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How Running Saved My Life #RunWithMe

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Posted by Jessica I under Running on 7 May 2014 at 11:00 PM

Meet Jessica, she's an inspiring Tribesports member who has an amazing #RunWithMe story to share!

Life before thirty was what I would now consider as not really living. I was the sedentary obese American that sat at a desk all day, ate fast food just about every day, and watched tv at night.

Jessica transition and progress

I had no energy and no motivation to do anything besides the usual “clean the house and cook the meals.” I had been a smoker for 11 years and had quit because of a six month battle with pneumonia that left me lingering breathing issues. I had been on Metformin (a glucophage frequently prescribed to diabetics) for a decade to treat “pre-diabetes” and insulin resistance. I accepted the quarterly doctor visits and pills as normal and a part of growing older…until November 2011. 

I visited my doctor for my routine quarterly lab work to make sure the Metformin wasn’t damaging my liver. At my heaviest, 254, I was depressed and lethargic. The lab results at that visit quickly determined I was at risk for a heart attack: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high triglycerides. The doctor quickly scribbled down two new daily prescriptions to add to my arsenal and as he handed the papers to me, it dawned on me that 12 years of taking pills and I had never gotten “better”. I never filled those prescriptions and stopped taking the Metformin. For the first time I began logging everything I ate and dropped 35 pounds in three months. 

Jessica I Run With Me How Running Saved My Life

Finally I had energy to do something…but what? I explored the elliptical and hated being cooped up on a machine. I tried P90X and while I liked some of the workouts, I had a hard time sticking to the set schedule in front of a tv screen daily. Six months after that doctors office, I discovered Couch 2 5k. During the worst drought of my lifetime, I forced myself outside three times a week. Panting and sweating as I slogged along slowly, following the app and learning to run. Somehow it felt right – the fresh air, the scenery….a feeling of freedom that left me so much happier after each session. I found a part of myself on the road.

Work in ProgressFour months after I started Couch 2 5k I ran my first race, the Color Me Rad 5k. I was hooked. By the end of the year I had finished five 5k’s, two half marathons, and one obstacle course race. It did not take long to find other fitness-minded people who quickly became friends. We keep each other accountable during training, run races together, and occasionally compete with one another. My bucket list began to grow as I found joy and renewed life in the sense of accomplishment with each race. I’m by no means the fastest one out there, but seeing my own gradual improvement and being able to say “I finished” was so satisfying. With a full schedule, I finished 2013 with at least 25 races that I can think of, including three half marathons, a Spartan Trifecta, and my first 200 mile team relay under my belt. 

I keep a constant bucket list of races I discover through friends or social media to give me something to look forward to, and my race calendar fills up quickly at the beginning of the year. I think what motivates me is the adventure. It’s getting out there, running a new course and saying “I did that.” It’s being an example to my kids by coming home after a long day of work only to lace up my shoes and hit the road, regardless of how tired and sore I am. I keep making goals for myself to give me something new to work towards. While I aspire to run in each state, I also look to add to my accomplishments. So far this year, I’ve completed my first full marathon and have a duathlon in May and a sprint triathlon in August. 

Running has become such a large part of my life and it has saved my life. Confirmed January 2013 (a little over a year after that doctor’s diagnosis), I was told there were no signs of heart disease or “pre-diabetes”. Recently re-confirmed February 2014 by an endocrinologist and diabetic specialist, I have reversed my previous diagnosis without the help of medicine. Through eating right and running, I have taken my life back and been given a second chance at life. Because running has given me so much, I chose to give back. I am matched with a little girl who can’t run through the I Run 4 program (www.whoirun4.com) and in 2013 I created and directed a race to benefit a local charity, the Indiana Parkinson Foundation.

Jessica I running her own races

With the help of a friend who is a race director and timing organization, we created a 5k/10k event and had over 500 participants in its inaugural year, raising over $16,000 for the charity. In addition to remaining on the planning board for this year’s race, I also coach newer runners. I have helped train and pace two runners to their first half marathons, and a third to his first Spartan Race. Sharing my love of running and the lessons I’ve learned along the way gives me as much a sense of accomplishment as finishing my own races. 

Celebrating two years as a runner now, I can’t really remember what I did with my time before I ran. It’s become so quickly a part of me and filled a hole that I didn’t really know was there. It’s not always a great run, but I feel greater with every completed run.

At this point, I look forward to years of accomplishments, marking off bucket list items on a never-ending list and never hanging up my running shoes because running literally gave me my life back and as long as I’m running, I’m living. 

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    Comments

    20140614134930-rshaver

    What an amazing story, Jessica! I am so proud of what you have accomplished and you are living proof that someone can turn things around. You have inspired me more than I'll be able to express!

    encouraged this.

    20150514011901-babygirl93086

    That was truly a wonderful inspiring story Jessica! Way to go for all that you have done for yourself and your life!!! Congrats on making the effort and never deciding to quit!! You have really inspired me and I thank you! =)))

    Brenda D encouraged this.

    20140806163630-brendad

    Great write up Jessica. A brilliant story!!!!!Thanks for sharing!!!!!!

    Cags R encouraged this.

    20130306203851-monicastricker

    wow a great story, and begs the question we should all ask ourselves what is our excuse

    Brenda D encouraged this.

    20140605023512-dirt_diva

    Thank you for sharing that with us, Jessica. It sounds like you've not only reclaimed your own life, but you're able to help others improve their own through the awesome support and charity work you've been able to do, which all started because you had the courage to make such a life changing decision! Congratulations!

    Brenda D encouraged this.

    20140511042725-libby1374

    That's for sharing your life, It makes me feel that I am not alone out there, I am some what going through the same thing, but to start off i wanted to get some pounds off so i started working on my abs/arms/legs etc before heading out on the road and running, I actually start my running challenge in June this year, and can't wait to accomplish that to be able to register for a 5k. Again thanks for sharing and letting people like me know we are not alone in this world...

    Jessica I and Brenda D encouraged this.

    20140423194241-jessicai

    Thanks everyone for all the positive feedback. @elizabeth F you'll do great. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is that when you first start, you'll want to give up or convince yourself it's not a good day to train. Train anyway because those are the days when you need it the most and gain the most from it.

    20140104222845-connorm

    This is a great story. You have shown positive improvements in your life but decided to take it further and share with others. This is both rare and special. Well done and i hope your journey continues.

    20150921131240-jennb2

    Amazing hard work Jessica, loved your story, thank you very much for sharing! You are an inspiration to anyone and everyone! HUGS! :o)

    20140427004923-emmaphillips01

    Hey Jessica great story and journey well done keep at it your doing amazing!

    20131115221245-runningmum

    What an amazing story and a beautiful attitude you have Jessica!!! This actually made me feel quite emotional and you are inspiring so many people with the way you choose to live your life, keep up the fab work!

    Rebecca R encouraged this.

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