My community, family, friends (old and new) and my health. I started running with my sister Cindy with a goal to improve our health and finish a 5K without dying.
I never realized how sedentary I had become. I thought we kept pretty active - we walk three times a week, sometimes four. My two nieces, (Cindy's daughters) Stefoni and Jessica, joined us on our first 5K run. We survived, but I have to say at that time I hated running and thought I was done and was never going to do that ever again.
Looking back at that first 5K and how I felt defeated, yeah we survived but not without injury, I'm amazed at some of my accomplishments. I've completed several 5K's a few 10K's and 2 half-marathons and my first trail run (5th of July 4th of July 5 miler). I think trail running will be my new favorite, we are so fortunate to live in this beautiful area and having the support of our local Fleet Feet is an awesome benefit.
My health has improved, I'm no longer on blood pressure medicine, Still hoping to reduce other medicines and thanks to running I've been able to shed some weight, according to my doctor, at my age that's amazing! :)
The community of runners we have is amazing and I'm so proud to be a part of it. I'm excited many that my family members have also joined the running community, it really is like a second family. I have met and made some amazing friends, and I enjoy watching others reach their goals even sometimes more then when I meet my own.
I can't image not being part of this running revolution, and am excited to try and reach a new goal.
What has running done for me?
I began running for really only one reason, to spend more time with my wife Cindy. She found this group of runners at the local Fleet Feet and always seemed to be out with them running. After months of asking, she finally convinced me to come running with her. My first run was in November of 2014, the Hot Chocolate run being hosted at the new Fleet Feet in the Spokane Valley. That was such an enjoyable time because we ran as a family, Cindy the kids and I. I then got coerced into the Fleet Feet Winter Warrior group, which I absolutely loved.
There were times I would miss the runs because I chose to work extra hours and weekends. I was raised on a farm and we were taught to work, work, work. Sometime in January I started to really enjoy my running. It was such a tension reliever and it made me feel more relaxed than I had felt in years. At this point I decided to stop a horrible habit I had for years, which was chewing tobacco.
I have become a better runner thanks to the help of the people at Fleet Feet in the last ten months. I have also been tobacco free for nine months now! Instead of missing running to work I leave work early so I don't miss running! I have completed my first half-marathon and am now training for my first full marathon, not to mention I am all signed up for CDA Ironman 70.3, taking place in June of 2016.
If someone were to ask me eleven months ago if I wanted to run a half-marathon, let alone a full marathon I would have laughed at them and said, “NO!”. Running has bettered my life in so many ways! To think this all happened from a hot chocolate run one day in November...
Running is about connection for me.
I’ve been running on and off since high school cross country and everywhere I’ve moved in the past forty or so years running provided opportunities to connect with those places in a way photographs would never allow. Running has allowed me to really experience places through the senses – the sights, smells, and sounds – that stay with me in a more tangible way than a thousand photo albums ever could.
Remembering how hot and humid it was on the fourth of July in Nashville for the Firecracker Run; or running in San Diego over the Coronado Bridge with the ocean as a backdrop; running in Hawaii early in the morning with waterfalls coming over the mountains on one side of the road and the pounding ocean on the other; or just running at home in Chattaroy on a brisk Fall morning when you could smell the wet pine needles – it just smelled like November. In remembering the places, I am then able to recall of all the people I’ve met and it all connects.
Now, as I’m older, the physical benefits are certainly a great reason to keep running – keeping weight in check, keeping bones strong, staving off diseases that are common with lack of activity – but it’s still all about connection for me. Not just with places though, now there’s an emphasis on the connections I make with those with whom I run because it’s a lot more about sharing those experiences that’s taken center stage.
I haven’t always been a runner
I have lived a pretty active life. I grew up in an outdoors-y family. I skateboarded. I played sports with varying degrees of success in school. I spent a fair amount of time in the gym. I wasn’t always a runner though. I tried track my senior year of high school…I hated it! I still did it, but I despised it. I wasn’t fast, so I couldn’t run sprints; I didn’t have a lot of stamina, so I couldn’t run distance. I ran the 400 meter dash, and it was terrible. I swore off running altogether after that.
I was pretty fit when I married in my younger years. It didn’t take much for me to stay in shape. I was still pretty active. I hiked a lot. I lifted weights. I didn’t really need to watch what I ate too much. I definitely was not running.
Fourteen years went by and one morning I got out of bed, stood on the scale, and immediately went and apologized to my wife. Somehow, some way, in the 14 years that we had been married I had put on 70 pounds. I still considered myself active, I was always a “big guy”, but I knew something was really wrong when I started having to take breaks going up stairs. I knew something was way out of control when I would bend over to tie my shoes and I would have to hold my breath, coming up red faced and breathing hard. I knew my health was being seriously affected when I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and my doctor told me straight to my face, “You’re not big boned, you’re obese!”.
I didn’t know what to do, but there was no way I could start running.
That year I met my friend Wade. The first time I went over to his house, his wife, Julie, answered the door. “Wade’s not here, he went out for a run.” That wasn’t that weird, I’d heard of people running before. “How far is he going?” “Just 10 miles.”
I thought the guy must be insane. As I was waiting for him to get back I was looking at pictures of a much bigger Wade on his wall. When he returned I commented, “Wow, you used to be a lot bigger.” He replied, “Ya, I used to be fat once too.” (He still denies saying that.) That was it for me. I needed a change in my life. I needed to get control of my out of control body. I needed to be able to tie my shoes without panting. If this guy could do it, I could too.
I became his mentee that day. I told him, “If you’ll help me, I’ll do whatever you say…even run.” That’s when I became a runner, but it wasn’t all at once, mind you. At first it was a couple of minutes on the treadmill. Then a couple of times around the track at the local junior high school. I remember the first time I ran a mile without stopping though, it was really slow, but I ran the whole thing! Then came my first 5k (on a treadmill). “I did it Wade! I ran a whole 5k!” I would have liked him to be a little more impressed, but like a good coach, he just kept pushing.
Everything changed for us that year. My wife, Jessicah, started running too. We started hiking as well, and going mountain bike riding. Then came the races. Oh, the rush of crossing your first finish line! It was amazing! And then something magical happened, we realized we were just getting started. I ran my first half marathon later that year. I dropped 60 pounds. We started doing things together, outdoors-y things! Life began to look different.
I was a runner! Here’s the thing, I started my journey that day as a new runner with one, very specific, goal in mind; I needed to lose weight. What I gained was not only that, but a whole new life. A second chance at life. A richer, fuller, deeper, more fun-filled kind of life. What I didn’t expect to gain was a whole new community of friends. I didn’t expect to understand life and spirituality and relationships in a new and more wonderful kind of way. I didn’t expect running to become a part of who I am at my core.
Running has so changed my life that I’ve now seen more of the world directly because of it. Running has so changed my life that I now work to motivate others to discover it’s wonder for themselves. Running has so changed my life that I now work in the running community helping others to start, meet, and grow their own goals as runners.
Yes, I would definitely now consider myself to be a runner…and that is the Power of Running!
Twelve years ago, I weighed over 350 pounds. I was a closeted young man and turned to food to comfort the identity I was struggling so hard to hide. I guess, in a way, I thought if I was so unattractive that I didn't have to be in any relationship, my born sexuality wasn't something I had to confront. So I buried my feelings, and I ate. I ate, and ate, and ate.
Eventually my weight became a medical issue. I had applied to be in the U.S. Peace Corps, but was rejected due to the risks associated with obesity. It was the first time my weight had prevented me from doing something I wanted to do, rather than protecting me from something I didn't want to do. I didn't like it. Although I wasn't ready to address the deeper issue, I was ready to take back my health.
I started walking. Then I started walking farther. Then walking and jogging a bit, and then jogging more. After about a year, I had dropped 130 pounds and was finally accepted into the Peace Corps. Along the way, I was constantly shocked at how much progress I was making and how capable I felt to take on the next challenge by starting a new goal. I enjoyed two and a half years in volunteering in the Dominican Republic, running day after day along the Haitian board through sugarcane and eggplant fields with a bright pink Caribbean sun setting over the Baharuco Mountains. I was down to about 220 pounds, and ready to return to the U.S. and take on a my next challenge; a marathon.
I moved back to the U.S. and started graduate school in Spokane, Washington. In preparation for the 2007 Portland Marathon, I enjoyed running on the winding Centennial Trail along the Spokane River, the beautiful Rose Gardens of Manito Park and at the edge of the cliffs of Palisades Park overlooking west Spokane. Using a run walk method, I finished the marathon in 4 hours and 35 minutes. I had trained, which means I had the discipline and faith in myself to overcome each incremental workout, to carry my 220 pound frame the entire 26.2 miles. My confidence was at an all-time high, which finally gave me the strength and courage to come out. Said another way, the Power of Running gave me the power to learn to love myself for who I am.
It seems like the story should end here, right? Well, it doesn't. After coming out, meeting my husband, buying a house, getting a good job and settling into my version of the 'American Dream,' I turned my back on the my healthy lifestyle. I simply got lazy. I stopped working out as often, I didn't set new goals, and eventually, running just wasn't a part of my life. And so it began, the return of the weight I had worked so hard to lose.
At first it was '”just ten pounds.” Then it was fifteen more. Then I just didn't want to know anymore. I was happily married, successful at work and decided to write it off as what my mother called, "happy weight." Well, the "happy weight" gain was exponential, and I grew and grew until I had gained back eighty pounds of the 130 I lost. My clothes had stopped fitting long ago. My self-confidence was vanishing quickly, and the weight was starting to have an impact on my marriage. So where did I go wrong?
I finally decided to take control again, and I turned to an old friend to help me -- the Power of Running. I learned about a new running store in town, Fleet Feet Spokane, offering beginning running classes for people just getting into the activity. Although I had a background in starting from scratch and building up my running endurance, I decided to give the beginner class, No Boundaries, a shot (I actually did the beginner program three times!). And that's all it took.
A few 5ks, a dozen or so half-marathons, and a few triathlons later, I'm back down to 220 pounds (give or take a few depending on the elusive 'water weight') and my confidence is glowing. The Power of Running helped put me back in touch with the discipline and faith in myself to meet goals I had the courage to set. That is where I went wrong when I gained weight back. I stopped setting physical activity goals and let running fade away.
Back in focus and with clearly outlined goals, I just completed my first 70.3 triathlon at the 2015 Lake Stevens Half-Ironman. It was something I've worked toward for about 9 months, and is now up there on my 'most proud accomplishments' list. I was plagued with doubt leading up to the event, and even during some parts of it, but I simply recalled the training I had done to prepare, and the pure willpower I promised myself I'd have to finish. Now that I can put a checkmark next to this goal, its time to start planning for the next one -- and I'm thinking a tattoo worthy one!
Running has become a way of life for me. Had you asked me four years ago what the power of running meant to me you probably would have been met with a blank stare or a hysterical burst of laughter! "Me? Run? Are you kidding me?" Three and a half years ago, I felt like I heard God say, "Run, Kari.". Seemed simple enough and it also seemed easy to ignore, but the promptings kept coming and were being confirmed in many different ways. I finally couldn't ignore it anymore. So... I started running.
I couldn't run a lap around a track. My first "official" run was the St. Paddy's 5, which I walked most of and have to admit I was more than a little irritated when I realized at the three mile mark that it was not a 5K. I decided to pick a half-marathon to run and then started training. That was the Sandpoint Scenic Half in September 2012. Crossing that finish line was incredible and my love for running became cemented into the fabric of who I am.
I have since run seven more half-marathons, one full marathon, two 15K's, two 200+ mile relays, one 50 mile relay and numerous other fun runs and races. I am training now for my second full, The Portland Marathon in October. I have lost 45 pounds and am in the best shape of my life.
There are so many gifts God has blessed me with and such amazing people that I would never have known had I ignored the simple invitation to, "Run, Kari!". I am not the fastest, I am not slowest, I am not the youngest, I am not the oldest, I am not first on race day, I am not last on race day, but I am a wife, a mother of twelve, grandma of three and I am a proud to be a RUNNER. Thank you Fleet Feet for inspiring, challenging, encouraging and supporting me!!
I will add that the power of running could also be described as Wade with a stop watch… ;)
Running to me is a new way of life and an escape to a world of my own thoughts. Running gives me the feeling that anything is possible and after completing a long run the feeling of accomplishment is indescribable. Most of the time when I am doing my long runs I reach this feeling where all I can think about is my own thoughts, I don't even realize that I am working out anymore and I can really dig into my thoughts and life.
I picked up running because I knew it was a great form of exercise, I had no idea that it was going to change me as a person. It taught me to keep setting goals, pushing myself, and even made me more of a social person. Also, the feelings I get after running pushes me to be an even better version of myself, treat people with respect, and have the energy to embrace any work stress.
My journey to where I am at in my running accomplishments have taken a lot of hard work and mental strength and I am also looking to deepen my goals and inner strength. I started running with the goals to run a 5K (I have completed several of those), then a half marathon (I have done over 10 now) and then pushed the envelope even farther to run a marathon (I ran my 3rd one three months ago), which has lead me to my current goal that I am pursuing which is qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
Fleet Feet has been a great supporter in my running goals these past couple years. They have always been there to help me with the shoes and equipment I need and always make sure I am satisfied with my purchases, but they have also been a place of support that I feel welcomed to come and ask any questions about running. Fleet Feet has also been a big factor in staying healthy all year round especially with their Winter Warriors running group. Fleet Feet has made it possible for me to meet even more runners in the community and has given me even more strength to pursue my goals.
That is the power of running.
I started running less than a year ago to improve my health and lose weight. My friends tried to get me to join them in No Boundaries for years, but I resisted because it was too far to travel after work and I dreaded the thought of not sleeping in on Saturday mornings. When a Fleet Feet store opened closer to my home, my friends persuaded me to join them for an informational session. It turned out to be a free trial run. When it was time to start running, they gathered all around to support me. Instead of focusing on what I couldn't do, they cheered me on about what I was actually doing. Another mentor noticed I had good arm placement. I was hooked! I knew that if I didn't sign up for No Boundaries 1 before walking out the door, I never would. And so my journey began...
Running has changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Since then I've lost 35 lbs., cut my cholesterol medication in half, improved my posture, and reduced my back and neck pain. My self-esteem and confidence are improved. When I ran my first 5K I fell just feet before crossing the finish line. Now I'm running 5Ks with my daughter where before I was afraid I couldn't even walk it. My family is proud of me.
When I started running no stores had running clothes in my size because, "Fat people don't run..." said a salesperson at a sporting goods chain. I set a goal to be able to buy a high quality running jacket at Fleet Feet to take me through the Spokane winter. Now I can't wait for the jackets to come in!
When I think I can't do something, the coaches remind me that I'm stronger than I think, and they are right. I feel accomplished after I run no matter how difficult it may have been. Each run brings me closer to being the next best me. I never knew there was so much to learn about running and nutrition, and to my utter surprise I'm loving it all.
I've made great new friends that share a common goal. We face our challenges together and cheer each other on. I look forward to seeing them. I care about them. I run for my health. I run with Fleet Feet for the support and camaraderie. And I want more…
That is the power of running.
I am a runner. I'm a social runner. I'm a goal-slashing runner. I'm a half-marathon runner. I'm a trail runner. I'm an "aspiring to be fast" runner. I'm a "tri-curious" runner. I'm a supportive runner. I'm also a happy runner.
Three years ago I walked into Fleet Feet Spokane a different person. I was questioning many choices I made and looking for direction. As they stood at the front of the room, Wade and Julie told their stories and we all teared up. I've never felt that motivated to try something new. I wanted to be moved by something...anything. I wanted to have a physically spiritual experience and transcend all that I felt I was at the time. You know, that first run was not any of that.
It was under thirty degrees, it was dark. I was ill-prepared. No one judged me. No one pushed me to my max. Julie and Wade let all of us nervous students huddle together and run in our own head-space. It was terrible and wonderful. As the days passed and the class got more comfortable, we all settled into groups based on pace. Mentors and coaches checked in on us from time to time but they let us experience this class on our own while leading us with education and helpful advice. They did what you would expect great mentors and coaches to do - they gave us wings and told us to fly.
By the end of my first No Boundaries class I had updated my equipment. I had a mentor (Hi Tracy!!!) who ran every step with me. I had new friends. (Hi Brandon and Michelle!) Externally, the end of that class was uneventful but internally it had changed me. There was a small fire inside me that had not been there before.
I ran 13 races that year; one for every month of 2013. My husband and kids started running, too. I joined a running club and more training programs. I had another great mentor Neil, who introduced me to my friend (his wife) Jacquie. He showed me that running in the heat builds character and that it’s okay if I don't want to talk, he is still going to be there for me every step. Last month, as I watched him run Jacquie and our friend Keely to the finish line at Ironman 70.3 Victoria, I was reminded of how far I've come and how I could not have done it alone. That whole first year, I was held up on the shoulders of those around me. Who does that for people they barely know? Fleet Feet Spokane athletes, that's who.
Now, I am turning to support my fellow athletes in their personal growth. They can not do it alone either; the connection is infectious. We keep each other moving forward. In my entire life, I have never felt so connected to my community...to my friends and teammates. Outside of my marriage, I have never felt so deeply, cared so much or pushed so hard. That is the power of running.