By Beau Seegmiller
To say that running is a vital part of Astrid Gilbert’s life would not be an overstatement. When asked how running has changed for her over the years she simply says, “It’s not even an option anymore, it’s just what I do.” Throughout time, Astrid has drawn a vitality from running both physically and mentally that has nourished relationships, taught her life lessons, and, most importantly, helped her heal.
Astrid has been running since junior high, but it wasn’t until 2008 that she first signed up for a race: the Chicago Marathon. She will never forget coming through the finish line with bleachers on both sides full of spectators cheering for her as she finished with 44 seconds to spare on her goal time. She was hooked and has since run twenty marathons! She is currently training to run her first Boston Marathon in April. She had always assumed that she would never run a Boston qualifying time, and never even cared, until one of her friends qualified and lit the fire in her to go for it.
“Some of the best friendships I have made have been through running.” Astrid’s friend Kimmi in particular would get her to sign up for races. While living in Florida she joined a running group and acquired running buddies to travel with and they went from coast to coast running the Disney marathons in Florida and California, the Florida Keys Ragnar, and even the Chicago marathon. “Traveling with running buddies is the best!” She has even journeyed with fellow family runners to race in places as far off as Dublin. Her husband at the time wondered if they could travel without having to race.
In 2009, Astrid married her high school sweetheart, Rick. Though not a runner, Rick recognized the value that running brought to Astrid’s life and gave her his full support. He was the one who encouraged her to find a running club when they moved to Florida and even rescued her mid run when caught in a downpour. Rick’s untimely death in 2015 devastated Astrid.
“I thought I would lose my passion for running. But over time, I was able to lace up my shoes again.” Having an outlet like running helped her healing process. Sometimes, during a run, a memory would come to mind and “I found myself crying while running.” Astrid continued to run and moved forward.
Astrid has also valued the mental benefits of running through the years. “I have always been the type that is constantly busy. Running is the only time
that I am actually alone with my thoughts. I can solve a lot of life’s obstacles while pounding the pavement.” Running has helped her come to be in tune with her body and know when not to push it with injuries. Yet, she has also learned that persistence and dedication pay off. “I am capable of more than I thought.”
When Astrid first started running, she “used to run with a stopwatch (a little Timex)” and in baggy, cotton sweats. She remembers purchasing her first Garmin watch which was so big it was like “having a laptop on your wrist.” Now she can’t live without a GPS watch and wears quality running apparel. But through all the changes in technology and gear, running has been with her, in the ups and downs of life, adding an indispensable vibrancy to her life.