BY: ANDIE COZZARELLI
When I graduated from college I didn’t think I would be sitting here writing the words I am about to write. Graduating from college with a Civil Engineering degree, a job lined up, and no semblance of a running career, I figured this was it. Time for the real world. Problem being, something was missing.
I kept running but in a more dazed and confused way. Did I want it? Could I do something with it? What was I doing and what was I trying to get out of it? I had no idea. I just got up every day and ran. The same route. At the same time. An out and back in the darkness with nothing but my thoughts. It wasn’t until my grandfather died that I realized what running meant to me. His last words to me were “When I get better, I will be at your next race.” As I reflected on that moment I realized that my running journey was not about me. I thought back on all the people who had a hand in getting me to where I was in life. From the email of a stranger who told me to keep running after the abrupt end to my college season, to Allie Bigelow who Google stalked me and told me how good I was going to be. I knew I needed to keep pursuing my running passion but not for me, but to impact others the way I had been impacted.
So, I made some changes to how I thought about running. Changed my motivation and it was no longer a chore. I literally and figuratively changed my route, enjoyed the process, and began connecting with other runners. I knew in joining Oiselle that I felt the most alive when I was putting my foot to pavement, sharing my story, and seeing others succeed.
Now, fast forward to October of last year. I was a month out from my second shot at a debut marathon. It was 10:00PM on October 4th and I should have been in bed but instead I was squeezing in a last min strength workout after getting up at 4:30AM to run, then working from 7:30-6:00PM, doubling, making dinner, packing my lunch, and packing my bags for camp, my hall of fame ceremony, and my race in Boston. I was about halfway through my workout when I crumbled into a ball and burst into tears. All because I saw a cockroach. But, it wasn’t the cockroach. That day I had also gotten a bill from the 10-month ongoing saga with the ambulance service from the Trials. The stress bomb had been building and the cockroach just pressed the button.
I knew I needed to make a change. I reflected on a conversation I had with Pete Rae, the coach at ZAP Fitness. He said something along the lines of “You have to know that YOU ARE good enough.” I had never felt like I had proven myself enough to allow myself to focus on running. But I also didn’t want to get 10 years down the road and wonder, “What if?”. I wanted to take a chance on myself. As my new coach Steph Bruce so perfectly said it, “Give yourself a chance for success.”
So, I did. I made a plan, and on Monday Feb. 27th I put in my resignation at my engineering job. And it was the scariest, hardest thing I have ever done, but I knew deep in my gut it was the right thing. When you find something in your life that makes you feel like nothing else, go for it. Don’t be afraid to tread outside of your comfort zone for something you are truly passionate about. It may work out and it may not but you don’t want to spend your life thinking of all the things you could have done. Change is scary for a reason. But as runners we thrive outside of our comfort zones. PR’s don’t come from the depths of our own self-critical minds. They come from stepping out of the boxes we put ourselves in, letting our bodies push ourselves to the limits of the unknown and being free to flyaway.