Woman of the Week: Melissa McConville
Full disclosure: I was a big fan of Melissa McConville’s work before I knew who she was. As the founder and unstoppable force behind the She Is Beautiful races, Melissa gave my daughter and me our first shared race experience several years ago. We’ve returned annually to this fun, festive, flowing river of pink that hits West Cliff Drive in spring. Melissa’s vision for the race – to help others discover the happiness, wholeness, and inner strength that can come from running – is nothing short of amazing, and she is our Woman of the Week!
The first She Is Beautiful race was in 2011, but the event was years in the making. After returning to Santa Cruz from college in Santa Barbara, Melissa had worked jobs she enjoyed, but nothing that truly fulfilled her. A longtime runner, she knew the benefits: running has shown her how strong and capable she is, a feeling that she thought should be celebrated by more than only the experienced runners. Melissa wanted to create a space where women of all levels and abilities could spend a morning celebrating themselves and each other.
And celebrate they do. A sense of community weaves throughout the course: friends, neighbors, colleagues, strangers are high-fiving and smiling; young girls who might be intimidated to enter any other race have put on their finest pink sparkles and hit the road with their classmates; family groups of three generations are running together. Everyone is having fun, stopping to enjoy the view of the course and the inspiration, funny, and occasionally irreverent signs posted along the way.
For the first four years of the race, Melissa worked a full-time job as well, in Marketing at Whole Foods. But she kept coming back to her passion for running. Taking a huge risk, putting her dream ahead of job stability, was both exhausting and invigorating. Melissa’s tenacity and bravery are drivers for the race’s success. She tries new things before she’s ready, she takes great risks, and she asks for help. It takes courage to share a dream with others, to ask for help in making that dream happen, and to hold tight to the core values of that dream. Melissa has done this magnificently, and Santa Cruz has benefitted tremendously.
The community aspect of the race is flourishing: Proceeds are donated to the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center and ladies can opt into joining Team Glitter as a fundraising tool for Unravel Pediatric Cancer. Pre-race training groups form tight-knit groups of women and girls, runners for the future. Melissa says that running makes her feel more beautiful and strong than any material item, and she wants to help others discover that as well. Even now, with a one-year-old baby, she finds time to run 5-6 days a week. The running centers her, helps her see what’s important.
And what does the world see on a cloudy weekend every March? Thousands of runners in an endless swath of pink, all thanks to the vision of Melissa McConville, our Woman of the Week. Congratulations, Melissa.
P.S. Full disclosure from Melissa? Pink is not her favorite color!
Thank you to this week’s W.O.W sponsor:
Depakote purchase canada, Acupuncture & Burnout Breakthrough Coach
and to our Blogger: Carrie Kingsley