Everyone has a story. For some it’s a story of wanting something more, for others it’s a story full of tears, heart and determination. Our series “Sole Stories” will give you a glimpse into what drives women to change their lives and their “soles.” We first met Brenda Stallings on Twitter (@runnerbee08) and then in March at the 2011 Publix Georgia Marathon and Half. She leads Black Girls RUN! Little Rock and she’s definitely one of the most amazing women we’ve met. After you read her story, you’ll understand why.
BGR: You’ve run 21 half marathons since 2003, how and why did you get started?
BS: I was talking to my aunt and she encouraged me to get involved with some group activity so I could meet new people. We looked in the local paper and saw an article about the Little Rock marathon. The training was free and all I needed was running shoes…I showed up that Saturday morning and the walkers out walked me. I was looking for my car by mile 2. I knew then that I needed to get serious. I researched run/walk schedules on the internet and started my journey.
BGR: What was the motivation behind all of that racing?
BS: I love to travel so I thought I would merge my two loves…running and traveling. My goal is to run a half marathon in every state plus the District of Columbia.
BGR: You mentioned that you don’t see a lot of BGRs in Arkansas. Why do you think that is?
BS: Truthfully, I think it’s a failure to put ourselves first. We have some dynamic sistas in Arkansas who are committed to boot camp, tennis or other activities and really haven’t looked into running. On the other hand, we have sistas moving and shaking politically or socially but forgetting to take care of themselves. Those sistas are the ones that I want to reach with Black Girls RUN! Little Rock.
BGR: Besides running, what other exercises are apart of your fitness routine?
BS: “All I do is run, run, run, no matter what
Got running on my mind, I can never get enough
And every time I step up in a race
Everybody hands go up” Courtesy of DJ Khaled, All I Do Is Win
BGR: What has been the best experience about running?
BS: Meeting new people. I have three great running partners, Darrick, Willie and Leon. The Little Rock Marathon running group is the best running group ever. I’ve meet some wonderful people while running and now I’m connected with Black Girls Run! I smile every time I look at my running shoes, my gear and my medals. Even the not so great races where my time might be off or I’m sluggish, I smile because I always meet someone new. Also, an added bonus from running is that I’ve lost 30+ pounds since running and changing my eating habits.
BGR!: Have you made any adjustments to your diet since you have been running? If so, what changes have you made?
BS: Before running, I ate french fries every day of my life. Once I committed myself to performing better at my races, I stopped eating french fries and all fried foods. Also, I try to drink a gallon of water daily.
BGR: What is your favorite running gear?
BS: My favorite running gears are my Saucony Grid Omni 9 shoes, Bodyglide and my Black Girls RUN! performance shirt.
BGR!: Is there a marathon in your future? Why or why not?
BS: I ran one full marathon and HATED IT!!! I hated the training which is truly time consuming and I hated the feeling after the race…I was drained. I really, really, really enjoy half marathons. I can sight see the city without worrying about being too tired the next day, I can even party the night before a race (Detroit AKA’s…I’m talking to you) and run a PR (personal record) the next morning. I enjoy running a max of 12 miles for a long run versus 20 miles. I guess it’s just a matter of preference.
BGR!: You recently attended the Paris Marathon. Tell us about your experience.
BS: I absolutely LOVE Paris and to combine one of my favorite cites with my favorite activity was nothing short of amazing. I try to find a race in any city I plan to visit, so when I Googled running and Paris, the full marathon was scheduled the exact time I was planning to visit. I truly contemplated whether I should just suck it up and run but after further research registration was closed. Volunteering was the next best thing I could do. I emailed the Marathon Coordinator and asked if I could volunteer. He responded in French and I had to translate every word but I recognized Oui (Yes). I worked water stop 21K (13.1 miles) and it was so much fun! I had never volunteered at a race before and didn’t know all the work that was required. Also, I learned that when you run an International race, you should learn certain words (water, bathroom, and help) in the cities language. The experience was awesome. I am now committed to running the Paris half marathon 2012.
BGR!: Do you have any words of encouragement for other women who are embracing fitness and a healthy lifestyle?
BS: Words of encouragement…If I can do it, anyone can do it. I was the most inactive person before running. I didn’t even own a pair of gym shoes. However, I set a goal and committed myself to the goal. I started with just a walk/run combination around my neighborhood block. Then it was walking, running to Philander Smith College (1/2 mile from my house). I took my time and documented my progress every day. My co-workers encouraged me along with my family and friends. I signed up for the Detroit Race for the Cure 5k, and then a half marathon. My family was at the finish line of the half marathon with signs cheering. I was hooked. And I know if other women would just take that step outside, they would be hooked too.