By Ann Leach

With a strong history of cardiac disease among the females in her family, along with her education and role as a nurse practitioner, Cassie Garrett is committed to staying as healthy as she can for as long as she can. 

“My mom and my grandma both passed away of heart attacks,” she says. “Cardio exercise is a great way to keep my heart in the best shape possible. Running gives me a sense of accomplishment and keeps me moving.”

Garrett runs with friends occasionally, but more often she’s doing it alone due to everyone’s hectic schedules. Her sons, Nate and Jake, will sometimes run with her while training or during a 5K, and Cocoa, the family’s German Shephard, may accompany her but only for a short distance due to her hip dysplasia. 

“I think about all kinds of things when I run,” she says. “I might pray or plan out my day or just really tune into the music that I’m listening to at the time.”

 Running helps Garrett’s mind game as she works to convince herself she’s not exhausted or in pain as she works to reach her goal. “Running teaches me discipline and persistence. It can make a bad day better, a good day better or just help me escape for a bit.”

Pretty active throughout her life, Garrett admits to “slacking off” during both of her pregnancies and during a tough year in 2020. “Otherwise, I try to run at least a few times a week to stay active.” 

Garrett to date has run over 20 half-marathons and one full marathon, not to mention numerous 5K races.

“I always feel accomplished after a race,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how many times that I have run that distance, I always feel blessed that I can complete a race.” And through the exhaustion, she jokes often with her husband that “everything is sunshine and rainbows” after she finishes a race.

Garrett strives to improve her time in each race but knows there will be runners faster than her. 

“I do always want to work on being faster and better, but finishing is finishing,” she says. “The atmosphere and camaraderie at races just make me so happy. We are all in the race together, and we are all competing against ourselves mentally and physically.”

For those just starting their running journey, Garrett offers some encouragement and says, “It is not as hard as it seems! It’s better to start off with a walking routine if you are not up on cardio.” 

She recalls times in her life when she hadn’t run for a while and started back by just doing a daily walking routine. 

“Eventually I got tired of walking and wanted to speed things up a bit. I know lots of people who do walk-run routines, too, so that it’s not as daunting. You don’t have to be the fastest person out there, just move.”