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I was 25 and living in Chicago. My average day consisted of waiting tables, acting in small theaters, and drinking beer. On the rare occasion I made it to one of the city's pricey gyms, I spent more time lifting weights and taking a spinning class than anything else. If I did get on the treadmill, it was never for more than 15 or 20 unpleasant minutes.

I never wanted to be a runner.

But some newfound friends talked me into doing a 5k in 2011, with the promise of bottomless mimosas afterward. And I really wanted some mimosas. So I signed up, forgot my race bib at home, took a cab back to the apartment to grab it, and barely made it back to the starting line in time. Not exactly a grand entrance into the sport.

Two months later, it was a Thanksgiving Day 8k with those same friends. I spent the night before partying, with no real intention of showing up the following morning to run. But an early text message guilted me out the door and to the starting line just as the race was beginning. I'm not even sure I was officially registered.

Somehow, the desire to log a couple miles here and there stuck with me. I wasn't very fast, and my endurance was laughable, but I actually began to enjoy running for the first time in my life. And I felt like I was pretty good at it, too! (Let's be clear: I wasn't. But dammit, I felt like I was!)

In 2012, I moved to the suburbs of Denver and, in the years that followed, slowly began to increase my distances. Running became a form of meditation, a stress release, and a fun activity all rolled into one. I began exploring the Rocky Mountains and discovered a passion for hiking and running up in the high country.

So here I am. Still slow. Still an awkward doofus, stopping to take pictures of pretty trees in the middle of every run. And frankly, I don't ever see that changing.

So I guess I'm a runner. Whatever that means.

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