Brook Kreder is the kind of person you want on your team. When we met at a conference for women entrepreneurs, more than two years ago, she asked about my book, which then had the working title of “Rosy Cheeks: Growing Up Mennonite.” I was the writer. She was the one with the MBA and a background in marketing.
Immediately, Brook started thinking with me, encouraging me, telling me that this was going to be a great book and she wanted to read it.
Since I was slogging away at the first draft, she offered me something every writer needs — encouragement. She didn’t yet know of the adventures that lay before HER.
She was about to learn a lesson that all of us need to learn, and re-learn, in life.
But first, she had to run a literal marathon. Her first.
And in the process, she became a blogger and writer, soon to be an author.
After I blatantly stole her 100 Day Challenge idea (with her kind permission!), I asked Brook if she would share her incredible story with us. She said yes!
1. How and why did you choose to run your first marathon? Did you see it as a New Beginning?
I chose to train for my first marathon because I needed something in my life I could control. Which is another way of saying, I wanted to put my energy into a project/dream/goal where if I did the work, the outcome was guaranteed. So much of our everyday life isn’t in our “control” per say; and I needed to prove, (to myself), that my efforts could produce a heroic result.
When I paid my registration fee five months before race day, I didn’t know enough to KNOW it would be a new beginning. Now that I’m on the backside of all things marathon, I can say with complete authority that it forever changed my life.
For me, running isn’t about pounding pavement and racking up miles. Running is the vehicle I used to heal. Over 18 weeks and a crap load of break downs, blow outs and damn bad plans along the trail, I found My voice. My heart. My sanity. My truth. Running a marathon helped me to reconnect with My Self.
And the bonus? I also found my purpose. (Surprisingly, it’s to make people laugh and give it to ‘em straight! Who knew?)
2. Why and how did you do the 100 Day Movement Challenge?
About 30 days into my journey, I started to get emails, Facebook messages and comments on the blog from women all over the U.S. While their stories were hugely different, their messages all had a common theme – that my drive and commitment [to training] was inspiring them to do something amazing in their own life. I created the 100 Days of Movement Challenge as a way for them to log their accomplishments, celebrate their wins and be rewarded for their efforts.
As far as how…well, the only thing I cared about was making the process easy for them (and selfishly, for me.) So I used Google docs to track their entries, and only asked for their name, email address and activity. I believe the response was so good because: 1) I promoted the challenge on Face book and on the blog consistently and 2) It was super easy to participate. Okay, and the prize was pretty cool, too.
3. What happened after Day One? Did you get your incredible following right away?
I was sitting in a dingy hotel room back in January with some extra time on my hands. I thought, “What the hell? I should start a blog.” So I got on wordpress.com and started clicking a bunch of buttons. A unique url and $200 later, BrooksFirstMarathon.com was born.
I then got a wild hair to start a Facebook page. (You can see how strategic I am, right?) Within the first week the page had 67 fans. Then a close friend threw me a challenge – whoever reached 1000 fans on Facebook first had to buy the other lunch. She won. (I know, bummer!) But in the process, I fell in love with telling the story…and sharing the absolute, raw, ridiculous, hilarious truth with others. Social media has been a key factor in driving blog readership and awareness for the brand. It has also been a great relationship building tool.
4. What has been the biggest reward, running or blogging?
No one has ever asked me this…what a soul-stirring question. Of course, crossing the finish line after wrecking yourself for 26.2 miles is nothing short of awesome. But honestly, and I’ve never shared this, my proudest moment during training was when I laid down my first 20 mile run. I ran with a crippling side cramp for 11 of those 20 miles, and it almost destroyed me physically. When I got back to the car, my support person (D.R.) was waiting, and she hugged me until I stopped sobbing. That was the day I learned, pride is enough.
When I started blogging, my writing was mediocre at best. If you go back and read the first 30 posts on the blog, they’re weak. (And trust me, that’s being kind.) That said, there is no denying as I became stronger, (physically, mentally, spiritually), so did my writing. Note: if you want to become a better writer, commit to banging out words on your keyboard daily. It works!
Over the course of 18 weeks, not only did I lay down my first marathon, but I found my authentic voice. My fear about what other people thought became a non-issue. I just knew I had to tell the freakin’ story. It didn’t take me long to figure out I’d been gifted with an amazing opportunity to tell the truth…and at the same time, inspire others. I have no doubt a higher power was conspiring behind the scenes to bring all of this together.
5. You realize, of course, that your blog posts have become a memoir! I recognized that you had “blog to book” material when I saw your Facebook Page. You, of course, were one step ahead of me and already have a book in the works. Tell me about it!
Again, this too has been driven by my followers. For months, I received emails from people begging me to turn the blog into a book. After you get a hundred or so emails from people saying the same thing, it’s hard to ignore. So, right after I ran the marathon, I hired an editor. I’m working with an e-book expert now to format the book for multiple distributors. I think the finished product hits the virtual shelves sometime in July. I sincerely hope people love reading it as much as I loved living it.
I also want to share that the journey continues. I signed on to run marathon No. 2 in Portland, Oregon, on October 6, 2013. I am still blogging; (albeit not daily!). You can follow the adventure at www.BrooksNextMarathon.com.
I love Brook’s “badass” spirit and her great sense of humor. She makes me want to stretch and grow. There would be no 100 Day Challenge here without her. Hope you enjoyed meeting her.
My New Beginning today? I’m going to finish an essay on “Mennonites and Memoir” I’ve been thinking about for years. Want to send it off today!
What’s your New Beginning? After reading Brook’s story, I know you’re inspired. Tell me about it here. It’s easy!