Meet The Woman Who Started It All

It was June of 2013 when I saw first hand how running could change your life. Out of the blue, my best friend Irene decided she was going to join Team in Training and run the Rock N Roll San Diego Marathon. Stunned is the word I would use to describe my reaction when she told me that she was going to run a marathon. She wasn't a runner? Why would she want to run a marathon? I realize now that you really don't need a "good" or even rational reason to run a marathon, you just either need something to run from or something to run towards. We both had that.

Life isn't easy. Everyone at some point or another will have to deal, cope and navigate difficult, heart breaking, traumatizing, and complicated family dynamics and relationships. My life has been anything but smooth sailing but one thing I learned is that when you find yourself surrounded with people who, even though they may not know the right thing to say or do, as long as they care and stand beside you (OK and often times drag you forward), then you'll be OK. Irene is one of those people. The things we have been through together from our teens to young twenty somethings will leave your jaw on the floor. Nothing has been picture perfect and though love was never something that lacked from either of our lives, we both got dealt some pretty difficult cards. I wouldn't have made it without her. She's often times the light at the end of my tunnel and one of the people that I'm really grateful to have in my corner.

Watching Irene cross the finish line of her first marathon was one of the best days of my life because that was the day I started thinking about running myself. (Selfish, yes. But that's what Irene does. She motivates and inspires you to look within and be a better person.) I stood there holding a mediocre sign, witnessing the tornado of emotions, the drive, determination, pain, suffering and pride in all the runners eyes as they approached the finish line, and I couldn't help but find myself swept up in their accomplishments. We waited what felt like forever, stressed and anxious that we would miss her, and when she approached, a wave of emotions washed over her. Joy, relief, happiness, pain, pride, and love were apparent in her eyes as she burst into tears and crossed the finish line of her first marathon like a champion. I have never been so proud, amazed or inspired by another human being in my life.

26 miles @irenejrojas what a badass!!!!!! #rocknrollsd #RunSelfieRepeat #teamintraining

A photo posted by Kelly Roberts (@kellykkroberts) on

I would never had started running if it weren't for Irene's decision to run a marathon. It was Irene who talked me into running my first half marathon and it was Irene who told me what I needed to hear when I felt like giving up. Running was impossible but Irene always knew what to say. She's the most patient and supportive woman I've ever had the pleasure of knowing and I am forever indebted to her love, support and friendship.

Irene and I as little children being ridiculously adorable. Irene is in the blue top and I'm in the blonde pigtails and orange skirt.

Irene and I as little children being ridiculously adorable. Irene is in the blue top and I'm in the blonde pigtails and orange skirt.

She now lives in Santiago, Chile and I in New York City. (with a beautiful two and a half month stint in Los Angeles, California. #Bi-Coastal) Even though we are countries apart, we talk almost every week. She was actually texting with me through the entire NYC Marathon last year, at one point texting me, "PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY! YOU'RE GOING TO BREAK 4 HOURS!" Even though she's younger than me, she's someone I've always looked up to and aspired to be like. She's calm, cool, collected, hilarious and content with any situation. It's really hard to go an entire year not seeing one another but every time we get back together, it's like no time has passed at all.

Real conversation between my Sister Samantha and Irene during the 2014 NYC Marathon.

Real conversation between my Sister Samantha and Irene during the 2014 NYC Marathon.

I believe that family isn't just made up of the people who are tied to you by blood. I think family is anyone who chooses to stand with you and who give their souls to you. They are the people who are willing to forgive you, love you, and go through life with you no matter how awful, terrible or difficult life gets. Irene and her family are my family. I would drop everything to be there for them and I am forever indebted to her for how much she has shaped and changed my life.

I don't think we celebrate our families enough. Every single day could be our last one (hard to believe I know) and it's important that you remember to tell your people how much you love and appreciate them! So today, I wanted to take a minute to celebrate my best friend Irene because she has quite literally done that for me for over 18 years.
 If you do anything today, tell your people how much you love them.

Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.

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Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.