I met NYC runner Margaret Kurtz through Back on My Feet, an amazing nonprofit organization that helps people literally get back on their feet and transition from homelessness to independent living using the amazing power of running. As we runners know, running offers so much more than a workout or race goal - its power to build confidence, connection and community extend far beyond just the miles and sweat. Margaret is an energetic, hilarious, spirited Back on My Feet NYC volunteer who brings the running party wherever she goes. Here is her inspiring story:
What got you into running?
I started running just after college when I spent some time abroad in London. I was only going to be there for a short amount of time, so I ran different ways home from work to be able to see as much as of the city as possible. When I got back to the US, I continued to run regularly for fitness. It wasn't until I joined Back On My Feet in Washington, DC in 2013 that I would say running became a part of my life and identity.
How did you become involved with Back on My Feet NYC?
I was living in Washington DC and one day I was in running clothes walking home from the metro when a man came up to me and said, "Hey, do you run?" I told him that I did sometimes, and he told me about Back On My Feet. I showed up to my first run only to learn he was one of the team alumni and was instantly hooked on being involved with the program. When I moved to NYC in late 2014, I was excited to start my life in the Big Apple and even more excited to get involved with BoMF in my favorite city in the world. When I first moved, there wasn't a facility nearby so I did fundracing for the NYC Half Marathon in March 2015. Shortly after, BoMF launched Team ABC, which was in my neighborhood, and that team has been like family to me ever since.
How has Back on My Feet made an impact on you?
It's difficult to know where to begin. Back On My Feet has helped me to grow so much not only as a runner, but as a person. Seeing the determination of our members to pick themselves up and turn their lives around is nothing short of inspiring. They are my constant reminder that there is no hurdle in my life that some hard work and patience can't overcome. When I started with BoMF, I had barely run over 3 miles and now I'm training for my 3rd marathon. Needless to say, the support and family that BoMF has provided are responsible for that.
What's a running goal you are working on right now?
I'm currently training for the New York City Marathon, which has always been one of those "life goal" races for me.
What keeps you motivated?
The unwavering support I receive from my family, friends, and teammates who believe that I'm capable of anything I put my mind to, even when I'm not so sure. And food, always food.
What's one of your proudest running accomplishments?
I think my proudest accomplishment was when I crossed the finish line of my first marathon in October 2015. Training for 26.2 for the first time completely transformed me as a person. It made me realize that I'm stronger than I had ever believed, both mentally and physically. It instilled a self of confidence and pride in both my character and my body that I was previously lacking. Crossing that finish line and achieving a goal I once saw as impossible was truly life changing.
Preferred running shoes?
Favorite song to run with right now?
Not sure if I could pinpoint one. I have a Spotify playlist called "Chasing the Runner's High" that I listen to nonstop. If I had to pick one artist, I'd say there's a ton of Chainsmokers on there to keep me revved up.
What snack do you reach for before a run?
STEEM CAFFEINATED PEANUT BUTTER. Trust me, it's a game changer.
After a long run, what do you like to eat?
How do you balance running and the rest of your life?
I'm lucky enough to have built a great group of friends through BoMF and running, so it's easy to mix my social life with running.
How has running made an impact on your life?
I can't imagine what I'd be like without running today. It has taught me so much about myself and provided me a healthy outlet for everyday stresses.
"The great moments of your life won't necessarily be the things you do, they'll also be the things that happen to you. Now, I'm not saying you can't take action to affect the outcome of your life, you have to take action, and you will. But never forget that on any day, you can step out the front door and your whole life can change forever. You see, the universe has a plan, and that plan is always in motion. A butterfly flaps its wings, and it starts to rain. It's a scary thought but it's also kind of wonderful. All these little parts of the machine constantly working, making sure that you end up exactly where you're supposed to be, exactly when you're supposed to be there. The right place at the right time. " - How I Met Your Mother
If you were an animated character, who/what would you be?
One of the Squirtles in the Squirte Squad
What advice would you give new runners?
Don't be intimidated by the perception of what a "real runner" is. Just put on your sneakers and take it one mile at a time. It's not always going to be easy, but don't get discouraged and remember that everyone has bad runs and progress doesn't happen overnight. And most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Where can we cheer you on?