Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Running Story

I first discovered my love for running in 7th grade. The choices in gym class for that unit were volleyball and basketball, neither of which I had an interest in. The female gym teacher decided to create another activity for the students, and lead a walking group out to the trails behind the school. The trail was only probably about a mile, maybe a little bit more, but I loved getting outside and quickly decided to run the trail instead of walk. My mom had always been a runner, and I fell in love with running fast.

In 9th grade, I joined the cross-country team at the high school. I ran cross country and track (600 meters, 1200 m, 1500 m, and 4x800 relay) and was in great shape throughout high school. After graduation, I kinda went to the gym and kinda ran, but once I started college I was way more interested in making friends, classwork, and working at Starbucks. By the time I ended my sophomore year of college, I had gained 60 pounds.

This was not the best time in my life. I was severely unhappy in my long-term relationship that had survived four years (2 from high school, 2 in college) and really should have ended sooner. I also lost my grandfather that summer. Fresh from my first broken heart and deep sadness for the loss of my pop, I found myself on Jax Beach with my mom. Running.

In fact, the morning my grandfather died, my mom and I were out on the beach running, and we saw two dolphins swimming in the waves. Jax Beach is usually too busy to see dolphins.

That summer, I lost 35 of the 60 pounds I had gained, and felt like myself again. I was much happier, independent, and more comfortable with how I looked and felt. Running saved me from falling into a black hole. Running and my mom.

I didn't gain any weight for the rest of college, and started graduate school in Mississippi with high hopes and a semi-new relationship. I was so excited to be in a new place and meet new people. However, once I arrived I learned really quickly that people weren't who they made themselves out to be, and I found myself alone, struggling to keep up with grad school, and terribly depressed. I wanted to go home and give up.

After Christmas, with a new year and a new mentality, I decided I wasn't a quitter. I tackled things one at a time. First up: keeping myself from getting kicked out of grad school. I started getting to know some people that semester, did much better in classes, and ended the semester with lots of fun memories, a group of friends, and a 3.6 semester GPA.

That summer I started working out again with two of my friends, although I really struggled to lose weight. I gained about 40 pounds between graduating college and finishing my first year of grad school. I went to classes, did the elliptical, ate better, nothing seemed to work. I got discouraged and working out fell by the wayside once the fall started back up. Football games and starting to date again (Zach :) ) plus research and class just took priority. I was so happy. But not completely myself yet.

I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to run again. But I had some type of mental block that was stopping me from putting on my shoes and heading out. I think it was because I was so happy in all aspects of my life, I just didn't want to face "failure" in the one part of my life that was missing.

Finally in April, with Zoe and Zach, I put on my shoes and ran a mile. And it sucked. But it was so great at the same time. I loved pushing myself and the feeling of reaching a goal. Who cares if it was only a mile? I did it! And just like that, I was back.



I decided in June that this is it. I'm a runner and I always have been.

I love running.

It makes me feel alive.

I feel accomplished, happy, less stressed out, and a million other things after a run.

I signed up in June for my first half marathon.

A challenge I'm about to complete this Saturday, November 5, 2011, in Savannah, GA.

I don't care what my time is, I don't care what my pace is, I just want to finish.

This Saturday, I will become a half-marathoner, with the man I love by my side.

The man who has supported me through the ups and downs of getting back into running shape, as well as the stresses of graduate school and life in general. He never gave up on me, and I'm never giving up on myself again.

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. - Hebrews 12:1

Pin It


  1. Love your running story! That is so awesome! :) You look so cute in your maroon dress. I love running, too! I've done two marathons and I want to do more :) I haven't had motivation to run in a while, so this was very inspiring to read. Thank you! Love the verse in Hebrews. I love to think about Paul and how he compares the Christian life to a marathon when I run :)

    Wish you lived in OK! I need a good running buddy!

  2. Wow. So inspiring. And I'm glad that you're happier now. And your before and after pics were great! Good luck on your race!

  3. You look FANTASTIC! As much as I love good southern food it is so not good for you! Ack! Keep up the good work gorgeous!

  4. You look amazing Ashley! Thank you for sharing your story! Running is such an amazing asset to have in our lives, to me sometimes it can definitely be therapy and a stress reliever!

  5. That's very inspiring and I must say that there's nothing that gets me in a better mood than exercising (running, swimming, etc..)
    Somebody calls it addiction or exercisenorexia...


  6. Such an inspiration!!!! You look soooo amazing!!!! I have to remember all this motivation on those days I don't want to get out there! I hope I can work up to a half like you!!! :)

  7. I have a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. Thank you.

    This inspires me to get back out there and know too that coaching cross country is hopefully making a difference for one of those kiddos.
    So again...Thank you.