To look at me, most would not assume that I am not a runner. To be fair, some days I doubt it myself. I am sick to my stomach and totally intimidated at the start line of every race. Scanning the muscled quads and flat abs that surround me almost sends me running for the car instead of the finish line.
Like anyone who has children understands, I am currently living “life after children.” In a previous life I dabbled in road running and completed a couple 5Ks. I would read running magazines and think how some day I might even run a 10K. Fast forward more than a few years, and you would see me heavier than I have ever been, nursing a two-week-old and trying to read the newspaper while my three other children run around like hooligans. Somehow in all the chaos I noticed an article advertising a 6-month learn-to-trail run program that culminated in a rugged 12-mile trail race. Given my current situation and the fact that I had not run more than a mile or two in the last few years and none at all within at least a year, starting a program like this would be insane. Thankfully insanity is the only real prerequisite to trail running.
Four weeks later I packed up my breast pump, left my kids with my sister and went for my first trail run. After 6 months of fun, falls and facing fears I completed that trail race, Vulcan’s Fury. After crossing that finish line my running plans were simply to run it again next year, hopefully a little faster, and to attempt to embrace winter running by getting some running snowshoes. Somehow I ended up registering to run the USATF-Northeast Mountain Circuit. I spent the next summer running (and power hiking) up mountains and completed all seven races, earning both mountain goat status and entry into the Mount Washington Auto Road Race the following summer. Three weeks ago I completed that race—7.6 miles uphill with nearly 5,000 feet of elevation gain.
Through running I lost weight and got rid of my pregnancy-induced hypertension. However I also gained fitness, confidence and trail sisters. It has been two years since that first day and though I still am not fast or flashy, I keep showing up and looking for new challenges. People ask me why I do it and I have yet to find a short answer to that question. In part I do it simply because I can and because I want other people to know, the ones with the flabby quads and last place finishes, that they can too. Whenever I run after a new goal I do not finish as the same person that set out, and I enjoy sharing that journey with others. I am excited about where I am going and who I am becoming and I want others to know that they can do it too.