Heart-to-Heart Hump Day: Chelsy Cork

Happy Wednesday!

I’m so excited to introduce you to my new friend and longtime #wcw, Chelsy Cork. During a particularly uninspiring season of my running journey, my good friend/training partner Abby recommended following Chelsy’s quest to qualify for the Boston Marathon through Fit and Faithful Fitness Consulting for a bit of inspiration. (Spoiler alert: she totally did it and will be running Boston in April!) Not only is she a talented runner, but she also designs and sells her own running apparel, has conquered ultramarathons, travels and camps in a van with her husband, creates healthy recipes, and writes so beautifully. Chelsy brings much joy to the internet through her love for running, heart for God, and knack for empowering others. Her positivity and drive for success is so contagious, I just had to ask her to share that with all of us today.

Warning: You may have the strong desire to sign up for a marathon after reading this interview. Don’t fight it.

Charlotte: Hi, Chelsy! Thanks for joining me. It’s been so fun to see your running journey over the past year. Your presence on the internet makes the world a little brighter, and now I’m so glad that my readers will get to see that, too. Let’s pretend that we’re all meeting up for a group run together for the first time, shall we? Before we hit the trails, please tell everyone a little bit about who you are.

Chelsy: Hi Charlotte! I am really excited you asked me to be part of your Heart-to-Heart series. A little about myself? I love Jesus, my husband, my dogs, and running. My husband and I live in Waco, Texas (home of Fixer Upper on HGTV) and have been married just under five years – about as long as I’ve been a runner. Meeting him and beginning to run coincided in my life, and the passion just grew from there – for both.

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Have you always been a runner? What made you fall in love with the sport?

Oh, no no no. Growing up I participated in several sports, but I was more of the “bench-warmer” type. I think a lot of endurance runners do not begin running until later in life when they are searching for a way to stay in shape. Running wasn’t love-at-first-sight for me. It was hard and impossible at times. My reasons for running have evolved over the years and eventually my feelings toward it did too. I love the challenges it brings and there is really no limit to what you can accomplish. I believe God brought running into my life when I was lost and searching for purpose and passion.

What was the catalyst that caused you to launch your online platform, Fit and Faithful?

I began Fit & Faithful after finding the online community of runners and fitness enthusiasts on Instagram. It’s really such an encouraging community that has formed and I am so thankful for it. I had really been praying for God to use this passion for running and fitness that He had given me. I wanted to spread the love of Christ within this community, so Fit & Faithful was created. You can read about how God really moved in my life and lead me down this path in my blog post here. Officially, Fit & Faithful is a business and I sell faith-based running shirts, but it is more so a hobby – a way to share my passion and the story of salvation through Christ.

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What are your secrets to balancing a jam-packed training schedule, a full-time job, your business/blog, and married life? I’m going to start calling you Wonder Woman.

Oh goodness, when you say it that way it does sound jam-packed. Fortunately, I married a man who loves cycling as much as I love running so we understand each other’s training and racing schedules. It’s much easier to wake up for a morning run when he is also heading out for a ride. Sharing in these similar hobbies has been a blessing and a way for us to bond and spend time together. We spend most of our weekends traveling in our converted camper van to differents races. We both work full-time and luckily for the same company so I get to pop into his office on occasion to see him throughout the day. As far as my business and blogging, this tends to fall to the wayside when life gets busy. As much as I would love to blog regularly and really expand Fit & Faithful, I know now is not the season for this. Some days I just need to unplug from social media and the work behind Fit & Faithful.

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You’ve got quite an impressive Race ResumeWhich race has been your favorite?

There are two races that I will remember and cherish forever.

  • Miracle Match Marathon 2015: The Miracle Match Marathon is one of my favorite races because it is in my hometown of Waco. I ran this race in 2015 with my best running buddies and we just chatted the whole time. We finished second and third overall with our other running buddy finishing first. We shared the podium and this is one of my favorite pictures of all times! It was such a fun day!
  • Dallas Marathon 2014: The Dallas Marathon will always hold a special place in my heart. It was my first marathon to run in 2010 and also my first marathon to qualify for Boston in 2014. The race I finally qualified for Boston was just a perfect day!. My friends were running, my family was at the finish line, and Ryan Hall handed me my finisher medal. I couldn’t have imagined a better experience, in fact, I never imagined I’d actually be able to qualify. Afterall, my first marathon took me over 5 and half hours to finish. (Read my race recap here.   
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Crossing the finish line of the Dallas Marathon with a BQ!

You’ve qualified for the Boston Marathon – congratulations! What are you most looking forward to about running that prestigious race for the first time?

I am most looking forward to the people I will finally be able to meet. One thing I love about social media, is it brings us all a little closer and we can share in life. I have met some incredible women online and several will be in Boston. So we can finally become “real-life friends”, as I like to call it. I have also heard such wonderful things about the crowd support and just the overall experience. I don’t want to miss a single second of it. Plus, I’ve never been to the city and I can’t think of a better way to get to see the sights.

What do you anticipate to be a challenge for Boston – either during the race, or during the training?

I think my biggest challenge will be to relax in the race and take in the experience. I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2014 too focused on a time goal. I feel like I missed out on the course and the race itself just a little bit. I don’t want this to happen again in Boston. I want to remember it all and not let my competitive nature get the best of me – which is why I have not set any goals or expectations for this race.

As if qualifying for Boston weren’t impressive enough – you’re mastering trail marathons and ultramarathons, too! What is it about those gritty, challenging races that you love?

I have fallen in love with ultramarathons in the trails. Although longer than a marathon, they are much more relaxed. The atmosphere is so laid back and you can really make it your race, or rather your adventure. You walk, linger and chat at aid stations, and just take it step by step. It’s much more social and easy-going. I also love the mental challenge of tackling a huge distance like 50 miles and I would love to do a 100 miler one day.

Do you have any advice for women who want to “become” runners but feel lost, unsure, and maybe a little insecure about getting started?

Oh, do I. Only a few short years ago, I wanted to “become” a runner and had not a clue where to start. I will say this over and over again – have patience! Although social media is great for encouragement, inspiration, and support, we also tend to use it as a measuring stick. We see these women out running these speedy paces, long distances, or complicated workouts and feel like we should be doing this too. It’s all too easy to get caught up in a comparison trap which tends to make us feel even more lost, unsure, and insecure. My biggest piece of advice is to have patience and don’t compare your own journey. Building endurance takes time but persistence and patience will get you to your goals.

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Just for fun, what are three things that you’re loving right now? 

I am really loving life pre-kids. My husband and I definitely want to have a family someday, but we also want to have some adventures first. We converted a cargo van this past summer into a camper and spent a week living out of it all over Colorado. I want memories like these with him before we have little ones tagging along. We are planning a roadtrip this summer through Tennessee.

The book Fierce Women by Kimberly Wagner has been an incredible read. I have a bit of a strong personality which fares well in my training but can be a little much in my life and marriage. This book has really opened my eyes to use my God-given fierceness for good and not evil. That’s a little exaggerating, but it’s a book that encourages you to live selflessly, in love and in God’s Truth.

I am slightly obsessed with pancakes right now. I created this super simple 4-ingredient recipe that is basically oatmeal in the form of a pancake. You can find the recipe here. The recipe is vegan and gluten-free and so hearty, healthy, and delicious.

(Char’s note – I tried these pancakes out for myself just this weekend – and she’s right – they are so delicious and simple!)

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So grateful for you, Chelsy! Many thanks for taking the time to share your passion, running tips, and your faith with us.

To stay up to date with Chelsy’s races and blog features (like tips on goal setting and recipes), visit Fit & Faithful.  Cheer Chelsy on along her road to Boston and follow every mile via Instagram: @fitandfaithfulfc.

Check back each Wednesday for #HearttoHeartHumpDays, featuring interviews with inspiring women of all ages & stages as they chase big, brave, and beautiful adventures.

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