Running Changed My Life

My story isn’t specifically about GOTR but it’s about girls empowering girls and how running changed my life.

I was not an active kid. Then, I spent much of my adulthood reacting to life, rather than choosing my path. I definitely was not taking good care of myself. Then my daughter had a mental health crisis. And I felt helpless. I found a race locally that supported mental health awareness. And I vowed to run it. For her. I was overweight, out of shape and had smoked cigarettes for almost 30 years. So I quit smoking. And I started running. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was determined. That first race I was not ready for, so I set up a plan, a way to run this race the next year. I found a running group for women, who helped me with a training program and the support I needed to be consistent. Training started in January. I worked hard. I ran 3 days a week and cross trained 3 days. My plan consisted of running the Gazelle Girl in the spring and then MY race in early summer. March 31st of that year I broke my ankle. It was a devastating blow to all the work I had done to get to this point. My aunts and daughter pushed me in a wheelchair for Gazelle Girl, but there was no way I could do the 10K in early summer. My mental health began to falter. I knew I needed to run again. After a major surgery, 5 months on crutches, and a total of 8 months working toward running, I ran again in December. It was just 1 mile, but I ran it! I started training again in January, with my running group still supporting me. I ran the Gazelle Girl and finished (not last place!) and I felt amazing! Then came MY race. MY race was brutal. It was hot and humid and my asthma was triggered. I had to walk a lot. It was emotional and I was heartbroken that I was not running strong like I did at Gazelle. I realized it was a culmination of everything I had already experienced to get to that point that made my run so tough. Every obstacle. Every doubt. Every little voice whispering that I couldn’t do it. Every louder voice saying I was too old, too broken, too delicate to run. But I kept going. Kept running. And I finished (still not last place!). And my daughter was at the finish line, waiting for me.

What I didn’t know is how much you overcome when you choose to run and choose to change aspects of your life. Running changed my life. I had women in my corner rooting for me the whole way, in the same way GOTR does for younger girls. There is no magic in the process. It’s hard work and dedication. I had a purpose and that drove me to keep going. Find your purpose, and you become unstoppable.

Photo credit: Image courtesy of the storyteller

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Sheri Shimmel