Lisa Wilridge wanted to start the grieving process for the death of her mother roughly a year before she died.
So, she choose to run.
Many runners take the same route. Relieving stress is one of the many reasons runners lace up their running shoes.
Why many choose to run varies: to lose weight, to “feel” better or to relieve anxiety by focusing solely on that left-right-left-right movement and maintaining a steady breath and pace can help. Or, in Wildridge's case, to give herself a brief respite from worrying bout her cancer-stricken mother.
Wilridge, a Baton Rouge native and the mother of Grambling defensive lineman Donovan McCray, will be among several women at the Louisiana Marathon on Jan. 14-15 as a part of Black Girls Run, a group helping steer black women away from heart disease.
The Black Girls Run was started by Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks-Rocha in effort to combat the obesity epidemic among black women.
From there, Black Girls Run has continued to expand, eventually landing in Baton Rouge about 2011, Wilridge remembered.
“It was a way for them to get motivated about their health to shy away from dying so young,” she said. “The group was started with that in mind: getting women motivated. Historically, black women don’t like to work out because they don’t want to mess up their hair, stuff like that.”
Wilridge isn't like those women.
Since August's devastating flood, Wilridge hasn’t been as active as she would like, which is why she’ll likely be a cheerleader for the Louisiana Marathon’s bundle of races in downtown Baton Rouge in two weeks. Close to 8,500 people have registered for all races, Louisiana Marathon spokeswoman Erin Kenna said.
Still, running and remaining active remains imperative for Wilridge.
Like her beginning the grieving process early, everyone has a reason they run.
For example, Georgette Sterling, one of the two ambassadors for BGR, began walking/running with the group before being promoted as a race coordinator and then an ambassador for the expanding running club.
“I did my first full marathon on Jan. 17, 2016,” Sterling said. “Oh, it was quite interesting. At the end of the day, I can say that it brought a lot out of me. It’s very mind challenging. After mile 13, I said, ‘You know, this is all mental and I have to be really crazy to be doing this.' ” But it was
a great reward for me at the end.’”
Sterling, like many of Black Girls Run’s women, race for better health. She and many others will participate in the Louisiana Marathon this year, like they did last year, she said.
Beyond health or personal fitness goals, friendships — especially within BGR, Wilridge said — can be grown among runners within running groups. If not for that, the grieving process for Sterling may have been tougher.
“It’s more of a camaraderie. We socialize with each other, and some of us build friendships with each other in the running group,” she said. “It was a big help for me because it helped me with the grieving process and going through that with my mother. My mother passed away in May 2013. So that started (my) grieving process early helped me deal with her death a lot more.”