First Race With a New Name

Kimberly competing for Clemson’s Cross Country Team    Rex Brown

Kimberly competing for Clemson’s Cross Country Team

Rex Brown

I ran my first road 10k this weekend since joining the Raleigh Distance Project in October 2018. Although I was initially frustrated that my performance did not reflect my current fitness level, I'm getting better at looking forward to how I can prepare for my next race, rather than looking at past performances (good or bad).


Before recently beginning a new chapter of life in North Carolina that has included a career change, getting married, buying a home, and becoming the proud mother of two hound dogs, I was Kimberly Ruck, the former All-American at Clemson and full-time professional runner. Training hard and running fast were my two priorities and most everything came second to those goals. Unfortunately, running faster and seeing an upward trajectory in running has not been my story lately. 



My fastest running times were set within the first few years of my running career - when I hardly knew what I was doing. For much of the last decade, I have been chasing my old self and trying to figure out how to get back to being that version of Kimberly Ruck, the record-setting runner. Over time, the internal conflict that came with the separation between my goals and my reality began to eat away at me. As years passed, I often reduced my identity to my race times, and how I continually failed to stack up against my old self. I wanted to be her again. I chased times that I used to run and was unforgivingly hard on myself when I would inevitably fall short again and again. "If I could do it once, I could definitely do it again," at least that’s what I told myself – and would then start working even harder.


Running teaches us to work hard, but as runners, we often fall into the trap of thinking that hard work means that we must be relentlessly hard on ourselves. Reality check: that doesn't work; and when it does, it's not sustainable. It's extremely difficult to grow, in anything (much less find joy), when we don't allow ourselves any grace.


When I joined RDP, I did so with a new identity and new scary goal of trying to enjoy running again. Making new friends at RDP and establishing a new life here has allowed me to follow my interests without the influence of what I used to be. I rediscovered that I love running because it makes me a healthier person both physically and mentally. I love running because I believe that it brings me closer to God and His creation. I love running because it builds deep friendships through raw conversations, shared pain, and endless laughs. I also discovered that I love running because it makes be a better wife and dog-mom (especially when we go on family runs). Joy is a choice and I choose to find the best in running because it can bring out the best in me if I allow it to.  


Kim and her husband Marty after Florence Forth.

Kim and her husband Marty after Florence Forth.

This past weekend at Florence Forth, Kimberly Ruck would have approached the race fighting demons of self-doubt and dissatisfaction knowing she wasn't going to run the times she once ran. Luckily, Kimberly Maloney (he put a ring on it), is the one on the starting line - comparing herself to who she can be tomorrow, not yesterday, with a blank slate that, if allowing some grace, is sure to work hard and find joy in running again.