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Celebrating Five Years as a Runner

by Meghann on January 23, 2013

I almost forgot, I have a very special anniversary to celebrate this month.

Five years ago something big happened and my life changed forever. A bit melodramatic, yes, but also so very true.

At beginning of January 2008, I wasn’t in a happy place. I was stuck in a town I had outgrown, with a boy who was just as lost as I was, in a job I had no passion for. I wasn’t sure what my next move should be, so I sat on my couch and wallowed. I had put on a good amount of weight after graduation, but I wasn’t aware of just how much until a fateful doctor’s appointment forced me to step on a scale and face the fear I had been ignoring. The number on the scale wasn’t me, the unhappy feeling I felt inside wasn’t me, and the person I saw in the mirror wasn’t me. I couldn’t live like this – I needed a change.

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(Fall 2007)

So I made a change. Five years ago this month I put on a pair of running shoes and never looked back. Scratch that, I didn’t put on a pair of running shoes, I put on a pair of regular sneakers I bought sophomore year of college and were practically unused (Florida girls live in flip-flops, not sneakers).

The first runs were terrible; I couldn’t even make it to the end of the street and back without stopping to walk. I was slow and out of shape, but I was determined. I knew nothing about running – nothing. Which is a good thing because that meant there was no added pressure of knowing better either. I wore cotton clothes, the wrong shoes, and ran as far as I could for as long as I could without even a guess to what my pace was or total distance covered. I didn’t know any other runners, so there was no one to compare myself to. It was just me, the road, and my iPod. I’m actually glad I didn’t know about running blogs then, there might have been too much pressure to “do it right” and I might have given up. Not knowing anything in the very beginning was a blessing in disguise. I was proud of my accomplishments because it was all I knew.

A month into running I talked my sister into doing a 5k with me, I didn’t even have a clue of what a 5k was. One of my co-workers knew I was starting to run and told me I should do one. Okay. Why not. The morning of the 5k my sister made me run all the way to the 1 mile marker without stopping – I’m pretty sure that was the first mile I had run without stopping in my entire life. I hated her, but was thankful that she pushed me. We ended up finishing in 30-something minutes. I was on cloud nine all day and was officially addicted to 5ks. I ran a few more in the coming months and was proud of all of them.

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(notice the cotton tank top and cotton pants – March 2008)

As my addiction to running blossomed, so did my appreciation for healthy food. I slowly weeded out the junk food in my pantry and replaced it with whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. I educated myself on healthy eating through the internet and started to discover blogs for the first time. The better I felt eating real food, the more I stuck with it.

As the months wore on, I felt awesome. I found a hobby I loved and a reason to get outside and start living life again. Running was giving me a sense of purpose. I was setting goals, working hard to achieve them, and succeeding. I was also losing the weight. In just a few months I had dropped all of my post-college weight and was back to the size I was in high school.

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(more cotton – April 2008)

At the end of summer the relationship with my boyfriend at the time had come to an end. I moved back home with my parents, was jobless, and had every reason to go back to square one. But something strange happened. I didn’t curl up in a ball, I was actually excited for a new chapter in my life. I started to set my goals higher. I picked a local 15k and began training for it (or my version of training for it, I still didn’t know what a training plan was at this point – ha!). I found a job in Orlando, moved, and met Caitlin. We were both going through a similar strange transition period, so we clung on to each other and navigated it together.

I felt pretty unstoppable after that 15k and kind of took off with my running obsession. Over the next six months I finally learned what a real training plan was and ran my first half marathon and full marathon. I got a Garmin, bought my first pair of “real” running shoes, and made new running friends. I started blogging about all the new milestones and re-discovered the person I knew I could be.

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(my first race not in cotton – Miracle Miles 15k – September 2008)

When Derek and I reconnected in the Fall of ’08 he met a different girl than the one he remembered from college. He met someone who was confident, knew what she wanted, and flat out loved living life. He’s always told me that those qualities were what initially drew him back to me. He always loved my spirit in college, but there was something about the new confidence that he admired. In a weird roundabout way, running brought me my husband.

Running has also given me the chance to grow closer to my younger brother and sister, who have both developed similar passions for the sport. We’ve trained together, raced together, and obsessed together. They challenge me, just as I challenge them, and I’m thankful for that everyday.

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(Rock ‘n’ Run 5k – September 10)

Through the years I’ve tried different fitness fad and routines, but nothing has stuck like running has. Running has always been my passion and my one constant in my life. No matter what happens in life, I can always throw on a pair of running shoes and know everything is going to be okay. Running calms me down, lets me think, and always gives me new goals to work for.

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(St. Pete Rock ‘n’ Roll Half – February 2012)

Five years later and I’m still a running fiend. I wonder what my 22 year old self would say if she discovered I was still running today. My mom likes to occasionally joke about the fact that I wasn’t a fan of sticking to things when I was a kid. I pretty much dropped everything (soccer, ballet, violin, trumpet, etc.) as soon as she told me I didn’t have to do it anymore. I guess I just never found my passion as a kid. When you find your passion, you stick to it. Running is my passion.

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(Ragnar Relay – January 2012)

I still can’t believe it’s been five years already. Time really does fly when you’re having fun. Here’s hoping I’m still just as passionate about the sport another five years from now. This has been one hell of a journey and it’s one that’s far from over.

{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katie @ running4cupcakes January 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Happy “running-versary”! What a great story of how running can literally change your life! Love it!
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2 Lauren @ The Unlikely Runners January 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I love hearing stories of how people started running! It is so amazing to look back and see just how much progress you have made. I have a similar story; I was 24 and going through a horrible divorce and discovered running as a way to move past that part of my life, now I’m 2 and a half years in and have done countless half marathons and am training for my second full marathon right now. It’s amazing how running really makes you a much stronger person. Congrats on all your accomplishments and I look forward to following you on your IM journey! That’s a pike dream of mine and seeing people like you start from scratch and make their way there is so inspiring to me, so thank you!
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3 Carly Thurman January 23, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Congrats! What an amazing story to read. I love it and keeps me inspired to pursue my running passon ๐Ÿ™‚
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4 Jen Correa @ Mom's Gotta Run January 23, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Happy anniversary! Very inspirational story. Thank you for sharing it.
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5 Becky @ Olives n Wine January 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm

What an inspirational story! I love that running helped you to improve your life not only physically but socially and mentally too! Congrats ๐Ÿ™‚
Becky @ Olives n Wine recently posted..Monster Dash Recap

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6 skinnyrunner January 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm

cute post! love “happy” running posts.

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7 Natalie @ Free Range Human January 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Congratulations! This is a great reflection post, and has gotten me to thinking about when I discovered by own passion. Such great memories to look back on.
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8 Angela January 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Happy run-iversary! Journeys like yours inspire me to power through the awful beginning phase of becoming a runner. Thanks for sharing your story!
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9 Erin January 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Congratulations and great post! Your blog is one of the main motivators I use to keep trying to run LOL

And in an unrelated note, I think we may have grown up in the same county in FL. Bizarre coincidence but I know a lot of the places you mention, including your wedding venue.
Erin recently posted..A Little Late Butโ€ฆ

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10 Meghann January 23, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Brevard County represent!

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11 Erin January 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Holy cow!! Yup, yup! Born and raisedโ€ฆ Ahh memories LOL
Erin recently posted..A Little Late Butโ€ฆ

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12 Holly January 23, 2013 at 2:27 pm

That was a great post, I loved reading your running story! Congratulations!

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13 Meghan @ After the Ivy League January 23, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Loved reading this post. It certainly has been one heck of a ride, so happy for you finding your passion and direction in life ๐Ÿ™‚
Meghan @ After the Ivy League recently posted..WIAW #18 and Actually Training for This 5k

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14 Sarah @ A Runners Heart January 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Awesome!!! Congratulations on 5 years! This July will be 4 years of off an on for me! Through 2 miscarriages and a beautiful baby girl! ๐Ÿ™‚ Isn’t running amazing! I loved your story and your pictures through it! I have been reading your blog since 2009 and you are one of the main reasons I really got into running! I may be older than you, but I want to be like you when I grow up! haha! ๐Ÿ™‚
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15 Sarah @Chasingdownadream January 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I love everyone’s this is how it began stories. They’re so inspiring. Congrats!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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16 NYC Fit GIrl January 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I really like this post! Thanks for always inspiring me to keep running!
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17 [email protected] January 23, 2013 at 2:40 pm
18 Army Amy* January 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Aww! Yeay! And what a great 5 years it has been!

I like the reminder that you have to start somewhere, and for most of us, that means at the verrrrrry beginning. I love it when I see people doing couch to 5k. Don’t be embarrassed that you can only run for 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds – be proud that you are getting out there and trying! I started with couch to 5k and now I’m training for my third full marathon!*
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19 Laura @ Mommy Run Fast January 23, 2013 at 2:46 pm

What a fantastic post! I feel the same way about running- it’s given me confidence for all sorts of life changes, and I can’t imagine giving it up. Congrats on 5 years. Your story is so inspiring!
Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Paleo for Athletes Review and Giveaway

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20 Karen January 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm

This is so great! It’s easy to beat yourself up I’ve bad runs but remembering why you do it always makes it better.
Karen recently posted..Running pictures crush dreams

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21 Rachel P January 23, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Love this story! Thanks for the inspiration!

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22 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions January 23, 2013 at 2:57 pm

This is an AWESOME post, Meghann. I love hearing how people came to running and how it grew to be such an integral part of their lives. I’m glad the sport has treated you so well and hope the next five years continue to be even better than the past five. ๐Ÿ™‚
Bethany @ Accidental Intentions recently posted..Funny How Things Work Out

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23 Kim January 23, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Nothing wrong with running in cotton….

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24 Courtney January 23, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Aw, I love a good running story – yours is one of them! I noticed throughout your story that you’ve never been injured or sidelined for a long period of time. Any hints on how to do that? I’m sidelined from running right now with a nagging injury that’s going on a year and a half, so any tips would be appreciated. Again, great story! ๐Ÿ™‚
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25 Meghann January 23, 2013 at 10:42 pm

*knock on wood* I have been slightly sidelined for minor injuries, but nothing major. I usually choose to stop before they get worse so they don’t lead to anything big. I have no secrets, no tips, just giving my body rest when I know it needs rest, lots of knocking on wood, and lots of luck.

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26 Dori January 23, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I love this post! It’s so amazing how much running has changed your life. I also like reminiscing about where you were in 2008 (around the time I started reading blogs but hadn’t started running myself yet) because it shows how much we can improve. It’s so amazing when you find your passion and suddenly you WANT to do something all the time that you never gave a second thought to before.
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27 Colleen L January 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I love this post! Congrats on taking control and finding your passion!
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28 Katie January 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I can’t wait until I can celebrate with a similar post! This April I will be my 2 year anniversary!! (and I’m even running a half marathon to celebrate it!)
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29 Shanna January 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Congratulations! What an inspiring story and awesome accomplishment! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for sharing this – I always love to hear stories of how other runners found the sport. How are you celebrating? Running 5 miles today… 50 miles for the month?

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30 Ashley @ Eat Run Live Happy January 23, 2013 at 3:26 pm

5 years! Congrats! I love hearing running stories. I’m at the begining of my story and I’m happy I can share my journey on my blog. I’m also glad I have inspiration from other runner blogs like yours.
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31 Amanda January 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I love hearing stories like this because they’re so inspirational, and yours is no exception! It’s a great reminder that we all start in the same place and go from there. This June will be the second anniversary of my first 5k. I’m excited to celebrate ๐Ÿ™‚
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32 Caitlin January 23, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Congrats! Such a special anniversary for sure. I remember reading much of this story when I first found your blog a few years ago and was trying to start my own healthy living journey and get into running myself. Though no amount of reading a runner’s blog could make me like running (maybe one day I will change but still not a fan!) your story did and still does inspire me and many others. I continue to relate to you and read your blog because it’s not just about running, but about determination and taking charge of changing!
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33 Beth January 23, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Aw, what a lovely story! I had a similar beginner’s experience–could hardly run 0.1 mi, and slowly worked my way up. I love that running has the power to transform lives. I hope that non-runners out there can find your story and be inspired to change their lives, too. ๐Ÿ™‚
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34 TorontoRunner January 23, 2013 at 3:47 pm

this is pretty dang amazing lady!!
Congrats!
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35 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More January 23, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Congrats girl! What a journey!
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36 Annette @FitnessPerks January 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm

What a fantastic journey! Congrats on the 5 years!!

as a p.s.–I didn’t meet my husband until I came to terms with my Eating Disorder past & my then disordered eating habits. Once I became more aware & more confident in taking my life to a better place, that’s when I met him. He was always drawn to confident women, so I am grateful that by the time he entered my life, I was in a place that he admired & was drawn to.I love our happy ever after ๐Ÿ™‚
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37 abbi January 23, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Great story! Running has done the same for me and I’m a flip-flopper of hobbies too but this one seems to be sticking around. I’ve grown so much with it, how could it not? I also knew nothing about running when I started which I think was a good thing – I just learned to love it on my own with no outside influence.
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38 Susan Comer January 23, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Hi Megan I’m also celebrating my 5 year anniversary of becoming a runner. On my 40th birthday I decided I was going to run. I ran my first 5k in may of that year. I did all of my training on a treadmill at the gym since I live in Ohio and have 3 young children. I ended running 4 races in about 3 months because I was hooked. I never felt that good in my whole life. This year I’m celebrating my 45 th birthday by running my first 1/2 marathon. I broke my ankle and it took me a year to get back into running but I’m back setting big goals. I love your blog and you inspire me everyday.

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39 Meghann January 23, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Happy Run-iversary to you too!

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40 Sabrina January 23, 2013 at 4:53 pm

You’ve got me in tears over here! I just came back from one of those really hard runs. I’ve let my body get away from me and my fitness isn’t same. Running is hard now but it’s worth doing if you can find the determination.
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41 Katie January 23, 2013 at 5:17 pm

As a long time reader/lurker, I should say thanks for the inspiration you’ve provided me with in relation to running! Reading all of your running posts lead me to sign up for a 5k a few years ago, and I haven’t looked back since! Multiple 5ks, 10ks, and even a half marathon! You made running sound like so much fun, so I gave it a try myself ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m currently training for the Hot Chocolate 15k – my first post baby race. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks again and happy runnaversary!

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42 Meghann January 23, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Good luck at the Hot Chocolate 15k!

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43 Anne @ eatcleaneatreal January 23, 2013 at 5:18 pm

So cool! Running totally changed my life as well. i used to want to be a theater major, but when I started running it totally changed my life and I wanted to be able to share that as others. 10 years later I have my PhD in exercise physiology and am teaching the future exercise professionals of the world. Keep it up girl!

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44 Stacy January 23, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Meghann! I love this post…but I feel so silly. I went to the FAQs to find out what you wear running now, and couldn’t find anything…

I’m doing a 5K this spring and I still wear cotton ๐Ÿ™ Help!
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45 Brandi January 23, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Thanks for sharing, Meghann! I love hearing stories of how running changes their lives–I can relate to so much of this!

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46 Barb January 23, 2013 at 7:21 pm

I restarted running January 2008! I didn’t even think about 5 years til I read this! Thanks for the reminder!!
You are awesome!! Thanks for sharing!!

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47 Katrina January 23, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Happy run-iversary!! What a great running story!

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48 Rachel January 23, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Beautiful! Awesome! I’ve been running for about a year and a half and I am ADDICTED! I’m running my first half marathon next month! CANNOT WAIT!
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49 Stephanie @ My Freckled Life January 23, 2013 at 7:39 pm

What a great story about becoming a runner! You are always so inspiring, but it’s great to see that you started out like everyone else – trying to find your way in the world. Keep up the great writing (and the great running)!

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50 Stephanie @ Steph's Miles January 23, 2013 at 7:45 pm

What a cool story! I’m a recent reader as of last year, so I’ve been totally sucked into your wedding story instead of your running story. Awesome and congratulations! I started running the summer of 2008, slow and steady on a treadmill when I wasn’t happy with the Freshman 15. No matter what anyone says, it’s real.

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51 broccolihut January 23, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Major congrats on your running anniversary!!
I wish I hadn’t read running blogs when I first started–i blame that for trying too much too soon and getting my first injury!
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52 [email protected] January 23, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Great post. ๐Ÿ™‚ Helps keep me motivated by being reminded that everyone starts somewhere. I often feel like I have no idea what Im doing…but Im doing it and thats all that matters.
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53 Sara @ LovingOnTheRun January 23, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Congrats on your 5 year running anniversary! I am kind of in a different place right now – I have dealt with 3 injuries in the past couple years from running and after a lot of saddness and reconsideration I have decided to stick to short runs and find other ways of being fit and healthy! I wish I could still run the long distances but the 4-6 weeks it would put me out just wasn’t worth it to me anymore. Congrats again and I hope everyone can find what fitness makes them happy!
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54 Meghan January 23, 2013 at 8:47 pm

What a great journey…happy & healthy

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55 Heather January 23, 2013 at 9:02 pm

SO proud of you, you have come so far! <3

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56 [email protected] January 23, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Happy anniversary! What an awesome post about how running truly can change your life! This almost made me cry – such an inspirational story.
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57 Steph January 23, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Happy runnerversary! I’ve just started my journey and have a few years to catch up with you ๐Ÿ™‚

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58 Lee January 23, 2013 at 9:12 pm

This is really cool! You’ve come so far, but it’s great to hear just how much you’ve enjoyed every step of the journey.
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59 Krissy @ Shiawase Life January 23, 2013 at 9:12 pm

CONGRATS, Meghann! Love this post ๐Ÿ˜€
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60 Natale January 23, 2013 at 9:28 pm

I’m curious to know what kind of pace you were running when you started. I am just getting into running and my natural pace (where I tend to average while on a run) is around a 12 minute mile. My goal is to get down to a 10 minute mile at least, but I wonder if that’s too ambitious for a new runner?

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61 Meghann January 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I wish I had an answer, but I don’t. When I first started running I didn’t even know what a pace was. My first 5ks were all over 30 minutes so I think I was averaging 10+ minutes. The first time I really paid attention to pace was for my first 15k, which I ran 8 months into my running journey. I averaged 9:45ish for that race. I got a Garmin a couple of months later for Christmas, which was when I started to become paced obsessed, before then I didn’t worry about pace at all – it was more about reaching new distances and seeing how far I could go.

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62 Becky @ runfundone January 23, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I love this! ๐Ÿ™‚ What a great story!
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63 Jen January 23, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Congratulations ๐Ÿ™‚ What an upbeat post!

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64 Christine @ BookishlyB January 23, 2013 at 10:12 pm

I always get a little nostalgic when the first 5k I ever ran rolls around each February. It’s good to look back- congrats!
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65 Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction January 23, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Great post!! You look great and you are having fun, that is what matters post! Love hearing all these inspiring posts, keep it up you rock! ๐Ÿ™‚
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66 Caitlin January 23, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Just curious how much weight you’ve lost from your first run? Did you really change your diet much or are you just burning cals now vs you weren’t before? Congrats on five yrs that’s a long time!

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67 Meghann January 23, 2013 at 10:28 pm

I’ve lost between 25-30 lbs. Yes, I gave my diet a complete makeover in the process. Before, I was a soda junky who had fast food 3-4 times a week, never ate breakfast, and ate a lot of white sugary carbs. Now I try to eat a balance diet of whole grains, protein, and veggies. I also try to practice the art of moderation.

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68 Erin January 24, 2013 at 7:48 am

I began my journey in August after a labor intensive summer job where I was hiking everyday. I needed SOMETHING to motivate me daily that was easy. I honestly can’t believe the transformation I have seen in everything, most mainly in my attitude. I love how running allows you to gauge what mood I’m in and how far I want to push myself. It truly is a mood stabilizer. I’ve been following you for 5 years and thank you for the daily motivation too. Congrats!

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69 Elyse January 24, 2013 at 10:45 am

Awesome post! As someone else who truly feels like her life was changed by running, it really resonated with me. Happy runnerversary!
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70 Emily N January 24, 2013 at 10:52 am

Happy Runiversary! ๐Ÿ™‚ I am coming up on 4 years in the fall. I think 4. I can’t remember… ๐Ÿ™‚
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71 Amy @Honey Badger Runs January 24, 2013 at 11:16 am

Thank you for telling your story, I love that running helped you find your husband, so sweet! Congrats on your runniversary, I just celebrated 6 months!

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72 pi January 24, 2013 at 11:47 am

I love this post and your journey. I started running – for real a little over a year ago and found that it has made me stronger inside and out. It’s helped me move on from things from my past that I was really holding on to and ended up affecting me negatively in spirit and physically.

Now that I’ve started, i can’t give it up. Thank you for sharing your story.
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73 Emily January 24, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Inspiring… I love running as well and am coming up on 5 years in June this year. Yay!

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74 Kadye January 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I’m not going to lie – I’m sort of exactly where you were in the beginning of this post. Maybe reading someone else who started where I am now and where you went will help kick me in the rear like I need. Also, I have a box of Memphis BBQ sauce with your name on it at home! I just can’t find your address in my inbox. Sad.
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75 Kadye January 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I don’t know why this still links to my old blog that someone bought the domain for and post their own stuff. That “nails” post isn’t mine. Off to go figure out how to stop it from linking to that one and link to my new one.
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76 Sarah @Blonde Bostonian January 24, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Happy running anniversary Meg! I too have been running for 5 years and it has changed my life in ways that I cannot even begin to describe. Your post pretty much summed up how its affected me. Happy running!
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77 Katy Widrick January 24, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I love you. I’m re-starting running after a one-year break and it feels like an uphill battle (well, as uphill as it can be in Florida). But remembering how great it feels to be in half marathon shape is a motivator!
Katy Widrick recently posted..Breastfeeding & Pumpingโ€ฆSo Far

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78 Kelly January 24, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I’m really glad you posted this ๐Ÿ™‚ I started following your blog last year, but wasn’t about to backtrack your entire archive haha, so I’m happy to know about your story with running in this summary… that being said, congrats on the 5 years! That’s amazing that you were able to push yourself that far, and finish a marathon that early in your running “career”.

I’ve been running casually for the past 2 years? I still haven’t done a 5k (I can barely make a 5k..)! But I’m hoping to get one out of the way this year and push myself to greater lengths! It’s freezing cold out here and I haven’t gotten the proper gear to run outside since I always been on a treadmill, but I’m determined to stop procrastinating ๐Ÿ˜€ and your posts have always been a great motivation!

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79 Lisa January 24, 2013 at 5:47 pm

AWESOME!

My “5 year runner” anniversary is probably coming up here soon too. I started running because I need a goal to work towards. I’d been so focused on losing 100 pounds for the last year and a half and when I reached goal weight I kind of felt lost. I decided training for a 5k seemed like a good goal/distraction. I got hooked!
Lisa recently posted..The 3 Hour Tour…

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80 Joelle (on a pink typewriter) January 24, 2013 at 7:07 pm

I just love this post! I feel really similar about my own experience w running, and feel so grateful for all it has taught me about myself, my limits, and enjoying life.

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81 Steph @321delish January 24, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Love this post!!! Happy running anniversary!!

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