Live Your Film

How I Came Around to Running

by Maria Harper

I had lots of excuses: demanding job, chronic medical issues, commitments for in and out-of-state families. I used them all and others to reason away my lack of fitness. I thought walking an occasional 1-2 miles was good enough — if I could jog most of the way, that was amazing for me.

The tide turned for me last summer when I went on a couple of girl getaways with my sister-in-law Tess and her running group. I was friends or at least acquaintances with several of the other women, but didn’t regularly run around with the group. I was also intimidated by the level of, and interest in, fitness they had.

On a trip with them to New Buffalo, Michigan, I scarcely ran, while they all ran, biked or swam, or did all three. The trip wasn’t all exercise — there was beach time and dinners and wineries, too, and I was welcomed and made to feel like “one of the girls.” I not only had fun, but I was inspired to consider a real lifestyle change, from limited activity to fitness oriented.

That same summer, Hillary found out she was able to enter a team to run the Hood to Coast Relay ( in Oregon. I can remember sitting with Tess, Holly, Hillary, Kathryn , Martha and Casey after a Brew Mile (a family-friendly run sponsored by one our local running stores, Blue Mile) ( when they invited me to be a driver of one of the vans. What convinced me to go was that Hillary said it was going to be a one-time opportunity for her to go. No way was I going to miss out on the fun!

Although I did not go to H2C to run, Hillary kept saying, “If someone goes down, you’re running” (to my relief I did not have to run, as I realize now I was not conditioned to run a race like that). While I was with these accomplished marathoners and triathletes, I came to understand that it wasn’t about all the accomplishments and what their abilities were. It was also about the bonds they formed and the serious fun they had through all stages of the race — training for and running in the race and, of course, the after-race parties.

Their excitement about running was contagious — I started pushing myself to run just a little longer than the last run. I took the the time to run a little more consistently. I even gathered the courage to run with the group on a trail run, knowing fully well I would not be able to keep up with anyone, but my goal at the time was to run the distance — I received nothing but praise and encouragement from the group when I finished.

I finally became conditioned enough to run a 5-mile trail run ( I ran my own pace and finished to my friends holding hands above their heads, making a tunnel for me to run through. I ran a half marathon for the first time this year, which is something I thought I would never do. Once I stopped the excuses, I was able to get after it and start running.

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