I was indoctrinated into the running culture from a very young age. Some of my earliest memories are cheering on my Mom at the Rockville Twilight 8K or sitting on my Dad’s shoulders as we walked across the Bay Bridge, while my mom and her running pals disappeared into the distance ahead of us. For most of my life, I ran in fits and spurts…a few months here, a 5K there, mostly running community adjacent, but never finding myself within it.

As most of us did, I had a rough 2020-2021 and several things happened which served to pull me towards the glowing light that this community has been for so many of us.

I started the process of getting divorced. I began a weight-loss journey that found me in better health than I had been since my teenage years. A close family friend, Guy Bateman, whom I knew as Uncle Guy, the one who got my Mom into running when I was a little kid, who was a staple of MCRRC for years and years, passed away somewhat unexpectedly in September of last year.

As I was going through memories of him with my Mom, we kept coming back to the Bay Bridge race. When I found out that it had been on hiatus for a couple of years and was returning in 2021, I decided that I was going to run it in his memory.

Almost immediately, I thought I had made a mistake as I hadn’t run much at all over the past few years.

With a good deal of training and moral support from my friends and family, not only did I finish but I felt ecstatic when I crossed the finish line.

That’s when I dove head-on into the running life. I joined the Steeplechasers and have met so many amazing people over the last few months, through the Wednesday night pub runs and the training groups.

I’ve hit so many amazing milestones over the last few months that I didn’t think were possible a year ago. Some of the highlights were completing the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler (another race close to my Mom’s heart), the Frederick Half-Marathon alongside my new training group friends, running my first 8-minute mile in the Summer Solstice 8K, and, most recently, completing my first marathon with my nephew in Vancouver, WA.

Ryan Fields and nephew celebrate at the finish line of Appletree Marathon, Vancouver, WA.
Ryan, left, and his nephew celebrating at the finish line of the Appletree Marathon, Vancouver, WA.

I am so thankful for the support and inspiration from everyone I’ve met in the Steeplechasers. Most importantly, I’m proud that I have been able to inspire others, like my daughter, who has joined Girls on the Run, to start running.

I’m so excited for the journey that lies ahead as I continue to prepare for Freedom’s Run marathon in October and am looking forward to getting more involved with the Steeps in 2023!

Have an idea or a person to highlight in our Member Spotlight series? Contact Barb at barb.meely@steeplechasers.org!