Melissa Fenton, a self-described cookbook hoarder, mother of four boys, and BAMR who started running “to beat depression,” is gearing up for the 2015 Goofy Challenge at Disney World, in which she’ll run both the half and full marathon. Melissa, of Dade City, Fla., dreams of a European run, is looking forward to experiencing her best mile ever, and knows her donuts.
Best recent run: It’s been a brutally hot summer here in Florida. With daily 100% humidity and temps in the 90s, at this point if I come home still breathing and upright it’s my best run.
An unconditional gift: Running is the perfect gift giver, as it always inherently knows what you need during the different seasons of your life. It is also my most patient listener. Running and I continue to evolve together; the pavement, the pace, and my strides all coexisting to keep me sane. (I have four sons, it’s inevitable I’m totally nuts, so staying sane is paramount!) When I run, all the heavy burdens on my back like anxiety, oppressive worry, disappointment, and sadness all fall onto the pavement. This leaves me free to pick up grace, faith, and joy. Running gives me those gifts unconditionally.
Favorite recipe or cookbook: This is the toughest question! I just reviewed four southern cookbooks for HuffPo Taste, and my favorite of the bunch was “The B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery” by Alexe van Beuren. It has it all: mouth-watering southern food, witty essays about the south, and delicious pictures. I also enjoy canning (just call me a BAMR ‘JAM’R,) and love Marisa McClellan’s “Food In Jars-Preserving In Small Batches Year-Round.” My go-to cookbook for make-at-home staples is “The Homemade Pantry” by Alicie Cherlin. (See page 54 for maple popcorn. Trust me on this.)
Tried-and-true hat: I have worn the same running hat for over a decade, and for all seven of my marathons. It is from my alma mater, a garnet Florida State University cap. Years of Florida sun have faded it to an almost pink, but like a BRF, that hat has never failed me. I’m very low maintenance when it comes to running gear, so with my lucky hat and Sauconys on my feet, I’m good to go.
10K or half-marathon: Half for sure. Most days it takes six miles to just get my engine warmed up and my mojo going.
Best way to cross train: For me it’s tennis, a game I’ve played since childhood and still adore. My doubles partner is 75 years old, and goes after every shot with the verve of a 22-year-old on Wimbledon’s Centre Court. She kicks my ass, often running me ragged. She is happy I make her feel young, and I am happy she makes getting old look so damn good.
Ice cream of French fries: Glazed donuts, powdered donuts, jelly donuts….sorry, what was the question again?
Best running advice I ever received: “Your mind will give out long before your body will.”
If I could run anywhere…: You know that scene from the movie ‘Under the Tuscan Sun” with the miles and miles of blazing yellow sunflower fields and tall olive trees dancing along the Italian countryside? There. I want to run THERE. Italy anyone?
What keeps me going when I hit a rough patch: Because I started running to beat depression, I am kept going by the fact my mental health truly depends on each and every step I take. That doesn’t make the steps any easier, but it sure makes finishing them truly vital to myself and my family. I also marvel at what an amazing machine the human body is, this temple, this amazing gift that gave life to four sons and now continues to give ME life and hope through the simple repetitive movement of putting one foot in front of the other. How can that NOT keep you going?
What I thought about during today’s run: This humidity is so thick I might as well breast stroke through this run; carpooling logistics for new school year; is that Salt ’N Pepa song really 20 years old? Man I’m old; eggs, milk, bread, cheese….Great, I’m now dripping sweat from THERE. Ewww, dead armadillo….at least I am having a better day than that guy. Do you think if I run into that pasture the cows would let me use their salt lick?
Best mile ever: I don’t think I’ve had my ‘best mile ever’ yet, and that both scares and excites the heck out of me. It’s probably why I keep running, the anticipation of eventual epic-ness. I’m ready for you ‘best mile ever’ -- bring it!
My running in three words: Gracious, Capable, Hilarious.