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Running Towards a Better Life

Erica began running and discovered a better life, both physically and mentally

Erica Richart with her kids before she made a change to better her life through running.

Erica with her kids before she made the decision to better her life through running.

Running’s physical and mental benefits are well-known. Yet many are reluctant to run for one reason or another. Erica Richart talks about the many reasons why she didn’t run in her edition of My Running Story. She talks about wanting a better life, but nothing ever seemed to work for her. Read about the experience that seemingly made everything click for her. Erica’s journey hasn’t been easy, but with the support of her group and the running community, she’s created a significantly better life.

Making a positive change

Hi there! My name is Erica. I’ve struggled with my weight since adolescence (eight years old). At my peak, I weighed 320 lbs. I’m pretty sure I went higher, but after seeing that number I dug my head in the sand. After two high-risk pregnancies with gestational diabetes, I developed type 2 diabetes. Over the years I tried every diet you could think of. I tried personal trainers and fitness camps. The result was always the same – I’d lose 30-50 lbs., then gain back 40 lbs. I tried C25K (Couch to 5K) so many times because my husband enjoyed running and I tried to like it as well. I hated it and couldn’t help but be reminded of my school days and collecting popsicle sticks for each lap (I was always last).

More time went by and the only activity I could bring myself to do in a public setting was Zumba. February 2017 was a game-changing time in my life. Something clicked after an embarrassing moment that involved burpees in front of a group at my kids’ school event. It brought to me to all these feelings but something clicked. The next day I asked my husband if he would join me in figuring out my health. (At this time I was 280 lbs.) After losing 15 lbs. I decided to give C25K one more shot (after more than a dozen failed attempts).

Next stop, Austin Marathon

Erica Richart and her husband after she made a change to better her life through running.

Erica and her husband after finishing the 2019 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon.

In June 2017, I ran for five minutes without stopping. By the end of July I ran my first mile. Reaching the mile was huge in my world because I had built up a mile as if it were a marathon 😂. By December 2017, I completed C25K successfully! A few months later I ran my first race, Texas Ragnar relay (March 2018). After that, I completed my first half marathon in San Antonio (April 2018). I caught the running bug and by July I hit a huge milestone – 100 lbs. down! After the half marathon, my husband and I were determined to continue running. We kept training for no event in particular. We needed more support for what we were planning……. a full marathon.

Building a better life with the help of the running community

I was terrified to join a group; I still didn’t feel like a real runner. The group at Round Rock Fit is awesome. Truth is that the running community is absolutely amazing and super encouraging. There was a wide variety of people that had many years of experience, including Boston qualifiers newbies (like myself). It was super encouraging. The 2019 Austin Marathon was a life-changing experience for me. I learned on that course and throughout my training that I’m much stronger than I ever knew. Running, while I hated it at the start, has become so centric to my life. I’ve learned to love the lessons it teaches like running your own race, there are no shortcuts, building mental toughness, and the joy in just embracing the suck. 

My Running Story is a series of blog submissions from runners just like yourself. They submitted their inspirational running stories as part of a contest to win an entry of their choice to the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. Their stories range from crossing their first finish line to drastic lifestyle change due to running. Everyone’s story is different and unique, impacting them in a specific way. While each story is specific to the author, everyone can resonate in some form or fashion because of the power of running. Other My Running Story submissions include Kayleigh Williamson, Kirsten Pasha, Michael Coffey, Samantha Santos, and Tom Hamann.

Running to End Pancreatic Cancer

Tom began running after his father’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis

Tom and his wife, Laura, after running a race for Project Purple, a nonprofit whose mission is to find a cure for pancreatic cancer.

Tom and his wife, Laura, after running a race for Project Purple.

Everyone runs for a reason. Sometimes you run for yourself, sometimes you run for others, sometimes you run for a cause. Like many runners, Tom Hamann does all three. Tom runs to improve his health. He runs to honor his father’s memory. And he runs to end the disease that took his father (TBird), pancreatic cancer. Read Tom’s edition of My Running Story and learn why he lends his legs and his miles to a cause that’s near to his heart. Lend your legs and miles during your Austin Marathon training when you run on behalf of an official Austin Gives Miles charity.

Running to honor his father’s memory

In 2016, my dad – who I always referred to by his nickname “TBird” – was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I started running soon after. It helps keep me positive and healthy. Last February, I planned to visit TBird in Austin with my wife Laura and our boys Max and Joe. We live in Michigan. I thought this might be our last visit with my dad. I signed up to run the Austin Marathon 5K during our visit. My boys were registered for the Manzano Mile

Tom's father, TBird, with his two grandsons before he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Tom’s father, TBird, with his two grandsons.

My dad didn’t make it that long. He declined rapidly the weekend before the race. Laura and I flew down right away to be with TBird. We were with him when he died on February 14, 2019. Worst Valentine’s Day ever. I decided to run as many events as I can to help raise money for pancreatic cancer charities. I’m doing this in my dad’s name and to help others suffering from this terrible disease. In May 2019, I did my first half marathon in Chicago, running for Project Purple.

Returning to Austin

My family is coming back to Austin to honor my dad on the first anniversary of his passing – Friday, February 14th. Max and Joe are going to do the Manzano Mile on February 15. I will run the Austin Half Marathon on February 16th. We’re excited for this trip back to Austin; I just wish my dad were still here to join in the fun. 

My Running Story is a series of blog submissions from runners just like yourself. They submitted their inspirational running stories as part of a contest to win an entry of their choice to the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. Their stories range from crossing their first finish line to drastic lifestyle change due to running. Everyone’s story is different and unique, impacting them in a specific way. While each story is specific to the author, everyone can resonate in some form or fashion because of the power of running. Other My Running Story submissions include Kayleigh Williamson, Kirsten Pasha, Michael Coffey, and Samantha Santos.

Self-Imposed Challenge Accepted

If he can do that, so can I; self-imposed challenge accepted

Michael ran the 2017 Cap10K after he accepted his self-imposed challenge.

Michael ran the 2017 Cap10K after he accepted his self-imposed challenge.

Michael Coffey was a cyclist. He self-admittedly didn’t consider himself a runner, even though he ran to cross-train. His story of how he became a runner is next on our My Running Story series. Coffey started out like most runners, talking with someone else about running. He believed in himself and next thing you know… self-imposed challenge accepted. Read how Coffey went from a 10K to the start line of the 2018 Austin Marathon

Not really a “runner”

My name is Michael. I never really considered myself a “runner.” I would run some when I was big into cycling, but never ran road races of any kind. This all changed in April 2017. Someone mentioned they were running the Cap10K. I thought, if he can run a 10K, I can run a 10K. BOOM!! Self-imposed challenge accepted. 

I trained for two weeks. Everyone said I would finish around 1:30-1:40. My goal was to just finish injury-free. Race day came and I was nervous. I finished my first 10K in 1:07:30 at 51 years old. I was hooked. The race day environment was exciting and special. 

Self-imposed challenge accepted

Shortly after that race, our son suggested I try a marathon. Sure, why not, I said. Self-imposed challenge accepted. While researching marathons, I found the Austin Marathon in February 2018. I immediately registered. I started training in July 2017, a 32-week beginner training plan. Training went well. In February 2018, I completed my first marathon in 5:26:09 at 52 years old. 

Since that self-imposed challenge in April 2017, I’ve completed multiple 5K & 10K races, one half marathon, three marathons, and the Trivium Hill Country 50K. I have logged about 1,700 training and race miles. I’m now in training for my first 50-mile run in November (Wild Hare) and am again registered for the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. Self-imposed challenge accepted. I LOVE TO RUN😎

My Running Story is a series of blog submissions from runners just like yourself. They submitted their inspirational running stories as part of a contest to win an entry of their choice to the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. Their stories range from crossing their first finish line to drastic lifestyle change due to running. Everyone’s story is different and unique, impacting them in a specific way. While each story is specific to the author, everyone can resonate in some form or fashion because of the power of running. Submissions will be accepted through August 16, 2020. Other My Running Story submissions include Kayleigh Williamson and Kirsten Pasha.