Running Saved My Life: My Proudest Running Moment

I was not a runner. I hated running all through school and I had gotten overweight and depressed in my 20’s.

I didn’t have a lot of friends, and most of them were drinking buddies who weren’t really ever there for me in the light of day. When I finally decided it was time to get serious about my health, I didn’t intend to be a runner. I hired a personal trainer and buckled down. The only reason I ran at all was because she assigned it on the treadmill before a workout. She was training for the Boston Marathon and that sounded completely crazy to me.

I eventually lost over 80 pounds and finally felt strong and healthy. My trainer encouraged me to sign up for an 8k. I didn’t want to.

I couldn’t even run circles in the parking lot without getting horrible side cramps.

Again, I wasn’t a runner. But she convinced me and some gym friends to train together. I started with alternating between running and walking on a treadmill until I got up to where I could run for 3 miles without walking. The next thing I knew, I was crossing the finish line of my first race. I started doing a few more, and then trained for a half marathon.

I’ll never forget the first time I ran 10 miles. I can still picture the exact spot. I had never dreamed that I would ever be able to run double digits.

Finally, I decided I was crazy too. I signed up for the Portland Marathon in 2006, and that’s when my life changed. I stopped going to bars at night in favor of training runs in the early mornings and I found myself making new friends and drifting away from my old unhealthy habits. The relationship I’d been in for 10 years started to crumble. We’d been together for 10 years and we weren’t fighting, but maybe that’s where the problem was. There was no passion anymore, no reason to be together. He was a great person, but I had depended on him for years. After I found my own footing on all those long runs, I didn’t need him anymore. I came home after a business trip and laid my suitcase on the bed, and he told me he was done. I cried all night and I called my mom. She told me to come over. But I didn’t. I had to run a 16 miler the next day, and I wasn’t going to miss it.

The next day, I got up after a horrible night of no sleep and puffy eyes. I put on my running shoes and I met my friends. It was one of the hardest runs I ever did, but I couldn’t sit at home and sulk. I had to be out there, breathing in the air, sweating it out, and feeling the burn in my legs. And I got through it and after I completely exhausted myself, I came home to our empty apartment, took a shower, and went hunting for a new place to live. I found one that day, and decided to live my life one mile at a time, just like I trained. I don’t think I could’ve done all that if I’d skipped that morning run. I would have stayed home feeling sorry for myself, and no one would have blamed me. But I just couldn’t.

My life was different from that moment forward. Running made me realize more about myself than I ever knew. I found out I was so much stronger than I ever realized and I was dedicated, (or maybe just stubborn!) because I don’t let anything stop me from reaching the finish line.

Today I am a personal trainer and running coach. I’m doing my 8th marathon next month. I’ve completed six 50k trail races in the last two years and hundreds of other races in the many years since I crossed that first finish line.

Running saved my life. I am thankful every day for where my legs and heart have taken me. Because no matter what happens, I’ll still get up and run, no matter the obstacle. It’s the perfect metaphor for life. Some days are harder than others, just like some runs don’t go as you’d planned. But you keep moving forward because that’s what you do.

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