I’m a 30 year old stay at home mommy of three, beyond wonderful, children six and under. I love to run and all things running.
The story of the rest of my life began one night while on spring break from college. I was home visiting my parents and hopped on the scale in my moms bathroom for the first time, in a long time. The number I saw shocked and saddened me. I fell to the floor crying. The number confirmed what I had long since been denying, I had let myself become grossly unhealthy and very overweight for my body. I remember vividly the only pants at the time that fit me were a pair of grey Abercrombie & Fitch sweat pants that had been stretched to their limits.
I’d like to say from that day on it was smooth sailing on the road back to finding me, it wasn’t. I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder which only exacerbated my fear of the gym and of working out in public places. I sought comfort in food, cigarettes and one too many Absolut and Redbulls. I would party, loose my fear and have what I considered fun, only to wake up the next morning and feel even more afraid than I did the day before. What did I say? What did I do? Did I offend anyone? Will people make fun of me? My thoughts were incessant. It was then that I was diagnosed with OCD. Not the I have to wash my hands a thousand times a day kind of OCD but the I can’t let go of a thought type. I obsessed about everything and anything, which fueled the social anxiety. It was a cocktail fit for a life headed towards obesity and inactivity.
My mom saw the path I was on. Friends saw the path I was on. They intervened and tried to help me find “me” My parents paid for a personal trainer at the gym to teach me how to lift and be comfortable enough at the gym that I would not be afraid to go. My mom told me that ANYTHING I needed for running she would foot the bill on. She didn’t want me to have any excuse as to why I wasn’t trying to turn my life around.
She convinced me to run my first race my sophomore year of college. The only preparation I did for this 10K was trying to cut down on the amount I was smoking. I ran/walked the race with her in 1 hour and 6 minutes. Despite the fact that she was already a runner and could have finished much faster, she stayed with me – telling me I could do this! I was strong.
That same year my mom trained for and ran her first marathon. I flew out to sunny San Diego to watch her and her best friend Ashley run. What I didn’t know at the time was that one day Ashley would become my best friend too, the Godmother of my daughter, and that I one day I would join both of them running marathons.
I’d like to again say that watching them finish a marathon inspired me to run one. It didn’t. I thought they were crazy, out of their mind. Why would anyone want to run for 5+ hours straight. I watched from the sidelines, happy for them, but wondering what was for dinner. After running her marathon my mom was inspired. She got a job at a local running store and learned all things running. She again convinced me to run another race in an effort to get me moving. I moved, but wasn’t moved. I felt sad, overweight and out of place.
Finally after years of trying, she was successful in getting me to join in the fun and work there also. That summer changed my life. I met a girl named Claire who would become my best friend, I learned more about running than I ever thought a person could know and I found my passion. I lost weight, made friends, and decided I would try out for the cross country team at my D3 college. This girl who couldn’t even walk to the cafeteria alone, let alone go for a run alone, was going to participate in a college sport.
I wasn’t fast. I take that back. I was the 3rd fastest girl on the team, and at the time I thought I was running blazing fast compared to my 11 minute mile beginning. Some races I would make it into the 8′s as my average and I was pleased as could be. Most races were in the 9′s, but I didn’t care, I was on the college cross country team and no one could take that away from me.
When I graduated, I moved from New Jersey back to Virginia, lived with my mom, and trained for what would be my first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon 2003. That summer taught me allot about who I was and what I wanted out of life. I no longer felt that I had to give in and be overweight. I felt that I could one day legitimately call myself an athlete. I felt like I was good at something that most of my peers weren’t doing or couldn’t do. It gave me confidence and in turn I respected myself and my body more.
To say that I was forever changed the moment I crossed the finish line of Marine Corps, may seem dramatic. It’s how I see it. I knew that from then on I was Dorothy the Runner.
Running for me became a way to stay in shape, fight my social anxiety, gain confidence and more. It helped me reconnect with God on a spiritual level. It helped me in so many ways I can’t even begin to count them. Running was my friend, my shrink, my outlet, my love, it was mine and no one could take it away from me. It would never stop loving me, it would never gossip about me, it would never make a snide remark, or make fun of the shoes I was wearing. It would never push me down when I needed lifted up. It would be there for me through thick and thin, fast and slow, literally.
I got my first ‘real job’ as a Tech Rep, otherwise known as Brand Warrior, for Brooks Sports. I learned even more about running shoes and apparel and got to meet tons of awesome people in the running industry. While working there I got to work events such as the Chicago Marathon, Boston Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon and more. I was just a baby but they took a chance on me and I will forever be grateful for that.
That summer I met Eric, he would one day become my husband. We met at the gym. Yes the gym, on the treadmill to be precise. I was running, as I did every day at a 5.0 pace on the mill. He came up and asked me questions about running, told me he was thinking about running a race. I took it as him hitting on me and told him about some websites I found helpful, but didn’t really think he was interested running. Much to my surprise he came up to me again while I was on the treadmill and told me he had checked out those sites and that it was all really helpful. He wasn’t interested in me – he really wanted to learn about running. If you ask him now he will probably say it was a bit of both. He wanted to talk to me and he also wanted to know about running. I ran his first race with him, the Army 10 miler. I thought he had trained. In an effort to impress me he ran the whole darn thing. It was the first time, unknown to me, he had run 10 miles. Years later we would marry and have 3 beautiful children together.
After my job at Brooks I started working for Moving Comfort, which at the time was based only 20 minutes from my home in Reston, Virginia. I worked as an Account Manager in the sales department and learned the numbers and nitty gritty business of sales and account management. I liked the job but it wasn’t my passion. As fate would have it I got promoted to Product Line Manager of Run/Fitness and was in heaven. I learned more about apparel than I ever even knew there was to know and was able to satisfy my creative side while working. There was a shower at the office and I was able to sneak out for runs in the middle of the day to wear test our products and those of competitors. It was a dream job.
While working there I found out I was expecting my first baby! While on my maternity leave a funny thing happened. Moving Comfort was moved under Brooks and was slatted to move out to their Seattle headquarters. I was offered a position out there and though I would have LOVED to have taken it, it wasn’t realistic for my new little family.
After leaving Moving Comfort I started working for my father till I found something else I loved. It allowed me the flexibility I needed to see my daughter more than I would, if I was working a typical 9 – 5 job. While working for him as his office manager/ebay manager I was again offered a DREAM job working for the Marine Corps Marathon. I went back and forth, back and forth on what to do. The commute would have been 45 min to an hour each way and that’s if there was no traffic. I would be gone for 10 + hours a day. When would I see my new baby? I cried. It was the first of many sacrifices that I would learn become routine when you are a mom. I turned the position down and I have tried to not look back since.
In September of 2007 we found out that I was again expecting. At this point we made the financial decision for me to stay home to raise our daughter and soon to be son. It meant cutting back and getting creative but it was totally worth it. I knew these years would be years that though hard, would be irreplaceable. I was willing to put my dreams on the back burner for awhile in order to be with my babies.
Miles was born in April of 2008 and was what we thought our last baby. I treasured every moment with him as if it was the last time I would hold a little baby of mine in my arms. 6 months after giving birth to him I took my marathon PR from a 3:59 to a 3:36 at Marine Corps Marathon. It was the first of many times I would get a Boston Qualifier.
At the end of 2008 I was given an application for the Saucony Hurricane Team, a team comprised of amazing athletes from around the country who served as ambassadors for the brand. I never in a million years thought I would get picked. The men and women on this team were Olympic Trials Qualifiers, they had PR’s that were light years faster than me. They were REAL runners to me. I doubted myself, something I have tried very hard to stop doing. I made the team for the first time, and despite being one of the slowest on the team, was treated as if I was a star athlete. I was chosen for my love of the sport and my dedication to trying to inspire others.
In 2009 when Miles was just shy of 1 years old I ran the Boston Marathon with my mom for the first time! I ran a 3:39 on what I would consider a challenging course. The summer after Boston while training for Freedom’s Run Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon I was diagnosed as having Gilberts Syndrome, a supposedly harmless genetic problem with your liver. The major affect of which Dr’s will admit happens, is fatigue. I am chronically tired. There are many other symptoms that people with Gilbert’s Syndrome can tell you about, but that Dr’s have not confirmed through their ‘scientific testing.’ All I can do is tell you how I feel compared to someone who does not have this issue.
That fall I got my Road Runners Club of America Coaching Certification, so I could officially call myself a coach and PR’ed at Freedom’s Run with a 3:35 and then again PR’ed at Marine Corps three weeks later, with a 3:31. I joined the Marathon Maniacs club and realized that there are people who take their love of marathons to a whole new level.
My obsession with all things running continued and I kept finding ways to keep myself involved with the running community and the races and people I loved. I again made the Saucony Hurricane Team in 2010 and this time around was chosen as 1 of 8 athletes to be a Captain of the team! Little old me. A captain. Who would have thought? Certainly not me. I’m honored and proud to be a part of such an awesome brand! When I tell you I believe in their product, it’s the honest truth. After having run in just about every brand of shoes and apparel out there, I can tell you I honestly love their shoes and apparel. I’ve become a better/faster/stronger runner because I am part of the team and brand.
At the beginning of 2010 I was hired as the Director of Volunteers for the National Marathon, a race I was training to run. I switched my plans at the last minute and ran the B & A Trail Marathon, a decision I will never regret. I took my marathon PR from a 3:31 to a 3:21 and won the women’s race. It was, next to the birth of my children, one of the happiest days of my life. I felt that I had made it. I had a loving husband, two beautiful children, a roof over my head, great friends and family and I had overcome most of the obstacles my life had presented me.
My husband jokingly, prior to the marathon, said that if I ran under 3:30 we could have a 3rd baby. He didn’t think I would go under 3:30. Less than 2 weeks after the marathon I started to feel ‘funny’ Lo and behold, baby surprise #3.
Colton River Beal was born on November 9, 2010 and is my trophy for winning the marathon. He brings immense joy to all of our lives. Our family of five feels complete.
5 months after Colton was born I ran the National Marathon and finished with a time of 3:26, my 2nd fastest marathon at the time. I followed that 3 weeks later by running the Boston Marathon in a time of 3:30. Less than 2 weeks after that I tripled up for the 1st time and ran the Potomac River Run Marathon in a time of 3:23, good enough for 2nd female overall.
And here I am now….I was again chosen to be a Captain for the Saucony Hurricane Team 2011. One of 100 athletes from around the country and 1 of only 6 captains. I am a Rock N Roll National Marathon Ambassador and became a nuun Ambassador after representing them at Hood To Coast 2011.
On 10/16/2011 I ran my 17th marathon in Columbus, Ohio. I dreamed big and ran a personal PR of 8 minutes with a time of 3:13:14, 11 months after baby #3. 3 weeks later I ran Marine Corps Marathon for the 6th time and finished with a time of 3:21:46 to wrap up my 18th marathon and my 2011 marathon racing season.
At the end of 2011 I set a PR in the 10K distance taking my 10K pr from a 41:17 to a 40:23 and hope to break the 40 minute mark in 2012. 2012 brought exciting things with another win at the B & A Trail Marathon with a PR of 3:11:14. The race wasn’t easy and it wasn’t the sub 3:10 I had trained for but for every time I fail to reach a good it makes me work that much harder to achieve it. I followed up B & A by running Boston Marathon in the heat. The race got the better of me and I ended up tying my first marathon time with a time of 4:20. It wasn’t the race I wanted or expected but it reminded me to respect the marathon distance and that a race is not always about the time on the clock.
I am currently training for my 21st marathon New York City Marathon. For the past two summers I have done almost all of my training pushing my kids in a single, double or triple stroller. Now that fall is officially here I have become a early morning runner and wake up at o’dark thirty to fit in the miles. Running is about making it happen. It’s about quieting the excuses in your head and finding ways to make time to fit it in.
I look forward to all that God, life, kids, and running has to offer. This blog is my journey……
I hope that I can inspire you to become the runner that you want to be. I’m living proof of the many ways physically, emotionally and spiritually, that running can change your life!