Originally posted December 2014 on RunPrettyFar.com
Everything was changing. A new apartment, a new life, a new beginning. But it wasn’t free. The price tag was shame, guilt, alienation. I had walked away from my perfect past in the most explosive, painful way a woman can, and was now gingerly trying to navigate life on the outside. Some days I just lay in bed, with my hoodie pulled up fiercely around my head, looking out at the world but refusing to join it. Greg and my son Colin would come in and check on me, sitting on the side of my bed, urging me to go seek comfort in a run. Colin, then age 2, like he still does now, would look in my eyes and try to project his deep joy into my soul, filling me with his smile from the outside in.
And often they would succeed. I would begrudgingly get dressed, lace up, and head onto the neighborhood trails surrounding my new home. Not yet a real trail runner, I would complain about the mud, yet always come home happier. I started to associate these runs with freedom. I didn’t know all the paths, but I knew I liked discovering them and feeling better when I returned. Slowly, I found my post-divorce mojo. I would drop Colin at pre-school and scurry up into the mountains for the 3 hours while he practiced his alphabet. I was always late returning and felt the other moms judging me, but while he was learning and I was running, we were both content. I ran fast then, so fast, up any trail that was available – a bundle of coiled emotion and remorse, optimism and angst.
My running recovery was proving so transformational, the trails so recuperative, that I wanted to pass on my experience to others. Out there, I was becoming a child again. Shedding years of learned grown up control and rediscovering laughter, outbursts of song, bravery, and sometimes wild, uncontrollable waves of tears while sitting and resting on a stump. It felt like a new world that was mine to enjoy and I wanted to try and capture those feelings and share them with other women. Greg and I daydreamed about making inspirational performance tees and traveling around the country, hobo style, to sell them so I could keep running and exploring.
Then one mid-week on the Grand Ridge trail, I was running across a bridge and the name hit me – Run Pretty Far. Instantly, RPF became a tangible in my head. I would create an opening to this secret garden of color and innocent, yet heady wonder that I’d found while running. I stopped and texted Greg the idea. He entered it into GoDaddy and texted back that the domain was available. “I’m buying it now”, he said. I ran home and we started planning our future.
That first summer was a draw, neither a huge success nor an outright failure. We traveled, sold some tees, not as many as we would have liked, but occasionally we’d meet women who connected with my message and fell in love with RPF. That feeling was incredible. But we fought like crazy over how to run the business and I found myself profoundly sad that my beautiful idea could cause us such personal trouble. At the end of the summer, we discussed shutting down and moving on with real jobs and, hopefully, a more peaceful life. But Runner’s World Magazine came calling and suddenly, a mere 9 months into RPF’s existence, we were featured on the front page of their Holiday Gift Guide. We were pummeled with two months of around-the-clock nonstop orders. Friends came to help us tie bows and ship tees from our freezing cold make-shift garage warehouse. It was a fantastic, all-consuming, awful, incredible ride.
I guess from there we never looked back. RPF became a ‘real’ company. The years went by and I ran (a lot), we ran RPF, raised Colin, made dinner – normal stuff, I suppose. We argued about the business, we fulfilled orders at midnight, we laughed, we screamed, we grew apart. All while Colin grew up watching, listening, helping pack orders, running them into the post office for us.
We talked constantly about closing the business and trying to regain a loving foothold in our relationship, creating a quieter, more anonymous life, and personal harmony in my head. For me, and my snowflake of a personality, RPF was taking its toll. The pressure to make the ‘perfect’ shirt that would delight everyone, to ‘say something’ on social media at regular intervals, to increase sales when I don’t really give a darn about sales. It was a constant roller coaster of bottomed out panic attacks and the resulting high euphoria when I created something great. Around and around again until I was sick with the churning g-forces on my heart. I desperately wanted out and yet wasn’t willing or ready to let it go.
Because the thing that has always mattered to me is telling the RPF story. The story that continues to reveal itself to me on every single run, every single time I fight the good fight and throw myself outside. I shake out the stagnant and breathe in clean, fresh goodness. I reconnect with my true self; which is not angry, hurt, petty, or fearful, but wide open with acceptance, deep peace, and love. I find my internal flame and remember just how brightly it shines; lighting up my stained glass soul with transparent beauty and rich color. Nothing to hide and everything to show.
The simplest clichés hold the most truth. Like, ‘the deeper you get, the deeper you get’. Recently, I peeled back yet another layer of my trail discovery and found waiting there the profound understanding that I am created by the same Hand that created the waterfalls, the snowcapped mountains, the sweet morning birdsongs, of which I have so long admired. I come from the same source and, just like them, I am perfect, filled with radiance, and deeply loved. Run Pretty Far taught me that.
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To have this kind of passion for a story is a once in a lifetime, dream come true opportunity. I recognize this. So how could I possibly give it up? How do you walk away when you’ve won the lotto? Because I am not walking away from my own personal run-love-story, I am walking away from the business of selling it.
Only this fall, when Colin and I were finally living alone, did I internalize my need to get off the RPF herky-jerky emotional amusement park ride. You know those journals we all try to keep? Well, I sat down and read mine, page over page, for the last 4 years. It was hard, but enlightening to hear myself complain about the same things over and over (and over) again, while not making any changes. Now, I’m finally ready to make those changes.
I’m leaving RPF, my beloved baby of a company that I adore, to focus on my real baby boy and my own internal child who both still need growth and nurturing. I’ve got just ten years before Colin goes to college and I want to be all in on every second of his childhood, savoring this incredible opportunity I have to be his Mom – not fixating on when I posted on FB last or about the customer in FL who got the wrong size. I want to challenge myself professionally in a new arena which will also provide Colin and me financial stability. I don’t want to fight anymore, at all, instead practicing daily surrender. I don’t want to sell anything, I want to give everything. I want to live a simple, quiet life with very few things, but many grand adventures that I may (or may not) feel like writing publicly about. I want to continue practicing to love myself and others deeply. I want to Run Pretty Far.
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I am filled with extreme gratitude that each of you has embarked on this winding, imperfectly perfect RPF journey with me. Wearing our products, liking our posts, reading my ramblings. Will I miss sharing my frequent running ahas? Perhaps, most likely, I’m not really sure… Am I scared to let go of what I created? Absolutely, but it’s time.
RPF is set to enter a new era. Who can ever be 100% sure what the future will look like, but we do know that this story is too good, too important to stop telling. Greg will continue on, managing the many details that make a business and shipping each of your packages with care. Cassidy will still be here creating incredible, happy graphic design for all to enjoy. And joining the team, in the interim, is the wonderful, wiseElinor Fish. I met Elinor, former editor of Trail Runner magazine, several years ago at a women’s trail running camp she led in Colorado and was instantly inspired by her deep connection to the trails, her passion for and patience with personal discovery, and her commitment to making running an ongoing source of joy in her life, never a pressure or stress. I am absolutely thrilled that she has decided to partner with RPF and feel an excited contentment that she will help shape its future.
So that’s all folks. All my love, love, love and thank you for Running Pretty Far with me. Keep it going. Jenn