C Stephen Lake

I started running in middle school as a varsity 800m runner from 7th grade through 12th.  However, I dropped out of track my senior year due to asthma and couldn’t run for years due to the asthma. Fast forward to having kiddos, my asthma became somewhat better.  Shortly after the birth of my second child, a friend challenged me to train for a half marathon. I couldn’t have imagined running more than a mile on purpose at the time.  Frankly, I thought it was simply crazy! But since I had just learned at 2 months old that my child had a serious heart disease, would need to be medicated for life, “probably would never be able to participate in competitive sports”, and might need a heart transplant in the worst case, I took on the challenge with my child in mind. If my child might be restricted from participating in competitive sports, I would run because I was still able!..  By the grace of God, my child normalized quickly and eventually beat the odds. 

Shortly after my first marathon, I also learned that I have an autoimmune disease which causes the chronic fatigue I’d been experiencing.  As oddly as it seems, exercise is the key to combatting fatigue. So, I continued to run for my health to keep from “becoming clinical” and to improve my lung function. 

After qualifying for Boston a few times in 2020 and 2021, I was finally able to run my first Boston Marathon in 2022.  I'll be returning to Boston to run on Monday, April 17, 2023!

What excites me most about running, is being a role model for my children and my youth club track athletes.  Our young athletes find it fascinating when their coaches still run, be it fast or slower.  While I’m no longer a mid-distance track athlete, I can run long!  I’m moving again and keeping active.

My advice to others is to trust that progress will happen should you seek it. I started endurance running with extra postpartum weight and averaging a 15 minute mile pace (which I was told was “not actually considered running”).  I didn’t let what the younger and faster runners said affect me though.  My pace was considered running TO ME, and I was so excited to get down to 13.5-minute pace before being sidetracked my first year.  As time passed, I got into a rhythm and kept at it by taking on challenges e.g. running a half marathon in 50 states, and running a marathon on 7 continents. As I progressed more into embracing the moment while running, ignoring my watch, and running by feel, I became a stronger runner. I believe that most runners have the capacity to improve tremendously, beyond their imagination.  And it is only the mind that holds us back. Being able to run is a privilege, and I encourage others to enjoy the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other to go the distance desired.

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