Why I Run: Randi Mitchell

Me with my husband and my son Henry. Henry ran this one with me and Tom came to meet me for the end after he finished his race (as he always does).
Me with my husband and my son Henry. Henry ran this one with me and Tom came to meet me for the end after he finished his race (as he always does).

I started running a year ago August because I was jealous. I was jealous of my husband and our three teenage sons after they returned from their runs with mud on their legs and smiles on their faces. They are trail runners and I wanted to be one, too. They were just having too much fun and I wanted to be a part of it.

I am 48 years old and 40 pounds overweight. I have always enjoyed exercise and maintained a decent level of fitness. I have painful knees so I had ruled out running long ago, at least street running. I watched with envy as my husband, our 17-year-old twins and our 16-year-old stepped out so effortlessly and ran the trails. I realized that if I ran in the trails, the varied surface might not produce the same type of pounding effect on my knees. By building the muscles around my knee, maybe I could run.

On July 31, 2011, my husband and sons went out for Sunday breakfast. I didn’t tell them what I had decided at 2 a.m. the night before. I stepped through the gate in our backyard into the woods and ran. And walked. And ran some more. It was so much fun. It was slow, it wasn’t pretty, but I came home muddy and happy.

I have been running trails ever since. I have slowly improved. I have managed my knee pain. I have had great runs, tough runs, cold runs, and warm runs. I have dragged my Newfoundland dog out there with me, much to her chagrin. She’s adjusted and so have I. Now she perks up when she sees me getting my trail shoes and sits, waiting to go. I have also enlisted a dear friend to run with me and we have explored the many trails available to us in our area. We feel strong and powerful, and time with a best friend running is a dream.

A favorite family photo from a vacation a couple of years ago in Hawaii.
A favorite family photo from a vacation a couple of years ago in Hawaii.

Shortly after I started running, the whole family signed up for a four-mile trail race. I was quite nervous to take on that distance as I had only been running a couple of months. I accepted the fact that I would be the last person to finish the race. I was not. My 15-year-old son Henry ran it with me and crossed the finish line behind me so as to prevent that from happening. That is the kind of support I receive at home from my sons and especially my husband Tom, who beams with pride that I get out there. This is a man who ran a trail marathon last fall and is currently running a mountain series. He seems to take as much pride in my slow three mile runs as he does in his many running accomplishments. It is this support that keeps me going out there and keeps my slow progress in perspective.

I feel so lucky to be out there, running the trails.

Randi, "a stay-at-home mom for a long time," went back to school four years ago to get a masters in social work. She will graduate this May.  

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40 responses to “Why I Run: Randi Mitchell

  1. What a great story. I call my morning plod (it is too slow to be called a jog) rapid movement. Really, tho, it is not the speed, it is just the movement. Enjoy.

  2. The bit about your 15 year old crossing the finish line after you made me tear up. Your family sounds wonderful. Congratulations on the great trail running, keep up the good work. 🙂

  3. So beautiful. You have me in joyful tears this am while drinking my coffee. What amazing family support & love you have. Way to go momma!!!! Keep rocking those trails. That’s my favorite place to run. Trails have magic healing powers…well at least I think so.

  4. Love love love your story and the support of your wonderful family of men! My 10 year old son is one of my biggest cheerleaders and it makes me proud to hear his praise when I hit a new milestone of some sort.

  5. I was catching up on blogs in my Google Reader today after the holiday craziness and saw that you guys switched to truncated posts in Reader. I’m really bummed to see that as I have a very limited amount of time to read blogs and am usually reading them at work, so I can’t click over and read the posts on your site. Unfortunately that means I unsubscribed today. Bummer!

  6. I have many parallel stories (mom of three boys-twins and a younger one, an MSW, and a trail runner). My boys are only 10 and 5 right now but I hope I can do as good of job to inspire them to be supportive athletes as your boys seem to be. That would be a greater success in my mind than any athletic accomplishment I might have.

  7. Congratulations Randi! You’ve obviously done an amazing job as a mother to have garnered such support and love from your husband and boys! We’re proud of you and you should be swelling with pride for yourself! And an MSW?!!! Wow! Go you!!!

  8. Ditto! Ditto! Ditto! What everyone has commented on! You are strong and should be proud to have accomplished what you have! You are an inspiration : ) Keep going girl!

  9. Not only a great runner but apparently an incredible Mom to raise a 15 year old so kind and respectful to finish last for her.

  10. Randi, Thank you for sharing your fitness story with the world. Fitness like life is not perfection but effort and reward. Anyway, according to the latest study, those skinnies are not living as long as those of us with a little extra cushion. Love you more every year I know you, Maggie

  11. Congratulations Randi! You are a strong momma and you should be proud of your running accomplishments as well as the supportive family you’ve molded. Thank you for your inspiration!

  12. I am the friend that Randi got running and I thank my lucky stars every day for her friendship and constant inspiration!! Running with Randi and been a gift on many levels. I now feel stronger, healthier, happier and more alive than ever before! Thank you my friend.

  13. I love that you have such a supportive family! And that you have found your happiness on the trails. I wish you many more healthy and fulfilling miles.

  14. What an inspiring story! I need to remind myself more often that just getting out there and running is the accomplishment NOT how fast I did it! How lucky you are with your support of guys!! Keep going!!!!

  15. Thank you for sharing this story…and very timely. Just yesterday I was struggling with the fact that I’ve been running for 3 years and am slow, but part of me is okay with that and knows that maybe I’m just not ever going to be super fast. Part of me was struggling with my recent race sign up and “Let me just finish” attitude. You have reminded me why I signed up. Thank you!

    1. Amy-
      my girlfriend and I have 3 goals at a race.
      1. finish
      2. smile
      3. don’t puke

      so far every race has been a success! keep it up. 🙂

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