Charm City Run is Running the New York City Marathon: Tyler’s Perspective

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

By: Tyler Mauler, Charm City Run Social Media Manager

When I was a little girl, my dad used to take me to Solomons Island, MD every Sunday morning to run a mile-long loop around the island. Cold or hot weather, we would dress accordingly and go do our jog together. It ended on an uphill, and I remember my first time running the loop I raced ahead, taking long strides, to reach the top. My dad said I was a natural and predicted I would be a runner for life. 

When I was ten years old, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. It was an answer after months of searching for the reason for the unbearable pain, bouts of temporary paralysis, unending headaches, and overwhelming fatigue, but it was not the answer for which I would have ever hoped. Over a decade ago, the research we have today on Lyme Disease did not exist. I was given a short bout of antibiotics and told I would be fine. But within six months, my symptoms returned without an explanation. The doctors were nonplussed. I was frustrated. And my running shoes were left laced up in my closet. 

It took two years to get an inaccurate diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, which was the only way the doctors could try to explain my unexplainable pain. I was told the pounding of running would never be an option for me. The running shoes needed to stay put away. I dropped out of all sports, had a note to excuse me from gym class, and spent most of my days huddled inside, typing away on my computer. Besides running, my one constant and love in my life has always been writing.

In high school, I began to feel pressure about my body size and appearance. Years of inactivity had not been the best solution for my health. I pulled the running shoes out of my closet, and against the better judgment of my physicians, went out for a run. It was exhilarating the first time I was able to reach a mile. But it was for all the wrong reasons, and the running nearly killed me. The running shoes were returned to their box and shoved in the back of my closet.

Some of my friends remembered me being a good runner, and they needed more teammates on their cross country team. I hated competition – my nagging perfectionism has always been motivation enough for me to perform at my best, so I always thought of finish lines, not as ways to beat others, but as exciting places we should all cross together. But feeling the pressure of my friends, I pulled the running shoes out and laced them once more. My perfectionism carried me to varsity level status. I ran through every nagging pain, every sign that my health could be declining, every little voice in my head that said maybe I needed to rest. My perfectionism was the root of my success, and then it was my downfall. I left the team with stress fractures, new digestive disorders, and a belittled sense of self.

In college, I pulled out the shoes again, but this time I was determined they would not get the best of me. After years of struggling with my health, my only goal was to feel the joy that running used to bring me – I had no thought of distance or speed. And for the first time in a long time, running felt good. It made me feel strong. After my morning run, I felt confident I could handle whatever the day would bring.

Near the end of my college career, I had the opportunity to join a team that was running across the country to raise money for young adults with cancer. I was stronger than I had ever been, and I eagerly signed up. I trained for months. Now with this new goal in mind, I pushed a little harder. My body screamed a little louder. But old habits die hard. I flew out to California, injured and already feeling a little unwell, but unwilling to let such a good opportunity slip away. Unfortunately, the injuries only got worse, and my health followed. I felt misunderstood and unwanted by some of my teammates. I returned to Maryland with shin splints, swollen ankles, a hip riddled with bursitis and tendinitis, and the lowest self-esteem I have ever had in my life. I threw my running shoes back in my closet in tears. I vowed I would never run again.

But as many runners know, there is something special about the sport of running that keeps calling you back time and time again. There is something about that feeling when the sound of your feet pounding on the pavement simply becomes the melody that propels you forward, when you get lost in your thoughts and the beauty of nature around you, and when you forget your legs are moving and it feels as if you are flying. 

wasn’t running any longer, but I still remembered my love for the sport. I got a job at the Charm City Run Annapolis store, where I was taught about the importance of wearing the right shoes, not just any shoes. I learned about proper runner nutrition, something that had never been taught to me in high school when I got smaller and smaller with every run. I learned about the importance of foam rolling, stretching and listening to my body – not every day had to be a running day. And it was even a coworker there that encouraged me to look into a Lyme Disease diagnosis all these years later, something that has given me a better understanding of myself and an appreciation for my body and all it is capable of, even after pushing it much too hard for so many years.

With new shoes, a new sense of self and a running community I felt supported in, I laced up my new shoes, put some Skratch gummies in my new hydration pack filled with electrolytes and water, and went out for a run. I haven’t stopped running since. I ran through the next few years of my life, which happen to have been the best years of my life. I ran my first marathon and dissolved into tears at the finish line. I ran for no reason other than it brings me joy and because I love my body, and that has carried me across more finish lines than I ever thought possible. 

So, when I was presented with the opportunity to run the New York City Marathon, a bucket list dream that I thought would never come true, it was no question of whether or not I would do it. After years of struggling with my running journey, this is the greatest surprise I could have ever hoped for. And I am honored to be able to do it with the people who helped me become the runner I am now. And after years of being told I couldn’t run, and then running for all the wrong reasons, I am so excited to cross that finish line in New York for all the right ones.

I am not a naturally good runner, but I am a natural runner, simply because there is nothing that feels more natural to me than running. No matter how fast you are, how far you can run, or how long it’s been since your last jog, if you’re someone who has those running shoes sitting in your closet waiting for the next time you lace them up, you’re a runner, too. Take it easy on yourself, and tell that perfectionist part of your brain that so many of us have to take a break for a little while. And the next time you do lace up your shoes, make sure you are doing it for you. Listen to your body and give it a little extra love. You deserve it. Running, like life, feels best when you do it at your own pace, and you should be so proud of how far you have come. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

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