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It started on a windy Hill-o-ween

Hill-o-ween 2016
This year marks my 3rd annual Hilloween on Saturday (brrr)! Hilloween is a special event to me and I am glad Mike Bell continues to host and put it on. During my sauna today and listening to David Clark’s book Out There he talks about the running community and how great they were. I realized just how much the running community has helped me with running and running advice but providing friendships. Today I talked with Kaitlin Pace on a run I did not want to wake up for, did not want to run, and I realized that I have met some amazing friends over the past two years. These friendships all started with an FRXC group run and meeting the infamous Mike Bell.

Most of these friendships were made (directly or indirectly) on Hilloween 2 years ago. My first Hilloween I met Dan, Julia (both of whom gave a complete stranger a hug), Peggy, Alli, Dylan, Dan Nally, and Robin. There were others that I met before like Jennifer Forker. After Hilloween and over the next year I would participate in group runs, compete in races hosted by CMRA and RMRR, but none of those came close to the camaraderie of that Hilloween group.

Ride the Dragon!
The next year after the first Hilloween I mainly kept in touch with Mike and occasionally Peggy through FRXC runs. One FRXC group run Mike brought up this new group, PlayGldn, and invited me to join. Him and others were doing tabata (still cringing) workouts early Thursday morning’s. I was not very keen on working out instead of running, but because Mike insisted I decided to show up. My first PlayGldn is where I truly met Dan and Julia and yes received another “semi-stranger” hug. In-case you ever meet these two amazing people they are awesome huggers and will probably hug you too! We PlayGldn’ed at Norman D. Memorial park in April and was a day to remember, as I officially rode on a “dragon”. I was hooked and not just for the awesome workout and excellent hugs, but because I was accepted and treated as if I was their friend my whole life.

PlayGldn eventually evolved once Dan and Julia were healed to a running group. The tabata was a way to do cross-training and allow some injuries from running to heal. Little did I know just how spectacular, amazing, speedy, and crazy Mike, Dan, Julia, and eventually others were at running! I was humbled to be a part of such a group and excited to see just how “far” this group would take everyone.

The Lonely Thursday
One Thursday morning in November I showed up to PlayGldn and where Dan, the Coors Parking lot, and I worked out together. This was yet another memorable PlayGldn workout being able to talk with Dan one on one. Exactly what we talked about I am not really sure but I sure do remember the suicide training we did! Little did I know that showing up this Thursday was probably the most important Thursday for me to of ever showed up. I found out in April, after missing two consecutive PlayGldn’s in March, that Dan was ready to stop doing PlayGldn that Thursday morning at the Coors Parking lot in November.

In April Dan informed me that my showing up that Thursday helped to keep PlayGldn alive. I have reflected on that day more than once after Dan told me this. I really did not want to get out of bed that day because I was going to be working from home and would need to drive to Golden to drive back home. I should note here my office is in-between Golden and my house, so usually when I go into work, PlayGldn is a no-brainer.

This particular morning was chilly and sleep seemed was calling me but I said I would be there the night before. Over the years I have learned one thing over and over again, it is not the big steps you take that make lasting impressions, but the small steps. Stepping out of bed, stepping into my clothes, stepping into my car, stepping out of my car, and stepping up to give Dan a hug to start our workout were the small steps necessary at that point in time. If you have ever seen “What about Bob?” then you know it is all about baby steps. To me I think Dan was trying to make me feel good, but either way I appreciate it and everyone who has kept PlayGldn alive since then by showing up even when I didn’t.

They wrote my name and gave me a hat!
What triggered Dan telling me this is in March I had a two week period that I did not show up from some injuries I was battling and sleep deprivation that comes with children. The second week PlayGldn decided they missed me and drew my name in the road to tell me so. I remember the feeling I had when I saw the post and the love for the group and everyone. Of course I showed up next Thursday, as I was not letting anything prevent that, and I received my favorite hat I have ever received. A PlayGldn hat! These gestures mean a lot to me and ever since then I have tried to hold up my end of the bargain by showing up every Thursday I am able to.

All about the people
Many people have entered my life from PlayGldn to list the core people: Sara Rosenberg (pre-running), Ginny McGinnis (pre-running), Kevin Gravina, Meaghan Gravina, Pace, Aviva, and Ryan Starbuck. Every one of them has affected me in some way, shape, or form. Whether it was Starbuck showing up at 5am to give me company on my DinoRidge Marathon day knowing I had planned to start running at 2am or Kevin talking to me about some of his biking treks. Mike Bell telling me to take it easy and start tapering two weeks before my 24 hour run. Dan pointing out that I needed to make a decision on 2 or 4 hours as that is what I would be battling during my 24hour run. I feel that just being in their company was made me a better person.

I had been talking about running for 100-miles or 24 hour race at PlayGldn since it started. It had always been a dream of mine and when I finally signed up for it, although everyone though I was insane to do a 1-mile loop, they were supportive beyond my imagination. So supportive that during the final hours of my race Mike, Pace, Dan, Julia, Kevin and Meaghan all showed up to cheer me on! This left a lasting impression on me, as for the most part I was not expecting anyone to really show up but family. I was completely wrong. I know I do not need to say it, but Thank You to all of them from the bottom of my heart. You showed me what great friends I have in my life and this all stemmed from running and showing up. I have told every one of them that I now owe them at least one cheer-gang, pacing, and or crew and plan to hold to my word when the time comes even though I know they do not feel that way.

Filled with joy
Now as Hilloween 3 is looming I am stuck remembering all about how it started and in truth it all started because I decided one day to run. A simple yet powerful action to just go and run. My action was extremely selfish as my only goal was to lose weight but little did I know I would come to know great people that have helped mold me into a more humble human being.

Thank you Mike Bell for hosting Hilloween, inviting me to PlayGldn, and introducing me to people that changed me for the better. Thank you Dan and Julia for hosting PlayGldn and keeping it alive. I truly appreciate what you three have done for me and maybe one day I can repay the debt in some form.

Thank you to all the strangers who has become a core part of my life and my second family the past three years, I truly do love you all!

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