Kaitlyn here. I’m one of the co-founders of WeRunMPLS and I’m here to get personal today. Jen + I started WeRunMPLS with two goals in mind: 1) create a place where real community could take place, and 2) provide a space where runners of all paces and abilities could show up and feel welcome + get something out of the group. I think we’re doing a pretty good job! But I also think that a key ingredient to building community is honesty; people need to hear the real story, not the social media version or the one that makes you feel good about yourself. So, here’s mine; below is a status I shared on my personal Facebook page today about a running experience I just had; one I never wanted to have but am becoming increasingly more thankful for:

“I spent a long time trying to figure out how to write this post + deleted it over + over. It’s hard to say you failed, even if the reason is technically a good one. I set out to become an ultra runner this weekend at the Afton 50K + I didn’t finish. I DNFed. I dropped out at mile 22 due to considerable pain in my foot/leg from an injury I’ve been struggling with (good reason) but I didn’t meet my goal (failure). It’s hard to admit that. It’s hard to post the not-so-good things online. But I’ve spent the weekend dealing with my emotions + I’m realizing good things happened, too. My dad finished his second ultra + did it really well! He’s an amazing runner + I’m so proud of him + happy he lets me join him in these endeavors. My mom + Dustin were there supporting us, cheering for us + encouraging me when I needed it most. The four of us got to spend a good chunk of time with my aunt + uncle who live near the park, staying overnight at their house. A woman on the trail stopped her race to give me a huge, sweaty, stranger hug to tell me what I was doing, attempting a race so long + hilly, wasn’t small, even though it feels like failure. And now, I have two major things to chase after: 1) figure out what exactly is wrong with my foot/leg + work on healing/recovery, and 2) a 2017 finish at the Afton 50K (and maybe a fall 50K if I can get back on track with recovery). So, here’s to picking up the pieces + coming back better, faster + most importantly, stronger.”

I struggled to post it because I LOVE running. I started a whole group around running, I lead a weekly group where I’m supposed to not fail, where I’m supposed to show up strong and able. I’ve been training for this race all year. I’ve set goals and I’ve told people about them and it’s so difficult to admit I couldn’t do it. I felt like I let not only myself down, but my whole community. I felt like I wasn’t credible anymore, that I didn’t deserve to lead a group of runners. And so I didn’t say anything about it. Failure is a hard thing to broadcast to the world, my friends. I avoided telling people about my race as much as possible until today. I knew I’d have to say something when people asked me about it but I was dreading answering the questions; I was dreading hearing people say my race was still an accomplishment, I was dreading hearing about how it was still impressive, I was dreading the sympathetic looks or the disappointment in people’s eyes. But I decided to post it anyway because I wanted to be honest with people – I’d been talking about this race in person and online for months and I felt like I owed it to my community, and to myself, to tell the whole story. Surprisingly, no one’s comments felt like pity to me. I realized so much of that fear was just in my head. The people who did comment/text/call truly meant what they said and said something because they were proud of me or because they believe in me or because they 100% totally get it – they were willing to fill in the gaps where I wasn’t feeling worth it or strong or able or accomplished. THAT is community.

I was so encouraged by the support of my family and friends, but also the WeRunMPLS family that’s become so near and dear to me. And the result of that post, the community that stood up around and for me today, is EXACTLY what WeRunMPLS is intended to be, and is growing to be. I don’t care how far you’ve run, how fast you run now, if your goals are to run any race or just to run sometimes. WeRunMPLS is a place where it’s okay to fail, where you can show up knowing people will support you no matter where you’re at; a place where your successes are celebrated; a place where what’s happening in your life is important to me. Because, just like one of my runners reminded me, it’s not about the destination but the journey. So journey with us. Find something on Thursday nights that you didn’t expect. Maybe it’s someone who helps push your pace. Maybe it’s someone who understands an injury you’re struggling with. Maybe it’s someone who’s going through the same things you are, totally unrelated to running. Or maybe it’s new people to keep you healthy. We’ve got something special in this group – I’ve known that for a long time – but today when I shared something that I never wanted to admit, the WeRunMPLS community stood up for me and around me, cheering me on and I can’t wait to continue the journey with you all, ready to celebrate your successes and roadblocks, highs and lows.

See you Thursday nights.