LaurieI am a strong and determined athlete who has competed in national track championships and marathons around the world. Looking back, I certainly didn’t think that I would be a competitive runner, winning local and national races. As a surgical physician’s assistant for 13 years, my dedication was to helping others.

Living fully within my profession meant committing to patients, including several medical mission trips to Guatemala. My PA career has taken me through a variety of specialties such as plastic surgery, GI surgical oncology and trauma/general surgery, to name a few. I was fortunate enough to have a very comprehensive practice where I not only assisted in the operating room but took care of critically ill patients in the intensive care unit, on the general medicine floor and the emergency room. During my medical missions, I assisted in surgeries for residents of the poorest towns and villages in the country. I thought I had found my calling, but my life soon took a very different direction.

After watching the 2007 NYC Marathon and seeing actress Katie Holmes run, I realized “If she can do it, I can do it.” Armed with that truth, I became determined to step out, push my limits and stretch the boundaries of what I thought was possible. As I trained, my strength began to grow, and I realized that I could compete in marathons, no matter how challenging.

After finishing my first race in 2008, the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, I realized that I enjoyed the challenge of the distance and the discipline required for the training schedule. Even though I thought my first race would also be my last, it sparked a fire in me that eventually led me to become a competitive full-time runner. With every step forward in training, I was inspired to push myself that much farther.

Each mile and each victory empowered me to believe that I could achieve greater things and accomplish even more. My drive and determination pushed me forward and fueled me to compete in the Boston Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Athens, Greece Marathon, London Marathon and many local marathons. I also qualified for the NYC Marathon but was unable to compete due to injury.

Recovery run on the Alter-G Anti-Gravity TreadmillIn 2012 and 2013, I suffered from injuries that prevented me from competing in the races on my calendar. And because of a pre-existing chronic knee pain, I had to undergo knee surgery and spend a lot of time in rehabilitation. Prior to surgery, I had received notification of my guaranteed entry into the London Marathon. I wasn’t sure I would be able to train for it after the surgery, but I refused to give up and trained on the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill. With only six weeks of training on the pavement, I knew that it would be difficult to compete in London, but didn’t let that stop me. Believing that strength and ability starts from a belief in yourself, I stayed focused on the end goal and successfully finished the race, running my personal best time.

pilatesAfter finishing the London Marathon, I started training for the Savannah Half Marathon, which was going to be my breakout race. Unfortunately, I was sidelined by a stress fracture and couldn’t run that race after all. It was then that I knew I needed to make some changes in my life to prevent further injury and empower my body to reach for greater heights in both strength and endurance. To start, I made a conscious decision to transition from long distance endurance races to focus on 5k, 10k, 1 mile distances and middle distances on the track.

I also knew that I needed to adjust my nutrition to improve my fitness so I adopted a vegan lifestyle. I also revised my recovery and strength training program to include a variety of activities including icing, stretching, physical therapy, massage therapy and pilates. As a result of these changes, my body has become stronger than ever and 2014 was an incredible race year.

Laurie RunningIn March of 2014, I competed in the USATF Master’s Indoor Track National Championship in Boston where I won the bronze medal in the 800m, and was awarded All-American in the mile. In July, I competed in the USATF Master’s Outdoor Track National Championship in North Carolina, winning a bronze medal in the 800m and All-American in the 800m and 1500m. In addition to my track competitions, I raced in several 5k and 1 mile local races over the summer where I won first place overall female and ran personal best times in each race. I also recently ran my last competitive 10k of the 2014 season and won 2nd overall female and master’s champion, once again running my fastest time. These recent accomplishments have been possible due to focus, drive, determination, and a healthy lifestyle.

awardI finished up my competitive season with the ultimate recognition for hard work. In October, I was awarded USATF Florida Master’s Athlete of the Year in Track and Field.

As a mom to two active kids, I juggle training full time, my kids’ extracurricular activities including competitive dance and competitive soccer, and my son’s intense therapy for dyslexia. With my husband’s busy orthopedic surgery practice, I also manage the busy daily household activities.

I was once inspired to achieve things I thought were beyond my abilities, and I want to share my struggles and successes with you so that you can be inspired to start your own journey. Through running, I found the strength and power to push for my dreams. Every stride and every step takes me one step closer and makes me that much stronger.