Natalie Rowe - Gazelle Sports Activator

I was always fairly active growing up. I couldn't ever pick a fall sport, so I tried 3 different fall sports in high school, kind of silly, right? My spring sport was always water polo, and that stuck into college too. At Western Michigan University, I had loved being active, so I started a major in health and phys ed. But, things changed and my path in life shifted; I became very sedentary and as a result, gained a significant amount of weight. In 2010, I was the heaviest I had ever been, I was embarrassed, so much that I can only find one photo of me then, I do still keep it around as a reminder of how easy things can get out of control. I started on a weight loss journey first losing 75 pounds. As the weight came off, I was able to be more active again.

I started following Couch to 5K, but I struggled and ultimately running came to a halt. I tried different fitness based programs but I just couldn't seem to find something to stick. But, another life change happened. I wanted solitude and it brought me back to running, but this time running felt different. I found that I was much slower, but was very content being out for longer distances. Slowly, my mileage increased more and more, and I signed up to run the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Chicago in 2015. It was miserable, I was hot, slow and under-trained...I ended up with an injury, and I vowed to never run again.

Fast forward 2 years, I was watching others participate in local run camps. I was jealous and totally missed running. I started running a little bit on my own to see if I could actually still get any sort of distance in, when I could, I decided to sign up for a summer running program through Kalamazoo Area Runners and Gazelle, Summer Safari. I initially thought I would just train for a half marathon and conquer the Rock n Roll Half that I was disappointed in previously - which I did, but I decided to increase my training to Marathon. I didn't have a marathon picked out, and really didn't have plans to run a marathon, but this training program allowed me to slow way down and the mileage was coming easy. Long story short, I ended up running a marathon. It was petty awful too, but I did it, and shockingly enough, I loved it. I don't even think both of my feet had crossed the finish line and I was already thinking of what race I should do next...

I think most runners will tell you, you will spend an entire race talking about what your next race is going to be. Even as I'm typing this, I have to chuckle because my last race was a 50K, I spent 7+ hours talking about everything imaginable, but the majority of it was spent talking about the same race, but what distance we should run next year. Just for the record, we picked the 100K (and now that I've said it, I can't take it back, right?)