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Why I Run: Atha Vermillion

Atha sparkling down the course

With hours to go until Christmas, the wants and needs of everyone else is taking priority, but we offer up Atha Vermillion as a reminder to put yourself first, even if only for 3 or so miles.

Atha, of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, has a story so many women can relate to: This 36-year-old mom started running because she was dejected and overweight. The extra 50 pounds didn’t fall off overnight, but through sure and steady progress, Atha is now set to rock her second marathon just three years after taking up our beloved sport. Keep track of her on Twitter.

As a mother of five children, I initially started running to lose weight. Three years ago, I found myself 50 pounds overweight, and I was miserable inside and out. Nothing in my closet fit me anymore, and I was ashamed of my appearance. I had no self-confidence and had all but given up hope of coming out of the funk I was in; I was disgusted with myself that I had let my weight get so out of control.

Dolled up--and plenty of places to go--with two of the five kids.

My wake-up call came after I saw an old friend from high school. She remarked that I had really let myself go. She didn’t mean any harm, but it really hit me, and I finally decided to do something about it.

It took a lot of discipline, but I did it. I counted calories and managed to start running one slow mile at a time. The weight started coming off, and my confidence slowly returned. After I lost the weight, I realized I didn’t have to run anymore--but I wanted to. As chaotic as my life is, running is my time, the only time when I get to focus and reflect. Running keeps me calm in a house full of mayhem. I can lace up my Brooks, hit the pavement, and every worry I’ve shouldered seems to disappear by the time I press stop on my Garmin.

Running cleans my soul--and leaves all the debris on the roads. I come home ready to tackle the piles of laundry and the drama that is sure to follow after Dad’s been in charge on a Saturday morning. I don’t always solve the day’s crisis of, “where are my ballet slippers?” or, “the dog chewed up the soccer ball again,” but I do have the inner strength after a run to remain calm through it all.

I’ve been blessed with my super-sized family, and thankfully they are supportive of my running. They love coming to my races, especially destination races. I have now run one marathon, six half-marathons, and numerous 5K and 10K races. I’m training for my second 26.2 in New Orleans in March. My husband and kids will join me on the trip—making running an escape for the whole family, not just me.

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