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The Finish Line Is Just the Beginning

By Suzanna McCloskey on 12/10/2015 | Remarkable! People

It’s exciting but expected to hear about the people who win races. But have you ever wondered about the people who finish last?

Nikkia Young, Volunteer Events Chair for Girls on the Run of Greater Richmond, recently accomplished the feat of completing her first marathon and doesn’t want you to feel sorry for her when you learn she was the last person to finish. With her ever optimistic perspective, Nikkia views her accomplishment in a positive light because she persevered longer than anybody else on the course.

“We tend to do this thing in life where we always celebrate the winner,” she said. “We forget too that there’s a middle and an end to almost anything. Running has changed that for me because, even though I finished last, I got out there and did it. Running has given me a whole different kind of confidence.

Nikkia calls her journey as a runner a “gradual progression of nuts.” As a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha, a Girls on the Run volunteer alliance (and how she originally heard of Girls on the Run!), Nikkia watched one of her sisters complete a marathon and thought she would never do that. However, she soon found herself registering for a 5k with friends…and then a 10k…and then a half marathon…and finally the Anthem Richmond Marathon in November.

She started training for the marathon at the end of May and knew to trust her training, but that was difficult to remember when she began to feel sick on race day. Originally thinking she just had a head cold, she soon found herself feeling sicker and sicker as she progressed through the 26.2 mile race. In true GOTR style, she decided to make the most of it and prove to herself that she could set and achieve a stretch goal, despite the less-than-ideal circumstances.

Finish Line

Nikkia finishing the marathon.

“I asked myself – how do I want to do this? The marathon didn’t have anything to do with the naysayers. All I thought about was the positive encouragement I had gotten from all the people who were pushing me forward. If I had let the negative talk sink in, I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.”

Nikkia said the contacts she made through Girls on the Run of Greater Richmond were one of her biggest sources of positive inspiration. During the marathon, she also focused on what the Girls on the Run curriculum teaches.

GOTR girls learn it’s all about continuing to move forward at their healthy pace, not about how fast that pace is. When you keep moving forward – whether by running, walking, skipping or hopping – you’re consistently making strides of progress toward achieving a goal.

“We get into the mindset that not being as fast as someone means you aren’t as good as them, and that’s not really true,” Nikkia said. “We’re all different shapes and sizes and go at different paces, and we need to celebrate that.”

Nikkia’s advice to GOTR girls?

“Give yourself a goal, aim for that goal and give it your all. There’s a lot to be learned from seeing a goal through in the long run.”

And in a true display of Girls on the Run spirit, Nikkia has set her sights on her next goal and has already registered for her second marathon! Nikkia, thank you for showing the world your limitless potential!

Suzanna McCloskey

Author

Suzanna is the Marketing Services Coordinator at Girls on the Run International, where she serves as the project manager for all marketing collateral, manages the weekly e-newsletter for Girls on the Run councils and works closely with the Partnerships and Programming Departments. She comes to Girls on the Run with a background in nonprofit communications and is thankful for the opportunity to help girls lead joyful, healthy and confident lives.

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