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Shannon Miller 7 Bridges Marathon – Run It Fast

Shannon Miller’s Mile: Getting Off the Canvas

Shannon Miller 7 Bridges Marathon - Run It Fast

Running has changed my life. There’s no doubt about that. It continues to teach me, and I continue to learn and grow from it. Even still, everyone has moments of weakness; sometimes even months of weakness.

The first half of 2015 was not good for me. I struggled with some unfortunate “that’s life” issues that had me feeling unmotivated, and I often found myself seeking comfort in food. I spent more and more time on the couch watching sappy chick-flick movies with a box of cookies, and less time outside with my running shoes.

By March, my training was almost non-existent and I had gained back about 20 pounds of the weight I had previously lost. I did manage to run 2 marathons and 2 ultras during the spring and early summer but, as undertrained as I was, each one was nothing but a pathetic suffer-fest. During the Asphalt Jackal Marathon, in mid June, my eyes opened to what I had become and what I was doing to myself. I knew something had to change. I finished the race that day in dead last place. Without the major support of friends, throughout the race, I doubt I would have finished at all.

I have worked hard over the last few months to return to the runner that I was last year, and I’m making good progress. I’m averaging about 32 miles per week in training right now, and I have worked my long training runs back up to a half marathon. I’m signed up for the Chattanooga 7 Bridges Marathon in 6 weeks, and it feels good to know that I’ll be ready for it. I ran it last year and beat my previous best marathon time by 15 minutes. Maybe I can pull out another personal record this year.

Even though my “backslide” cost me several months of valuable training and improvement, I don’t really regret it. It taught me things about myself, and it made me stronger. It is empowering to know that after hitting such a low that I can rise above and continue to better myself despite life’s obstacles. Things happen that can affect us mentally and change the way we see the world. I can’t tell you that it won’t happen again, but if it does I’ll be ready.

– Shannon Miller (RIF #338)

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Miller’s Mile: Beginning to Believe

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Shannon Miller Cruise Ship Formal

Shannon Miller’s Mile: Beginning to Believe

Shannon Miller - The Native Jackal Trail Marathon 2014

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.

Shannon Miller Tie Dyed

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.

Shannon Miller Cruise Ship Formal

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.

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