Hannah (1st row, second from left) and her new FBR friends.


My love of running grew from a need for a positive focus during a hard time and is now an important part of who I am. I signed up for my first marathon 12 days after my dad died. His illness was sudden and his death left me in complete shock. As I contemplated moving home to southwest PA or returning to Seattle (where I had moved just 4 months prior), I knew I had a challenge ahead regardless. I wasn’t much of a runner, but training for a marathon seemed like a good reason to get out of bed when I might not have otherwise.

Regular exercise became key for processing my grief, bringing hours of reflection and steady forward momentum. I had wonderful friends, a great job, and helpful counselors, but running was my time. What I remember about those early days is the feeling of the sun on my face. The Pacific NW was truly a superb place to fall in love with running. Reaching that first finish line was a feat, but I was hooked. So, I forged ahead.

After 5 years in Seattle, I chose to return to Philly. I was back! But with few friends and no job, plus it was the middle of winter. Determined to embrace my decision, I kept on running. There must’ve been something in the air because running felt freeing for the first time. Less like work, more like fun. I could rediscover the city this way. When spring arrived, I heard about the big running community here. Unsure if my solitary pursuit could turn social, I tagged along with a new friend to the Fishtown Beer Runners.

I liked FBR right away. It didn’t take much time for me to conclude that this is where I want to be on Thursday nights. I’m so grateful for the friends I’ve made over the last 5 months because their energy makes me a better runner and happier person. I had no idea what I was missing. Becoming a runner transformed my broken spirit, but becoming a beer runner has given me so much more. My dad was a man of great community and it’s no surprise that the journey I took to come to terms with life without him would ultimately lead me to something as special as this.


—Hannah Schlesinger