The following story was submitted by Monumental Ambassador, Lisha Watts. You can submit your story here!
Growing up, I never wanted to be a runner. I was always a little overweight, never an athlete, and I never really enjoyed physical activity. This continued as I went off to college, started my career as a nurse, married my amazing husband and had our 3 beautiful children. In 2016 my weight was the highest it had ever been and I felt like my health was the worst it had ever been. With lots of research, prayer and talking with my doctor, I underwent gastric sleeve bariatric surgery. Now over 3 years later I am maintaining an almost 100 lbs. weight loss and feel like I am in the best health of my life.
I knew I wanted to be active after my surgery and from the moment the surgeon said it was ok, I was at the gym walking on the treadmill. About 5 months after my surgery I got a text message from my mom asking if I wanted to run a half marathon with her that November, which would give me approximately 5 months to train. I kind of laughed at her (I mean I couldn’t run for a minute and I sure as heck was not a runner!) but sure I would give it a try with the disclaimer that I would likely have to walk most of it.
The very next day I went out and started trying to run as far as I could. That first day I ran for 37 secs before I had to stop and walk. But I kept going. And I went out the next day and the next day until several weeks later I could run a mile without stopping. I was so pumped. That was a big deal!! But it was still a far cry from the 13.1 miles I would need to complete in November.
In late summer Mom had invited me to accompany her on one of her 3-mile training runs. At this point, I had still not run much more than a mile without stopping and wasn’t sure I could do 3 but I don’t turn down time with my mom, so I agreed to meet her. We set out, ran and talked, and before I knew it we were finishing our 3 mile run!! I could not believe it! I had just run 3 miles when I was certain that I was not capable of it. Obviously my mind was holding me back more than my legs or lungs! Mom then told me she was doing her long run of 7 miles that Saturday and invited me to join her. I was hesitant, again letting my mind doubt my ability, but agreed to meet her for the run.
I woke up on the morning of the 7-mile long run to pouring rain. I texted Mom and asked her if she was still running and she said she was but that I didn’t have to join her in the rain if I didn’t want to. Well shoot, of course I had to! So off we went, running 7 miles in the rain, and again I was so surprised that I was able to run that distance. This is when it really clicked for me and I started telling myself, you are a runner! My training really picked up and I found myself running more miles by myself than I ever had (even running several miles a day on a family vacation in Florida!! Seriously who was I becoming??)
Mom and I had one more long run before our half and it was a 10 mile run. This distance really intimidated me and I wasn’t sure why. We met early one morning, planned our route, and set off. It was tough but man when we finished it felt amazing!! (And breakfast never tasted so good!!)
In November 2016 I ran my first half marathon at the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis with Mom and it was the most incredible experience! I loved everything about it and was truly bitten by the running bug!! I knew after that day that I wanted running and races to be part of my life!!! Since that first race in 2016 I have now completed 29 half marathons and 3 full marathons (along with countless 5Ks). Mom remains one of my biggest cheerleaders along with my husband and kids!! And I’ve met some incredible friends through running!!! I’m so thankful for the ability to run and for what it’s brought to my life!