By Koen Desmet
I never sought out to be a runner, but I wasn’t a stranger to being active – I’ve played a lot of basketball over the years. Distance running is different though, and it has taken me a long time to build the stamina to train and register for my first full marathon ever – the Community First Fox Cities Marathon Presented by Miron Construction.
I started running when the COVID-19 pandemic began just a few years ago. My motivation for getting into this sport came from watching my dad struggle with complications from diabetes when he was just 45 years old. I’m in my 40s, and I knew I needed to take preventative measures against diseases, like diabetes, that run in my family – so I got running!
But it wasn’t easy. I was slow. I ran just two or three miles a couple times a week at the start; I would be so out of breath, I’d have to stop to walk at times. I didn’t quit though.
I kept at it, even when it was hard, and it hurt, and I wanted to stop. I was determined to be able to run. It took a full year of dedicated training before running became a little easier and I was able to run longer distances. I’ve done everything from a 5K to a half marathon and I now am training to run the longest race of my life.
I get up every day at 4:45 a.m., before the rest of my family wakes up, and go for a run. I use that time to think, reflect on what I have to do for the day and I find I feel more energized after a morning run than after a cup of coffee!
Since starting my running journey, I’ve lost 50 pounds. I feel so much better and I’ve even gotten my daughter to run a race with me. Now I’m preparing to run 26.2 miles this September. I know it will be difficult. I know I’m going to get tired, but just like when I started running a couple years ago, I know if I stay determined, listen to my body and just keep going, I will make it to the finish line.
I look forward to seeing you all on race day!