Our @SPARKLYSOULINC Blogger of the Month for March 2015 is Julie of @uleryruns! Read of her story of feeding the fire in your soul and redefining what is normal! #sparklysoulbloggerofthemonth #sparklysoulheadbands

We are excited to announce our Sparkly Soul Blogger of the Month for March 2015!
Julie Ann Ulery of Ulery Runs – http://www.uleryruns.com
@uleryrunsUlery 1
Here is her story of awesomeness in her own words …
First, I don’t believe in normal. What we consider “normal” in my family is likely vastly different than what your family considers “normal.” And that is just here in America. Consider a family over in Europe or Asia. I’ve always bucked peoples’ conception of “normal,” and I will continue to do so… because “normal” means accepting where you are and being OK with that. Not me, I want to be better.I had my only child back in 2011. In 2010, I ran my personal best marathon time and won the Lake Geneva Marathon in a time of 3:01:30. After I had my son, my husband and I settled into the new “normal” of new parenting. I ran a few half marathons and I continued to get up at 4:00 AM to run every day. Some would call that crazy, but it has been my normal for 18 years now. How many high school seniors do you know that would voluntarily get up at 4:30 AM to run 6 miles before school started? I did. I owned it and it was a part of who I was. For me it is the best part of my day and it makes me feel alive. For you it is probably something different that drives you and feeds your passion for living…and I am here to tell you that it is OK! In fact, that is great! As long as you have something that does that for you…something that feeds the fire in your soul, makes you want to be better, makes you feel alive and makes you want to grow each & every day.

Where am I now? Well, After a couple years of just running to run and learning how to be a mother (which by the way I am still learning…definitely a continuous learning curve in that part of life), my fire started dwindling and I decided it was time to add some fuel. I didn’t want to add twigs either, I wanted to add 100 year old tree trunks! However, as we all know, if you throw a huge log on a dying fire, you’re not doing yourself any favors. You have to start small and gradually the fire will grow.

ulery4I started small. January of 2014 I returned to the full marathon. I told everyone my goal was to finish because I didn’t want to let anyone down. I am sure they all knew better. This is the woman who ran Chicago as her first marathon in 2004 without training and qualified for Boston. I don’t settle for average. I finished in a respectable time of 3:21. The fire started burning a little hotter and I picked up my training pace. To make a long story short, 2014 has been quite the year for me and my family.

In my running career, I ran 3 more marathons. My best time being 3:05 at Grandma’s Marathon in June. Perhaps what I am most proud of is completing my first 50K in Nashville, finishing in 4:02, taking 1st female and 3rd overall. In my professional and personal life, I have gone from working full-time as a Clinical Dietitian in acute care to being a full-time mom, working full-time on my MBA and starting my own business as a health, fitness & running coach. It is a good thing I thrive on change! I can honestly say that as challenging as 2014 has been, I have never been happier. My relationships with my family, my husband and my son fill my heart with joy. My running is not quite where I want it to be, but I have plans to change that and I am absolutely loving what I am doing with my business. Being able to help others while sharing my passion has been more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined. 
ulery 2Why the blog? I want to share my story. I want to inspire others to challenge their “normal,” especially women who tend to put everyone else first. We are nurturers and caregivers by nature and often sacrifice our own health and wellness at the expense of fulfilling multiple roles in life. I hope that I can be proof that you can do both. As women, if we don’t take care of ourselves, and we aren’t going to be able to take care of those around us. Just remember, there is no such thing as normal. Normal creates artificial boundaries and restrictions. Be yourself, challenge yourself & nurture yourself. And if you need a partner in your journey, I sincerely hope that I can help.

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UPDATE: I finally broke 3 hours at the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon in a time of 2:58:49 and 5th overall female (1st in age group)! Woohoo! My next race is The Boston Marathon on April 20th!
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