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I recall it as if it was just yesterday.  At the end of February, 2009, I posted this picture on Facebook and got an overwhelmingly positive response from friends and family; comments such as “This looks like a Nike ad”, “This should be in a fitness magazine”, and “Traci, are you sponsored by Nike” were spawned and I began daydreaming about how cool it would be if this were the case instead of just some random pic that was taken of me prior to a training run.

And then, as quickly as the thought entered my mind, an opportunity appeared in my inbox.  An email from Nike describing a new Believe in the Run contest they were sponsoring…a contest in which individuals were invited to upload a photo or video with a description of why they, personally, “Believe in the Run”.  Wow!  It was as if my thoughts had literally manifested this contest and to make it even better, my “hero”, Kara Goucher, was involved in promoting the campaign.  I remember watching her in the campaign’s commercial and thinking, AMAZING!  (click here to watch!)

I was inspired and knew I HAD to enter.  As if this wasn’t incredible enough, the Grand Prize included the opportunity to fly to Oregon and train with a “Nike athlete”!  (Of course, in my mind, “Nike athlete” translated directly into KARA GOUCHER!)  So, being the wordsmith that I aspire to be,  I quickly got to work putting my thoughts about running down on paper and it didn’t take too long before I had submitted my entry and was holding tight in 1st place! (view my entry here!)

At about the midpoint of the contest, my friend Kelley called me at work.  She NEVER calls me during the work day so I immediately knew something was up.  I checked my email and a message from her that said, “Call me ASAP……your Nike picture is on a promo for the Boston Marathon…….I’m freaking out!!!!!!!!” was awaiting me.  I logged on to NBC Universal Sports website and lo and behold, this is what I saw:

Nike was now using MY picture to promote the campaign during coverage of the Boston Marathon….the race that Kara would be racing in a few short hours. Surely this meant that I was going to win, considering the fact Nike had the final vote between the top 10 entries.  I remember the excitement as I watched Kara cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 3rd place and thinking to myself, I cannot wait to actually meet this amazing woman!

When the campaign closed, my entry sat in 5th place…not bad considering there were over 360 entries nationwide.  Nike would then review the entries and choose their winners!  I was confident I would win…my entry was well written and from the heart. Besides, I was almost certain I would be chosen based upon the fact that Nike had used my image to promote the contest.  I recall exactly where I was when the winners were FINALLY announced on the website.  I had not been chosen.  I did not win. I can honestly say I was heartbroken in that moment, however, my spirit was not.

Fast forward 3 1/2 years and here I sit…having just hung up the phone with Kara Goucher less than a week ago…still in awe of the conversation we shared…reflecting upon the road that led me to actually speaking with my “hero”!  Kara shines as an individual and I am so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to interview her.  Please stay tuned…I am currently in the process of turning the stories she shared into a perfect piece that will truly reflect the woman that she is!!!