Running Story


I haven’t always been a runner.  In fact until 2011 I hated running.  The only running I did in middle and high school was to pass the mile.

During the first two years of college I ran twice.  Running never came naturally to me and wasn’t my thing.

Let’s begin a journey shall we?

In middle school I was overweight, awkward and couldn’t run. My weight came from eating too many cookies and not being active while my parents were at work.  I swam but ate more calories than I burned.

Throwback Thursday from middle school
Throwback Thursday from middle school

My father ran marathons and both my brothers ran for our school. I failed the mile in gym class. I didn’t fail because I didn’t try, I failed because I did not have the cardio endurance to physically pass. I’ll never forget the day I ran 3 laps around the track in 8:45 and tried to convince my gym teacher I had really improved.

The mile test would always come down to the last lap around the track.  I would be somewhere between 9-10 minutes going into the fourth lap. I flailed around the track preying I would pass and breathing like I was going into cardiac arrest.

While running the mile test I thought: Oh my lanta, how the hell am I going to make around one more time? My PR on the mile test was 12:12.

So my middle and high school running went like that until 11th grade when we weren’t required to have gym.

To summarize in middle and high school, my running consisted of preying I would pass gym and not have to retake the mile test.


For the first years of college I ran two times.  One was to impress male members of my collegiate swim team. Why I thought that was a good idea was beyond me…it’s not like I could run. The second time was with my roommate. We ran exactly 1.46 miles.  It was a new personal long run!My roommate and I (not running)

My roommate and I (not running)

The summer between freshman and sophomore year, dad asked if I wanted to do the Allen Stone Run Swim Run race. It was a 1k run on the beach followed by a 1k swim in the ocean then 5k on the boardwalk.

My training consisted of a few treadmill runs. I was too embarrassed to run outdoors. I surprised myself and got second in my age group!

If I looked any cuter a shark would have come up and gave me his number
If I looked any cuter a shark would have come up and gave me his number

I was overjoyed of my success but didn’t run again for a while. By a while, I laced up my sneakers once from August to March. I was still swimming competitively in college.

My next big running event came when my college hosted an annual 5k on St. Patrick’s day.  Out of nowhere I ran 24 min 5k.  After the St. Patricks Day race, I thought running could be fun when I needed to mix it up from the gym.  I ran a 5k loop around campus once or twice a week until the end of that semester.


After returning home for the summer, dad asked if I wanted to run a 10k race. I told him I had other things to do. That was a lie, I had never run a 10k and was scared.

On July 4, 2010 I ran a local 5 in 22 minutes. I don’t know where it came from but I was on cloud 9.

Little did I know where this race was going
Little did I know where this race was going

I was hooked.

I was delusional.

Out of runner’s high, I emailed my college cross country coach and said I wanted to join the team. About 48 hours later he sent me a summer training schedule, which really freaked me out.

My thoughts were all over the place: Running 5 miles daily, a 7 mile run here and there?  What the hell are striders?  

I knew I enjoyed running but I wasn’t sure of these new “technical” terms or if I enjoyed running that much.

The day I did my first 7 mile run for training was one of the most exciting days of my life!

On July 16th 2010, I went on to win the RSR that I had so desperately trained for the previous year. It was one of my proudest accomplishments. The rest of July and August were full of running and swimming.


After training all summer I headed to preseason camp. My first cross country season served as a lot of things for me.  I learned everything about running.   It was a successful season for me, and I won MVP for our team!  I wanted next season to come the second after I crossed the finish line of our last race.

One of my first XC races.
One of my first XC races.

After my first cross country season ended, I continued swimming. I had been swimming all my life I wasn’t going to give that up (yet).  I just focused on swimming.  I didn’t run all fall and winter.


To put it in simple terms, by junior year of college I was burnt out from swimming. I had fun with my friends but didn’t compete well.

I had fun with friends though!
I had fun with friends though!

After swimming was over in February I was eager to start running again. I was so excited that I got injured within a week. I got a mild case of plantar fasciitis. My first overzealous and overuse injury.  I didn’t run again for another month and a half.

After learning that lesson, I started running smartly. I ran my first half marathon in the Spring of 2011.

At the Run Swim Run I won the previous year, I stopped in the middle of the race. I had my first serious running injury. After multiple doctor visits, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture.

I cried and cried and cried and cried and thought my running was over forever.  I cried more then any boyfriend problems or any family issues…all I did was cry.  Now I know that stress fractures happen and they heal. It taught me my body is not invincible and I need to train smartly.

I had two months to rest and recover. Since it happened in July, I took off part of my season of fall cross-country. Although my second cross-country season was nowhere where I wanted it to be, it was still fun.  It gave me hope for Spring racing.

I stayed healthy in the spring and and won the Plattsburgh half marathon.  This picture describes how I ran the entire time.

Finding a hobby that I didn't feel like a chore

In the summer of 2012, I continued to train for my final collegiate season of cross country.  I followed my coaches advice and schedule (no more, no less). I took my easy runs easy, hard runs hard.  I didn’t add extra miles because I feared injury. I made it through the summer injury free and moved to Oswego, NY to intern.


The first few weeks of Oswego were great.  The first race for college cross country was great. 

I got second overall at several races behind a nationally ranked runner.  All of a sudden I had immense heel pain. After multiple doctor visits, it was determined I had an overgrown cyst similar to plantar fasciitis…It was unfortunate it occurred in my foot.  It halted my season and left my bitter with cross country.


I learned a lot about myself in those two months.  I was in a new area, didn’t have running and didn’t have many friends.  I was lost.  I learned never base your happiness on a sport or a single element of your life.

After two months, the podiatrist decided (out of the blue) to give me a cortisone shot and the cyst healed within a week.  That was it?

After all of that…the cyst shrank and it healed.

After not running at all, I decided on a whim to race our final XC race.  I ended up PRing from cross training and set off my new found love of carefree running.

After my cross country season was over, I just ran easy. I ran when I felt like it. I raced when I wanted.

I spent the Spring of 2013 PRing in almost everything.

I ran a 1:25.15 half marathon at Shamrock. shamrockhalf2

A month later, I ran a 1:24.49 at the Nike Women’s half.


Not only did I PR but I finished 9th out of 15,000 people. The Spring showed me that you never really know what you are capable of.

After the Nike Women’s half, I ran shorter races for a while.

My current PR’s come from the Summer of 2013.

My 5K Pr of 18:35.

My 5k PR of 18:35 from 2 years ago...something I have not been able to touch since...

My 10k Pr of 39:02

Tidewater Striders Singlet :-)

During the last weekend of that summer, I was hit by a tourist riding their bike on the VA Beach boardwalk.  They hit me, broke my elbow (a very small break) and kept on riding.  It was a minor blimp in my first marathon training cycle and I was able to run awkwardly a couple of weeks later.

I ran my first marathon (NYC) in November of 2013. After the marathon I needed two months off. That race took a toll on my body and I had no desire to run for a long time.

Running the NYCM 2013
Running the NYCM 2013
Marathons are so fun!
Marathons are so fun!

In the Winter of 2014 I focused on raising money and awareness for the Eating Disorders and Ophelia’s Place.  I surprised myself by staying injury free through the winter. I also raised $2500 for Ophelia’s Place and ran a 1:25.32 Lake Effect half marathon on little to no training.


To raise money for something you are passionate about as well as win a race is such a rewarding experience.

After the Lake Effect Half Marathon, I ran the April Fools Half Marathon in Atlantic City.  I came in second place and PRed with a time of 1:23.23.  That served to be my only PR of 2014.


In the early summer of 2014, I began having symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis.  I was training for the Wineglass Marathon.  I took two weeks off and was proactive to get it taken care of. My foot pain heightened and eventually I ended up with a second metatarsal stress fracture.

This was the first injury I cannot tell you how it came about.  I had been properly training, recovering and resting.  I received a bone scan and everything was normal.

I recovered by late October and decided to train for the Phoenix Full marathon.  I had a smart and safe training cycle.  I didn’t do much speed and trained smartly.  I ended up running a PR of 3:14.59 but also finished injured with a muscular hip/butt and leg issue (given the nickname Bum butt). It eventually healed.

Phoenix Marathon


Now I’m just training for local 5k and 10ks. The last two years have been rocky for me and I hoping to gain speed that I’ve lost since 2013.


Cliff notes:

  1. I haven’t always been a runner.
  2. I swam in middle, high school and college.
  3. I began running in 2011.
  4. I ran 3 seasons of cross country and was injured two of them.
  5. I’ve had the most success with half marathons and my PR is 1:23.23.
  6. I’ve run two marathons: NYC (3:17) and Phoenix (3:14.59)
  7. Now I just train for 5ks and am the most relaxed, no plan runner you’ll meet.

I can only hope this is the beginning of a life long journey. 


21 thoughts on “Running Story”

  1. Thank you for sharing this (I’m new to the Oiselle team, too). Your story is so inspiring. I HATE the mile in gym class – I too was always embarrassed by it. Always in the last group of kids to finish. You’ve come a long way since then and its so impressive! Truly awesome.

  2. Love love love this post! You have always been amazing Hollie! I’m so lucky to call you my friend!

  3. It looks like we had the same out of shape starting point! I couldn’t run the 100m sprint, let alone the mile, and I was about the same size (only being 5ft tall at the time it looked immensely worse on me). Except, being older, I ran my first 5K in 2007 and my first ‘real’ race (as in, bothered to train a bit) in 2008.

    Obviously you’re streets ahead of me now, but it’s been great to read this post anyway. I think I’ve been reading since your Run-Swim-Run stress fracture, and your increases in speed and confidence as a runner have been so impressive…I mean, look at you in your Nike Women’s Half photo – you look like a true elite…you’re owning that course 😀


  4. I’m so proud of you Hollikins, I had no real understanding of what you went through with running, so I’m glad you shared this. You’ve come so far and I’m sure you don’t need me to say it, but I’m proud of you and so happy for you!
    I can honestly say for my sophomore and junior year’s on the team you were my inspiration every year once the season ended to work my ass of to try to get better and I think I can honestly say that you still are.
    Let me know when you get to Texas! We shall Skype.

  5. I love, love, love this! You learn so much during injuries and I am so glad you’ve bounced back and you’re stronger than ever. My favorite picture of you will always and forever be your banner picture from the Nike Half. I just love it!

  6. I loved reading this, you’re beyond awesome, which I’ve said before hehe! I also was not the typical ‘runner’ actually weirdly I got running as punishment from my gymnastics coach, so it’s odd that now it is such a big outlet for me. It’s amazing what we can achieve once we set our minds to something! Hopefully one day you will come here to race and train here! 🙂

  7. I love your running story! It’s so inspirational how injury after injury you just got right back up and ran again. I, too, have a love for training and running half marathons, although I’m not nearly as fast as you are! Maybe someday! 🙂 Anyway, I’m excited to read more of your posts!! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Wow – I just stumbled upon your blog from something someone posted on Facebook and am totally inspired! I have never been a runner and am currently suffering from a stress reaction from other intense exercise. I literally can not wait to go get fitted for new running sneakers and hit the pavement as soon as it’s healed!

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you stopping by. I hope your stress reaction heals rather quickly and that you are able to hit the pavement soon. Good luck in getting your fitted I know it makes all the difference for running! 🙂

  9. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to find your blog! You are an inspiration, Hollie! Seriously. Last year I could barely run a mile, but this year I took 4th in the cross country FINALS! Not as good as your time (20:04) but I’m sure I’ll get better. I’m definitely coming back to your blog!

  10. That is seriously such an amazing story! I’m not near as fast as you, but like you, I was not a runner at all in middle school and high school. I started running to lose weight after having three kids and I just completed my second marathon. Just goes to show, if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish so much.

      1. I’m training for Amsterdam in October. I loved my first half marathon 3 weeks ago but the thought of doing it all again when I was at mile 12 did scare me a bit. I think I need to find a training plan and stick to it, do you have any recommendations?

  11. Just getting to read this. You have a really amazing and touching story Hollie!!! What an amazing transformation!!! Running really does change lives for the better, kudos to you chica! 🙂

  12. This is such a great story! I ran the 2011 Elizabeth River Run and didn’t even know you were there, ha! We were destined to become friends.

  13. I just stumbled on your blog after Googling the Pineland Striders Independence 5k/10k – I won the 5k race and I was really relieved when you kept going on the 10k course! (haha) You’re an amazing runner and your story is really inspiring! I started running in grad school after being super sick/not fit for many years; I think it’s something a lot of us runners have in common – the will not only to become proficient but to really excel where we used to struggle. Thank you for setting such a great example for the rest of us – maybe I’ll see you at a future race!

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