Guest Post from Gwen Papineau, Runner of Marathons

At my last job, I met one of my all time favorite people. Gwen is about ten years younger than me and reminded me so much of my whirlwind of a post college social life. Everyone that meets Gwen falls madly in love with her, and I am no exception.

And now she’s gone and made herself even MORE of a superstar. She lost well over 100 lbs. AND just ran the Marine Corps Marathon. She is a true inspiration – and not just for people who want to lose weight or run a marathon. She reminds me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

Part one of her story can be found over at Amy in Ohio. It covers the motivation to lose weight and then to run the marathon. The rest picks up here. I strongly suggest starting with part one since it makes part two even more of a triumph. She jokes about being on the cover of People – but I don’t see why not! If you have any contacts there – tell them about Gwen.

(Enlarge the above photo to see just how far she’s come!)

As I told you before, I have an addictive personality. After experiencing the feeling of crossing that first finish line, I was totally addicted to races. Note I said races. I am not always addicted to running. There are days when it is too cold, too hot, I’m too this too that, too, too, TOO! But there are few things that have made me feel as good as crossing a finish line. I knew the Army Ten Miler was just the beginning. It was my gateway drug. Soon I needed more and bigger races. Suddenly that notion of crossing the finish line at Marine Corps came flooding back. There was no longer the question of how, but only when.

But I was smart about it. Or rather cautious. Strategic maybe. After the Army Ten Miler, I immediately started signing up for more races. I thought about running Marine Corp in 2007, but decided I wanted to get more races under my belt and lose more weight before I took my turn climbing that last .2 up to Iwo Jima. I also envisioned the marathon as my weight loss victory dance. I thought that if I waited until 2008, I would be a svelte 153ish pounds and it would be the crowning achievement in my life changing journey. I would have lost all of my weight and be a marathoning goddess. I would grace the cover of People magazine for one of their weight loss issues. I had grand plans! So I kept building up my distances, ran a couple of half marathons and prepared for the marathon in 2008.

I signed up to train with Team in Training knowing that although I had great success training on my own for previous races, I was going to need a little more support for the big show. I learned at the first meeting that TNT was an amazing program that trained people like me for endurance events while raising money for cause I was personally tied to, leukemia and lymphoma. I was the girl crying in the information meeting. Crying because I knew I was going to run in memory of my grandfather who battled lymphoma, but also because I was going to run for myself and everything that I had battled in my journey.

Sometimes plans change. Don’t worry! You already know that I ran the marathon and I pretty much kick ass at life! BUT, I didn’t end up on the cover of People (yet) and I didn’t run my first marathon at 153-ish pounds. In fact – I gained weight training for the marathon. That really messes with a Weight Watcher’s head! But it’s something that I have accepted and am trying to work off now. I know I can do it! I’ve proved that much to myself by now. It just takes time and dedication.

Training for the marathon has given me even more insight into my weight loss journey and my goals. I might never weigh 153 pounds. And that’s okay! The steps I have taken to make my life better are incredible. It has been a battle to get below 190 and stay there. The way I see it, maybe I will be 175 someday and that will be perfect. I’m so beyond dieting – this is my life. Eating well and running races – that’s what I do, it’s who I am, it’s how I live. Healthy habits and a love for activity are things I want to pass on to my children (someday). In fact, now I tell my boyfriend (fairytale time: princess lost a little weight and met Prince Charming, go ahead, swoon, I’ll wait) that I simply want to be a MILF when I grow up. A hot mom that my kids can be proud of and learn from. I want to be a marathoner mom. What? You didn’t think I was going to let that be my only marathon did you? The cover of People magazine is still out there! (Originally I thought I would take a few years off from the full marathon, but that addiction thing…I need another finish line now! I can’t wait three years for my next fix!) But you know what else I will impart to my kids someday – when I’m a MILF who drives a Range Rover to dance class and soccer practice and Harris Teeter – that even when I was at my heaviest, I LOVED life and WHO I was. I hope to give them all of my self esteem and confidence and ensure that they know how special they are, regardless of how short, tall, skinny, chubby, they may be. The mirror can reflect certain images to you and the scale can spit out some data, but neither will ever tell you how much you are loved for being yourself. I’m so lucky to have had that support from my family, friends and myself.

I’ll never start Weight Watchers over again. There is immense beauty and NO pain in that statement. Just as in my running, I will continue to improve my form, struggle with commitment, vary my intensity and face outside challenges like inclement weather, injuries and cupcakes. I know I have accomplished amazing feats. I am so proud of having lost my weight in a healthy way and while I still have my food demons, I can live with them. One day a week. I trained for a marathon and finished. Perhaps you didn’t hear me, I RAN A MARATHON! After my marathon I tried to find disappointment in my slower-than-expected time of 6:10:44. But I couldn’t. Trust me when I say I REALLY looked in every nook and cranny. And I can’t find disappointment in my weight loss journey either.

It’s a reality that I will never be as skinny or fast as some people. Someday, I hope to run a marathon at 175 pounds and finish that marathon in under 5:30:00. That’s my goal. But if I weighed 176 and finished in 5:31:00, that would be okay too. Honestly, if I never lost another pound or ran another marathon, I would still be so proud of who Gwen is – and that is the most amazing accomplishment I have. Now if only I could find a shadow box big enough to hold that on a wall.

Gwen’s blog about training for the marathon:
Gwen’s blog about the weight loss:

15 thoughts on “Guest Post from Gwen Papineau, Runner of Marathons

  1. katie t

    such a great story!

    it gives me chills when i see people overcoming trials that come in any form.

    thanks for sharing her story…and yes marathons…they are addicting…coming from someone who is becoming a little OCD with my planning of the races that i will try to do next year :)

  2. csquaredplus3

    Gwen – Wonderful and inspiring story! I’ve run one marathon and would love to do another – especially the Marine Corps Marathon. Your honesty is refreshing, and your hard work admirable. Congratulations on achieving an incredible goal. You look beautiful!
    – Chris

  3. Domestic Extraordinaire

    What an inspiration. I will be watching for Gwen to be on the cover of People sometime! I know that with her attitude she CAN do it!

  4. Christy

    Wow Gwen – you are a real inspiration. Thanks for sharing your story! Congratulations on all your accomplishments!

  5. Jo

    Go Gwen!!!! Reading this story was a wonderful way to start the day. You are an incredibly strong and inspiring woman. Your story and the beautiful and humorous way you present it will inspire anyone pursuing a goal to persevere with faith in the outcome and joy in the journey. Thank you! And thanks to Kate for sharing.

  6. Amy in Ohio

    I’m just in awe of Gwen. Truly. I was at Jazzercise last night and feeling lazy. I thought of Gwen and powered through.

    I can do it too!

  7. Kate The Great

    Wow. I find a lot of similarity in our stories.

    Sometimes I envision myself being the champion – the woman who is an athletic dynamo. And then I remind myself that it all starts with actually lacing up the sneakers and taking that first step.

    I’ve got about 50 pounds to lose… and I want it bad. I just struggle with the hard work that goes into the accomplishment.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. Anonymous

    Gwen – You know how much I admire your strength and courage already but every time I hear your story it gives me new inspiration.

    I’m so glad you did the guest post!

    Stay in touch,

  9. Heidi

    omg thats an awesome story! Unlike my own first marathon tale which was me being bored at my old job that i hated so i decided randomly to run MCM in 2007. i finished – i didn’t rain that hard. This year i ran hartford – training slightly harder but not for as long as i should have – i dropped an hour off my time (amazing what effect it has when you run 18 miles as your longest run instead of 16). Gwen you’re an inspiration, and i absolutely agree that marathoning is addictive ;) I’m running my third in my hometown of Burlington, VT in May! (hoorah for Vermonters – i noticed that you’re from VT and had to give a shout out ;) :D)

  10. The Lil Bee

    Wow, that is really impressive. I thought at first that the photo was of two different people. Such an inspirational story! Have a happy Thanksgiving:)

  11. Nancy

    i really enjoyed reading about your success and found myself smiling and laughing throughout your story. You reminded me how much I love to run and how addictive it is b/c of its natural high….and that i need to start running races again. thank you for sharing your story.

  12. Tiffiney

    Wow you go girl!!! Makes me want to get up and exercise…what a great inspirational story!! :)

    Hope you both have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! :)


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