This weeks featured runner is Kristen at Faith and Margaritas

Kristen’s Running Journey 
Dad and Kristen Crossing the Finish Line

Like so many, I grew up playing sports, but was often criticized for being the heaviest girl in my class. At the time, I couldn’t understand why I was so heavy when I played sports. It couldn’t possibly be because I ate a bag of chips to sustain me through basketball practice. And I only ate one double cheeseburger and medium fries at 9:30 at night! In junior high, my exercise increased tremendously to prepare to play for the school’s “A” basketball team. Because of the drastic change I became injured and told I would likely never run again due to the chronic effects. This was devastating to me, as basketball was the only form of exercise that would keep me from becoming even more overweight. I struggled with depression from 9 years old and taking away my only form of exercise made me sink even lower.
When I went to college my unhealthy food choices caused me to gain over 20 pounds in a year. By my senior year I was incredibly sluggish and depressed. I hated seeing my people my age running on campus. They all seemed so happy… and fit. I finally had enough of the depressing, hateful thoughts towards myself and set off to start running too. I couldn’t run more than 100 yards before I had to walk. But I channeled my depressed thoughts into encouraging thoughts when I wanted to quit. It was then that running became an unexpected (and welcomed) part of my identity. I fell in love with running. Within a year I signed up for my first half marathon and haven’t stopped since. I’ve also become a personal trainer and group fitness instructor to share my story with others and help them change their thoughts of depression and hatred towards loving themselves. I love celebrating the milestones that each client has in their health and fitness journey, no matter how small.
Everything was going really well until August 27, 2013 when my life was forever changed. I received a devastating diagnosis: I have Multiple Sclerosis – an autoimmune disease that attacks the nervous system, often causing extreme fatigue, numbness and walking problems, among others. I turned to my running and fitness knowledge to fulfill a new role in my life – preparing my body for what ever it might endure. I now see fitness as a way to stay mentally and physically strong to defeat the sudden onset of Multiple Sclerosis flare-ups. The disease is unpredictable in every way, but staying healthy and strong is the only thing I can do to prepare for the unexpected. I’m so excited to say that on New Years Eve 2013 (only 4 months and 4 days after my MS diagnosis) I crushed my half marathon PR by over 4 minutes. It’s safe to say that I’m dominating my diagnosis!
As a matter of fact, prior to my diagnosis I was running on vacation in Hawaii with my dad and we talked about how much fun it would be to run his first half marathon together. On the day I was diagnosed he sat with me as we listened to all the ways MS would likely disable me physically and mentally, and right before we left he told the doctor with tears in his eyes and determination in his voice, “We’re supposed to run a half marathon in March and we’re GOING to run that half marathon.” And we did. We ran every step right next to each other- my third half marathon (second since diagnosis) and his first half. It was one of the best days of my life!
I understand the pain of being overweight, the pain of injury, and the pain of muscle soreness. And I’ll take the pain of soreness any day. I love encouraging people with my story, but more importantly, I love encouraging them on their journey to a new lifestyle!


-What is your favorite go to fuel during long runs?
During long runs like either Gatorade’s Energy Shots or GU.
-What race is on your bucket list?  
 I’ve got a ton of races on my bucket list but my biggest one is the New York City Marathon, which I’ll be running on November 2, 2014! Other than that I’m excited to run the Whale Run in Hawaii!
-What running shoe brand do you prefer?
My favorite running shoe brand is Mizuno!
-Your favorite race medal?
My favorite race medal is the Rock N Roll Dallas Half Marathon medal partially because it looks awesome but also because of the memory I will always have of me and my dad running the race together!

Kristen and Dad with Race Medals

-What is your best advice you’d give to a new beginner just starting their running journey?
The biggest piece of advice I’d give a new runner is to KEEP GOING! Everyone has days that running is hard, so do not give up! In the beginning the first mile is always the hardest mentally and physically, but once you learn to push past that mental and physical barrier the world is open to the possibility of any distance! Don’t give up! Keep striving towards your goal!

Links to Follow Kristen

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