Voice Of Soles -VOL 5 – I Will Never Graduate From Running

Sometimes all we want (and need) is to know that we’re not alone.

Feelings of loneliness and isolation can be devastating to physical and mental health, and can lead young people down the paths of self-harm, addiction, bullying or violence. Under these conditions, healthy relationships, self-esteem and even academic learning can become virtually impossible.

For these reasons – and more – Girls With Sole introduces a special weekly blog spot called Voice of Soles to give girls a place to share their stories in a nonjudgmental place, to discover the healing power of the written word, and to be reminded that their lives and their stories matter, and that they are not alone.

Voice of Soles gives girls a place to empower themselves and others by giving voice to their stories. It’s written by girls, for girls, providing a safe space to share heart felt thoughts and ideas – and as a result – inspire others to do the same.

If you would like to share your story on Voice of Soles – please email Liz Ferro at liz@girlswithsole.org. Your story can be emailed in a Word doc, and be sure to include your age and how you would to be identified. (For example, your first name, first and last name, initials, or anonymous)


I Will Never Graduate From Running

By Janelle Goldean
Age 34

I recently read “Finish Line Feeling” by Liz Ferro, and I wanted to take a minute to say what an impact it had on me. I’m 34 and a survivor and a runner as well, although nothing to the extent of her races.

I was adopted by my best friend’s family when I was 16 although I had known them since I was 7 or 8. I am the oldest of 5 biological siblings who had some truly terrible parents. My father was gone 6 months out of the year and when he was home he was drinking and fighting with my mother. It sometimes got violent but they loved torturing each other so they didn’t call it quits until my 14th birthday when they tried to kill each other and almost burned down the house. A week later she moved in a deadbeat that she’s still with. He used to beat my brothers while she laughed and I was the only one who would stand up to him. The only thing that kept me from killing myself was the knowledge that nobody would take care of my brothers and sister if I was gone. I had been buying their clothes and taking care of them all of their lives.  Our mother signed over custody to anyone that would take her kids so she was happy to see me out. The two people I had called Mom and Dad for most of my life actually became my mom and dad. They were so weird. They didn’t ask me to drink with them, they made me go to school, they made me go to the doctor, and they fed me 3 times a day. I remember one time Dad had gotten mad at my adopted sister for swimming in Lake Erie with a high bacteria count and asked her if she had the brain of a gnat and Mom yelled at him for being mean. All I could think was “That was mean? Where the hell am I?” I started sleepwalking and having nightmares at their house even though things were good. I just figured it was nothing.


I joined the Navy after high school. I was so scared I would end up like my biological mother with no means to support herself and with some piece of crap guy. It was there that I really hit a low. The night terrors got worse. I was waking up soaked in sweat and people were now seeing me sleep walk which was a dis-qualifier. They wanted to kick me out. I hate failure because that just seemed too much like my white trash roots so I went to the medics and told them I was having really horrible nightmares and trouble sleeping. They just loaded me up on sedatives and prescriptions. That made it worse. I was emotional and and exhausted all of the time. After a month of seeing my schooling and military life threaten to fall apart, I flushed it all and found a therapist. See, I didn’t need one before. I was too much of a bad ass for that. I had been to some court ordered stuff as a kid and those people were meddling quacks. Becky Geiger saved me. She told me I had PTSD which I corrected her over. I hadn’t been to war yet so I couldn’t’ have that. Once I started to get over myself I was on the mend and graduating and doing very well for myself. I would still have panic attacks in clubs and bars because I felt like I was being stared at and everyone could see how different I was and I still was very much closed off and distrusting. One of the perks of my issues was that I was an overachiever and a little ocd about things, though. That gets you very far in the nuclear power program in the Navy so I was at least doing great on that front. I left in 2007 with an honorable discharge and some shiny medals.


I met my ex in 2003. We dated for 4 years before I agreed to marry him. He was charming and intelligent and a complete cheating piece of crap. He left me in 2012 after I had put him through college and he had a job offer. I had started running again in 2011. We were supposed to do it together but as usual he bailed on me. I made myself sign up for races to make myself train. I was tired of feeling like the unattractive one. He’d go to the gym every day and tell me how good he looked. I was too tired from 12 hour shifts and working on finishing my bachelor’s. He wouldn’t come near me very often so I had no confidence. I was the out of shape wife while I had this dashing husband (even though I was 120 pounds and 5’6″). Every time we argued I was wrong and crazy. Running made me feel good again. When he left me I was devastated. He had told me in couple’s therapy we would work it out. I believed him because that was the story I told myself. The odd things was between this amazing therapist I found for us and the running, I was starting to feel good about myself despite my financial, marital, and social world coming down around me. I kept seeing this therapist. She used this amazing technique called parenting myself where I would look at my emotional state and have to answer “what would you say if this was a child telling you this?”. I was 33 years old when I realized that it was ok to cry. I set a goal of running my first half marathon last year. I ran two of them. I should thank him for leaving me because I have never been in a better place, mentally or emotionally.


I graduated from therapy but I’ll never graduate from running. I’ll never set speed records and I’ll never have that amazing runner’s body because I love food and wine too much, but I don’t care. I am who I am and there’s this terrific guy I’m living with who thinks I’m perfect and comes to all my races. I’ve even conned him into running the Monument Avenue 10k this March, poor thing.

awaesome kara goucher

I now live in Richmond, Virginia but I come back to Cleveland when I can to see my family. I would love to run with Girls With Sole programs when I’m up there. I would also love to run for Girls With Sole in upcoming races when I am able, or help in any way that I can. Liz is doing a great thing between the Girls With Sole programs and writing her book. It was cathartic to read and although I cried over a memory or two that floated up, I am so glad that I did.


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