Monday, December 1, 2014

This week's success story is from Darcey, who recently just completed her first marathon.  I have known Darcey for a while now on Google+.  We have become pretty close "virtual friends" because we are around the same age, she is a runner and she has dealt with some similar running challenges.  

When I was asking for "success stories", I was very happy that Darcey was willing to share her story because I knew there would be many people who could relate with what she was willing to share.

I hope you enjoy it.  If you want to share your story like Darcey and Justin have so far, please send me an email (check my contact information).

If you get a chance, please also visit her website and read some of her well written blog posts, I am sure you will enjoy her writing.

Please tell us about yourself... 

My name is Darcey Corkins-Elias and my blog is, For the Love of Me! I first started writing my blog in 2010 when my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Watching her die opened my eyes to how short life really is.  I instantly got it. I knew I needed to make some major life changes and find happiness but I wasn’t sure how. Writing helped me grieve my mom. It helped me get clear on how I was feeling and what I wanted. It helped me find my voice. And it put my thoughts and dreams out into the universe. 

Once I did that I was amazed at what the universe gave back to me. It was more than I could have ever imagined. I found my passion. I am so grateful for the wisdom, connections, and people that have come into my life as a result of doing something I love. It truly amazes me every single day.
I live in the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of upstate NY. I am married with two daughters. I have owned my own small business for twelve years. I started the business while my daughters were little as a way to work from home.

Finger Lakes region of New York

As they have gotten older, I have started to realize and pursue some of my own dreams. I recently started working again in an area I am passionate about. I am currently working as the Director of Operations for a non-profit organization. I am also pursuing long distance running and writing, hoping to write a book in the very near future. 

Were you active as a kid?  Did you run around a lot? 

I was pretty active growing up. Being the only girl in a neighborhood with mostly boys, each day I found myself playing either kick ball, capture the flag, “Yahoo”, a very weird game where we were chased by someone on a bike! I was always a free spirit. 

I remember liking to run and being pretty fast for my age. There was one boy in particular that was also pretty fast. He once challenged me to a running race after we got off the bus. It became the talk of the neighborhood. Everyone met the afternoon of the race at our bus stop. I beat him pretty badly fair and square. So, he did what any boy that had just gotten the pants beaten off him by a younger girl would do……he told everyone it was because he didn’t have his new sneakers on :) Ironically he never had the new sneakers on so we could race again!

In high school I tried out for cross country. It was my first time in an organized sport other than cheer leading. I actually wrote a blog about this when I started running. Funny story!

I was 15 or 16 years old and my friend and I decided to try out for cross country. Our reasoning for doing this escapes me. Here we were girly girls with zero experience in any sport other than cheer leading, huffing and puffing, dead last behind a pack of runners that had become black specks in the distance. I vividly remember the coach driving by as we happened to be resting by a tree asking each other why the heck we were doing this. 

“Come on ladies,” he shouted. “Move it! At the very least walk”. 

Man did that tick me off! I remember thinking, who the heck is this pudgy little man driving in his teeny tiny compact car to tell me to move it? So we did what any other immature teenage girls would do. One of us watched for him and we hid & rested behind random parked cars when we saw him circling by as we made our way back to school. And that marked my first and last time running for 25 years! “When the student is ready the teacher will appear”

When did you begin running as an adult? Why did you start running? 

I started running in 2011 at 39 years old for many reasons. I was struggling with the death of my mom in 2010 as well as having permanently moved out of my hometown for the first time in my life. I was unhappy in more ways than I could count. I was overweight. I had spent years putting everyone else’s needs first and not prioritizing myself. Most of my weight gain was the result of that. I also think I used the extra weight as a protection. There was a big part of me that was afraid to look physically attractive. It took me a really long time to overcome that. I had very little self confidence back then. A friend introduced me to the phone app program called, Ease into 5K in 2011. I think I stopped and started it 2 or 3 times. The rest is history. I immediately felt better. I felt stronger. I made the decision to prioritize myself and pursue my own happiness and dreams for the first time in my life. And I became addicted to running! 

Why I run… 

What benefits have you seen from running?
Running has totally changed my life. Physically, I have shed about 60 lbs in all. I feel stronger and I have tons more energy. Running has taught me to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’ve learned countless life lessons through running!

Running and training have given me the courage to set goals for myself and dare to dream big. The physical successes have formed a foundation of confidence for me that has transferred over into my personal and professional life. My running continues to fuel my creativity and my writing. Marathon training specifically has taught me about commitment and how to set and achieve goals. It has taught me how to name my dream, chase it down, and make it happen! To quote my faithful and wise running partner, “Dreams are simply plans in packaging.” Running also creates some much needed time and space for me to reflect on my life and my deepest desires. I said this before but it is so true, running somehow connects me to something so much bigger than myself.

The best visual illustrating one of the biggest benefits of running is my before and after picture. The “after” picture was right before I headed out on a marathon training run in the heat of the summer. I’m still fairly shy about posting selfies but since I run around town like this I decided to be brave and share it! I can barely recognize the “before” girl.

What are your biggest running accomplishments?  What are you most proud of? 

My biggest running accomplishment was training for and finishing my first marathon this past year. It was a long time coming after a failed attempt the year before due to an injury. It is my biggest running accomplishment but also my biggest personal accomplishment as I have grown as a person in ways I never imagined as a direct result of marathon training. You can read about the details of my big day in a post I wrote!

How have you fit running into your life?  How do you balance it with other priorities? 

Running fits really well into my life. I love how I can squeeze it in anywhere. I can run on my lunch at work if I have to. I can throw my clothes on and run at the loop around the field while my daughter is at soccer practice. Running works best for me because I can do it on a whim without driving somewhere or getting out of work on time to make a class, etc.
What keeps you motivated to keep running? 

The hardest part of running is, not running, if that makes any sense! Injury is the worst. I am currently injured and it is making me cRazZy!

I keep running because I have grown to love it and I can clearly see now how it has changed my life. It connects me to something bigger than myself. It makes me feel alive. It helps me relieve stress. It helps me learn lessons and grow. It is goal oriented and it keeps me looking forward rather than backward. Plus runners rock :) I have met some awesome people through running, one person in particular has become one of my closest friends.

I also stay motivated for my little running buddy in the international group I am a part of, I Run for Michael. The group matches runners up with kids with disabilities who are unable to run. My match lives in England and her name is Chantelle. She is amazing and running races for her reminds me every run to be grateful. I hope to be making a trip to Europe for a race in the very near future. It’s one of the next dreams on my list!
Are there ever any days you don't feel like running?  How do you overcome them? 

There are definitely some days that I don’t feel like running! I usually overcome them by looking for support from the friends I have made in an online running group as well as from the support system I have built around running.

Sometimes all it takes is posting on social media that I don’t want to do the run ahead of me and I will get the needed kick out the door! Ironically the runs I want to do least, typically end up the most energizing when I’m done! I know all this and yet I still at times procrastinate!

Do you have a mantra you like to review on a daily basis that keeps you motivated? 

My personal mantra is, All will be well. I use that to help me stay positive and focused and keep faith. I also use a word association exercise I learned in yoga to help me relax while I am running. The instructor used it while we held warrior pose, to get us to stand firm but relaxed in our stance. It helps me relax my shoulders while I run.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin running? 

My best advice would be to stay positive and stick with it, taking it one day at a time. I am a huge believer in the running app, Ease into 5K. It builds your physical stamina and strength slowly but it also builds your confidence slowly. Running is as much psychological as it is physical. For me, if I looked too far ahead in the training, I would get overwhelmed. 

My self-talk would be something like, “You will never be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping.” But each day I stuck with the program building slowly, running 5 minutes, then walking 2 minutes, etc, and I ended up doing just that and so much more! 4 hours, 55 minutes and 42 seconds to be exact :) It was beyond my wildest dreams!
What are your go to songs for running?  Or do you listen to podcasts or books? 

I’ll start with podcasts because it’s the easier of the two to share! I’ve just recently started listening to Freakonomics podcasts.   

Occasionally I listen to that or a downloaded book on a run. The last book I listened to was Lean in, by Sheryl Sandberg.  

Most of the time I am a music girl! My music is crazy diverse! I like old school as well as newer stuff and some sappy stuff too ;) Here’s my latest playlist with some of my faves since I’ve been taking it easy. A few to get my heart pounding and a few to slow it down, reflect and mellow out. 

- Brave, Sara Bareilles
- Blow Me One Last Kiss Pink
- Perfect, Lady Gaga
- Firework and Roar, Katy Perry
- November Rain, Guns n Roses
- The Tide is High, Blondie
- All about that Bass, Meghan Trainor
- Baby Got Back, Sir Mix a Lot
- Run, Leona Lewis
- All of Me John Legend
- Home, Phillip Phillips
- Good Riddance Time of your Life, Green Day
- In My Dreams, REO Speedwagon
- Imagine, John Lennon
- Hallelujah, Rufus Wainwright
- Pachelbel Meets U2, Jon Schmidt
- Christmas Shoes, NewSong
- All I Want for Christmas, Mariah Carey
What is your favorite book(s)? 

One of my all time favorite books is, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. The universal themes settled right over the story of my life like a template, putting all my crazy thoughts and dreams exactly where they belong. My journey just seems to make sense now after reading it.

You should really read the book.

best quote in the alchemist

Do you cross-train(weightlifting, cycling, etc)? 

I have been really bad about cross-training this past season. A year ago, I was lifting weights, kickboxing and doing yoga in addition to running. I started slacking off the regimen and my body really notices the change. 

My goal this winter is to focus on strengthening my core and getting back into my gym routine. I’m hoping to get in a yoga class and also try a spinning class. Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day, and then I remind myself I need to re-prioritize and make the time. Next up….Buffalo Marathon this May!

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  1. Thanks for sharing this! It was interesting to read Darcey's running bio. Her journey to marathon distance was a real lesson in overcoming. The more I get to know her, the more inspired I am by her!

    1. Thanks Raina for reading and the nice comment. I do believe she will inspire many people as they come across this.

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