The Spirit of the Snoopy Balloon

I love my job.  I mean, I really, really love my job.  How many people can honestly tell you they love what they do for a living?  For the most part, people go to work to earn a paycheck and go home.  But I am in the rare position of actually, really, truly loving what I do.  David Spetnagel, owner of all 3 (soon to be 4) FLEET FEET St. Louis stores, always says “Do what you love, love what you do.”  It’s a good motto and I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do just that. 

I don’t just love my job because I get to wear running clothes to work.  Although, let’s be real, that is a nice perk because A) It’s a little like wearing pajamas all day, and B) I can leave work and immediately go for a run, which I am frequently known to do.  And I don’t just love my job because I get to try out all the new shoes and other cool running accessories as they come in. 

My dad always said, “Surround yourself with good people.” I can honestly say I’ve done that, some of the people I work with have become like my family. That’s just one more reason I love my job. Runners typically tend to be happy people (it’s the endorphin high) so being around other runners all the time generally makes life better.  Additionally, I share in the privilege of leading the weekly social run at the store, so I get to hang out with a bunch of sweaty runners who love pizza.  Is there anything better than that?!

The best part of my job, though, is the opportunity to encourage other people in a love of running.  My favorite customers are the people who come into the store not really knowing why they want to start running, they just know that they do.  These are the customers who want to suck up all the knowledge and all the enthusiasm I can offer.  I don’t claim to know everything about running, not even close, but I do know that my passion for it is contagious.  It is an absolute joy to work with people who have their minds and hearts open  to the feeling of freedom and the rush of adrenaline that only a ‘Runner’s high’ can provide.  They are just about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, and they have no idea what’s coming.

It’s always funny to me, the people who say, “Well, I’m not really a runner, I just run a couple miles at a time and I’m really slow” or “I’ve only run 1 half-marathon , so I’m not actually a runner.”  Umm, yes, you are.  It doesn’t matter how far or how fast you run, if you lace up your running shoes on occasion and hit the trail or the road or the track for a 50-miler or 50 meters or anything in between, you are a runner. 

It’s March.  March means St. Patrick’s Day, NCAA basketball at it’s finest and warmer temps.  In specialty running, March means track and field season.  Despite my early exposure to running, and a life-long love affair with it, I admittedly have limited personal experience in the area of track and field.   I ran track in Jr. High, but that was really before we got into all the technical equipment of spikes and such.  I only ran one season of Cross Country my freshman year of high school and when spring came around I went out for the softball team.  But, what’s so great about the FLEET FEET staff, is the way we all come at running from a different angle.  We’re kind of a melting pot of runners and we never stop learning from each other. I am a distance girl, and at FLEET FEET Chesterfield, Barb Delgado, is the resident track specialist.  As a former track coach, she has been incredibly helpful in assisting my efforts to learn the ins and outs of this particular niche of running.  Now, while I may not have Barb’s technical expertise, I bring a different kind of track experience to the table, my experience comes in the spirit of a Snoopy Balloon.

The other day, as I was talking with Barb about spikes, I began to recall a story.  The very first race I ever remember running was the 400m dash at Field Day in 4th grade.  If I remember correctly, there were 2 girls from each of the fourth grade classes signed up for that event and Mrs. Troster’s class held try-outs to see who would represent.   I know I remember correctly when I say that for most of that race I was in dead last.  But somehow, as we came up on the halfway mark, I started to pass some of the other girls.  With 100m left I was in second place.  And with just a few strides to go, I passed Kim Scott for the win.  Talk about a high!  Winning is awesome, but there is nothing better than a win like that.  It was completely unexpected.  When I got home from school later that day, I had another surprise waiting from my dad; a congratulatory Snoopy balloon.  I don’t tend to be overly sentimental and keep a lot of stuff just for the sake of nostalgia, but I’m pretty sure that balloon is in a box somewhere at my mom’s house.  I kept it because it’s not just a deflated Mylar balloon. I kept it because of what it represents.  It represents a ‘Never give up’ attitude that brought about a come from behind win.  Winning isn’t always about being the first one to cross the finish line, sometimes winning is about overcoming personal obstacles.  Within each of us lives a spirit that my dad celebrated in me all those years ago when he gave me that snoopy balloon.  It represents the fact that even when I can see that things aren’t going my way, I won’t just give up and quit.  I will fight to the finish.  I am strong enough to push through and make a comeback.  That wasn’t the only time in my life that I had to make a comeback, it certainly hasn’t been the most challenging, and I guarantee it won’t be the last.  I guess you can just call me the Comeback Kid, because the fact of the matter is that I won’t ever quit, even when it’s hard, I’ll keep on pushing forward.  And that’s the spirit I hope to impart on every person that I put into a new pair of running shoes or spikes at FLEET FEET.  It’s just too bad I can’t send them all out of the store with a Snoopy balloon of their own.

Lindsey Jacobs is a Fit Professional at FLEET FEET Sports.  She works primarily at our Chesterfield store.

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