To everyone who doesn't know me, I am Brad Dains and I am the new President of the Capital Striders. To give you a little background on me, I used to be FAT! Don't worry. I've come to terms with it. I had a terrible food addiction. Unfortunately, this isn't a joke. I would take every opportunity to take on food challenges and would stuff my face with whatever I could. I was never good at anything related to sports. I always went out, but never played. When I got to college I put on well over 100lbs in 5 short years. I found running by a happy accident. I went to the fair, ate my weight in food and felt completely guilty about it and needed a change. Running was a good place to start. I won't go into the whole after story but am more than happy to share with you whenever you would like to talk about it. My post tonight is not about my weight loss but about what running and specifically the Capital Striders has meant to me.

When I was fat, running was hard. It was hard to get out everyday. It was hard to walk into a running store and look at all of the fit people around buying short shorts and tank tops. It was hard to enter my first race because I didn't know what people would think about the fat guy running. Everything about running was hard but one day my mind seemed to be clear, my knees didn't hurt so much and I bought a smaller pair of pants. Wow!! Maybe this wasn't as hard as I thought it was. 

Now, I'm not going to tell you that running is easy. It's not. There are days where I just don't want to do it. My brain is run down, my legs feel heavy and my muscles are sore. But the thing I love about running and the Striders is the sense of community. On Saturday mornings, when the alarm wakes me up at 6:00, it's 20 degrees out and I know that I've got to go run 20 miles there is just something about running and talking with people that lifts my spirits.

I think a lot of times people join the Striders for the discounts or perks, but look around you on any Saturday morning at our long runs, or Mondays with the Run with the Animals crew, Wednesday with Roy at the Speed workout nights or Tuesdays and Sundays when the Turkeys run through the woods. The Striders aren't about the discounts (even though they are a plus) it's about how running draws people closer than they ever thought was possible. I have gained some incredible friendships in my few short years as a member in the club and Board member, but one of the main things I learned is that you don't have to be a speedster or race winner to be a part of the community. You just have to be the community.

The Striders are a club of all sorts. Some of us are race winners, some of us are speedsters, but  some of us are mid-packers and back of the packers. We are a club of learners and sharers. We can all learn from others successes and failures. We are an amazing club filled with racers and volunteers. I would put our club up against others all over the country and say truthfully that we are the best club out there. 

I love this club and would love to chat with you when we see each other at training runs, races or meetings. Please stop by and say hello. Let's all learn together.

Stay Strong, Run Long