From a Slow Softball Player to a Dedicated Runner ...

06/10/2017 - 16:20

By Jessica Frazier

IMG_20161011_164100.jpgBRISTOL, TN/VA — Every running story has a beginning and mine starts on a softball field at a high school softball game. I am at bat and waiting anxiously for the pitch. I hit it. I mean not just one of those hits that goes to the infield and is a quick out. I mean a hit that goes out to the fence and the crowd cheers! I start hustling towards first base and my legs are pounding the soft dirt as hard as they can but the throw from the outfield still beats me to first base.

See this running story is about a girl who learned that a little bit of strength and a whole of faith can go a long way. In my senior year of high school, I am told at my annual physical that I am borderline diabetic and weigh a little over 278 pounds.

I had to make a change. My mom was an avid gym participant, took all the classes, and ran about six miles each day. I remember thinking she was crazy. Little did I know that soon enough I would be the crazy one.

Mom finally talked me into attending a class at the YMCA and it was awful! It was hard, I felt like I wanted to die, but I persevered. Let’s fast forward to April 2012. I had one month until graduation and I was down almost 75 pounds! I had been taking boot camp classes that included lots of running and hard work. I had noticed around the YMCA there had been several signs for the “Power of Play 5k.” One day when I was gazing upon the flyer, my instructor came up from behind and encouraged me to participate in the run. After a lot of coaxing, I signed up.

The big day finally arrived and I remember feeling so blindsided going into the race. I just knew where to put my bib and to follow the other runners. The rest was pretty much history. I kept losing weight and kept running.

Here we are in 2017 and I have lost 120 pounds by running and diet! Running has truly changed my life! I have met so many amazing people and I wouldn't have met them if it hadn't been for running. It all started with one local 5k. Now, I have run 43 of the 5k distance, 12 half-marathons, one marathon, and one 50k.

I am training to run another marathon in the fall and a 50-mile ultra. The moral of the story is that if I can do this running thing that anyone can do it! Running has changed my life and I promise you it can change yours as well. Once you feel that rush of a runner’s high, or the excitement of finishing your first race of any distance, you will be hooked.

Running has also given me a phenomenal community to surround myself with. Running is doing amazing things in our area and bringing people together. You can see runners in every part of our Tri-Cities area (Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol). We have local breweries sponsoring running and we have amazing running clubs that are changing lives.

Now that running has changed my life, I want to reach out and change others lives as well. I have helped coach several Couch to 5k programs where I have met amazing people and helped them catch the running bug, too! These communities of runners are inspiring and I can assure you they can take a run and turn a rainy day to one full of sunshine.

Running and the love surrounding it can change your life. You just have to jump in and fall in love with the process. Just remember to have patience and faith in yourself. Surround yourself with positive thoughts and don’t be afraid to reach out to other runners. I'm sure they will be standing there with arms wide open! Have a whole lot of faith and you will have the recipe to succeed!

(Editor’s note: Jessica Frazier will celebrate her 23rd birthday on June 20. She is a member of the Tri-Cities Turtles running club and has helped others to become runners.)

Photo: Jessica Frazier keeps on running

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