Today we're shining a spotlight on Dana, a SoleMate who's running in the TCS New York City Marathon while also raising funds for GOTR programming! Dana, we are so excited to see you at the Marathon and we are grateful for your support to help us reach more girls!
What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
I want all young girls to be confident! I want them to feel like they have a voice and that they are strong and not “less than” anyone else. I want them to understand negative self-talk and how to turn it around. I want them to understand what fear is – and how it can hold them back – and how to move through it so they can be the best “ME” they can be. This is what GOTR is all about.
Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?
After my first marathon, I knew I would want to do one more – and NY was the obvious choice! I coach GOTR every spring, so it was an easy choice when I knew that I was going to have to raise money in order to enter the race.
Tell us a little bit about your running history! Why do you run?
I was born with a congenital heart defect – complete atrioventricular heart block – which resulted in a very slow and arrhythmic heartbeat. I remember being in a doctor’s office as a very small girl and hearing the doctor say – “She will never be a runner”. The condition was not really understood at the time, so the doctor’s recommendation was “don’t run”, although my heart rate did increase and decrease properly when I exerted energy. Throughout my entire childhood, I was always excused from running in gym class! Fast forward to when I was 25, I moved from Minnesota to Atlanta and started focusing on fitness. I started running and loved it! I met with a cardiologist who said there was no reason I couldn’t run. For a long time, I only did 5Ks and my “big” race was a 10K. In 2006, after I had my second child, my cardiologist recommended a pacemaker as a precaution for my persistent, slow heart rate. It was after getting the pacemaker that I caught the half marathon bug and finally, decided I should give a marathon a try!
I run for physical, emotional and spiritual health. I never run on a treadmill – always outside in the fresh air, rain or shine (or snow when I travel home to Minnesota for the holidays!) I never wear headphones, never listen to music or podcasts – I just listen to my run and whatever sounds are around me. I sometimes spend time working through issues or challenging life situations, but it always helps reduce stress and makes me feel more present.
Favorite place to run? Or Favorite pump-up running song?
I travel quite a bit for work and I love exploring new cities while running. Some of my favorites running cities are London, Melbourne, Austin, and of course, New York. In Atlanta, I love run by the Chattahoochee River and in Chastain Park. Although I don’t listen to music (now), I did love running to My Songs Know What you Did in the Dark by Fallout Boy and (cliché) Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.
Is this your first marathon? If no, how many have you run?
This is my second marathon – my first was Chicago in 2015.
If people could give you energy awards while you were running the marathon which would you want for an energy boost?
The Mohawk Cheer – I don’t know if that’s a standard one, but we do that one all the time. As well as one that starts – Can you spin around like Michael Jackson, …. We might have made these up.
What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident, and joyful?
I try to do strength training 2-3 days per week. I try hard to eat healthy, but I LOVE food and wine, so it’s always a balance. I spend lots of time with my husband and daughters, and get lots of energy from cooking and traveling. Spending time with girlfriends is a must, but as an introvert, my alone time is even more important!
Who do you look up to?
Any woman who has the confidence, drive and guts to chase her dreams! And my badass friend, Lynn Wyatt, who has been battling cancer for years and she just never, ever stops fighting, but more importantly, she never stops truly living.
Who has impacted your life the most and encouraged you to be your beautiful, healthy, and courageous self?
My parents, family and friends
Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
I created my webpage and then did an email blast to my “first tier” friends, colleagues and family. I made it more of a “blog” and would send occasional updates about my training, challenges, places I’ve been running, etc. and of course, thanking everyone who contributed and reminding anyone who still wanted to donate, they could. I have a generous community of people surrounding me, so I was fortunate to be able to reach my goal relatively easily. Make it personal is my #1 recommendation – people will read about GOTR and agree it’s a great organization, but in reality, the people you reach out to will be supporting YOU!
What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
Just have fun! Don’t worry about the running or the 5K – just enjoy sharing yourself with the other girls and getting to know everyone else!
What advice would you give yourself at 10 years old?
Don’t be afraid to take more risks and to make mistakes. Be curious and use your voice!
Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Dana! If you want to donate to Dana's fundraising efforts, click here.