By Jenna Schifferle
If you ever happen to be driving by Delaware Avenue in Buffalo on a Monday or Wednesday, you might see people shuffling down the sidewalk as a fleet of reflective gear shines off the headlights before them.
Some nights, they take to Delaware Park, running circles around the tennis courts and the zoo; some nights, they trace circles around the surrounding neighborhoods.
With temperatures in low digits and snow coating every inch of the town, you might think them a bit nuts — that is, until you join them.
If you would have asked me seven years ago if I wanted to go for a run with you, I probably would have laughed and treated myself to a large mocha latte, because why run when you can caffeinate, right? And then slowly, I started to go for a run here and there, crawled a few races, fell on the wagon and off again. So the cycle goes. Then, I discovered Fleet Feet Sports.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with Fleet Feet, it’s a running store that’s nestled into a plaza near Hertel on Delaware Avenue. Someone casually mentioned to me that they do free group runs on Monday and Wednesday nights, and since I’d tinkered with running, I figured I would give it a try. The rest, as they say, is history (in the making, of course). It wasn’t long before I formed bonds with the people there, and the closer I got to them, the more I started believing that I could do the impossible.
A few more miles? Sure!
Tackle a few hills? Why not!
Run a half marathon? I’m in!
Even in other areas of my life, I started to have more confidence and energy. When times get stressful, running helps me stay centered and focused. Not to mention, runners are there for each other. Even on my worst runs, the people at Fleet Feet have helped me laugh through the tears. Because of them, I’m able to keep going, even when it’s uncomfortable.
So, it’s no surprise that in October, I will be attempting my first marathon in the same city that sparked my fascination with running — Chicago. After seeing crowds of people crossing the finish line with looks of triumph and exhaustion, I felt inspired. When I joined Fleet Feet, I learned to take that inspiration and run with it.
From one “non-runner” to the next, I hope my journey will inspire you to take the first step in any area of your life. After all, sometimes it just takes a good group of people to get you moving.
Feel free to join us on Mondays and Wednesdays at 2290 Delaware Ave., starting at 6 p.m.