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Danielle Gross

My story

Kristen Bloom

My story

Growing up I wasn’t much of an active girl. Sure I played sports for rec leagues in grade school and then some in high school but they consisted of throwing a javelin and diving off a diving board - nothing that took too much energy and effort. Even as an adult and into my first years of motherhood I would admit I was quite lazy. My bed and my couch were where most of my days were spent.

 

After my second child was born, I was realized just how out of shape I was. Caring for them and keeping up with them took more energy than I had so I signed up for a boot camp my friends were doing - an eight-week class for women to get their body back. This class required LOTS of running and many other strength-training exercises. I felt like I could keep up with the strength training and even at times, I felt like I could lead the pack during those exercises, but the running . . . I was ALWAYS last. I hated it, and often made excuses to use the bathroom during the running laps to avoid it.

 

When the 8 weeks were over, my sister and I had this wild idea to do a 5k. We thought, come on how hard could it be. Surely we can do it. It happened to be Thanksgiving time, and she lives right by Bridgeport Village. So she heard about the Turkeython happening on Thanksgiving Day. So, we hesitantly signed up, and went right into planning our outfits and creating our tutus, because that’s what we learned about 5ks on Pinterest. We showed up that morning more nervous then we had ever been.

 

Standing in the crowd of people at the start line I felt like my heart was going to beat out of chest. My knees were shaking so badly that I was worried I would not be physically able to run. “3, 2, 1 GO” was the scariest thing I had ever heard, but, off we went - Tutus and all. I was yelling at myself (in my head) the whole first mile saying “don’t let these people see you walk; don’t stop running”; ugh, but it didn’t work. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath, but, with every runner passing me it ended up being a boost of encouragement rather than a moment of defeat.

 

It was that very feeling that made me fall in love with racing. The camaraderie, the support, the amazing speed of other racers racing by me. There is just no other feeling than those feelings you find on the race course.

 

So, I kept going, and, with a smile on my face I was going to cross the finish line! Even if I finished last, I was going to cross the finish line. I was not sure what to expect at the end, or, if people would be judging me for being slow, but, to my disbelief, no one cared if I was 1st Place, or 10th Place, or even if I was the 327th person to cross the finish line. They all cheered for me; called my name over the speaker; and, placed a medal around my neck. I had never earned a medal in all my years on sports teams, and, now I, me, the lazy couch potato mom was walking around Bridgeport village with a medal around my neck. That was one of those feelings you never forget.

 

I hung that medal loud and proud on a wall in my house and instantly sought out the next race.

 

I can remember going to lunch with my sister and dad and talking about how much fun we had and wanted to do more and more. At this time, my sister and I had not been super close, and, never had all that much in common, so, this was an exciting thing for us to do together. Our bond grew tremendously over the last few years because of this sport. After that lunch we made a pact to do 15 races in 2015.

 

Uberthons was our go to race as we loved the fact that even if we waited until the day before to sign up, we could still pay the same price. As a busy mom of two kids, sometimes I couldn’t commit to a race months before hand, and, some races would almost double in price making it impossible to afford. We also loved seeing the same faces at each race. The guys running the show were always so welcoming and full of energy making the start line an even more fun place to be. But let’s get real, the best part was the bling. Some days I dream of becoming a medal designer for races because some are just so lame and such a disappointment after crossing the finish line, but, Uberthons always made us feel like we had just won an Olympic medal.

 

So with all of the Uberthons races in 2015 and others we snuck in throughout the year we completed our first year of running with 26 races! 26! And by the end of the year, I felt like I was fast!

 

I was no longer a walker or a quitter or even a light jogger. I was a runner. No stopping, no water. Just running. Heck I even earned a 3rd place pin for my age group.

 

Now I have 3 kids, I am 34-years old, and I have never been healthier. Running does not feel like a chore that I want to skip out on and hide from in the bathroom. Running is now something I miss if I don’t get to do it, and something I look forward to. I have completed 5ks, 10ks, 15ks, half marathon, mud races, spartan races, hood to coast and even a triathlon. All of which could not have been possible had we not found the Turkeython in late  2014.

 

That race changed my life, and, has made me the healthy active mama I am today. You’ll even see me now out on the race course with my kids.

 

Forget video games and TV, my kids are gonna be runners. Just like their mom.

Up until about 8 years ago, (and the twenty-ish years leading up to that), I weighed over 200 pounds. Like others in the same situation, the road leading to that came from too much tv and french fries, and, too little exercise and veggies.


I was able to take charge of my health and weight - little steps at a time. My initial goal was to get healthy. So, over a period of two years, small decisions to be healthy each day led to a stronger, fitter me. When I reached my fitness goal, I realized I needed to make more goals, to keep progressing.

 

I wanted to take something I hated and turn it into something I loved.

 

That thing was running. I was the girl who made every excuse in the world to get out of running in gym class in high school. It never came naturally, and I had no desire to do this. But by that time, I was already 50 lbs lighter and walking 30 minutes 
every day. So I tried running. I could not run 30 seconds without being out of breath and stopping to walk. I tried again and failed. I was so frustrated! So I vented my frustrations to a friend and she said “Just run slower.” Why didn’t I think of that? The next day, I tried running slower. It worked! I “ran” two miles on my first try! It was glorious! I researched and found that the speed would come later, if I just ran what I was capable of now.


I signed up for my first 5k race. My goals were to run the whole race (not walk), and to not finish last. It was a groomed trail run through the woods. What surprised me the most was to see how many different types of people run. These people did not all have the cookie-cutter running physiques I had
imagined that runners should look like. This was a way for people of every fitness level to come together to do the same thing – run. I enjoyed every minute of my first race. I met my two goals and I was hooked!


Flash forward to two years ago. I had completed a year of racing – mostly 5Ks, then worked up to 10Ks, and, even 3 half marathons. I was born and raised in south Florida and after the year of training and racing in the heat and humidity, my husband and I decided it was time for a change.


After a few months of research, we felt compelled to the Portland area, where we discovered a huge racing community and Uberthons!


We now race nearly every weekend. We love Uberthon events because they are so well organized, provide lovely race courses, and that beautiful finisher medal!


I am not a fast runner. I have placed in my age category only once (3rd of 4 runners). In Uberthons' terms, I am a
“good looking” runner. My goals are not the same as those who strive to win the entire race. I run because I love it. I love seeing the varying people involved. I love getting that finisher medal at the end.


Most of all, I love seeing those tiny improvements each race, knowing that my training is paying off.