As the fourth installment to our How I Got Into Running series, I would like to share my story on how I went from inactive teen to an Ironman hopeful.
From Active to “What If’s”
I grew up in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho where I loved to bike around the town and swim in the lake. I was a pretty active kid. However, in the fourth grade things started to change. I began suffering from horrible headaches that were resistant to every pain reliever in the book. Along with the headaches, I started having trouble controlling my right hand and began experiencing hand tremors. I saw my doctor who suggested an MRI scan to see what was going on.
I vividly remember the day I received the results. On March 2, 1994 my doctor sat me down and explained that he had found a brain tumor. I learned the tumor was pushing my brain towards the left part of my skull, destroying the part of my brain that controlled fine motor skills. I had emergency surgery the following week.
After my recovery I went back to school, and things started to seem normal again. The truth was though, I wasn’t the same. The experience left me terrified of the “what if’s” in life. I was scared to try anything new because I would constantly think about the worst-case scenario. Going into my teens I carried these ideas with me, and my fear kept me from doing a lot of activities I used to love.
Back of the Pack Beginnings
Entering high school I was chubby with a good 10 to 20 extra pounds on me. I was not involved in anything active and ate pretty poorly. It never dawned on me that eating three bowls of ice cream every night was unhealthy. I know it sounds silly, but I was clueless.
By age 16 I met my first boyfriend, Kirk, who ran on the cross-country team. To be supportive I started going to his races, but I remember thinking, “These people are out of their minds! What’s the point of running?” during every meet.
Although I didn’t understand it, I developed a lot of respect for the kids who pushed themselves to run so hard, which ultimately inspired me to join the team. Unfortunately I was terrible at running and felt very out of place. Somehow I got through the season usually placing last in every race. The coaches were very supportive which is why I kept going. I now know joining the team changed my life for the better, however at the time I did not see it that way.
After the high school running season concluded I continued to run and actually began to enjoy it. When I migrated to Seattle for college I was still a chubby young adult, but maintained running short distances for exercise.
Since beginning my running career in high school, I have secretly dreamed of becoming an endurance athlete. I used to read books about marathon runners and watch Ironman events on TV, wishing one day I would be able to participate.
A few years ago I was running my usually 3-mile flat loop around Greenlake in Seattle. For some reason that particular day I noticed a small gym called Always Running on my route and was curious what the place had to offer. I ended up joining the gym and even started a coaching program. After months of training with Always Running I went on to run a few half and full marathons. Accomplishing all this felt great, but I still yearned to compete in an ultra-endurance event.
In 2010 I decided that I would do an Ironman. I signed right up for Ironman Coeur d’ Alene, but during training I unluckily suffered three stress fractures. I was forced to take five months off running and was unable to do the event due to my injuries. I was bummed.
I’m now back up and running happy again. I ran the Eugene Marathon in April with a PR of 3:27, and am signed up to compete in the ChelanMan half Ironman this July. I am determined to do a full Ironman someday soon and I have my sights set on Ironman Canada next summer. I’m proud to say that running has taught me that with determination, the possibilities are endless!
What pushed you toward Run Happy success?
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