The Beginning of My Running Story
I don’t like to hear people say that they “can’t run”. Everyone has an excuse. That’s all they are: excuses. But I understand it, because I used to make them myself, and still do sometimes when I’m in a poor mood. I am one of the least genetically or circumstantially blessed runners that I know. I’ve never been athletic, never played sports, I’ve always struggled with my weight, I have chronic knee problems and my “girls” are enormous. Not to mention I’m a single mother, who mostly trains on the treadmill. Runners are supposed to be thin, with long legs, and strong muscles. I must not be a runner.
Obstacles to Starting
When I started running, I was 210 pounds. I have no idea why I decided to run. I didn’t think I could ever be a runner. At that time, I wouldn’t have believed I could have ever run 6 miles, much less a marathon. I didn’t even know ultra marathons existed. I just wanted to lose weight. I ran my first 5k on Thanksgiving Day in 2012, finishing in 42:22.
Meeting the Kingpin
Then I met Joshua Holmes….
I was at a Christmas party at my new boss’s house when this long haired, hippie-looking fellow starts telling me about all these crazy distances he’s run, like 50 miles, 100 miles, even 314 miles across Tennessee in July. I wasn’t sure if I thought he was insane or my hero. I mentioned to him that I had just run my first 5k, which paled in comparison to his stories, but he was humble and at least pretended to be impressed.
Over the next few months, after running several more 5ks, Joshua challenged me to climb the distance ladder by first completing a 10k in March of 2013 (finishing in 1:06:36), and then my first half marathon on June 22, 2013 (finishing in 2:52:23). After the half marathon I was hooked. I knew then that I could finish a full marathon. I started looking at different races and knowing it was my first one, I looked for something flat and easy.
Dream It and Do It
Naturally, I entered my name in the lottery for the Harpeth Hill’s Flying Monkey Marathon in Nashville, TN, which is a brutal course, even to veteran marathoners and is infamously known for its wicked hills. That particular day, November 23, 2013, was unseasonably cold (18 degrees at the start). Twenty six miles and ten frozen fingers later, I somehow managed to finish the Flying Monkey in 6:06:15.
How Far I’ve Come
As of today, I have run 11 marathons and ultras, with my longest distance to date being The Tunnel Hill 50 Miler, and so far I have lost 50 pounds. The old me is just a shadow of the girl I am now. I’m still not the stereotypical runner type. I probably never will be, but I’m okay with that. If I can be a runner, anyone can be. It’s all about making small changes, because you aren’t going to climb a mountain in a day. I’m light-years away from who I used to be, in a place I never thought I would be, and dreaming of becoming someone even better one step at a time.
My name is Shannon Miller, and this is my journey to a healthier, happier life.