Friday, April 6, 2012

Sexy Mother Runner Featured Runner Friday: Meet Barb

It's that time again,
Sexy Mother Runner Featured Runner Friday!
Every runner has a story and we believe sharing those stories is a great way to share the gift of running while
helping motivate others.

Today we introduce you to Barb. Barb is a seasoned runner that never gives up! Through college, marriage, and motherhood running has remained a staple in her life. Plus I must mention that although Barb is an English Professor, she always has a great back-up career in comedy if needed! Laughter and running ~ What an excellent combination!

Barb's Story... 

I was a sprinter in seventh grade, and all out fast. I held the record for the 110-meter hurdles in 1987. In eighth grade, I took on the hips and the body that has carried me through adulthood. I lost some speed. A lot of speed. My track coach’s husband told me to drop weight to gain the speed back, and though I tried, hating my new body, there was nothing I could do to shave 5 seconds off my time. Now I wish I had told him, “Dude. It’s called puberty. Shove off,” but I didn’t. For the first half of high school I kept trying for junior high times as a sprinter on the track team, but my junior year I wised up. I wasn’t a sprinter.  I joined cross-country on a whim my junior year. I loved the move from summer into autumn and running in a large group, warming up and cracking jokes, watching the lead runners’ pony tails swing in wide circles. We warmed up on tree-lined streets of our small town, threading out on the length of South Lafayette Street and bunching up at the stop signs while we jogged in place. We scissored through the last remnants of summer. We ran in rain, and then we watched our breath cloud in front of us on cold days, dressed in layers we peeled off and tied around our waists. I was never a great runner, never really fast, but I loved the camaraderie and the fact that the race, while competitive, was always really about setting a new personal best. I learned that I could run through discomfort to the exhilaration of completing a race.

I came back to running off and on all through college and grad school, marriage and motherhood, but it was last year when I came back to it in a sustained and disciplined way. My friend, Rebekah, was doing a couch to 5k program and I invited myself along. I enrolled a week late, but in the course of nine weeks we went from walking to running for 30 minutes straight.  Rebekah and I ran our first 5K, beating the time we’d set for ourselves. Later, our friend Shawna did the program on her own, and we all decided to run a marathon relay with our friends, Jessica and Tyler. That race was a goose bump experience for me. I got to see the Kenyans run and they were so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. To see the men who won the marathon, their graceful strides, their pumping arms and legs in symmetry and covering ground at such a speed! What they could will their bodies to do! I also got to see my friend Shawna running the second leg of the relay and she was simply beatific. She was grinning and hauling ass. Seeing her right after witnessing the power of the Kenyans pumped me up. I ran a 10K leg, in the rain, and there were moments when I wanted to stop, but I didn’t. I didn’t. I thought of the runners from Kenya and I thought of Shawna smiling, and before her, Rebekah running the toughest leg, and up ahead, Jessica and then Tyler waiting.  I breathed hard and I kept my 10-minute mile pace. An hour after I passed the wrist band to Jessica, we all crossed the finish line together, and I remember feeling so utterly grateful for my friends, and for my body—what it could do! There were 74-year-old women completing the marathon, groups of friends in various states of fitness and of varying ages, people raising money for cancer research, and complete strangers cheering for us. After that race, our entire team was welcomed to a family dinner hosted by Shawna’s brother-in-law and fiancĂ©, and their hospitality was overwhelming.  It is a day that I carry with me, and I pull it out when I need reminding of how good life really is.
Since then we’ve run another 5k and a Warrior Dash. I was coming off of the stomach flu at the Warrior Dash, but my friends waited for me to complete each obstacle. I felt empowered that I finished (especially since my legs are really short and the obstacles were made for those whose legs were not short—seriously, on the rope wall a woman clucked her tongue at me in pity when she took a gander at my stumps and said, “Good luck, honey.”) and humbled by their willingness to wait. I have good friends who are strong runners and exceptional human beings. Long runs with them are fun.  There was a time when I never thought I’d call running fun, and Rebekah gets props for that. She kept me honest during Couch to 5k.  I would be huffing and puffing and cursing under my labored breath and she’d say, “We can walk in 10 more seconds.” The best advice I can give other runners is find people to run with. People you genuinely like. People who know when to cheerlead, commiserate and when to be silent. People that help you be accountable.

Running has taught me how powerful I am. Seriously. As women, we are forever bemoaning our jean size, our muffin tops, our sagging breasts, and our stretch marks. Running made me think about and focus on what my body can do instead of where it fails to meet screwed up expectations. So, I’m not a size 2,4,6 or even 8. Who cares? That says nothing about me, who I really am. But the fact that I can run 6 miles says I’ve got endurance. I’m a warrior. Perhaps I’m a little crazy. I can take being alone with myself for an hour of only my thoughts and the cadence of my pounding feet. Long runs have taught me how I think and how I talk to myself, and slowly, in the past year, my inner voice has stopped saying I can’t, I shouldn’t, or I won’t. Sometimes my inner voice says, “One more minute. Just go one more minute. Now, go one more.” and sometimes it says, “Oh hell yes. You got this.”

 I started running thinking some day I would have the marathoner’s body, all sinewy muscle, and no hips to speak of.  Hard-core-bad-ass-runner. That was pure fantasy, just like my eighth grade self, wishing for my boy-narrow seventh grade hips.  Now, I know this is my body.  It’s a great body. These are my hips, and they are good, sturdy hips. They rock. These are my legs, and they are strong. Seriously, they’ll never make Sports Illustrated, but they’re awesome legs. They go. It ain’t ballet for sure, but they go hard. These gams have guts.  Running has quietly changed me. It’s not a showy transformation, and beyond a slightly firmer gluteus maximum, the changes are mostly internal. It has made me more focused on what truly matters to me, persistent in reaching goals I’ve set, and patient with myself and those I love. Sometimes, when I’m running, I feel the joy I felt as a child when running was easy, and my whole body loved everything about it. Do you remember? Think tag and hide and go seek, kick ball and kick the can. I see it in my children, running full bore and caught up in the wonder of their bodies. I remember seventh grade hurdles, being completely in my body, completely present, clearing the hurdle and coming down hard.  It is rare, because I am far from being a child now, but when the weather is right, and I hit 1.86 miles my body relaxes into a rhythm, I forget myself and it feels so good to flat out run.


What was your favorite thing about
 Barb's running story? Leave her a comment. I know she would love to hear from you!

Do you want to inspire someone by
sharing your running story?
If so, email us at and become one of our Sexy Mother Runner
Featured Friday Runners!  

Want to contact Bekah or Danyelle? Email us at

We want to hear from you!

~Danyelle & Bekah


  1. I loved your story. It was like reading a really good, descriptive novel. You show us that we should all be proud of who we are and that our bodies are wonderful. Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. Barb:this story makes me love you even more! You are truly a great example for women to love themselves and others, to be fully present in the moment, and to bask in all the joy that can be found in the world.

  3. I can hear you in each word and love your voice, dear Barb!