While growing up in Washington, Grace Thompson competed in several sports including basketball, cross country and swimming. As is often the case, her schedule during her college years at Notre Dame of Maryland University left little time for sports.
After college, Thompson co-founded Embody Pure Fitness in D.C. and provides corporate wellness, nutrition counseling, small group training and personal training. It was through one of her clients that she rediscovered competitive sports.
“One of my clients asked if I would train her for a 5K run,” Thompson, a lesbian, says. “That led to a 10K and a 15K and shortly thereafter, I joined the D.C. Frontrunners.”
Since then, she has competed in everything from 5Ks to Ragnar Relays to a marathon. In 2011, she began competing in kettlebell competitions. Kettlebells are cast-iron weights that resemble a cannonball with a handle. The competitions have similarities to weightlifting.
At the World Kettlebell Lifting Championships in 2011, she placed first in the 12KG Long Cycle division. After sitting out 2012 because of a bike crash, she came back in 2013 to place second in the 14KG Long Cycle division.
This August, her love of running will take her to Cleveland for the 2014 Gay Games where she will compete in the marathon and either the 5K or 10K.
“I absolutely enjoy the energy I feel from running,” says Thompson, 30. “I love that I can train by myself or with a group of friends. It is so simple to just grab a pair of running shoes and go.”
Her training leading up to the Games will consist of two yoga sessions per week, weight lifting two days a week and running three times a week with her focus being on strength and endurance. Racing will be limited to the Pride Run 5K and possibly a half marathon in Atlantic City.
Earlier this year, Thompson experienced one of the new hazards in road running during the George Washington Parkway 10 Miler.
“A woman in front of me stopped dead in her tracks and was wearing headphones, so she didn’t realize I was behind her. I had to take a dive to avoid her and basically did a face-plant. She kept on running like nothing happened. I finished the race, but was a bloody, sweaty mess.”
For her first Gay Games experience, Thompson is looking forward to connecting with LGBT athletes from around the world and experiencing the level of competition and camaraderie.
“I can’t wait to meet fellow athletes who are in it for the sport of it. It’s going to be empowering.”