The Thankful Game

  • Stephanie Laska - Running Resolutions for 2016

Written by Stephanie Laska, 2016 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador @140lost
Stephanie Laska works as a Medical Sales Representative for a Global Pediatric Nutrition Company. She has worked in pharmaceutical sales in the Monterey-San Luis Obispo communities in addition to the Central Valley. Stephanie holds a Masters in Education from UC Santa Barbara and holds three teaching credentials. Stephanie is 100% new to running having discovered the sport two years ago; she didn’t waste any time pushing herself to the limit. Stephanie won first place (Athena Division) of her very first Marathon in March — the Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon, and went on to run the Big Sur International 21mi., and the San Francisco Full Marathon just months later. You may have read Stephanie’s story that was shared in the race brochure for the Big Sur International Half Marathon 2014. Through the discovery of running, combined with changing eating habits, Stephanie has lost 140lbs., or half of her body weight. Stephanie and her best friend/love-of-her life/running partner-in-crime, husband Bill, are raising their two elementary school aged children (both becoming runners!) in Turlock, CA.

I’ll admit it. Sometimes on a long run I just want to give up. It’s hard. I’m too hot. I’m too cold. I’m just not into it and I want to stop. Am I the only one out there?

With some trial and error, I’ve learned I can consciously convince myself to back away from falling off the runner’s cliff. I call this the “Thankful Game.” While running, I steer my inner conversation from complaining to compliments, from rejections to rejoices.

What are my “greatest hits” of running moments”? W​hat moments am I most thankful for?

It wasn’t long ago my kids saw me run for the first time. It was just a couple of years ago that I had taken the brave first steps of getting off the couch and starting to exercise. My walks around the block soon turned into walks around the city, and before long I picked up the pace. Seeing the look on my children’s faces when they saw me run for the first time…PRICELESS! It was only for the length of a tennis court, but the expressions on my then 7 and 9 year olds faces made it seem like their mom had accomplished the most amazing feat of all time. I am so thankful for their shocked screams as I can easily recall, “MOM IS RUNNING!”

You might think finishing my first marathon would be at the top of my list. Ironically, my proudest moment occurred at the expo. I walked into that convention center and looked up at the long row of signs calling for the different races and bib numbers. I immediately started walking toward the shortest race when it dawned on me that I was walking toward the wrong line. “I’m registered for the FULL MARATHON.” Me. Really. The girl who started running 2 years ago. The girl that weighed almost 300 pounds just a few years ago was getting in the marathon line! My stomach sunk like I was next in line for a roller coaster. I started to cry. I was doing this. I’ve never felt so proud!

Whenever I’m feeling alone out there running on the streets, I think about the “running angels” that have helped me get to where I’m at today. I think about my friends and family that waited around for HOURS after finishing their races to help cheer me to the finish line for my first marathon. Their support and proud faces meant more to me than the miles I had accomplished. I think about my husband Bill that reluctantly took up running with me and has finished every race at my side. I’m thankful for my neighbors who let me run through their sprinklers on hot days. I’m even thankful for my favorite IHOP waitress who has my pancake order memorized. I most often think about the running angel I saw at mile 25 of the San Francisco Marathon; I wanted to cry because my ankles hurt so badly when I saw an elderly spectator in a wheelchair with a sign that said, “There will be a day you cannot run, and today is NOT that day.” I think about him every morning when I lace up my running shoes.
The list of my thankful moments could go on and on. These running angels and memories make me so eternally thankful that I can run today. Running has saved my life. It has improved my marriage, my health and made me a better parent.

What running moments are you thankful for?

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