In the new year, many of us have set resolutions. Some of them are probably based on taking better care of our families, doing better at our jobs, or making the world a better place. We may (and should) have goals for ourselves, but the tendency is to feel guilty about them. “I want to be healthier and make new friends, but that will take time away from my responsibilities.” However, taking care of ourselves is important. Until we do, we can’t better our families, friends and the world. So this year, maybe take advice from someone like Kim Chapman and find a place that helps you like Bull City Running Company (BCRC).
Kim has a magnet on her fridge from the writer MaryAnne Radmacher. It says, “I must first give the best to my own spirit before I can give my best to others.”
Giving the best to her own spirit means exercising, sleeping, and eating well. That’s sage advice that plenty of us are probably rolling our eyes at as we hear it. However, if Kim could do it when she was opening BCRC in Durham, North Carolina with her husband, Jason Page, working full time in the global health field at Duke University, and raising two toddlers, then more of us could probably find some time.
Because of her various roles, she says “I’ve often found myself in a position where I try to convince or tell people that they are enough. I remind myself of what I’m telling other people. I don’t have a perfect answer apart from making sure that I take care of myself so I can be a mother, entrepreneur, and friend.”
She admits that “it’s an imperfect balance” with some sleepless nights, especially in those early years, but she needs to take care of herself so that she can be energetic and present. She also confesses that it’s a “struggle to get it right. The brutal truth of being a mom is that you never feel like you are ever doing enough for yourself, friends, kids, or career.”
However, in the past eight years since the store has opened, Kim has done a lot, not just for her friends, kids, and career, but also for her community.
She didn’t expect that helping others would start with selling running merchandise, but she shouldn’t be surprised. For Kim running has always been an outlet, more for mental health than records (though she has won the age group competitions at races). Her husband Jason had been a collegiate runner on UNC’s track team and is still a competitive runner. Running was always part of of their lifestyle — they first met at a road race in Carrboro — but owning a running store hadn’t been part of the plan. When they moved to Durham and discovered a need in the community, they started to joke about opening one. Then joking turned to planning.
Planning turned to opening BCRC in South Durham in 2008, then moving to an expanded location seven years later, doubling their space. In the process, the store was named one of the top 50 running stores in the country. Twice. What makes this award so meaningful to Kim is that the nominations are not only from vendors and business partners, the community also weighed in.
And community is one thing that Kim cares about deeply. It’s at the “heart of what [BCRC] is doing.” Kim means “beyond just a running community. Community in every sense of the word.” Of course, the store helps the running community by providing the product piece and knowledgeable employees, but it also gives back. All of the races that the store holds have a charitable partner or beneficiary. There are three trail races each year in their “Tough as Trails” series. Each one has a conservation partner: the Eno River Association, Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail, and the LandTrust for Central NC. Their road race, Running of the Bulls 8K, held in downtown Durham benefits Trosa, an “incredible local nonprofit doing good in the community.”
What Kim may value most is the community that has formed because of her store. Kim and BCRC provide a place filled with running, healthy lifestyles, and social support. One such example is RunBuds, a running group for beginner runners. Kim started this program when the store first opened and it has since had over 600 members.
Kim says, “when you walk into a gym, a Pure Barre, a yoga or pilates studio or even a running store, it can be really intimidating. There are so many choices, it’s overwhelming. The [people] may not even be sure they belong there. [RunBuds] reassures them they belong there. It’s a special kind of program and approach. Not one size fits all. From fitting shoes to developing a training program from someone just beginning to run to someone training for a PR in a marathon.” She jokingly refers to the group as “Runbud Nation” and says “they have become a force in the community.” The members have gone on to do things like a Habitat Build, form a Book Club, and complete a marathon in Iceland. It’s a “beautiful movement that’s come from learning how to run.”
The store also hosts a community running club for all levels of athletes: Bull City Track Club. “You will find all levels from the recreational runner looking for structure and races to elites and those training for olympic trials to the post collegiate athlete still looking to run at competitive level.” The club is nationally ranked and competitive. In fact, just last month, the masters women’s team took second place in the Cross Country National Championships in Tallahassee, Florida, and the masters men took fifth.
As Kim and Jason listened to members of both groups, a constant refrain was heard: “I wish there was something like this for our kids.” So they developed Kids Run Durham. Kim points out that running, (and self-care in general) runs in family. Children will model what they see, but you have to be careful with kids. High impact, repetitive motion can wear on them and she’s not a big believer in being competitive. Instead she tries to “keep it active. Keep it a love. Fun focused, and age appropriate.” It’s a five week program offered twice a year at a park in Durham. Children, ages 4-12, from anywhere run from 100 meters to one mile. “It’s a good way to introduce them to good nutrition, hydration, stretching, healthy habits and lifestyles.”
These groups and events are part of the reason Kim has to take such good care of herself. “Embedded in all [BCRC’s success] is this community that has helped us grow”, so she has to give them her all. She knows that she wouldn’t be able to do this without her partner who “carries an equal load in the parenting and housework” and, when she worries about getting her balance right, she remembers to “focus your energy and priorities on what is most important.”
For her, it’s her kids. “Children get the best and worst qualities of you. My ultimate goal is kindness first and foremost: kindness towards others and self-kindness.”