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Kassi’s First Marathon

For a long time now, I’ve been wanting to do a monthly inspiring highlight. There are so many people who inspire me and I want to share it with you. 

For a few years, I’ve been following along one of my  high school classmates journey to a healthy lifestyle. She has come a LONG way, losing over half her body weight along the way. AND, she’s running her very first marathon this Sunday!! Along the way, I would see her posts about running- I remember when she posted about her first half marathon and I was so excited for her. I knew it would only be a matter of time before she signed up for a marathon.

Meet Kassi. A mom, wife, teacher and runner.

Over 4-5 years, she lost 126 lbs and in the middle of all that had two babies. “My best pieces of advice are to start small and make changes that you can sustain for a lifetime.” – Kassi

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Tell us a little about your story and what brought you to make a change and start working out and exercising. When and Why did you start running? 

I was initially motivated to make a lifestyle change when I was planning for my wedding.  I was vainly discouraged with dress shopping because of limited options, but more than that, I wanted to start my newly married life healthy.  I didn’t want to be limited based on my weight.  252 pounds on a 5’0 frame is a lot of weight to carry, and although I didn’t have issues then, I know I would have had major health issues if I would not have began losing weight.

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I started running about 9 months into my weight loss journey.  One morning I decided to run a mile on the treadmill before school and my students encouraged me to run more and more.  I signed up for my first 5k and immediately got pregnant.  I did a 10k during my first pregnancy and signed up for a half marathon to help me lose the baby weight.  I was 8 weeks into training for the half when I found out we were pregnant with baby #2.  I ran for the first 22 or so weeks of that pregnancy and couldn’t wait to start again once I had Reid.

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Now I run for my “me” time and to have that sense of accomplishment when I’m done.  I’ve met so many great friends and have truly done more than I could have ever imagined.

Why running? 

To me, running was something that I always hated.  Never did well in PE class and I would have never thought in a million years that I would one day consider myself to be a runner.  Now I think it’s a great type of exercise and it can be as social or independent as I want.

What does running given you?

Running has given me confidence and an outlet.  Again, I would have never thought I’d truly be a runner and here I am less than a week out from running a marathon.  It has showed me that my limits are endless.  It has also given me some amazing friends that I would have never met otherwise!

Beyond running what are your other favorite workouts, if any? 

I love spin class and group fitness classes.  I hate strength training on my own, but I love doing it with a group.  I’m excited to try TRX classes this Spring and am planning on starting to swim so I can do a Sprint Tri in 2014.

What is your advice to someone who is ready to make a change and make their health a priority?

My best pieces of advice are to start small and make changes that you can sustain for a lifetime.  It’s not about a quick fix- it took me nearly 4.5 years to lose 126 pounds.  Granted, there were two pregnancies in there, but I wasn’t about diets, deprivation, pills, etc.  I used a calorie tracker on www.sparkpeople.com and had an awesome community of ladies there.  Accountability and support are also huge.  There is no way that I could have made the changes if my husband, Steve, wasn’t on board.  So many friends say their husbands won’t eat healthy, tempt them with treats, etc.  He has always been great about helping me make healthy choices and cheering me on at the finish!

Supportive husband Steve!

Supportive husband Steve!

 What’s the hardest part about staying motivated and how do you stay committed?

One of my biggest issues is facing the mommy guilt.  Being away from the boys when I work out, or placing them in the daycare at the gym, has always been a struggle, but I know that a healthy mom is a happy mom.  I want to be able to run and play with them for many years to come.  They motivate me by wearing my medals and saying they want to run like me.

I still struggle with binge eating occasionally, and when I do, I go straight back to setting goals and rewards and tracking my calories.  I also get really honest with Steve about the struggles I’m having because I need that extra accountability.  I know that eating/weight will always be an issue and struggle that I have to face, but since I’ve truly made lifestyle changes, it’s maintainable.

What race are you about to run THIS Sunday?

National Race to End Breast Cancer.  We are running in memory of a great friend, Amy, that lost her battle with breast cancer.

How have you prepared for your first marathon?

I’ve followed a pretty loose 3-4 day/week training plan with a few friends…usually 30-40 miles/week.  I have two 20 mile runs and one 23 miler under my belt.

PRs:

5k: 26:26

10k: 58:14

Half: 2:02

Hometown – now I live in Anderson, SC

Family – Husband, Steve, 2 sons: Parker (3) and Reid (1.5)

Profession – Teacher, (soon to be stay at home mommy at the end of this school year)

Favorite post race/run food – Pizza

What do you like to do beyond running? Watch college football, hang with my boys, shop, read, craft

Favorite quote or motivational saying– Philippians 4:13 is my guiding quote for life in general

Best of luck to you Kassi- I know you are so prepared. Love that you have 26 prayers for the race, you have great support and your playlist will be the bomb. Most importantly though- trust your training. It’s there.

Can we all take a little inspiration from Kassi and get motivated to do something BIG? 

Any words of encouragement for her VERY FIRST marathon this weekend would be greatly appreciated!

Have any good songs for her playlist on Sunday? Tell her your two absolute favorites!

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