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

My name is Kelly Roberts and I am a 25 year old New York City resident. My story made headlines when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the NYC Half Marathon. My blog, is bursting with humor and personal stories that lend an insight into the world of running and lead you to believe that just about anyone, regardless of their fitness level, can and should fall in love with running. Though currently an avid runner, I never would have predicted I would run marathons. I was the kid who used to hide in the bushes or play dead to get out of running the mile in school. I HATED running. But running has given me a purpose. It’s shown me that I really am limitless. In the two years since I started running, I’ve run multiple half marathons, 10ks, and 5ks, and two full marathons. My mission is to inspire others to find the courage to say yes to themselves all the while making them laugh hysterically because laughing is the solution to everything.