Kelsey Pavlidis

I was never the athletic girl growing up, in fact, I had a neurological condition that causes extreme headaches which kept me from participating in a lot of activities. I always started something but could never stick with it because of the pain. At age 16, I had surgery which resolved a lot of my symptoms, but it instilled a fear and anxiety in me that anything I did would land me back where I was. I continued with my lifestyle that did not include movement, even though I longed to do something athletic. I continued on through high school, college, and graduate school and became a Licenced Clinical Social Worker doing therapy with kids and families. It is a tough and taxing job, and it can be incredibly rewarding IF I take care of myself.

I was in a dumpy place in my career, mostly due to burn out and lack of self care, which is when Running Start popped up. I was first introduced to Running Start it was on Facebook in the Weight Watchers group I am a part of. After looking at it about 20 different times, I decided to apply…the night before the deadline. I took a leap, figuring if nothing else, I could walk the 5k, or I wouldn’t be accepted. It happened, they accepted me. I remember thinking “Sh**, now what?”.

To make matters worse, the day of the kick off meeting we got some snow, which would have been the perfect excuse not to go. Luckily, my husband was on to my self-sabotaging tactics and drove me there, stating if I didn’t want to do it after I went to the meeting, then I could give up. Suffice to say, I stuck it out. During the kick off meeting, I was inspired by the stories of all these strong women who were already runners; and the many like me who were feeling apprehensive, anxious, and excited about the mere thought of running. My word in that meeting was “vibrating”. Vibrating with anxiety and excitement of what was to come.

I met my motivator, Deanna, an energetic and athletic gal who I’m lucky to call my friend today. She was with me every step of the way, checking in, walking and running with me, teaching me the ropes of using a treadmill, and introducing me to new activities. It was with her help, and the help of the other amazing women of the program that I completed my first 5k. It was an emotional experience, and one I will never forget.

It wasn’t just about the running, but this tool I now had in my pocket. The power of the program has stuck with me; I have since completed 4 more 5k’s, a few 4 milers, a 5 mile, and will be doing my first 10k in February…and I am even signing up for a ½ marathon this Fall. More than anything, Running Start gave me the tools to cope with the nonsense everyday life throws at me, and helped me to love and appreciate my body every step of the way. I am most thankful for the amazing group of women who were with me (and continue to be with me) every step of the way. Do yourself a favor, and see what your body is capable of. 

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