Some of you may know that I’ve played poker for over 14 years...and that I quit my job as a corporate flight attendant/chef on private aircraft to focus purely on poker in 2012. Before finding aviation, I worked at the American Embassy in London.
I have always been fiercely competitive in sports and games since childhood. I turned that competitiveness inward and studied classical ballet for ten years in my adolescence. Poker brought me the same joy and singular focus that I had found with ballet and I was instantly devoted to studying the game and trying to become the best poker player I could be.
The thing with poker that I quickly discovered though, is that it’s not a meritocracy. You don’t necessarily get out of it what you put into it. It was frustrating to discover that poker wasn’t something I could always out study, outwork, or out try my opponents. Although the countless hours of studying, coaching, and playing improved my game considerably, the mathematical variance of the game can drive even the best of us crazy! As the losses mounted, I grew more and more discouraged. I had found some small early successes but a cruel downswing a few years ago struck my confidence and shook my passion for the game.
Around the same time that I started to question playing poker full time, my husband Darin started to run regularly. He signed up for a half marathon and asked me to join him. I have never been a runner or enjoyed running; to be honest, I’ve always despised it! Darin started training and it took him to the trail for many hours every week. I realized that playing poker had kept me on the road in casinos, traveling, eating out, staying up all night, and totally neglecting my health. I eventually relented and decided to try to get back in shape and signed up for the half marathon too.
After running for a few months, I quickly grew disillusioned and couldn’t understand why I never experienced what diehard runners always spoke of in hushed tones - the elusive “runner’s high“. I insisted that the runner’s high was actually a myth. 🤣 Seven months later, Darin and I finished the half marathon. I felt a sense of accomplishment that I hadn’t felt in years. I got out of running exactly what I put into it. The other thing that struck me about running, is that it was the first thing I ever attempted to do that I was genuinely bad at - that I knew I could never win or get first place in.
I found freedom in running and in knowing that I couldn’t ever win; to run just to run, not to compete for a first place trophy (although I do love a good finisher‘s medal 🏅 haha)!
Early last summer I lost my childhood best friend to cancer. I also decided to skip the World Series of Poker for the first time in 13 years and took a much needed break away from the game.
Darin and I had continued to run and train and we decided to register for our first ever marathon. We chose the Honolulu marathon and set out to raise funds for the American Cancer Society in honor of my childhood friend, Jenn.
The decision to take on the marathon distance is what put us on the path to find new races and how we stumbled upon the Marathon Des Sables. My break from poker reignited my love for the game and I’ve realized that running is the perfect outlet for me. I’m surprised more poker players aren’t runners as it’s the perfect sport for self ordained masochists. I’m just so thankful that I knew when to walk away (from the game), and now I know when to run 🏃🏼♀️.