UPDATE: Laurie Campobasso’s mom passed away recently. Tacoma Runners and her friends are working to raise support for Campobasso.
Laurie Campobasso always wanted to be more active, but her knees kept getting in the way.
“I had horrible knees, and that is one of the reasons I was extremely overweight,” the 45-year-old Tacoma resident said. “I couldn’t exercise, and I didn’t eat very well.”
That started to change in January 2013, when she had a total knee replacement. Not long after, she felt as if she was mobile enough to start walking with her dogs, a pair of papillons named Teaka and Princess.
Four months after the surgery, Campobasso and her walking partners signed up for a 5-kilometer run in Auburn called the Petpalooza.
Campobasso, who works in the call center at World Vision, needed more than an hour to finish, but she loved it. The next day she was online looking for running clubs and more races.
Campobasso has used running and walking to lose more than 70 pounds. (She said she weighed at least 275 pounds before her knee surgery.)
She said finding the Tacoma Runners was a pivotal moment in journey. She ran and walked with the group on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings. And by the end of 2014, she signed up for her first half marathon.
“Tacoma Runners accepted me day one even though my doctor said I could only walk,” Campobasso said.
Over the past 26 months, Campobasso has finished 18 half marathons and keeps looking for new challenges. In July she plans to run Quadzilla in Portland. At this event, runners participate in four half marathons in four days.
We recently caught up with Campobasso to ask her a few questions about her passion for racing and how it changed her life.
Q. What sort of transformations have you noticed in yourself?
A. I’ve lost weight. I have a lot more energy now. My sleep apnea is pretty much under control. My overall health is better. If I get stressed out I just go for a walk-run, and any kind of problem you have, you can pretty much fix it by being out there thinking. … And with Tacoma Runners I’ve gone from being really shy to loving to interact with people
Q. How has your eating changed as you’ve started running more?
A. I started using a program called Retrofit and I really like it because it talks about a balanced plate and how to eat healthier. Half a plate of vegetables, a quarter plate of protein and the other quarter is like rice or potatoes or something like that. … You can do all the workouts you want, but you can totally screw it up in the kitchen. It’s made an impact for me.
Q. Is changing your eating habits harder than changing your exercise habits?
A. Yeah, but it wasn’t too bad. I have enough variety to make it enjoyable.
Q. You’re using the Galloway Method of running and walking, what do you hope to get from that?
A. I want to get faster and faster and get through the races more smoothly without feeling like you’re going to die.
Q. You ran your first 10K at Dash Point State Park. What was that like?
A. It was horrible. It’s a trail run, and you are going up and down stairs that are not even. You are climbing over trees, up over stumps, up and down hills. Trails are definitely not my thing. But I survived it. I did another trail run after that, but I also did two on the street, and I really liked that. Then some people at Tacoma Runners started telling me I needed to do a half marathon.
Q. So you plan on running four half marathons in four days in July. How confident are you that you can pull that off?
A. I’ve run back-to-back half marathons twice before. At the end of each one I was like, “OK, I’m dead.” Then I get something to eat, and a few hours later, I’m like, “When’s the next one.”
Q. What advice would you give somebody who asked about your success?
A. You just have to get started. You have to make a solid commitment that no matter how hard it is you are going to follow through. I started with a half hour with my dogs. Then when that got easy I’d go 10 minutes longer, then 10 minutes longer. … Just keep pushing yourself toward your goal.
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