A couple of weeks ago, a pretty amazing woman was faced with a pretty incredible challenge. In the matter of moments, her priorities shifted from training for her next marathon to surviving a brain tumor.
Monika and I met through the amazing not for profit Girls on the Run. We actually, I recognized her from my very first coaches meeting last summer. I remember thinking that she was extremely energetic and passionate about the organization (as well as noting that she was also very well organized when she explained that she would create a to-the- minute timeline before each practice to keep everyone on track). Soon after this meeting, I wrote a blog post about my experience with Girls on the Run and Monika, as Marketing Chair, re-tweeted and posted it on Facebook. We then began to follow each other on Twitter and started to follow each other’s training journeys via our tweets and blog posts.
I saw Monika for the 2nd time in person when she was volunteering at the Oceanside Half Ironman in March. She was cheerfully helping athlete’s find their transition bags after the race. Later I found out that she had been out there for hours – first unpacking all the heavy bags from a truck and then moving them into numerical order on the asphalt – and before that she had gone for a run on her own. I would have never known that she was tired from a long day because of her positive attitude.
After IM CdA, I decided to volunteer for Girls on the Run again and Monika encouraged me via Twitter to join her team of slightly older girls for Girls on Track. I put in the request and was selected to be on Monika’s team. Also around this time I attended my first Girls on the Run Marketing Committee meeting, in which Monika is the chairperson. Did I also mention that Monika also gives back to Girls on the Run through Glam Runner, where she and a friend make awesome running tu-tus? Proceeds go to SoleMates, the fundraising portion of Girls on the Run. She gives back in so many ways on top of working full time and training for marathons (she has run 18 full-distance marathons and 19 half marathons).
To sum it up, Monika is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. She is incredibly intelligent, hard working and above all, benevolent. When I heard the news that the 8 months of headaches Monika has been experiencing were due to a large tumor on her brain stem (read more on her blog here), my heart went out to her. Unsurprisingly, Monika has been incredibly positive throughout the process and has everyone cheering for her. She has a long road ahead of her, but her dedication to health and fitness and incredibly positive attitude will no doubt carry her through this and allow her live a long healthy life.
It’s also not surprising that Monika has inspired hundreds, if not thousands of people, the same way that she has me. A week ago today, Monika had surgery that will keep her from her passion of running for at least 6 weeks. She also had to cancel her plans to run two full marathons this fall and winter. As a result, her friends and family across the globe have come together to dedicate their miles run to her during this time. The challenge on Daily Mile and Facebook is called Miles for Mokie (Monika’s family nickname). So far, I’ve dedicated nearly 41 miles to Mokie and I plan to keep it up!
If you’d like to join in this awesome cause you can find the Daily Mile challenge here and the Facebook challenge here. Participants are encouraged to post as frequently as they want and to get creative with their dedications to Mokie!