After taking a long break from running, one runner came back older, wiser and stronger than ever on an incredible running journey.

I’m a runner. I got back into the sport in January 2016 after a way-too-long running hiatus. My reason to start running again was more bound to health issues—I was slightly overweight, and I had problems with my back and joints and—this felt even worse—I was out of breath too soon when walking up a hill.

I was 37 at that point and I thought, No way I’m going to continue like this.

Becoming A Beginner (Again)

It took only one night to make a decision to make a change! I was tired of feeling the way I felt; I was tired of always running into a wall and bouncing back. When I woke up that one day, I looked into the mirror and said to myself, I don’t want to bounce back anymore. I wanna burst through that wall.

I realized—and thank goodness I did—that if I’d continued a lifestyle like that, I’d only gain more weight, more pain, more health issues and become more stiff and rigid. I pulled the emergency break and I knew that day that my health needed to become an indefinite priority again!

Today, 475 days and more than 1,000 miles later, I am happier than ever before. I worked hard and have lost 39 pounds. But the thing is, running has substantially changed a whole lot in me beyond the sport.

Running does something to me that I’ve never experienced before. It makes me feel better, healthier, fitter and more desirable. If I had known before which train I was boarding, I would have told myself, You’re nuts. It turned out that 2016 has been the most incredible running journey. And never would I have thought back then that simply running for the sake of losing weight would take me on an even more spectacular road trip that continues to have a lot more in store for me than I’ve ever expected.

My First Race Back At It

Running is a happy trip, a continuous endorphin-party. And starting it all with a 10K city run in Zurich, Switzerland—where I live—has been the start of all that endorphin elation. I didn’t really train for that 10K race specifically, but finishing it after 50 minutes was pretty amazing to me at that point.

And suddenly, I wanted more. I realized how much fun racing was, not just for running a PR, but for the overall enjoyment and the confidence boost it bears with it. Just a few days later I signed up for a marathon (the Lucerne Marathon in Switzerland). Because I thought, When I can run a 10K, I can run a marathon. They may seem like silly thoughts, but it is leading to something great!

Where I’m At Now

A year full of running and training and racing followed and had me all absorbed. And I loved it. And I know I’ll continue to love it. Recently, a week before the Boston Marathon, I ran my third marathon, this time in Zurich. This marathon meant a great deal of special moments to me. First, because it was the “home” marathon and that always remains something special. And second, because I ran a Boston qualifying time!

Yes, I qualified for Boston 2018. Can you imagine that moment? When I realized I got it, the sun couldn’t have been more with me on that day! So qualifying for the Boston Marathon is more than just pretty amazing. It goes beyond that. It’s a momentum that fills me with all kinds of emotions, because there is no better moment than crossing the finish line knowing that I made it.

Surprising myself, beating the potential out of me and pushing the limits, that pretty much sets my soul on fire. It’s like booking an all-inclusive package with all that adrenaline, the buzz, the pain, the high, the series of fights you have with yourself. Knowing my possibilities and knowing that possibilities are endless makes the world around me a lot brighter. And I can’t wait to continue this amazing running journey to Boston and beyond. After all, running is an amazing gift! Inspirational. Motivational. Transformational.

You can find Jessica Bissot online at www.runningkarma.com and on Instagram here.