A Runner for the Love of Running
I started running in elementary school. My gym coach at the time discovered that I was really good at the mile and encouraged me to keep running. So I did. All through junior high and high school. But the competition aspect of track - in which I ran the 4x800, 1600, and 3200 - soured me on the experience. I also played tennis and had a horse named Flash who I rode often, so I wasn't hurting for ways to stay active. I thus gave up competitive running during college, occasionally going for a jog or hopping on the treadmill at Georgetown's student gym. And then, in my 20's, I rediscovered my love for running for the simple sake of running. Pounding the pavement quickly became my primary form of stress relief, which led to a full-fledged love affair. I still occasionally raced - even winning a few half- and full-marathons and PR'ing in the half at 1:26 and the full at 3:10 - but really I trained just because I loved to run. Around the same time, my brother - who had previously been much more of a basketball devotee - discovered the art of ultrarunning, so we started meeting up 1-2x/year to race together. In 2021, we placed first overall together in the Ragnar New Jersey Trail Black Loop race.
The Light Bulb Moment came in 2017, after we lost our mother to Lewy Body Dementia, a type of progressive dementia that, despite being largely unknown to the greater public, is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer's. We first noticed changes in her behavior in 2013, right after my son was born - a slight lean in her walk, a few strange memory slips and odd moments that somehow felt dangerous even then - and her condition deteriorated rapidly after she was formally diagnosed in 2014. When she passed away in 2017, it was almost a relief to know that she would no longer be living in the personal hell in which she had been immersed for several years - a hell to which none of her loved ones had access. There was little I could do for her beyond simply being there to hopefully provide some comfort, so I read a lot about Lewy Body. Then I read some more about brain health. Then I kept reading. And I realized that, while my mother may never have been able to avoid the onset of Lewy Body, there are lifestyle habits that CAN help prevent - or at least delay - the onset of dementia. And I realized that I had the power to help other people see that.
I thus decided it was time to fully pursue my life's passions. I became a certified personal trainer (ACE), a certified running coach (RRCA), and I obtained a Master of Science in Exercise, Fitness, and Health Promotion from George Mason University.
With these creds, I slowly started building a second career. My main professional path has been in recruiting for the language services industry, and I was lucky enough to have an employer who encouraged me to also pursue these outside passions! And so I started slowly but surely taking on new clients. I created a local running program that has grown into a wonderful group, was hired by the online coaching business, Team RunRun, and I took on other new responsibilities, including acting as Community Coordinator for the national nonprofit, Healthy Kids Running Series. After all, my dedication to creating a healthier, more active community around me is meaningless if that doesn't extend to my kids.
I truly believe anyone can be a runner. And not only that, anyone can find a way to ENJOY running and fitness. Self-care shouldn't be a chore; it should have a prominent place in your life and make you happy. Let me help you find that happy place!
And if you would like to donate to the very worthwhile cause of furthering research into and education about Lewy Body Dementia, please do - every little bit helps!