Happy Monday! I would love to share your stories, accomplishments or anything else you would like to share, please send them to barb.meely@steeplechasers.org.

I have really enjoyed doing these Member Spotlight Mondays. For me, it’s been fun learning about our fabulous members, sharing our experiences and reaching for new goals. This week is a special one since it has been a journey for me as well, to see a runner develop from successfully running her first trail run, and then a 10K and a 10-Miler, and finally to reach her newest goal – to run a trail half marathon. This week’s spotlight is on one of our wonderful members, Isabelle Doucet.

“I started running in my forties after a friend of mine got reacquainted with the sport after moving out of state. She would share stories of being out on trails, finding a new community of like-minded people, and ultimately rediscovering herself strong and happy after a stressful period in her life.

At that time, I was also dealing with stressors of my own. Within the span of a year, I lost my father, my beloved pet rabbit, and my soulmate, the horse I had spent most of my life with. My life completely changed and I was left dangling without purpose and riddled with anxiety from having spent so many years caretaking for the sick in my family. A daughter without a father, a pet owner without pets, a lifelong horse person without a horse. Even though I’ve had anxiety my entire life, the compounded grief and emptiness I suffered within such a short time left me exhausted and completely lost.

It was at that moment that my friend suggested I give running a try. I signed up for a local 5k program and got going.

“I started running literally ten seconds at a time.”

I was so depleted mentally and physically that ten seconds was pretty much the only thing I could do at that point. I honestly don’t know where the strength came from, but I kept showing up every week to run my ten seconds run/walk intervals.

As the weeks passed, ten seconds turned into fifteen, which turned into twenty, and a few weeks later turned into a full minute.

I remember the very first time I was able to run a minute! I was so excited and proud of myself! I ran my first 5K in June of 2018 with the friend who had gotten me into running by my side. She traveled all the way from New Mexico to do the run with me. This woman who could not run in March, ran/walked a 5k in June in a little over 40 minutes!

“Once I was done with the 5K, I was hooked!”

That’s when I started looking for my own running tribe. I knew enough about running to know that I wanted to do trails. I wasn’t much into road running and trail running was more like what I had spent my life doing on a horse. That’s when I found the Frederick Steeplechasers after doing a search online and I immediately emailed the trail group.

Not even a day later, I received an email from some of the kindest and supportive people I now know. They invited me to join them for a run and made me feel good about what I was able to do at the time, which was much less than what they were capable of. But it didn’t matter! They encouraged me to keep going, no matter what was going on at the moment.

I decided I wanted to run a half marathon. Even with these trying times with COVID, I was happy the Steeplechasers still offered support and programs so I signed up for the virtual half marathon training group. I am overjoyed to write that I just ran my very first half marathon! [Oct 2020]

What propelled me forward that day was the support of the same strong, passionate, caring runners who wrote back to me three years ago and the addition of new trail runners I have made along the way.

“I still tear up when thinking about my half marathon and all the support and kindness I have received.”

You see, as we all know well, there are not many “in-person” races these days, so my trail sisters got together and created a full race-day atmosphere, complete with a crew, an aid station, signs, cow bells, finishing line, medals, flowers, and even an after party! Socially-distanced of course! I can officially say that October 4, 2020, (which is also my father’s birthday), will forever be one of my most favorite days of my life.

Isabelle Doucet
Isabelle Doucet finishing her first-ever half marathon with her trail sisters by her side.

“Thank you, running, for helping me find myself again.”