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She knew she needed to make a change, so she started running

Kirsty Hastings-Jones signed up for a the Publix Savannah Women's 5K to start making changes in her life to help her feel and become more healthy. Now she is training towards a marathon.

Running has the ability to change lives. It can be a way to find community and connect with others, but can also help you discover yourself. The Publix Savannah Women’s Half & 5K has been designed to help first-time race runners feel comfortable and empowered to set a goal and achieve it.

For Kirsty Hastings-Jones registering for the Publix Savannah Women’s 5K was the starting point of her life-changing running journey.

Kirsty is originally from England and moved to the United States for college. After marrying, she and her husband decided to make Savannah their new home. Kirsty started interning at a local TV station then after a year was promoted to a producer, a position she has held for the last three years.

“With the mixture of sitting at a desk some days for 12 hours at a time while eating and then going home and sleeping, I started to put on weight,” says Kirsty.

She recognized a change needed to be made, so she picked up the phone and called her mom back in England for a long heart-to-heart that led her to discover her new love of running.

“I wanted to get out more, enjoy life and overall be living a healthy life--so my mom and I set the goal of running the Disney Marathon,”

Kirsty knew that if she didn’t make the commitment right away, there was a chance she never would, so Kirsty pulled up Facebook and searched for running events. This Facebook search would lead her to the Publix Savannah Women’s Half & 5K.

“It was right there and seemed perfect. I loved that it was a women’s race and about empowering women. I knew I had to do this one.”

Without any real training and about a week of running under her belt, Kirsty showed up early to the start line of the 5K, with nervousness and excitement coursing through her body.

“I had my husband with me and as everyone was gathering, I left him to go join the other runners. I didn’t really know what to expect but I immediately made friends with the other women waiting. I had good conversations with the people around me. Everyone was cheering each other on, creating the feeling that everyone was in it together.”

Then the gun went off and Kirsty was taking on her first race.

“Whenever I am running two things always pop into my head,” says Kirsty, “first is Dory from Finding Nemo with her saying “just keep swimming.” The other is a quote from the movie Unbroken: “if I can take it, I can make it.”

Kirsty with her medal after completing the Publix Savannah Women's 5K.

Kirsty’s rule for herself is to just never stop running.

“I can’t stop going--even if it’s just a small jog, it’s still a running motion and it’ll get me to the finish line.”

After 38 minutes, Kirsty was crossing the finish line at Forsyth Park and was one step closer to her goal of running a marathon.

“I was buzzing when I finished. I had the running bug and it hasn’t left me since,” she says. “Plus, I got that lovely medal and I just want to keep adding to the collection!”

Still on her post-race runner’s high, Kirsty set off to the gym to create her own running regimen.

“I was at The Zoo, a local gym, and saw my class instructor Sarah had the Publix Savannah Women’s Half & 5K tote bag. So, we started sharing our stories and experience about the race.”

After swapping stories of the race Kirsty was invited to try out a running group, Craving Pavement, which she has been loyal to as a part of her training ever since.

“I was on the outside looking in for so long, thinking that runners are intimidating people, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. They are just so lovely and supportive. I look forward to going to the running group on Saturday mornings and meeting new people and connecting with some really great people.”

Since running in the Publix Savannah Women’s Half, Kirsty has conquered her second race, a 10K in England with her mother.

Kirsty with mom after completing their first race together, a 10K in England!

“It had only been a few short months between the races, but so much had changed since then for me. I felt more confident and had the ladies cheering me on back in the states.”

Kirsty is continuing her running quest with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Savannah in November. She then aims to tackle the Disney Marathon with her mother in January.

“There was a time when I though a 5K would be impossible, but I did it. When you start you want to immediately be as good as everyone else, but from the start I knew I had a long way to go so it’s made me be okay within myself as I train. Everyone has to start somewhere, but you’ve just got to start, and if I stay on-track I will be at the finish line completing my goal of running a marathon.”

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