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My five ingredients for running: A contest entry turned blog post

You'd think that as a journalist I'd be good with brevity, but sometimes I just need more words than are in existence. The ladies at Another Mother Runner are hosting a series of amazing giveways this holiday season. One of them, for a NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Treadmill, asks entrants to list their five ingredients to running. Mine might have gone a little long...

After thinking for a few days, I finally left what I hope is a winning comment. But with a mere 800+ entries, I can only pray that mine is read, let alone be chosen for the grand prize. After writing and rewriting my comment I decided it was probably a lot longer than what they were looking for, but I didn't care. If anything, I thought it would make an excellent blog post. So, enjoy!

1. My health - I started running to break through a plateau in my weight loss efforts, but it took me places I never expected. My goal was to drop another 10-20 pounds, but here I am on the cusp of a healthy weight range for the first time since ... since maybe ever. When I feel beat up after a long run or disappointed after a race, I need only remind myself that dropping 100 pounds — and dramatically changing my lifestyle to one that is healthy and happy — is the best prize of all. And running gave it to me.

2. Community — Though I'm one of only a handful of runners in my tiny town, social media has made me part of the global running community. I feel so blessed to be able to find advice, support and camaraderie through blogs (like AMR!), Twitter chats, Facebook pages and podcasts. And when I gather with other runners at races, I instantly feel connected to them by the strong thread of our sport.

3. Sheer determination. — If anything, my bull-headedness is what gets me out the door most mornings. When motivation lacks, determination to reach my goals gets me through. Even when the snow is piled high (like today), I realize the only way to get the miles done (without an awesome NordicTrak in my home), is to put one foot in front of the other — even if I can't see them beneath the snow drifts.

4. "Clarity" by Zedd, perfectly describing my love-hate relationship with running:
"Cause you are the piece of me I wish I didn't need
Chasing relentlessly, still fight and I don't know why
If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy?
If our love's insanity, why are you my clarity?"

5. Family - Running has become a family affair, and I love how it has changed our dynamic. Obviously as a mother runner I have to find ways to fit my miles into my husband and daughter's schedules, which can be cumbersome. But the joy I get when my toddler yells "Go, momma, go!" from the stroller or adorably tries to "stretch" with me in the living room is beyond words. The running bug also caught my husband, brother and sister this year, and crossing finish lines with them was something I never thought possible. Family gatherings are much more fun when the endorphins are high and miles are full of chatter.

DISCLOSURE: I admit that this is a shameless plug to try and garner the attention of the AMR selection committee, but I could REALLY use that 'mill. With two major car repair bills this month and you know, CHRISTMAS, there is no way I can afford one of my own, even with New Year's specials coming. While running in the snow and cold has been building my character — so to speak — it's not something I'm exactly looking forward to for the next three-ish months.

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