Blyss Champion ~ Meet Rebecca

This beautiful lady had ordered a trail skirt from the online store a few years ago after she saw an article in the local Asheville paper about Blyss. She then called me last summer to place another order. I remember her so well because not many people actually call me!
 Then, just this past spring, I was fortunate enough to be able to meet her and her husband in person at the Asheville Marathon. After talking with them at some length with my jaw hanging open in awe, my friend, Liz, turned to me and said, "we need to step up our game."  This lady embodies all that is inspiring, wanting to do better and believing in yourself. 
I'm so excited and grateful that she agreed to share her story here with us. I think most of us have this feeling that our particular story isn't important enough to re-tell, especially when it comes to doing something so totally outside of your comfort zone or not fitting the stereotypical mold of said story. It's the 'imposter syndrome' in a way...."well, I didn't run such and such a time" or "I walk/ran that race so I didn't really RUN it".
This month our champion sums it up nicely, "The truth is-every one of us has a WHY--- we just need to own it."
Meet our May Blyss Champion, Rebecca.
When and why did you start fast walking/ running? What is your story? 
I never thought that I would do anything athletic in my life, much less do anything competitive.  However, my story started at age 59 with gastric bypass surgery.  My surgery was well planned and truly successful.  To date, I have lost around 140 lbs.   At first, as my weight started to come off, I felt healthier and was able to get out for walks and became more active. I started my running/walking journey by competing in 5k races and then advanced to 10k races.  Then a year and a half later, in 2014, I fell ill.  I was diagnosed with an intestinal tumor.  With cancer on both sides of my family, I was petrified.  After surgery, my doctor came to my room and explained that my tumor was benign.  The procedure was more involved than expected and included a new gastric bypass.  During my recovery, I somehow became determined that if God could see me through two successful gastric bypass surgeries and a benign tumor, then I needed to start truly living and I needed to dig deep and set some goals.  My husband, Russell, and best cheerleader, has always been a distance runner with me the spectator.  At this point, I decided to start training and to complete a “one and done” half marathon.  I was 62 when I reached that goal.  The problem was that I enjoyed it so much that I have completed 13 more half marathons-one was not enough!  Crazy as it seems, at 64 years old, I set a new goal of completing a full marathon and 5 days after turning 65, I completed the Honolulu Marathon.  The tears couldn’t be stopped as I realized where I was and where I came from.  The joy of finishing and the sense of accomplishment overwhelmed me.  Please don’t think this happened without struggle, sacrifice, or pain (remember I am 65) but with the support of my wonderful family, friends, and my running family, I am able to have the joy of accomplishing what I have learned to love.
{ Rebecca before her gastric bypass }
Favorite distance? And/or favorite race you have walked/run?
My favorite distance is the half marathon at 13.1 miles.   Each time I complete a race, especially when doing it with friends and family, I always think that race may be my favorite.  The two races that keep coming back to me are my first half marathon, Long Beach Half Marathon, and my first full marathon, Honolulu Marathon.  Crossing the finish line is always an exciting time, but those two races marked a place in my life that I never knew I could go.  The motto for the Long Beach Half was “Nobody said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it.”  I still keep this saying on my refrigerator!
{ Rebecca is her Trail Skirt }
If you could go on a run anywhere, where would it be? Your ideal run?
I’ve been so blessed to be able to travel with family and friends all over the US to complete in races, however one day I would love to run in Chicago.
Favorite pre or post run food?
With my gastric bypass, I am still trying to figure out my diet and the correct way to “carb load”.  And for anyone reading this that has had a gastric bypass, please know that I know that I should not have bagels, but I just love seeing bagels at the finish line.  I just try to only eat a small portion.  My biggest struggle at the end of each race is dizziness and trying not to pass out.  So far, I have not found a quick nutritional solution to replenishing my body quickly and correctly.
 Do you cross train?
Sorry, but I do not cross train.  I do all my races with fast walking and very little running.  While I know that cross training is recommended, my schedule and the time commitment just do not allow for it.  It takes me almost twice as long doing my training as it does my husband and running friends.
Do you use a GPS or track your mileage and if so, which one?
I do track my mileage on my FitBit and with a GPS app on my phone.  I just started using a Garmin watch to help keep my pace steadier.
What have you learned/gained through running?
I have learned the joy of completing a goal that I never believed possible.  I have learned that I can push through discomfort and pain and find that I am stronger than I ever knew.
Most importantly, while I already knew this, at every race I realize again and again that everyone has a story.  Mirna Valerio, who is a motivational speaker for runners (and an amazing athlete!), asked the audience during a recent lecture “What is your WHY?”  The truth is-every one of us has a WHY--- we just need to own it.
Find Your Blyss,


  • Susan Wooten Gaines

    So proud of you and what you have accomplished!

  • Sarah Johnston Hudson

    WOW! I am so impressed!
    Way to go!

  • Rebecca Bowling

    Thank you for all the kind words and encouragement. I really appreciate it all.

  • Susan Allen

    Rebecca, you are an inspiration and always have been! From the classroom to the race course, she are a class act!

  • Debbie Robb

    I am so blessed to know Rebecca. She and her husband are part of our running family here in Franklin, NC. Rebecca is an encourager to everyone she meets. It does not matter the situation she will always help in any way she can. She leaves people “better” than when she found out . She is a giving, caring, generous lady. She puts get entire heart into whatever she is doing. I’m so proud of her ♥️.

Leave a comment