My name is Elizabeth Gray, this is my running story.
There it was. The December issue of Runner’s World Magazine. I couldn’t believe it. I opened the 1st page and on the inside flap, I’m featured with other remarkable individuals who serve the running community. The photo they chose was perfect. I’m laughing. I’m happy….but then you turn to page 67. Although the story ends well, it was hard for me to read. I cried. Up until this point, I’ve only read it twice. It’s surreal to read about yourself, especially when it reveals details of your dark past. Most of my days since August of 2010 have been good. I no longer have to live with the daily abuse, the emotional anxiety and the constant berating and put-downs from the man that was supposed to honor and cherish me. But then there are the bad days. The PTSD has a way of creeping up. The nightmares, the triggers, the painful memories of the trauma. What I can say is that today I am a different person. I pray. I laugh. I help others. The thoughts of another victim experiencing what I did tears me apart. I take phone calls in the middle of the night. I answer private messages daily. People reach out to me constantly to come and speak for their organization. I’m not sure why God has shown me favor, but what I do know is that I’m planting seeds in the hearts of others to WANT to live a better life. All of us are deserving of love. All of us are deserving of peace. We should be able to turn to our partners to receive that. I try to empower others to LOVE themselves enough to WANT the best for themselves. The running community has given me this amazing platform to share my story, to follow my footsteps, and to educate others on intimate partner violence. Running has given me the confidence and strength to continue moving forward. In just a few days since the December issue has come out, I have received close to 30 “Likes” on my Marathons Against Domestic Violence page on Facebook. I have also received several personal messages to thank me or they THEIR story of overcoming an abusive relationship. It’s incredibly humbling.
This past year I ran the Joplin Memorial Marathon. It was their 5 year anniversary of the race. To run through their town, it’s hard to believe that it has been completely rebuilt. I have NEVER met such a strong community. I loved how I wasn’t treated like an outsider, but as if belonged to the town. Complete strangers hugged me, volunteers cheered me on, and people that I have never met made me feel like I was part of their family. Just like the town of Joplin, I too have re-built my own life. Together we are stronger. Together we value the meaning of life. Together we prove to others that we will not let anything keep us down.