Meet RUNColumbus team member Courtney Williams. Courtney’s husband, Jordan, thinks all this running and walking are crazy, but he supports her fully and loves to see how it makes her days better. Courtney has a 14-year-old daughter who got her into running through Girls on the Run. Courtney’s daughter said she would participate only if mom was the coach. Courtney continued to run even after her daughter aged out of Girls on the Run and began to pursue her musical passions. Courtney’s son is 11 and runs with her from time to time. Courtney says her son is an encourager at heart and loves to go back after finishing a race to cheer on others. Rounding out the Williams family are two dogs—Norman is a Coonhound mix and Snickers is a Beagle/Basset mix.

Why/when did you start running? I grew up playing sports, but I was never a runner. I played soccer through college, but I played goalkeeper. So, still – not a runner. It wasn’t until February of 2016 when I looked at myself and decided that I could not be the mom to my kids that I wanted to be with the body that I had, that I considered running. It started with walking and coaching Girls on the Run. Then it led to doing 5Ks as a way to celebrate my successes with health. I was pretty consistent for a year or two. But I bore easily – one of the reasons I never got into running before. I took up boxing for a couple of years and loved it. It did wonders for my stamina and body. It enabled me to finish my first half-marathon in 2019. When COVID hit, I gave it up. But I didn’t go back to walking and running as much. Over the last 6 months, I have been challenging myself to forget times and just focus on loving running/walking/moving. I have run or walked outside every day since January 1st. Races have been few because of family commitments and being out of town to care for my mother, who has cancer. I will add that my husband’s mother was diagnosed with cancer a couple of months before my mom. All that to say, I am glad that I am healthy enough to walk and run each day. I recently joined Run for God through the Church of the Messiah, and I love being an encourager to all those who show up on Saturday mornings.

What is your favorite aspect(s) of running? I love the stories that come with each run. I will admit that I get frustrated when times don’t drop as fast as I think they should, and I fight the fear of not being able to run as well or better than I did before. But I am learning. And the most important part of the run is the story that I have to tell at the end of it. It always turns into more of a sermon than a story; because what I learn out there is what I want others to learn as well. For example, I had to do the Run for More Birthdays as a virtual race because I was out of town taking care of my mother, trying to get her to her next birthday in July. Without going into detail, I will tell you that last week was her fourth chemo treatment. She lives in a subdivision full of hills, not ideal for PR’s, but great for metaphors. There is a one-mile loop that leaves her house, goes straight up a hill for about a quarter-mile and then slowly winds back and around the hill to her home. So, on Monday night, I ran that loop three times to finish my 5K. I did not make it up the hill without a lot of walking, but I sure enjoyed the relief of gravity helping me on the backside. In order to cover the four chemo treatments, I walked the hill a fourth time after I had finished my race. As I ran and walked and ran and walked, I thought about hers and so many others whose cancer journey is ongoing, with its ups and down, hills and valleys, it’s times when a walk is all they can muster and when getting to the next mailbox is the only goal. I stopped to try and get a selfie on the hill. That didn’t help my time, but I wanted to show what I was overcoming. then I realized that having the time to show what one is overcoming is sometimes a luxury. There are so many people out there who don’t get medals around their necks or t-shirts in their dresser drawers to show the accomplishments of their races. Their races are measured by breaths without pain, steps without stumbles, vision without disturbance, one pain-free moment at a time. I say this not to depress you but to let you know that if you see me at a race, don’t be surprised if you feel a hand on your shoulder, a pat on your back, a tug on your heartstring. That’s why I’m there.

What excites you about being part of the RUNColumbus Race Series and Team? Getting a chance to share from the back of the pack and to keep myself motivated to keep moving and stay involved with people who have encouraged me over the past few years. Plus, I heard there were snacks!

Anything else you would like to share? (Goals, Club/Group, Recent Achievements) I mentioned my involvement with Girls on the Run and Run for God. I’m happy to answer any questions about those organizations. Also, if you see me out walking and it looks like I’m talking to myself, I’m probably doing a little preaching. And you are welcome to join me to listen, but you’ll probably have to slow your pace.

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