How I became a running Mom. (and you can, too!)

That’s me on the right, before the start of the race.

I think I’m a pretty typical American Mom.  I’ve always struggled a little bit with my weight…usually carrying anywhere from 10-20 extra lbs on my 5’7″ busty frame.  I was lucky that during both my pregnancies, I worked grueling hours as a retail manager and even though I overindulged, I didn’t gain crazy weight with the babies.  But I held onto 5 lbs with each one and by the time we relocated to Florida in the summer of 2011, I was a good 20 lbs overweight.  Turning 40 and having 2 toddlers, I really wanted to lose that pesky extra weight and be a hot mama.  I was walking with a girlfriend several times a week.  I was doing Turbo Fire.  I was actually losing weight.  Hooray!

And then it happened.  Around here we call it “Baby-gate 2011”.   What would become my darling husband’s greatest (and worst) “I told you so” moment.  You see, he had been telling me for years NOT to cross the baby gate while I was holding our babies.  Time and again, I would assure him that I could always get my legs up and over the gate with no problem.  After all, I’d been doing since our oldest toddler was a baby….almost 3 years…and I was certain I had it down.  What I didn’t account for was my super cute-but-will-slide-off-your-foot flip-flops.  Yup.  That’s right.  Ms. smarty pants, “I will never fall over this baby gate” was done in by her sassy little shoes.  Just as I was about to clear the gate with my back foot, it slid down my foot, caught the gate and all I could do was hold on to Samantha and protect her and fall.  Hard. On the tile floor.  On my right knee.  OUCH. (I’m happy to report that she was unharmed.)

So, that was it.  The end of all of my workouts,  all my walking, all of my calorie burning.  O-V-E-R.  Now, I often tell people that at that moment in time, I totally could have decided to cut back on calories, eat less cheese, drink less wine.  But come on!!  Who are we kidding here?  So, as I recovered from my injury and waited until my knee stopped absolutely killing me, I discovered an extra 25 lbs.  (I should also mention that at the time of the fall, my hubby’s brand new job’s health insurance had not kicked in yet.  I could have gone to the ER and racked up a huge bill we couldn’t pay, but I think myself a tough broad, so I just sucked it up.)   It was almost 10 months before I felt like I could start walking again to actually burn calories.  And by that time, I now had 50 lbs to lose.  Gulp.

One of my favorite things about moving here are all of the wonderful friends we have made in such a short time.   It is truly remarkable and makes us love it here so much more.  In particular, I am a part of several groups of women who get together regularly and some of these gals have become my BFFs.   Last year in May, I was having drinks with some of them and someone mentioned run/walking in the Pensacola 1/2 marathon and asked if any of us wanted to join her.  Most everyone laughed and answered with a hearty, “hell, no!”  I stopped for a second and actually considered it.  I had almost started running in earnest back in 2006, but it didn’t last.  But, I remembered that I liked it.

Anyway, there I was, weighing my heaviest and wanting to do something that would help with that and that I’d really be able to get into.  Plus I do love a challenge!!   I did some research and discovered a few things.  First, in order to begin a 1/2 marathon training program, you have to be able to run 3 miles comfortably.  I also discovered Jeff Galloway and his run/walk/run method.  If you aren’t familiar with him, I highly recommend his training program.  It rocks.  I had several friends that sang the praises of the “Couch to 5K” app.  I also found out that pretty much anyone can get moving!!  So, armed with all of this knowledge, I determined that I’d have to complete the C25K first and then start working on the “Galloway” method.  Then I headed to Pensacola’s premier local running store, Running Wild.  They were so helpful and encouraging!  I got the right shoes and gear that I needed to begin training properly.  This didn’t leave a lot of  time to prep for the Pensacola 1/2.  But we had just bought our Disney season passes, my Dad lives in Orlando and I’d heard that if you were going to run anywhere, then you definitely should runDisney.  So, I went to the site, saw that the next 1/2 marathon was in January of 2013. Let me tell you, running at Disney is not cheap.  And neither were my shoes or the gear you need to train.  It was a big investment and I think that made it a better commitment for me.  I decided I was going to do it and I signed up, paid the money that was it.  I was on my way.

That was back in June of 2012.  I’d love to tell you that I barreled through the C25K and started the 1/2 training right away.  But, again, who are we kidding?  I have a teenager, 2 toddlers, a husband and a home based business.  Life doesn’t always make it easy for you to make changes.  I think I re-started that dang C25K program about 5 times!  I remember in the beginning, that first 60 seconds of running was almost impossible.  My first 10 minutes run almost killed me.  But then I realized I needed to find my pace, (read-slow down!) and the more I kept at it, the easier it got.  And then it got FUN.  Now, it doesn’t hurt that we live in a place where it can be downright gorgeous weather to run in.  Not to mention the scenery.  I was able to pick up the Galloway training about mid-way through and was on track to do my first 1/2 marathon following his run/walk method with a 5/1 ratio.  (run 5 min/walk 1 min.)  Then I got sick. Then Christmas happened.  And New Year’s.  And before I knew it, I had 2 weeks to get my butt in gear, because Disney’s Marathon Weekend was happening, whether I was ready or not.  So I trained for the next 2 weeks and sure enough, I managed to finish my first 1/2 marathon with less trauma than I’d anticipated.  It. Was. Awesome.  One of my friends who lives in Orlando agreed to do the thing with me and we finished in 3:38.  Not a great time by any standards.  But we finished.  There were some unexpected snags.  I learned some key things not to do.  (I’ll save that for another blog!)  And man, did my everything hurt when we were done.  But the pride that I felt was immeasurable.  Not to mention how proud my husband and kids were.  And my friends.  A great feeling to say the least.  I was officially bitten.

So, here we are.  I’ve been at this crazy running stuff for almost 6 months.  I’ve lost 12 lbs and am about to do the Double Bridge Run on Saturday.   When I’m running I feel strong.  I feel powerful.  I can listen to my music and feel like I’m in my own personal music video.  I love that I am setting a better example for my kids and teaching them about being active.

I never, ever thought I’d say “I’m a runner.”  But I am.  And it rocks.  I encourage you to lace up your shoes and give it a try.  I’m still almost 40 lbs overweight.  And my knee still bugs me sometimes.  And in the beginning I couldn’t run 2 minutes.  But, Saturday I’m going to attempt 9.3 miles.  So, if I can be a “running Mom”, you can too!

I invite you to come out this Saturday to Pensacola’s Double Bridge Run and cheer everyone on.  Say hello if you see me!  (I’ll be the middle aged lady in the tiara.)  See what it’s all about.  Introduce your kids to that environment. The finish line is at the Portofino Boardwalk, so the setting is beautiful and family friendly.  And maybe next year, we can run it together.



  1. I’m a running mom ! I’m 29 have 3 kids and I too am over weight. This is my first time doing the double bridge! So so so excited! Good luck! 🙂

  2. Yay Jennie! I hope to see you there. Good luck to you, too! xo J

  3. This is a truly inspiring post Julie! I downloaded the app already. I’ve been fairly fit my whole life, but baby #2 (who is 17 months) did a number on my stomach and my endurance is way down. I am now going to get my butt in gear and start running again! thanks for the encouragement 🙂

  4. That is so awesome, Debbie! You got this, girl. xo J

  5. This was such an honest and inspiring story! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Thanks, Sarah! That is great to hear.

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