It’s about an active lifestyle, not an elite performance.
Hi! I’m Julie aka ROJ (Republic of Julie) and I’m a runner from Akron, Ohio. By day I work as a Drug and Alcohol counselor. I am actually licensed as both a mental health counselor and chemical dependency counselor. It’s incredibly rewarding work and I honestly look forward to going in each day. People often ask what my career goal is, but to be honest, I don’t have one right now. I’m working on living in the moment and enjoying what I worked for and currently have before implying “this isn’t enough”, because it really is more than enough most days and I’m very thankful and lucky.
My official partner in crime is my 6 year old black & white papillon, Emme Award Winning Oom (AKA Emme or Emily). She tops in at a whopping 5 pounds – when she actually eats. Despite being dainty she is apparently part mountain goat and is happiest when we’re out on the trails together.
ROJ Running began in 2009, as a way to keep myself accountable while training for my first marathon (Niagara Falls International). ROJ stands for Republic of Julie and is a name my Mom and friends gave me in high school. All my life my Mom has said I live in my own little world, and don’t always play by other people’s rules. In school my friends and I created a fake country/territories for ourselves and they called mine ROJ. To this day it’s stuck with me. It’s pronounced as one word, much like a nick name for Roger.
In 2007 I was in grad school at Kent State University and the campus company where I worked sponsored a team for Relay for Life. While volunteering with friends I began talking and walking around the quarter mile track. After three laps I challenged myself to run a lap. It was the toughest thing I had faced in a while. Despite recently losing nearly 50 pounds in a “Biggest Loser” style contest sponsored by the same employer, exercise was a foreign concept. The more I did this 3:1 pattern, the more I realized if the hardest thing I had to do was run a quarter of a mile each hour I had a really lucky life! My pattern continued for 5 hours, at which point I collapsed, slept for 2 hours, and nearly puked. Then I woke and walked 3 more hours. From that night on I was in love with running and signed up for my first race the following weekend.
Over the years I have completed countless 5Ks, over 25 half marathons (my favorite distance), two marathons, and 4 50Ks. One day I would like to do a 50 miler or 100K. My running is conducted on both roads and trails, but I honestly prefer trails. For most of 2012-2014 I was nursing a long term hamstring injury and started doing my longer distances at a hike/walk pace. It was originally a struggle not to run, but I came to realize it is a gift to be out there at all and I will take what I can and keep moving forward. I’m still doing my “long runs” as more of a hike/walk, but that’s no one’s business except my own and if it keeps me out there for more races then I call it a solid plan.
Outside of running I have also finished several sprint triathlons with plans for a 70.3 completion one day. When I’m not running I am looking for new ways to stay fit and active, either through cycling, swimming, hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, Zumba or my next great discovery. Most recently a discovery of pole fitness and obstacle course racing has been made and I am very excited to dive into those words in the coming months and 2015 season.
As mentioned above, in 2007 I went from approximately 180 pounds and nearly 50% body fat to about 130 pounds and 20-some %. I did keep the weight off for several months before health complications and life set me up for the journey I am still on today…
Late 2007 I began to feel ill and my running began to suffer. After months of questions and doctors I had my gallbladder removed in early 2008. Over the next few years my weight has gone up and down between 140 to 160 due to excuses of stress, work, school, poor eating and health. Early 2012 I had a cardiac ablation for WPW (Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome). In the aftermath I began noticing a slew of food issues and allergies. Later the same year I severely hurt my hamstring, piriformis and ITB. Needless to say, I was frustrated. I currently weigh 156 pounds and have 32% body fat. Despite being told I “need” to lose about 20 more pounds, I’m very happy with the way I look and I owe it to my own hard work and the assistance of Weight Watchers. All my medical numbers are average to great and I regularly take part in challenging physical events. Still, I am determined to put an end to any frequent unhealthy habits and commit to consistent positive eating and training. Which means, yes I will eat chocolate and cheesy fries, but not 3 times a week. Or maybe I will, but then I get “back on track” not to lose weight, not to impress others, not out of guilt, but because I have learned ways to keep my body happy and performing in ways to keep me happy too.
If you like what you’ve read and want to keep up on the latest, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, following me on Twitter, or liking my Facebook page. I also post my craft and recipe ideas over on Pinterest, and use Instagram. For a professional perspective, make sure you check out “ROJ in the Media“.
BTW you can always drop me a line at Julie@ROJRunning.com.