my story of eleven.

This blog is about girls. The bad-ass, dirty, athletic, personal, and beautiful side of 11 of the most amazing women i know.

I’m getting personal on this one.

Let me first forewarn you that if you think girls are pretty and clean and non-smelly and talk only of weddings and makeup and shopping you should stop reading this right now.  You will be sorely disappointed.

Also, if you have a young child, you may not want to let them read this.

And final disclaimer, these photos are not all mine.  i have collected them from both participants and cheeleaders, so i thank you all for allowing me to color edit them as i see fit for this post, and allow others to enjoy them.

Now, onto the story.

in a way, it’s about perfection.

Generally, i don’t actually believe in that word.  I’ve never found anything perfect before.  I wouldn’t want to, really.  Would kind of ruin everything.

But shit… i actually think i can put a face on perfection.  she comes in the form of 11 bodies, 22 legs, and extends herself 200 miles.

No, it’s not a mythological sea serpent.

It’s actually a bunch of wild Purv’s.  Women that have banded together for 2 consecutive years to run the Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon… a 200 mile journey that took us 25 hours and 47 minutes to complete, bringing us a first place in our women’s corporate open division.

Let me introduce you to them… if you have a moment.

First, our captain, Marie Purvis.

when you think of a woman that NIKE would use as it’s muse, it is the image of Marie that should pop into your head.  Marie is beautiful, strong, has a smile that will light up the room, and can motivate beyond words.  It’s why she is the body and soul behind our NIKE Training Club (what?  you don’t have the app?  are you KIDDING me?) that so many of us use to tone our muscles, revere our female athletes, and motivate us to be stronger.  If there were one woman off of whom i would lick sweat, it would be Marie.

and now, to our Rookie, Brianna Loecher.

Damn, this girl is awesome.  I first met Brianna at a race this spring  and i didn’t know her well at all, but after 2 days of grueling competition, she “heard” through the grapevine that our team “might” have some “beverages”, and alas she showed up at our door with huge energy that just lit up the room. i knew in a minute i adored this woman, and then she joined our team this year at H2C as our rookie and killed it not only on the course, but on the denim pocket bedazzling, and i’m going to give her best EYES of the crew.

Next up… Rivah.

oh damn… Rivah is a tough one.  and i don’t mean that she’s tough to talk about, i mean she is TOUGH.  You’d never know it by looking at her wedding photos, taken just a month ago.  Our newlywed ran the Boston Marathon this April, and tackled the hill on her second run of the notorious leg 5.   One look at her photo, and you think, “wow, she’s beautiful!”.. but don’t take that for granted.  she will KICK YOUR SWEET ASS.

And now to Courtney.  Oh Courtney.

Courtney is the girl that will party until 3 am, because it’s an 80’s party and who WOULDN’T stay up until that late for Madonna, Bow Wow Wow, Cindi Lauper, and the Go-Go’s?  She’ll even dress her ass up in black spandex and a thong just to drive home the point.  Doesn’t matter… After a 3am bedtime, this girl will answer the call of the trails at 9am with the girls for a run.  If it means projectile vomiting on mile 4, so be it.  That is Court. When the rest of us need to recover, she wakes up ready to run.  For her, Life is ALWAYS ON.  i love her for that.

And now to Corinne.

I will tell you this… of the 200 plus photos we took on our race, the ONE photo that we had to edit was of Corinne..i can’t say anymore, it will remain a mystery to all but the 2 of us.  but the message is this: Corinne has an unabashed willingness to take life to the extreme and not look back.  I envy this quality. I like to believe i have it, i love to believe that in spending moments with Corinne, i am brave enough to keep it.

Kiki.  Ah shit.  Kiki.  i don’t know where to begin with this girl.  she is beauty, she is the sheer definition of Confidence.

Kiki, in all honesty, is the girl that will be able to conquer any obstacle that will come her way in life.  Of the 12 of us, she’s the one that had to live a thousand miles away from her mother that was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer. She talked to her almost daily, unable to see her apart from the rare vacations. Add on top of that this… Kiki herself has a 4 inch scar across her neck, right atop her Adam’s apple…a lovely symbol of the thyroid cancer she has conquered herself.

And yet.

to watch Kiki is to see LIFE. I love to imagine that cancer is what makes Kiki be bigger than herself.  she will change the world, i guarantee it.

Sarah Westhusing.

Well, Sarah gets the honor of being the most awkwardly beautiful person that has ever come into my life.  No one in the history of tall beautiful women has even come close to the insane rawness of this girl.  an example.  it’s about 2 am, we’re driving to some godawful exchange between our 2nd and 3rd legs, and everyone is trying to get some sleep in the van.  Out of the blue, Sarah asks Emma, “Emma, i have a very personal lesbian question for you.”  Emma, in her 22nd hour of no sleep, utters, “oh yeah, go for it.”  So this tall beautiful athletic blond girl, who swings her left arm in a very unnatural way whilst running a 7:15 mile and wears a lift in one of her shoes to keep her scoliosis in check says, “when a girl says she has sex with another girl, does that mean she uses a strap-on?”  I’m just saying, this is Sarah.  She is the one who verbalizes the questions we all think but never dare to ask.  We all need a Sarah in our lives.

And now onto Emma.  Our Irish lass.

it is safe to say that if i were ever in a bind where i literally had no way of working out how to weave mayhem back into a seamless flow, i would call on Emma.  You know that game “Worst Case Scenario?”  Emma would win it hands down, every time.  Your plane is crashing?  you want Emma next to you.  Need to escape from a rabid ostrich?  Hope your sidekick is Emma.  Just swallowed a tablecloth?  no worries, if Emma is a dinner guest, she’ll know just what to do.  I envy the woman with whom Emma settles down.  But i don’t worry too much, because i know Emma will always be just a call or text away from keeping me on track.  And i’ll need her, for sure.

This next woman… wow.. i can’t believe i’m over halfway through this team and am gifted the opportunity to talk about KK.

Funny thing is i don’t really know much about her… in the sense that i don’t know many of her deep personal stories – if she’s ever gone to a funeral of a close family member (though i do remember a tough weekend a year or so ago when she attended one of a rugby player she had known that died much too early), what her life was like growing up in Montana (surely we should have discussed this by now, shame on me), or if she ever had any injuries that landed her in the hospital.  I really don’t know any of that.  But i don’t have to, because KK is so much deeper than anything you could ever find out about her on facebook.  KK pushes others to be great.  KK learnes from every experience… she is both the ultimate teacher and student in life. KK, in the only solid 10 minutes i had with her alone in the 3 days she was here for the race, told me the story of a relationship she has forged with her driver in Taiwan – refusing to sit in the backseat where she was expected to sit on her commute to and from our factories each day, and instead saying to him, “look… you and i are going to spend 2 hours a day in this car for the next two years.  So i want to be your friend, not your boss.”  This, in a 2 sentence statement, is the woman i admire to the moon and beyond, KK.

Imagine a smooth tall bottle of Southern Comfort.  Imagine it’s strength, it’s purity, and its complete goddamn sass.  That is Shay Ryan.  Shay is a new friend in my life.  on the surface.  But Shay is someone who i have no doubt i have met in a previous life.  What this girl has done for me, quite simply, is proven that there is ALWAYS room for one more amazing friend in your life.   I finish my long Sunday trail runs with Shay and feel that my life is still full of possibility… and she doesn’t tell me that, oh hell know… in fact it will usually sound something like, “AC, if you don’t get after it, you are a goddamn FOOL.”  Shay is simply one of the kindest women i know, who wraps her honesty in Southern expressions that make you laugh from the depths of your belly. She is one hundred and ten pounds of pure, sheer, honest joy.


And finally, miss Abby June Bruning.

Abby came into my life as a very young intern at NIKE.  we hired her the summer after she graduated from Creighton.  It’s been 5 years since that first day, and it has been such an honor to be her friend.  Abby is the Purv that knows every one of my deepest darkest skeletons and wraps every bone in a forgiving blanket and gives them lovely blue eyes, taking each one to her grave.  And i know each of hers with which i will do the same.  Its a very safe feeling, that non-judgemental trust.  Abby, my fellow lycanthorpe.  owwwww owwww!!!!!

These are my 11 peeps.  These women ran 200 miles from Mt. Hood to the Oregon Coast in under 26 hours.  These women won.  These women smiled every mile, shoved coconut water down my throat when i thought i was going to pass out from heat stroke, these women let me cry like a goddamn baby when i finished that miserable first leg.

It’s a perfect way to go out on this race.  There are a few important reasons that for me, it is my last.  It is nothing disparaging at all to the event… it has changed and challenged many lives, mine included.  But i need to act on my beliefs, as best i can, and in my pursuit to leave this planet a better way than i found it, i cannot see it through a race that involves hundreds if not thousands of idling vans making the trek with us.  There are new adventures, and i’m ready for them!

The message for this, i suppose, is if you have the right people, you can do anything in your life.  I do believe that.

I do believe that my little sister will change Human Rights Policy (after she finishes her first marathon this month).

I do believe the US Women Ski Jumpers will show the world what equality in sport means in Sochi 2014.

I do believe The Girl Effect will change lives of young women in Africa.

Sometimes it is a thousand whispers, sometimes it is one strong voice.

And if i fell down a proverbial rabbit hole, into a world where i needed to select a crew to get me through any obstacle, it would would be these women. I don’t know them all equally, but 200 miles together, and i can say hands down i’d go into battle with any one of them.

And i believe these 11 women of the All American Purvs Hood to Coast 2011 team will do something breathtakingly amazing with their lives.

And this is my personal thank you to each of you for every smiling, cussing, visit to the honeybucket, piss in the woods, peanut butter eating, burping, farting, ice bath taking, flag draping, dancing moment we shared for 25 hours.

Now go change the goddamn world.



This entry was posted in America, American Flag, beauty, competition, Corradini Photo, Hood to Coast, humor, Marie Purvis, nike, NIKE Training Club, photography, running and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to my story of eleven.

  1. M. Camargo says:

    awww… I LOVE IT, LOVE IT, and LOVE IT 1000 times!!! Can I be the Van’s driver next year?? 🙂

  2. Sheri says:

    Awesome tribute!! Loved every word! You write like me! Love it!

  3. Kristina says:

    This is a great post AC, but you forgot one important thing here….YOURSELF, ‘I’m not a cougar yet!’ Purv. For everyone else, without AC we would have only made it a mere 184.5 miles, sure a good distance, but it’s not 200. Tiger never won any championships only playing 17 holes, Lance never won any Tours skipping a stage, and Joan Benoit never set any records only running 23 miles. Therefore, this post would not truly be complete if we did discuss our 12th runner. I know that AC won’t do it herself, because frankly, she’s too damn humble. AC is our leader, AC is our guide, and our rock. The fact that all the team gatherings are at her house is more than coincidence. It is a showing of the fact that we are 11 women all hundreds or thousands of miles away from our families and AC and her family have taken us all in as part of their own. She is the woman that I swear can party until the dawn breaks, but yet somehow seems to still be home to tuck her daughter into bed. She is a woman who accepts all as they are, she is the woman who can stand up to any VP at Nike without being called a b@#$, she is a woman who will not back down until justice is served, she will tackle 12 muddy miles in the morning and host a charity event in heels and a dress 8 hours later. AC is a woman who continually pushes herself and others around her to make their own world and the world around them a better place. AC may be the oldest member of the team, but don’t tell her that or she’ll probably kick your ass on the run and then clean it up with some enviornmentally friendly handtowel. What I do know though is that no one wants to buy a dozen eggs and only get 11, The Purv’s, we are 12 strong, not 11… this post is complete.

  4. Pingback: my story of eleven. (via throughbrowneyes) | throughbrowneyes

  5. Betsy says:

    Just sayin the world is a better place for having such amazing women!
    Very proud of all of you, and AC you have made tears roll down my face once again but these are tears of inspiration ! YES

  6. Great post Andrea, uplifting and inspiring. You make me want to be able to run again, but physically that’s just not happening. If anyone can change the world, you can, you and your team of girls. Make it happen!

  7. Deedee Corradini says:

    As always, I am so proud of you and love you,

  8. shetha says:

    Georgeous ladies, stories, and sentiment! I’m so with you on the van thing… I wish we could do this event on 4 triple tandems. Most epic Duathlon? I think so!

  9. GLauderbach says:


  10. dbrown says:

    I got to meet and know each one of these 12 beautiful women. And they are all and more of what AC Says.
    Great story my love.

  11. Pingback: damn you, pussycat, damn you. | throughbrowneyes

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