Laura Petrosillo, Marketing Manager, Aspera, an IBM Company – March 9, 2016

How does it feel to be the first woman to cross the finish line? It feels good! Like an accomplishment. This was the first time I ranked as the #1 woman at a race. What a great experience running alongside colleagues, fitness enthusiasts, novice runners, tech gurus and business leaders during the 4-kilometer loop at Amstel Park in Amsterdam last September.

Today I like to run. But I wasn’t born a runner and I haven’t always enjoyed it. Here’s the story of how I learned to love running.

Three years ago, I decided to open a new chapter of my professional life in the US. I packed up life as I knew it in France and touched down in San Francisco. The first steps weren’t easy: no job, no visa, no friends, a new environment, and a new culture. But then I saw the bridge! When I watched people running by the Marina toward the massive and beautiful Golden Gate Bridge, I couldn’t help but think it was an awesome thing to do. Everyone looked happy, healthy and fit. One day, I decided to lace up my shoes and join them. Between application letters, job interviews and online searches, running became my daily escape, and the bridge became an active element of motivation.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t start out an expert – in fact, I didn’t even run the first day! In the beginning, I walked. Then I bought a pair of running shoes and started to run a mile or so. One day, I even reached the bridge! A few weeks later, I ran back and forth from my place to the bridge. Was I becoming an addict? Maybe, but running was an ideal way to shake off the stress of my new life.

The bridge became such an important source of inspiration and helped me stay focused. I always wanted to do better than the previous day. I found myself thinking, “If today I can reach the bridge faster than yesterday, then tomorrow I can get a great job and succeed in this new challenge.” This became my mantra, and I discovered I was unconsciously becoming a good runner. Within a few weeks, I landed the job I was seeking and a working visa, but neither was a good reason to stop running. I kept running every other day and realized how much I was enjoying it. One thing leads to another, and I ended up registering for my first half marathon in 2013 – and I did a good job!

I hope my experience encourages you to get out there, breathe in the fresh air, and think about the goals you’re hoping to accomplish in life. It doesn’t matter if you win the race; the only thing that matters is that you participate.

Fauja Singh, a British Sikh centenarian marathon runner

“Anything worth doing is going to be difficult,” says Fauja Singh, a British Sikh centenarian marathon runner and world record holder in his age bracket.