SoleMate Spotlight: Amanda Dougherty

Today we feature Amanda Dougherty, a 2015 NYC Marathon SoleMate!

What motivated you to run in the NYC Marathon this year?
Running the NYC marathon has definitely been a goal of mine, but actually the predecessor to that was the desire to volunteer more, and to give back. I wanted to volunteer with Girls on the Run after being a 5k buddy with a friend's daughter. It wasn't until I attended the informational meeting about volunteering that I realized I could run the marathon as a SoleMate... and I think I signed up shortly after. It was impulsive to say the least, but I'm enjoying the challenge, and more than happy to be raising money for an organization I admire so much.

I had no idea the changes in my life that would follow that decision, however. Right at the start of my training, my grandmother, who I was extremely close with, found out her cancer had returned in the form of multiple tumors on her spine. She deteriorated quickly, losing the ability to walk without being in a great deal of pain. Through it all, she kept up with my training and always asked where I was mile-wise. She joked about dropping out of this year's marathon, saying 'maybe next year.' I told her I'd run all my miles for her. She passed away on August 12th. I'm heartbroken, but so motivated to keep training, and continue moving forward, because I know how proud she was, and how hard she tried to keep fighting, even when she had no strength left. Through it all, she always found the strength to be there for me. She is a huge inspiration for me to run, every mile, every time.

How has running been a part of your life?
I was in Milan for fashion week about 5 years ago when a friend convinced me I should go running with her. I had [partially trained for] a C25k program prior and was probably running about a mile a week, telling myself I was still slowly building up, that I was busy, etc. So, when she asked me to run with her, I flat out declined. I didn't bring sneakers, I didn't have work out clothes, I couldn't run fast, I couldn't run very far - excuse factory! She told me to run in the closest things to sneakers I had- my Converses, that we weren't racing, just having fun, and she would go at my pace. I finally agreed, and we ended up running over two miles.

It completely blew my mind. With one run I had shattered all the assumptions about myself that had been holding up the progress I could have been making as a runner. Clearly, since then my distances and speed (oh, and sneaker game) have vastly improved, but one thing that never changes is the impact it makes on my attitude towards other situations in my life. How many times do we settle, or hold ourselves back because we think we can't do something? Every time I run, I push through something I've been struggling with, whether or not it has to do with my run, or not.

Running is my time to nourish my body, yes, but it is also my time to pray, think, hope, dream, wonder, wander, grieve, be thankful, be angry, be thoughtful, be confident, and continue to shatter whatever assumption I made about myself or about life, along the journey. Also, it has taught me to throw away the excuses, all the time. Whenever people complain to me about not being able to run, I usually disagree. You can do whatever you want, and almost anyone can become a runner. You just have to put on shoes- even Converse if you must - and go.

Why did you choose to support Girls on the Run?
I chose to support Girls on the Run because I'll never forget how it felt to run that 5K, and how proud the girls looked when they finished it. I chose to support Girls on the Run because of one little girl at an after school program I worked at briefly, who told me that running was her favorite thing to do, and how Girls on the Run was the only thing she had to look forward to in her life.

What is your favorite running accessory?
My dog, when she isn't being lazy.

What is your favorite run in NYC?
I love running the perimeters of Manhattan/Brooklyn, and I also love running through Times Square or other equally tourist-flooded areas. I make it a game of dodging people and I feel like it adds a substantial amount of good core work.

"From struggling for two blocks, to powering through two hour stretches, learning how to run has been the slowest ascension and most beautiful catalyst to personal growth. My time outside on the pavement all over the world has served as a teacher, each minute a new lesson: to trust, to listen, to watch, to feel, to grieve, to celebrate, to pay attention, to pace myself, to believe in myself, to respect and to encourage others, and maybe the most important to me personally: to push myself and to push the limits I put on myself as an individual, as a woman, as a human."

Thank you, Amanda!
You can support Amanda in her fundraising efforts by visiting her online campaign page here: raceplanner.com/donate/Amanda-On-The-Run