“I couldn’t run for 30 seconds 5 years ago, now I can go for 34 miles. Some people call it crazy, I call it happy. I feed off the energy, meeting new people, and hearing their stories. The outreach in the running community makes you want to strive for more.”
Her smile says it all. There’s no mistaking that sense of joy and happiness as Lisa Danner puts one foot in front of the other. Most of y’all know the smile I’m speaking of. You’ll see her at every group run and race in town – and then some.
Lisa decided to make a change in August 2015 at age 39 and has never looked back since. Her husband Charles encouraged her to join a Couch to 5K program while they were living in Hawaii. Around that time her three kids were grown and out of the house and she was looking for something to help fill that void. She was also looking to lose weight and come off of her blood pressure and high cholesterol medications.
She enjoyed running so much that her Couch to 5K turned into a Couch to Half Marathon! A month after that she ran the famous full marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii. In just 3-4 months, she was off of her medications, had lost 25 pounds, and didn’t want to go back to “that place.”
In 2016 she ran several more half and full marathons and ended up shaving 1 hour and 10 minutes off of her marathon time!
In January 2018 she participated in another weight loss program where she lost 25 more pounds. She realized that a healthy diet consisting of high protein, high fats, and no carbs, dairy or sugar contributed to her feeling more alive and wanting to be more active.
Since January of this year she has run 938 miles! She plans to break 1,000 this weekend while running her longest race yet – a 24 hour ultra called The General and the Mrs. Run for the Heroes at Omaha Brewery. Her goal is to run 100 miles in 24 hours.
Her other goals this year are to complete 4 triathlons and The Big 50 at Pine Mountain in October. “It’s all about taking on your fears and not letting them win,” she says. She was very inspired at the Women Who Tri Expo this year where she met so many inspiring women who have accomplished so much and gave such good advice for how to succeed. If you know Lisa you know that she is one such woman. She is always willing to help others reach their goals as she can tell you it is totally worth it. Personally, she encouraged me to run so many more races than I planned to this year because of her enthusiastic and welcoming attitude.
“I just want to pay it forward. To teach the next person and then the next. I remind newbies to take it one day at a time, to keep going, and that I was once where you are now. Never, ever give up.”
Something else you should know about Lisa is that she has an L4-L5 slipped disc and had surgery in October 2017. She couldn’t run for 30 days, but immediately started back up on day 31. She exclaims, “You can’t let the pain control you or have excuses.” Some of those excuses we can tend to repeat is that it’s so hard to eat healthy or I don’t have time. Not for Lisa – some of y’all might be familiar with her “Mary Poppins bag.” You will find it full of protein bars, avocados, salad dressing, and really anything else you may need. Always being on the go with training and races, Lisa figured out how to still eat a balanced diet. She is also a mean meal prepper and has occasionally done Sunday Salads at her house where people come over and all bring one item and create salad jars together for the week. Oh, and she also has a full-time job as a field manager. There is always time.
For recovery she owes a lot to yoga as it helps her spiritually and brings her to her resting place - "that calm," she says.
“Running brought our family closer together. My happiest place is with them on Monday and Wednesday night group runs because we help and encourage each other.”
Her other running family is with the early risers – the amazing runners of Columbus - at 5am group runs. “I love everybody,” she says with her smile. Some of her favorite memories are the long ultra runs on Saturdays such as the most recent one for runner Troy Simpson who just retired from the Army. The group ran 34 miles or whatever each individual felt they could do, provided lots of snacks and drinks, hung out, laughed, and at the end they all took turns carrying the U.S. flag while running. She says it gave her chills. She loves long runs better than races because you get to know others on a personal level and go through many special moments together.
“I also love watching older people make it through an all night ultra and hear their stories. Friendships are created and there’s so much good food!”
She also wants to thank Tony Taylor for welcoming her into the group and another thank you to Carolee and Reggie Luther for everything they do because they make such an impact in the community.
Her last words of wisdom are, “I don’t make excuses cause I don’t want to go back to my bad habits. Have many buddies help you, but remember I’m also responsible for me so some days I do it by myself. Do the kind of exercise that makes YOU happy and you feel good at.”
We’re all rooting for you this weekend Lisa! If you’re willing to come out and cheer her on or even run a few laps with her (reminder: there’s BEER at Omaha ;), she would be so grateful! She will be racing from Saturday at 2pm to Sunday at 2pm. Just look for that smile – you can’t miss her.