Childhood doctors looked at my flat feet and said I wouldn’t ever be able to do much running. I believed them. Then, well into adulthood, I joined a gym with the hopes of fixing a knee that had caused me to limp for months. It got stronger, and one day I tried walking on a treadmill. Eventually I tried jogging. I loved trying to beat my numbers, and I decided to try running a 5k race. I also knew my result would be listed online, and people would find it because I’m the only “Layla Bohm” out there. When I thought I could post a decent enough time, I ran a local charity 5k in October 2006. I loved it, I loved the roads, and I never went back to the treadmill.

It took a few more 5k races, some setbacks and plenty of self-doubt, but in January 2008 I joined a local running club that was training for a half-marathon. The 13.1-mile distance had become my secret dream after that first 5k race. On a blistering hot May day, I crossed the finish line of a half-marathon in 2:14:52, arm in arm with two new friends who had helped me along the way. I thought of those childhood doctors.

Five months later I beat my half-marathon time on a rather hilly course, and our club’s leader began encouraging me to go for the full marathon distance. I was full of doubt, but I kept running. In December 2008, a group of us set out for the Tuscon Marathon. As I finished in 4:20:28, I was exhausted but I had one clear thought as I saw my running buddies cheering for me: “The doctors were wrong.”

I continue to have setbacks and to reach milestones. I’ve suffered through two stress fractures and multiple other woes, but every injury is followed by a triumphant recovery that makes me even more thankful to be able to run. After 18 marathons (including one ultra-marathon) and thousands of miles, running has not lost its allure.

Tucson Marathon ’08

Personal records:

  • 5k (3.1 miles): 22:59, November 2013
  • 10k (6.2 miles): 49:52, October 2009
  • Half-marathon (13.1 miles): 1:45:20, November 2013
  • Marathon (26.2 miles): 3:47:22, September 2013
  • Trail 50k (31.2 miles): 6:25:54, March 2013

My marathons: Marathon Maniac #6398

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