Runner: Stephanie Loleng
Resides in New York City
The Vermont City Marathon was my fifth marathon and it didn’t disappoint. The crowds were amazing and Burlington is such a wonderful town. Oh and I PR’d by about 10 minutes even though the course was hilly at certain points, and it got hot towards the end of the race.
I started training for my first marathon a year after my dad died. I was 32 at the time and living in San Francisco. Besides running the Bay to Breakers race which is only seven miles, I hadn’t run any other races. A friend of mine emailed me and said that his sister was looking for a training partner for the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon and asked if I would be interested in running it? At the time, I was suffering from severe panic attacks, a condition that I had been passed down to me from my dad, and had started a year before he died. One of my therapy techniques involved exercising regularly and so I decided to focus on running as my main form of exercise. I’d been a casual runner before, but now I had a clear goal in mind – to soothe my anxiety. I found that running really helped calm my nerves. I felt less anxious overall and the idea that I was taking care of myself helped me feel better about my overall condition.
So, I told my friend that I would not only train for the half-marathon but that I signed up for the full marathon! I’m an all-or-nothing type of person and I thought if I’m going to start this running thing, I’m going to go for it. That was my first marathon and my pace was slow. My running partner and I stopped a few times to take photos along the course and chatted as we ran. I finished in a grueling six hours. Even though it was really tough, I was hooked. Coincidentally, I moved to New York two months later with my then boyfriend, now husband, and signed up for short races in Central Park. Thankfully, we live near the park which means that I have a great place for training!
One of the first races I signed up for was a four-mile Father’s Day race. I remember waiting at the start line and thinking about my dad. I quietly dedicated the run to him which helped push me over the hills of Central Park. I’ve run the New York City marathon twice. The first time I ran it was in November 2015, a week after my wedding in Central Park. Some of my guests thought I was crazy but it made sense to me to run 26.2 miles across all five boroughs of my adopted city to celebrate my new life! It was a brisk November day when I laced up and walked to the start line. I thought of all the friends and family that came to my wedding and about those who have been there for me throughout my life.
Running marathons seem to coincide with major moments in my life and the Vermont City Marathon was no exception. I’m embarking upon my last semester of a two-year MFA program in Creative Writing where I’ll be working on a book of short stories. I’ve wanted to be a fiction writer since I was a kid and I’m finally doing it! This marathon is in celebration of making a childhood dream reality and for facing down anxiety one step at a time.
I run for those who can’t
I run for those who won’t
I run to calm my anxious mind
I run to stay humble
I run to remember
I run to forget