By Kassidy Carter
With each step that hits the pavement, my thoughts, which can be caught spinning at times, begin to run in sync. I ran track in high school, but it took many years before I realized that distance running was not only a good physical exercise but a mental one as well. I lace up my shoes, step out in the sunshine, re-focus and build my mental strength.
It’s certainly not easy. But about five years ago, my aunt told me about a program that would give me extra motivation on my runs. And a beautiful new chapter of my running career began when I signed up for I Run 4.
I Run 4 matches runners with buddies (mostly children and veterans) who are unable to run themselves. I was matched with Ky. Ky lives in Kansas, and her mom signed her up for the program when she was just three years old. Ky was born with a congenital heart defect and has a seizure disorder. Her special heart and other conditions make her unable to run on her own. And while she participates in races with her mom, it’s extra special to know we are thinking about each other on the course.
During workouts and races, Ky’s family and I keep in touch on Facebook Messenger. I send pictures, notes, and videos of races. And beyond our shared joy of hitting the pavement, we also share a passion for Batman, horses, and bunnies. Over the last five years, through the highs of finish lines and the lows of injuries, we’ve been virtually side-by-side. It’s been amazing to watch her grow and accomplish her goals while I worked toward my running goals as well.
While I work toward running my first full marathon before I turn 40, I’m excited to be settled back in Wisconsin and participating in the Thedacare Half Marathon. I know having a race close to home where my family and friends can support me will mean a lot and will help me push through on the course when things get tough. Someday, I hope to join Ky for a race!
But for right now, my goal is to cross the finish line in September and make Ky’s day by sending photos and videos along the way.
The Extra Mile
Kassidy’s Pump Up Song: Don’t Stop Believin’ Journey