SHEPHERDSTOWN - One local woman never thought completing a race would change her life, but it did. Teri Biebel ran her first 10K last year at the Freedom's Run.
Biebel had been gaining weight for years. Her habit of munching chips while playing on the computer was catching up with her. When she finally topped out at 204 pounds, she decided to join Weight Watchers.
"This is not the ideal weight for a woman 5-2," Biebel said.
Her next door neighbor, Lisa Kingsbury, also joined that same night. They talked more that night than they had in the three years they had been neighbors.
They shared the desire to lose weight and they decided to support each other as exercise buddies.
They started by walking around their neighborhood. Then they added short bursts of jogging. As time passed, they increased their distances and upped their endurance and decided to enter their first 5K.
Biebel's two daughters, Jennifer and Amanda, and husband Don all cheered her across the finish line. She was thrilled. She had never before experienced such pride in her athletic ability. She could hardly believe she had made it. Then she did it again, this time a little faster and the pounds began dropping off.
"What a fantastic feeling," Biebel said.
She had found a new sport, made new friends, which she refers to as her "running sisters." Biebel has completed many races and has incorporated running into her daily routine. She is currently training to run the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October. This year she will enter the Freedom'sn half marathon as part of her training.
Biebel fondly recalls the Oktoberfest party after last year's Freedom Run.
She stood overlooking the Rumsey Bridge with a beautiful blue sky and autumn leaves making a perfect picture.
"This is where I live," she said.
She said it was as if the new found energy helped her to see and appreciate her familiar surroundings.
The Freedom's Run organizing team is led by a local physician Dr. Mark Cucuzzella. He has assisted Biebel in finding a suitable pair of running shoes and has offered her training ideas. He is an avid running supporter.
Running has helped Biebel find some "freedom" of her own. She is free from fatigue. Running has revitalized her, and she holds her head high as she struts her new toned physique. Biebel has also rid herself of the fear of heart conditions that have plagued her family.
Biebel can proudly say that she is taking care of herself and doing all she can to prevent developing heart disease.
You can follow Teri's progress on the Heart and Stroke Foundation's website and watch her tomorrow in the Freedom's Run half marathon.