‘I’m not a loser’: Why she uses a unique reward

Shannon Lindsley’s run of strength-building victories began in the Pike and Rose neighborhood. So did the search for a path.

Taking inspiration from the streets of Washington, the 38-year-old planned to run for Miles 25 and 50 of the Portland Marathon three years ago. But she got a last-minute offer to work as a barista at Starbucks, so she passed on the challenge. Now, she’s aiming for the 100-milers.

It’s a long way from the Greek diet she grew up on, where bananas, grapes and melons were staples. That said, Lindsley has always loved to eat, and she’s always loved the gym.

At the end of the day, the lifelong runner realized she could never have her Greek food and travel all the way to Oregon, the marathon’s planned destination, to participate in the race with a friend. She had to go it alone.

So she left town for a week to learn some form of running so she could join in without the help of a buddy. Her “straight-ass theory” to doing that: Let people “know the instant you were coming back,” that you would “always run.”

“I’m not a loser,” she said, which you can tell from the dozens of personal trainers and coaches who have been emailing, calling and asking her to run or run more. She added that her running buddies don’t even consider her a runner anymore.

She’s happily distracted while she trains, watching Bravo, playing cards, making sandwiches — wherever she can spare time. On a recent Sunday, she had it; she hit the trail at Unbridled Hill. She considered participating in that year’s Road Runners Club of America Sprint Triathlon course in Virginia Beach. But in the end, she couldn’t work it in. She needed to run the Pike and Rose course to catch up to the other Washingtonans who’d done the 2.5-mile-long climb.

That turned out to be a good call. Lindsley was posting some of her best-ever results in the crawl portion of the race.

“My time in that section of the race was three minutes and 50 seconds. And the finish time was 11 minutes and 56 seconds,” she said.

That’s a line in the sand.

But how many of her friends say they aren’t interested in a runner, or aren’t willing to throw in their two cents on Lindsley’s latest record? Well, she said she got an email from one of them “who said, ‘I’m super happy for you that you did really well, and I’m super not interested in running with you.’”

She chuckled and thought, “What would be my response to that?”

She took a hard look at a “self-esteem” workout during her time in Portland; she has a heck of a few bodybuilder friends. In the past few years, she’s made strides with them in their fat- and muscle-building rituals. She thinks about the bodybuilder pair in particular; all together, they hold 10-plus local marathons.

“They were going to do 2Ks and half marathons, and that got me thinking, you know, you could run with me as a partner and you would get less invested in the process than you would be in your own friends,” she said.

She figured a race could be worth a small monetary reward, and the person who finished ahead of her could get an annual increment of $1 every year for as long as she’s running. After those finishes, she’d keep the prize money for herself.

“I thought it was a great gift,” she said.

Lindsley couldn’t believe how a simple gift could inspire hundreds of runners, shape their social circles.

“It’s beautiful to see it all, how the ripple effects are really beautiful and the idea of doing something just for the sake of yourself.”

So she proposed the idea at a conference — not this year, but next year — and watched hundreds of runners use it as motivation.

There’s also value in putting yourself out there, Lindsley said. Her events are free, and she gives away race shirts, T-shirts and sweatbands for kids, and earmarked

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