A message popped into my inbox this morning from an unfamiliar sender. It started, "You do not know me but your stories have inspired me so much."
The sender went on to say that she stumbled on my blog last year while searching for Team In Training info after her parents received a fundraising letter from a family member.
Apparently she bookmarked the site and, while in the midst of a divorce, returned regularly to read about my progress -- probably both emotionally and physically.
"It gave me the strength I needed to start thinking of myself," she wrote.
Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would inspire someone to take care of themselves. My whole hang-up about looking out for myself has been that it goes against my instinct and desire to help others. I always thought of it as selfish. It took me a long time to realize it's not selfish at all. And now I realize that taking care of myself has helped others.
Beyond the fact that I have apparently inspired and helped a total stranger through a difficult time, I certainly never thought I'd inspire anyone to start running.
But that's exactly what this woman has recently started doing -- admittedly taking on the challenge of running during the toughest season of the year, especially in New England. (I strongly believe that if you can train in this weather, the rest of the year is a breeze. It really is!)
I've been very moved by the onslaught of messages I've gotten from people after my last blog post on my experience with the Hampton Half Marathon. They've shared stories about how I've been inspiring them to start running, asked about joining TnT groups around the country and told me they feel a little better taking on a challenge after seeing my success.
Turns out, I might even take a trip to Toronto later this year to re-connect with my cousins for a 10K -- and I'm very excited about that prospect. (I should warn them ahead of time that if I'm traveling internationally to run six miles, they best be at the starting line with me!)
Words cannot express how I felt when I heard these things, and in particular, when I received the message today.
I may be inspiring her, but she and the other supporters I've apparently touched, also inspire me to keep going and never look back.