Name: Jessica Carranza-Pino
Hometown: Magdalena, New Mexico
Occupation: Librarian and Professional Photographer
Time Running: 5 years
Reason for Running: I began running as a way to get through my grief, and I ended up running as a way to honor and fully appreciate life.
I started running in June 2017 when I was almost 32 years old, a few months before I was diagnosed with epilepsy, but while I was experiencing symptoms. I had begun having seizures a few months before, in April 2017, so I was going through a health crisis and I had no idea what was wrong with me. It felt like the rug had been pulled out from underneath me. I couldn’t work, I had to move out of my home, my kids were worried, and I was in a place where I had lost my sense of self.
When I started running, I had been told that I might have multiple sclerosis and/or a brain malformation. I was even treated for typhoid fever. I was physically and emotionally deteriorating with no real answers as to why this was happening to me. I had a million “what if ” questions going through my mind, and running empowered me when I felt like I had zero control of my life.
While my doctors were still struggling to determine my diagnosis, I remember very clearly that I took a walk to the end of the dirt driveway to check the mail. I was in bad shape—shaking with tremors. It just so happened that the City of Lakes State Triathlon was in full swing that morning and the racers went by my mailbox.
As I watched people effortlessly ride their bikes past me, I felt sick with jealousy and anger. I couldn’t stand how pathetic I felt I had become. As I turned to walk back to my house, I suddenly had an epiphany—next year, no matter what, I would do that triathlon. I was not going to let my illness make me feel powerless.
A weight lifted up inside of me, and I told my family. I’m not sure what they really thought of my half-baked plan, but they never wavered in being supportive. My partner, who was a cyclist then and is now a triathlete, ended up jumping right in and signed up for the triathlon, too. It’s sweet because even though I was a complete mess, my partner always believed that I was going to be some…