All Are Welcome Here

Welcome to my new website and my very first blog post!

I pondered on what to write for my very first blog post, and it came to me as I was in my first 10k race this weekend.  I am an unabashed, middle of the road triathlete.  Running, however, kicks my ass every single time. Swimming is my best event, with biking second.  Actually, dancing in front of my mirror, while singing off-key  in the privacy of my own home is my favorite and best activity, but alas, there is no open competition in this event.  Unless you count You-tube, which I do not.

See, I’m a sprinter. Any run over 100 yards is a distance race for me.  Lured by the name ‘Sprint Distance Triathlon’ I was dismayed that the running ‘sprint’ was 5k (or 3.1 miles for the metrically perplexed).  Training for a 5k was a challenge.  I joined a Triathlon training club.  The run club motto was ‘where everyone is welcome and no one runs alone.’ Nice motto to have, but in actuality, I did run alone many times.  Good thing about the group, there is some one waiting to make sure all runners are accounted for at the end.  On one such run, one of my ‘long’ runs, I was going to run 3.5 miles (just a little extra to have the energy to sprint over the finish line). I read the map incorrectly, and the tour took me 7 miles. I ran for SEVEN miles.  Well, I thought, if I could go seven miles, I could do a 10k (6.2 miles).

Okay, back to this year, and the 10k I was presently running.  My training had been a bit lax lately.  My longest run this year was four and a half miles. I went into race day with the hope that the one point seven miles wouldn’t be an issue.  My strategy was to treat the first 5k as a warmup, then run the second portion as a 5k pace. I looked around me.  There were all shapes, sizes, and ages here. When the race began, my motto was to keep my pace, it was my race.

There were many amazing people I met during the race. I ran to the t-shirts that intrigued me or made me laugh.

Ask your doctor if getting off your ass is good for you.

…let us throw off everything that hinders us and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us… Hebrews 12:1

I’m hauling ass. If you can read this, I dare you to pass me.

Runs for wine. A bottle is waiting for me at the finish line. I share.

The people wearing these shirts were good pacers, had a sense of humor, and helped keep the race in perspective. At one point, I was surrounded by the plugged in (ear buds firmly ensconced in their ears), and I yelled, ‘All those unplugged, unite!” There came a cheer from two women just in front of me.  We talked, laughed, and they made me pick up my pace.  There were people of all colors, shapes, and sizes, waiting to cheer on the racers, who were all colors, shapes, abilities, and sizes. These people made the next mile easier to run.  People quite a bit heavier than me passed me. We cheered for the people that were on the way back when we were not even half way done, and encouraged those who looked like they were going to give up.

Coming into the last part of the race, a the girl with a cow bell cheered us on, saying we only had less than a mile to go, and the people I was running with were psyched–and began to run faster–too fast for me.  See, I have been duped by ‘You’re almost there’ before. I turned on the gas, and started run, only to discover, it was farther than anticipated, and ran out of steam. So I found another person to pace with me. A 82 -year-old woman.  We chatted a bit, commented that the last mile is the hardest and the sweetest, then she left me in her dust.  Another woman whom I ran alongside, told me her BFFF (Best Fag Friend Forever) was there to cheer her on. They were friends since childhood. He approved of her hubby, and she approved of his partner.  Sure enough, as we approached the finish line, he called out “THE Best Hag Friend Foreva!” He even hi-fived me.

Later, when I got home, the email with my time was waiting for me.  I finished in the middle of my age class. I passed 111 people, and was passed by 173 (I am sure that was in the last mile).  Was the time my personal record? Yes. Could I have done better? Sure. Did I run every step of the race. Yes. Did I have a blast, meet new people (and a few new running partners?), admire the view of the lakefront? Yes.  Insert your favorite life metaphors here.

One thing resonated with me from the race, was overheard by a first time runner at the after party. “Nobody cared if I had cellulite, or my arms jiggled, or that I was flat chested, or that I had tattoos, or that I didn’t have the latest running gear, or that I’m a married to a woman.  They welcomed me and cheered me as if I was the first place finisher. I’ll continue to run and be back next year, because no matter who I am, I was welcomed here.”

Have a story about feeling welcome, no matter who you were?  Leave a comment, I’d love to hear it!







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  1. dblue says:

    What a wonderful, inspiring story. Congratulations on your first blog post. 🙂

  2. Kate Pavelle says:

    Hi Venona!

    Congratulations on the race! And, I am not surprised that you socialized while running. Our triathlon over a year ago convinced me that you are a “violently nice extrovert.” It was fun, but I don’t know how you keep it up! I love people, but I need my silence, too.

    I’m curious to browse through your menu here. It’s a really nice site!


    • Venona Keyes says:

      Thanks Kate! Yes, you know me, the friendly one in a race. I energizes me, really. I am looking forward to a tri with you on your own turf next year. By then, we should have this book thing figured out. I promis to give you silence time. 😉

      AngstyG is the woman who did the work on my site. She’s done great work for Shira Anthony and J.p. Barnaby, among others. Her is her site:

      Thanks for visiting Kate, and congrats on Zipper Falls your new release!

  3. Shira says:

    Way to go!!! Great job on the run and on your first blog post – the first of many, I hope! *hugs and cheers*

    • Venona Keyes says:

      It took me a while, but I just love the site. Props to my friend, for holding my hand trhough the longest website and blog journey ever! LOL
      Looking forward to running with you in NC. Hopefully it will be mich cooler there by the time I get there. 😉

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