Stefani’s here today to share with us her journey with running – I loved every word, Stefani! Thanks for sharing your heart.

Me and my 2 friends at my first 5K

I never was a runner. When I was young I played softball and my dad used to tell me that it was a good thing I could hit the ball far because I wasn’t a very good runner. I always wanted to be a runner though. Runners are dedicated, fit, happy people, (and they have a really good excuse to buy cute workout clothes and shoes but that’s beside the point). I wanted that, I just didn’t want to run to get it. I admired people who met their goal to train for and run a race. It looked like work. And, quite frankly, I was allergic to work.

A few months after our first child was born, my husband was accepted to grad school and that meant we were moving… to Indiana. Within a few weeks after our big move we soon found out that Indianapolis hosts the largest half marathon in the country, The One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon. It’s a big deal. Not only does it kick off the start of the Indy 500 festival (it runs for an entire month) but there are close to 40,000 runners and as part of the course you get to run on the Indy 500 race track. A lot of the grad students there make it a goal to run it at least once and my husband had already set his sights on it. Now, he isn’t a runner either but he is one of those sickening people who are just naturally athletic and can go out and run 6 miles without batting an eyelash so this wasn’t a big deal for him. He ran it our 3rd year there. I think he went on 2 “long runs”, called it good and ran the entire 13.1 miles on race day in about 2 hours.

My hubby and I before the half marathon

I had set my sights on it too in my very own non-runner way, meaning I wanted to run it but was 80% sure I never would. For 3 years the race came and went and I felt so dumb that I let another year go by without doing it. It seemed I always had an excuse like pregnancy, or I was nursing a baby, or I like to sleep too much to get up in the morning and run. I had one more year before life would take us somewhere new and I would never get the opportunity to run it again. And then I got pregnant.
I was completely thrilled to be pregnant but a small part of me was sad I would never get the chance to run the race. Ten weeks later I miscarried. We were devastated. I had never felt so sad and broken and alone. I didn’t have family around to sit with me and wipe my tears.

My husband seemed to move through the grieving process quite quickly and I still felt like a part of me had died. It was the most difficult thing I had ever been through to that point in my life and I was determined to have some good come of it. I signed up for the race. I had never ran a day in my life but I was set on it. My husband signed up, too, for moral support. I found a “couch to half marathon” program and joined a gym with an indoor track (I hate treadmills). I ran a lot of circles…with really old people that could walk faster than I could run. It was hard and I had some ups and downs. And when I was on the verge of giving up because I couldn’t run more than 3 miles without wanting to die, I had a breakthrough. A divine breakthrough. The very next day I ran 6 miles without batting an eyelash. It was just the tender mercy I needed.

For the first time I actually felt like I was going to be able to do it. Running got easier after that. Things changed and I felt myself getting stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. Running was becoming a type of therapy for me. It was healing my wounds and I was becoming whole again. Running still wasn’t easy for me. I don’t think it ever will be. In fact, when I crossed the finish line on race day I was on the verge of tears. Mostly because my legs and hips were on fire and I could hardly walk. But, I did it. I made it a goal, I saw it through and I gave everything I had to it, blood, sweat and a lot of tears. Running pushes me in ways nothing else can. And that’s why I run.

My hubby and I after the half marathon. (I was in so much pain. I had to keep smiling or I would cry)