Transformation Tuesday: Liz Jarrard

I am so excited to debut a new series here on Running at Disney called Transformation Tuesday! Recently on the Disney Pacebook Running Club’s Facebook page, members were posting their transformation pictures and I was instantly inspired.  It was amazing to see how Disney races helped to get so many people on the road to health and wellness and I wanted to learn more about them.  So I decided to start Transformation Tuesday as a place for all of YOU to share your stories about how runDisney has helped to transform your life!  To start us off, Liz Jarrard is here to share her weight loss journey and the story of her first marathon.

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If you would have told me 3 years ago that I would run 26.2 miles or lose 114 pounds, I would have thought you were crazy. Those were never my goals or intentions.

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In January 2011, I was at a low point.  My father had passed away, my oldest daughter was in her first year in college and I was at my heaviest weight of 253. A few years prior I had lost 50 pounds, but due to stress gained it all back plus more. I knew I had to make major changes in my life and came to realize I had all the tools needed to change. I just needed some direction.

I joined weight watchers, joined a gym and started running. A friend told me about the Couch to 5k running app which I loved because it told me what to do.  I had a plan of running 3 days a week and I hired a personal trainer for once a week. After I lost about 50 pounds, my trainer encouraged me to start training for a half marathon. I honestly did not even know how far that was, but I was highly motivated. So I signed up even though I had a lot more weight to lose. Jeff Galloway, whom I followed, says in his books its hard to lose weight while training for such an event because fueling your body is so important.  Well I was on a mission to reach my race and weight goal and I managed to do both.

My first half was the Savannah, GA Rock and Roll Half Marathon in November 2011. I was so excited. It was a few months after that race I met my goal of 100 pounds in a year. I had so many people encourage me to run a marathon. I had no desire to do one, until i was told that runDisney was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2013. I was already signed up to race Savannah again to beat my previous time and it was perfect timing for going to the BIG race at Disney.

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Disney is the only place I would ever consider running that far, plus I had a family member signed up to go who promised to run it with me. I was all set. While I was training, I lost a little bit more weight but gained a ton of support and met some wonderful new friends from the WDW Radio Running Team. I met up with Jennifer Tyson on the morning of the race. We are from the same hometown and she helped me with tips for running the marathon.

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I also met another team member from her running team and we just happened to be in the same corral, which was good because I was unable to find my family member that morning.  I was ready to run but was mostly looking forward to running this memorable event with someone. That team member offered and ran the entire race with me. That day meant more to me than losing any amount of weight. Running a marathon at Disney was like my crowning moment to all that I had achieved.

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I think about that day so often, and since then I have joined the WDW Radio Running Team myself! I have become friends with so many of team members and it supports such an amazing cause, the Dream Team Project and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America.

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I made my dreams come true and I hope to continue by helping others as well.

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Liz Jarrard is 45 years young and married with 4 children ages 22,18,16,13.  Since losing 114 pounds and running her first marathon, she is now has her sights set on Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge in 2015!

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Has running at Disney helped to transform your life?  If so, I want to hear your story!  Send me an email at sarah@runningatdisney.com to be featured on an upcoming Transformation Tuesday!

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