I guess we all have a story, never did I think mine was all that interesting. Many times people will ask me, “When did you start running?”, “why did you start running?” or “what’s your story?” These are the same questions I would ask others, my curiosity into their story, their beginning. The responses I often heard, “I’ve run most of my life,” “I ran in high school or college.” At first those responses immediately intimidated me, and kept me from sharing my story. The feeling that I don’t belong in the category of “runner,” because I have no back ground or history of being a runner. But we all “have a story” and just like moving to the starting line of a race I put those fears behind me, this is my story to share.
My story starts as a full time mom of 3 kids and basically a couch potato. Oh I played basketball in junior high and high school, grew up snow and water skiing, rode bikes and was always active outside. But being a mom and working full time when my two oldest were young, I wasn’t very active. As the girls got of age, my oldest daughter went off to college and number two was going to follow soon. Our third child was born in 2001 and at that point I had become a full time stay at home Mom.
Fast forward to 2012, at the age of 48 I was basically overweight and out of shape, then a friend invited me to start hiking with her. It was also a bonus that I could get my 3 dogs out of the house. Not to mention that for the first time since living in Georgia, this was an opportunity to begin to explore parks and recreation areas that I’d never been to before.
To expand my hiking opportunities my friend encouraged me to join the Atlanta Outdoor Club (AOC), a club focused on hiking and other outdoor activities. I was welcomed and inspired by so many outdoor enthusiasts in the AOC. Soon I was joining faster fitness hikes and I began to really enjoy the challenge of trying to keep up with the fast pace hikers and was even starting to jog to keep up. These weekly hikes became a 5 1/2 mile jog for me. Next my friend asked me if I wanted to run the Peachtree Road Race. I had never done anything like that, but living in Atlanta for over 20 years, I knew it was biggest 10K event around with 60,000 participants. I immediately said I would, figuring running a 10K (6.2 miles) couldn’t be that much tougher than my 5 1/2 mile fast hikes. I could at least finish it, plus I’m always willing to try most anything at least once. So in 2012 running the Peachtree Road Race was my first race ever.
My daughter Katie and I right after my first Peachtree Road Race
Before long I signed up for other 5 and 10K races as well as running often with another friend who I met in the AOC who was a more experienced runner. As a beginner and having no fitness back ground I started signing up for weekly trail runs with the AOC to build a base. These runners did more than just run with me, they waited on me, they supported me, encouraged me, and taught me that I could do whatever wanted to do. I was slow at first so after one of my first runs with the group I began to bring my dog Summer, an Italian Greyhound, for company. She’s still my best running buddy and joins me on all my training runs up to 30 miles and runs a few races with me too.
On the AOC fitness hikes I met Stacey who became and still is a good friend. Stacey was a runner and really wanted me to do a half marathon with her. That seemed like a long ways from the 5 or 6 miles I had gotten used to running but as I said, “I’m willing to try anything at least once.” However, others had cautioned me to train and not just jump into it like I had done with the Peachtree Road Race. So we agreed on the Georgia Publix Half Marathon in March of 2013, and I began to train for the longer distance.
While training for the half marathon, Stacey asked me about running a marathon. At this point I wasn’t sure I could do a half marathon and I’d never even thought of running a marathon. A marathon wasn’t even on my radar. By now Stacey and I were close enough friends that I knew her background. You see Stacey was a breast cancer survivor of 10 years. She was a young, single mom when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a double mastectomy, chemo and several additional surgeries. She had turned to running during her recovery. Running a marathon was a bucket list item for Stacey and I knew immediately if she could go through all that, I could run 26.2 miles for her. We signed up for the October 2013 Chicago Marathon and spent the summer and fall training. We had the best time running together and a great first marathon experience. She will always be my initial inspiration for running a marathon and continues inspires me as a friend and cancer survivor!
Stacey & I before the Chicago Marathon
Would I run another marathon? The first marathon I ran for Stacey but I felt like I wanted to run another for me. A tough question with a passionate response…”YES”. Two weeks later I upgraded an Atlanta Track Club 10 mile race to the Atlanta Marathon.
After two more road marathons in early 2014 I finally did my first trail marathon. The trails are where I began to run and enjoyed most of my training runs. The feeling of running through the woods, the challenge of climbing the mountains and the technical nature of the trails really developed my passion for trail running. The community I found during that first trail marathon hooked me. The trails are where I truly enjoy and love to run.
Now that trail running had become my happy place, a month later I did my first 50K, an Ultra Marathon (any distance longer than 26.2 miles is considered an Ultra Marathon). Again I thought it would be one of my “try something once and done” type things. But now the trails had become my love and the distance was an enjoyable challenge.
Soon with some encouragement from another running friend I began a quest to run a 100 mile race. Not only was this something way out of my wheel house, I had never even heard of it before. But the challenge was something that excited me. How could a middle-aged mother of 3 who didn’t even start running until the age of 48 begin to consider such a thing? So this is my journey.