It seems that once you begin to train for a serious race like a marathon- everyone wants to know your story. So how did I, Johanna Smith Eppley, decide to complete 26.2 miles?
In 2012, after being married for a year my husband and I decided it was time to start trying to plan for a family. I weighed about 285 pounds and knew that I had to change to have a healthy pregnancy. I started exercising and lost about 60 pounds, then decided to sign up for a 5k just to see what would happen. I was NOT a runner. I don't really even know why I decided to do it honestly - I had never really run before. I didn't really know how to train properly, but in December of 2012 I did my first ever 5k. I walked most of it. I finished in about 48 minutes.
One week later we found out we were pregnant. SO instead of continuing to run I let the stress and exhaustion take over and I quit working out and started indulging my food cravings. Fast forward to my daughters first birthday. I had gained all 60 pounds back and was not physically active at all. She was starting to walk and I wanted to lay on the couch. She was starting to eat real food and not nurse and I realized the food I eat is the food she's going to eat. I quickly realized as my baby became a toddler that I was not the example of what I wanted her to be. I didn't want her to be unhealthy. I didn't want her to grow up obese like I had. I decided in March 2015 that I was going to start trying to run again. I had liked my first 5k experience and a close friend of mine was into running and had lost about 75 pounds from running. I decided to give it a try and did a couch to 5k app on my phone. I ran on the treadmill at the gym after work. I worked my way up to being able to run for 5 minutes straight - which at the time was a giant victory.
I did my second 5k in April 2015, with my daughter!
In May 2015 I did another race with my friend who inspired me to start trying to run.
In November we did another race together- and this was the first 5k that I ran the entire course!
I started feeling so addicted to doing races that I told her I wanted to do one every month in 2016. So January 1st - we did a resolution 5k and off we went. At least one race every month that year.
In October I got brave and ran a 10k and came in 3rd female at 58:00
In November I pushed harder and completed a 15k at 1:31:11
In December I finished my first half marathon with a
time of 2:17:01.
After my year of running I realized that I was capable of a lot more than I thought. I had shed 143 pounds and was proof that even at 30 years old, having been obese my entire life and never once having any athletic desires, you can still become a runner. If you want it and there is a small desire to see if you can do it - push yourself to try. After my half marathon I felt like a real runner. In February I won my first ever race with a 5k PR of 25:14- that same day my daughter ran her very first toddler dash.
The example that I had hoped to set for her is starting to take hold. She says she wants to be "fast" and "run races like mommy"! I hope to show her that running is something that is freeing and empowering. It is a way to gain strength and confidence and it causes us to have vitality and health which in turns changes our whole world. Currently I am training for my first full marathon. I am going to run 26.2 miles. The 280 pound woman who couldn't run more than 30 seconds a few years ago is running 26.2 miles. In the beginning of my journey I found so much motivation and inspiration from other everyday people who woke up one day and just decided to try. Do as much as you can do today, and then try again tomorrow and see what you can do then. Each day you get a little stronger, a litter faster, and little more brave- then an amazing thing happens and one day you wake up and you have become the person you had set out to be. I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes through race training "set a goal so big you can't achieve it....until you grow into the person who can!