Sole Stories: Leeann Sands

Everyone has a story. For some it’s a story of wanting something more, for others it’s a story full of tears, heart and determination. Our series “Sole Stories” will give you a glimpse into what drives women to change their lives and their “soles.” BGR!: How did you start running? LS: I started running about two years ago, out of the blue because a great friend, Randi, invited me to. I didn’t have any running “gear,” proper shoes or a clue of what I would feel like after my first time out. I signed up for a women’s 5K that was going to happen 2 weeks after I got off the couch and started running and I haven’t looked back. My first time out I ran about three miles and it felt great, I was slow, and steady and was very proud that I could run without stopping. BGR!: Why do you run? LS: I run because it was something I never thought I could do. I wanted something to challenge myself and help me lose weight after having my twin girls. The first time I was asked to run, I said the dreaded words, “I can’t run.”  Then I remember that I watched my girls, who were born at 28 weeks, grow in incubators in the NICU for three months and had they ever *said* “can’t” they would of never made it home. So I run now for them, every time I cross a finish line at a race, I thank them for their “can do” attitude that has rubbed off on me. BGR!: You’re the mother of twin girls, how do you juggle your career, motherhood, being a wife and running? LS: My husband is very supportive of my running, he actually used to be the “runner” of our family and now I have taken the torch. I find time to run in the early mornings during the week and weekend. Running makes me feel great. When you feel great everything else falls into place. BGR!: Did you run during your pregnancy? How did it help with your pregnancy? LS: I did not run before I was pregnant, I didn’t even want to park more than 10 feet from an entry way to a store. So, I absolutely was not interested in running when I was pregnant. In hindsight, running would have been great exercise for me, since I gained 70 pounds during my pregnancy and gave birth 12 weeks early!!! I started running when the girls were just over a year old and it definitely has helped me get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. BGR!: What do your girls think about all the running? Do you take them along on runs? LS: I have only taken the girls out one time running with me in their stroller and it was tough, I didn’t/don’t have a “real jogger,” so I never did it again. The thought of pushing 50 pounds of kids plus a 30 pound stroller on hills doesn’t really excite me! The girls know when I go running, when I come home they say, “Mommy exercise?!”. BGR!: Besides running, what other exercises are a part of your fitness routine? LS: I recently completed the 60-day Insanity Work Out DVDs. This was another challenge for me, because I have never been interested in working out in front of the television. I will probably do a second round of it. The results were great, it gave me great upper body strength and was a great way to cross train during the summer, when it was too hot to run. BGR!: You’re an Black Girls RUN! Ambassador in Baltimore. What made you want to become part of the movement? LS: When I first was introduced to the Black Girls RUN! fan page, the mission to raise awareness immediately impressed me. I was already a part of a running group in Baltimore and I invited all of them and my lady runner friends in other states to join the page, because the information, the support and connections were great. I wasn’t sure I was qualified to be an Ambassador, since I was such a “new” runner, but what I was sure of was that I wanted to help ladies in my local area feel the rush, the success and the amazing feelings I get from hitting the pavement. The first meet up we had in Baltimore was awesome; there were runners of all paces, ages and experience.  I knew if I could just encourage one person to go the extra “mile” I would be doing what someone had done for me two years ago and hopefully they would make this a part of their lifestyle. BGR!: What’s the one thing you can’t run without? GUM…Dentyne Ice chicklet style gum. I refresh my gum every two miles! BGR!: What keeps you motivated during long runs? LS: Run buddies are my motivation. I dislike running on my own for long runs (5 miles or more). I feel like I need someone to challenge me and hold me accountable for every step. I love looking around and seeing other ladies beat the pavement up, that keeps me going! BGR!: What’s on your running playlist? LS: I have a mix of random R&B, rap and gospel, on my playlist, but I ALWAYS start with Alicia Keys’ and Jay Z’, “Empire State of Mind.” There is something about that song that just gets me motivated when I start (*singing* “concrete jungle where dreams are made of…”). I have three “power songs” that I can skip ahead to when I need a boost.   1.“All I Do Is Win” (I typically use this when I have a tough hill), 2. “ Look At Me Now” (I call this finish line music) and 3.“Grateful” (This helps me when I feel like I want to stop running, just a reminder of how thankful I am to have feet to run, breath to carry me and the strength to keep going).


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