Monday, May 23, 2011

Women Who Love: Mindy Thornley

I first met Mindy Thornley when I was an EFY counselor after my freshman year of college. She is smart, funny, extremely sweet, and is super talented. Basically, she is a gem. And so, before I start to ramble, here's the first (official!) installment of my new series, Women Who Love!


Women Who Love: Mindy Thornley

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Age: 29
Love: Running

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How long have you been running?
I have been running since the third grade when I entered my first road race. It was a mile run. I ran it in 7:45 and I won my age division - which either makes me a big deal or the only nine-year-old in the race.

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How has running made a positive impact in your life?
I used to save every pair of running shoes I ever owned.

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At one point, neatly stacked in my closet, were twenty two pairs of shoes, not including the four pairs of racing flats. For years, my mom would beg me to get rid of them. But I simply couldn't. Each pair of shoes told a big part of who I was - who I am. I am who I am today largely because of what I experienced while wearing those shoes.

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Running gave me my first taste of success in life. It also introduced me to not only some of my closest and most cherished friends, but it also introduced me to failure - a foe at first, but in due time a great friend and teacher. The simple act of running has helped prepare me for the life I would live long after my true competitive days were done.

How has it given you confidence?
Running has given me confidence by teaching me that I'm capable of so much more than I ever could have imagined for myself ... and that when you have pushed your body and mind to complete physical and mental exhaustion and even when you think you can't, you can always, always take one step more.

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What's your favorite memory of running?
Asking someone who has been running for over twenty years what is their favorite memory is like asking a parent to decide which one of their children is their favorite - it is impossible to do!

The memories of winning championships, crossing the finish line first, and beating my previous best times, and the friendships developed are all things that could easily vie for the top position. So instead of writing my favorite memory, I will just share one of my favorites.

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I was running for Utah State University at the time. We were doing a grueling speed workout on the track, which was taking a toll on us mentally and physically. Our coach was doing the coachly thing and pushing us harder and faster with each interval ... and when all was said and done (after sixteen 400's) our coach was surrounded by fifteen girls who were so mentally exhausted that they just began to cry. Crying. And poor coach just standing there helpless as helpless could be!

I remember looking around in complete panic. What on this green earth do you do with fifteen crying college girls?

His solution?

"Uh, I am going to go check on the guys' team now," and with that he just walked away. Bless.his.heart.

Eight or so years later, my heart still goes out to that poor man on that particular day.

Do you have any advice for women interested in picking up running?
There are clubs you cannot belong to, neighborhoods you cannot live in, schools that won't accept you - but the roads are always open. In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. No matter how fast or slow you are you can say, "I have finished." And there is never telling how much satisfaction is in that.

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In one sentence, what are your feelings on running?
It has been one of the most remarkable and beautiful blessings in my life.

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To see more photographs of Mindy, click here.
To participate in Women Who Love, contact me here.