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When the pandemic started and the world shut down in March 2020, St. Paul Moms on the Run member Libby Starling decided to start running one mile every day. It got her out of the house and gave her something to do until life returned to normal. More than 600 days later, she's still running.
"Libby's motivation for this run streak is amazing," shares St. Paul Franchise Owner Alicia Waeffler. "Libby consistently shows up for our MOTR team and herself. She is an inspiration and we’re all so proud of her amazing accomplishment!"
Read more of Libby's story and learn why she is December's inspiring member.
Q: How long have you been a member of Moms on the Run? Were you a runner before you joined MOTR?
A: I was a charter member of the St. Paul Moms on the Run franchise in summer 2012 (the blue shirts for those keeping track), so I've now been a member of Moms on the Run for ten summer seasons! Before I joined MOTR, I would occasionally run to catch a bus, but nothing else! (In 2019, I had to make a mad dash to catch a bus, and I had a great moment of joy, realizing that I wasn't winded. Goal achieved!)
Q: We hear you are nearing two years of a run streak. Tell us more! How did you decide on this goal and what has your routine been?
A: On Friday, March 13, 2020, I said farewell to the office as we transitioned to remote work. On Sunday, March 15, 2020, I went for a morning run just before Governor Walz announced that all Minnesota schools would be going virtual. So, on Monday, March 16, 2020 — my first day of remote work — I decided to start a "COVID running streak" by running a mile. Facing the unknown of remote work, a running streak seemed like a useful form of structure and routine and gave me a reason to leave the house every day. At that point, I naively expected that we would return to in-person work in a couple months, a good length for a running streak.
Just a couple weeks later, I received a text from a college friend that started with, "Sad news." Nick Jesdanun, a mutual college friend, had lost his battle to COVID-19 at the age of 51. Nick was a runner, whose claim to fame was running marathons on every continent, including Antarctica — 83 of them in all. Suddenly, the two pairs of NYC Marathon shoes that I had purchased in order to get a specific shoe model had meaning, and I started thinking about Nick as I ran with gratitude for my health. (I also will confess to rationalizing that as long as I was running, I couldn't be sick with COVID-19.)
As the days and weeks continued, I started to commemorate the running streak every 50 days with a Facebook post (usually a picture of my shoes). But I didn't post the day I hit 250 days in November 2020 because that was also the day that the United States hit 250,000 deaths from COVID-19. And that was the last day that the days of my running streak aligned with the number of COVID-19 deaths in thousands. At this point, I can't stop the streak until my days of running are, and stay, above the death toll. As of this writing, if no American ever dies of COVID-19 again, I have at least 155 more days to go.
My routine is that I run-walk at least one mile every day. Sometimes, I run in the morning — my earliest run was at 4:15 a.m. on the day that my shift as an election judge began at 5:30 a.m. Sometimes, I run in the evening — my latest run was probably about 10:30 p.m. And I do two to three longer runs/week. By design, I don't track how long it takes me to complete my mile, only that I finish the mile once per calendar day.
Q: Share one high and one low from this running adventure.
A: The high of this experience -— other than the good runs that we all enjoy — has been feeling running respect. I have never felt "fast enough" to feel like a "real runner." A good race for me has always been when I hit the middle of the pack (or, increasingly, the middle of the pack of my age group). But this running streak has turned sheer persistence (or an unwillingness to stop) into something that feels real and something that "real runners" have told me that they're not sure that they could do.
The low of this running adventure came last January. A lack of planning found me on the treadmill at 10 p.m. at night, earnestly pounding out my mile next door to my teenage daughter's bedroom. She asked me to stop because she wanted to sleep, but I insisted that I only needed five more minutes to meet my daily goal. As other mothers of teenage daughters may imagine, we ended up in a screaming match, but, for better or worse, I still finished my mile. For the next week, she gave me the silent treatment, and I did all of my runs outside (even when it was 6 below).
Q: At Moms on the Run, we talk about being #MOTRstrong. What does that mean to you?
A: For me, being #MOTRstrong means being persistent. We can do hard things, whether that's running a marathon or running daily for over 600 days.
Q: Please share a little about you personally (i.e. your family, job, hobbies (other than a run streak!), etc.)
A: I'm married with two kids by birth (aforementioned 17-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son) and one adult son by marriage. Since 2019, I've worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in the Community Development and Engagement division, connecting low- and moderate-income households and communities into our economy. Outside of running, I enjoy attending live theatre (more challenging during a pandemic), hiking in state parks, doing crossword puzzles, and reading fiction or journalism.