Today we're shining a special spotlight on our 2017 TCS New York City Marathon SoleMate, Shirley Chang! Shirley is running her first marathon for Girls on the Run NYC.
Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?
Running has been really influential in my life growing up, providing me with some of my closest friends and support group, and drilling the practice of positive thinking into my core. I wanted to challenge myself and set a personal goal of running a marathon. After being a spectator last Marathon Sunday, cheering runners on, and feeling the excitement and immense spirit tremoring through the city, I knew I HAD to run the NYC Marathon and experience the awesomeness first-hand. I’ve been involved with Girls on the Run since college (Finger Lakes/Onendaga Council) and the mission of the organization has always hit home with me, so it was the clear choice of a charity to run for!
What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
Confidence in my own abilities has developed throughout my life because of the strong women surrounding me. It’s hard during the weird, impressionable years of elementary/middle school to identify your self-worth when there are so many factors telling you otherwise. Teaching girls at a young age to build each other up instead of bringing one another down creates an environment in which they realize that they are capable of so much. Seeing a goal through to accomplishment is so rewarding when you know how much work you’ve put into it, how you were able to overcome hardships, and how your friends and mentors were there to support you along the way.
Is this your first marathon? If no, how many have you run?
This is my first marathon. It has been a goal of mine for a few years and I finally decided, “what am I waiting for?” and stopped pushing it off out of fear of the mileage.
Favorite place to run?
For weekday morning runs, Prospect Park is like an amazing escape with all the other runners and beautiful sunrise peeking through the trees. For longer runs, I love running on along Riverside Park because you can keep going for such a long stretch without stopping — which is hard to find in the city.
Favorite time of day to run?
I’ve grown to love running in the mornings and having the sunrise with me. It’s such a peaceful time of day and a great way to kick off the day before work. I feel more accomplished when I can go about the rest of my day without needing to worry about fitting in a run later!
Favorite post-run snack/meal?
A fruit + peanut butter smoothie and a bacon, egg & cheese.
Favorite running accessory?
My flip belt! I can store all my necessities in there and love that it doesn’t bounce.
Favorite pump-up running song?
"Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand
Group or solo run?
Solo runs are my favorite way to clear my head. But group runs are great when I’m feeling burnt out and need a little push!
When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
This sounds cheesy but I remember why I’m running in the first place! If I can keep going, it shows all the young girls that they can keep going to, even if they’re not watching me when I’m on my runs. It also helps to think that, with each step, I’m getting closer to food :)
Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I realized that I loved to run in 5th grade when I was one of the few people who enjoyed running the mile in P.E.! I joined cross country and track in middle school and then was a sprinter in high school. Once I got to college, I continued to run for fun as a way to stay healthy and explore new places and started running half marathons. I’ve run four half marathons so far, even one in a full-on blizzard in Syracuse, NY!
What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
I really enjoy doing yoga to stretch out those muscles that tighten up as a runner. I also love trying new foods, listening to music, hanging out with friends, and try to get any chance I can to be at the beach!
Any other fun facts you want to share?
I spent six days while studying abroad to bike across Northern Spain on El Camino de Compostela with a friend! We were able to bike from dawn to dusk, passing through little villages, farmland, and cities, and stay at many hostels along the way as “pilgrims.” Little did we know the first three days were more pushing our bikes up rocky mountains than actually biking! It was the most unique, testing, and rewarding experience.
What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
Be proud of yourself and have fun! You’re doing and learning awesome things and all your hard work will pay off!
Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Share your training and fundraising goals with everyone! I sometimes feel like I’m bombarding people with all my social posts about my marathon training and fundraising asks, but then I come across many friends who don’t even realize that I’m running in November!
Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Shirley! If you want to donate to Shirley's fundraising efforts, click here.