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It’s All About the Journey: Heather Sonley
28, Madison, Wis.
“Set a goal and work toward it consistently. When you strive for something, you win and we’re all winners in the end. It doesn’t matter how you get there, just take one step at a time.”
Heather Sonley grew up running. With a mom who was a cross-country coach, it’s what she always knew. Though she ran throughout high school, she quit until she was in her 20s. A breakup in 2014 inspired her to take on the challenge of running a marathon. The Green Bay Marathon was the perfect fit for the lifelong Packers Fan.
“Running and training has given me so much pleasure in my life,” says the 28-year-old, who is currently training for Ironman Wisconsin as part of the Make Me an IRONMAN campaign. “I’ve learned so much about myself, beat depression and realized I have all I need to make myself happy.”
After volunteering at events when she wasn’t racing them, Sonley realized how much she liked giving back and helping others fulfill their dreams. She’s now the Events and Race for the Cure Manager for Susan G. Komen Wisconsin.
“I always wanted to do something where I could wake up every day and make a difference in the world,” Sonley says. “I’ve been able to blend my passion for running into what I do for my career.”
The people she meets through her work inspire her—survivors, co-survivors, those in treatment and those who pass away. As inspiring as Sonley’s work is, it can also be heartbreaking, and running has become her way to recharge.
“Running provides stress release and a time for me to think and make sense of it all,” says the 4:18 marathoner.
Sonley sees battling cancer and running races as journeys. She suggests the Komen Races for the Cure are “celebrations of how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go.”
“There’s nothing like the journey of battling cancer,” Sonley says. “You are literally fighting for your life. After doing that, you are a different person. It’s the same with marathons, triathlons or even a 5K. You’re not the same person when you finish as you were when you started.”