Smoker since 13, woman kicks habit, runs River Bank Run

Sally Finkbeiner trains for the Fifth Third River Bank Run.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Sometimes before you get going, you have to quit.

Sally Finkbeiner is only 34 years old. But for many of those years, she was a smoker.

“I smoked for 13 years. I started in middle school I think it was… early middle school,” she said. “So I smoked for 13 years and it would weigh on me a lot once I wanted to quit.”

And Finkbeiner did quit, and that’s when she laced up her first pair of running shoes. But just like kicking the habit, running didn’t come easily.

Finkbeiner said it wasn’t really her lungs that were holding her back; rather, it was her hip or her knee. So she took up quitting again.

“I gave up running completely, just said, ‘I can’t run. I’m not a runner, I’m not meant to be a runner,’” she said.

But Finkbeiner is a Fifth Third River Bank Road Warrior this year. So how did she get there?

The answer came in a roommate who had a similar experience; she, too, had kicked the habit and found salvation on the trail.

“I rode a 100-mile bike race this weekend and now I’m running the 25K,” Finkbeiner said. “Mentally, physically I eat different. I live my life different, I have a different routine.”

In comparison to what she was like before she got in shape, Finkbeiner said while says she’s the same person inside, there are some noticeable changes on the outside.

“I’m more energetic, healthier… just all around enjoying life a lot more,” she said.

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