We’re thrilled today to announce our first winner of the Mother Runner of the Month: Gina Halvorson of Lockport, Illinois. Gina, a 35-year-old mother of two who works in recruiting, started running in January of 2018, truly fell in love with the sport, and is about to take on her first half-marathon.
When we told her about her award, she wrote back, “Running has honestly been such a game changer for me, so the more I can talk about it and network with other runners, I am happy to do so!”
Why I started running: I wanted to lose weight. I gained at least 20 pounds with each of my kids (Jack, now 5, and Caroline, 2), so was up about 50 pounds from my pre-baby days. I kept thinking that my clothes were shrinking, but they weren’t. I didn’t feel like myself; I just wasn’t very comfortable in my own skin.
My first treadmill run: was about 60 seconds. Truly. I could feel my chest tighten as I ran. I said to myself, if I want to run longer, I better stop smoking. I had been a smoker since college and tried over ten times to quit. I did the patch, the pill, everything. Nothing worked up to that point.
Let me just see if I can make it through tomorrow without smoking and run again, I thought. I was able to run about 30 seconds longer. Let me try this again. It kept working. Every single day I didn’t smoke, I was able to run longer and further—sometimes just 30 seconds more. I could feel myself getting healthier. I could feel a sense of relief; I wasn't living my days anymore wondering when I would have a chance to step outside and smoke.
I didn’t smoke again after my first run: the cold-turkey-quit-smoking-running cure.
Permanently extinguished: I fear now if I even take a drag off a cigarette, I wouldn’t be able to run as well as I want. Running and being healthy is now much more important to me.
What I love most about running: Um, where do I start?
I’m competitive by nature, and love that I can push myself to go just a little bit further or faster. I also love that I can do something that I used to think wasn’t possible for me—I’d watch runners and just be in awe of them.
I’m a wife, mom, daughter, sister, and employee, When I run, I’m just me—and I love that time alone
I was lacking confidence as well. Running has helped me find my inner strong.
And I love how I feel after a run: calm, clear-minded, focused, and relaxed.
Where you’ll find me at 4 am: Waking up to go run. I go that early on work days, and I’m up at 5 am on the weekends. I prefer to run when my husband and kids are still sleeping. We have a treadmill in our house, so I’m on that these days. But if it’s light outside, I’ll definitely go outside.
My first race: My cousin suggested we sign up for the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle, an 8k that has about 40,0000 runners. That race was hook, line and sinker for me. I loved it: everybody is out there having fun, cheering on people around them. There was so much support.
A race I don’t recommend: a 10K or any race in Chicago in July. Too hot!
Something else I might not recommend: Crying at the finish line. I did that at the Hot Chocolate 15K this winter, and everybody asked me what was wrong. They thought I was in pain or injured. I wasn’t. I just couldn’t believe I finished it; they were tears of joy.
Something I kind of recommend: That darn Lululemon. Somebody gave me a gift card and I bought a pair of shorts for $70—something I never thought I would do. I love them and now I’m hooked.
My next race: My first half-marathon on St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Bolingbrook. My cousin is running is too; she’ll be waiting for me at the finish line, along with my husband, kids, and parents.
My 13.1 goal: To not walk. I just want to run the whole thing.
Half-marathon nightmare: I dreamt I showed up in shorts on race day, and it was 20 degrees. I was probably anxious because, prior to that dream, I hadn’t run outside in temperatures under 30 degrees. I have now—and I’m ready for anything on race day.
My advice for beginners: Start really small. Try 60 seconds today, and tomorrow try 61 seconds.