekend in South Dakota. We planned the trip on a Wednesday, drove 9 hours, and, seemingly just like that, I had finished my second half marathon.
It was in those moments of stepping over the finish-line that I felt a new fire igniting within my soul. For the first time since I could remember, the fog lifted and I felt truly alive.
Within seconds of crossing the finish line in South Dakota Ashley and I decided that we were racing our third half marathon the following weekend, the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon. Following that, we ran in Amana, IA, Hudson WI, and I just finished another half in St. Paul MN, achieving a 10-minute mile personal best!
On October 1st, 2017, I ran my very first full marathon, something I had never even imagined in June. Running a marathon is no joke. When I reflect on that day, I am completely overwhelmed with gratitude for the support I received from so many. It was pouring rain, with winds that peaked at 20 mph. Every part of me wanted to quit, I was cold, my feet were blistering, and my body was tired and cramping. I came with one goal, and that was to finish; So I knew quitting wasn’t an option, no matter how easy it would have been... I persisted. Then, just as I gained sight of the finish line, everything caught up to me. Realization of how much I'd accomplished in such a short time flooded through me, I felt more alive than ever before. As I crossed over the finish line I began crying because of how rewarding this journey has been. Running allowed me to regain happiness and taught me I can do anything I set my mind to.
Needless to say, after experiencing this personal journey, I am totally in love with running. My new goal is to run a half marathon in each of the 50 states. Rock 'n' Roll Vegas being next on the list! I mean, who doesn't want to run the Vegas Strip at night?
My words for those reading - Find your motivation, and stick to it. It isn't about being the best, it's about being the best you and NEVER forget - You are capable of achieving difficult things and so much more!