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by: PHOTO COURTESY OF SHARON KAISER TOUGH ATHLETE – Shannon Kaiser displays one of many medals she’s collected from participating in endurance events over the years. Now she hopes to turn her talents to writing books.

Shannon Kaiser has gone through loads of life changes over the last several years - some of them good, some of them bad.


But recently she's taken two of those experiences and submitted them to one of the most popular on-going series of inspirational and motivational books in the nation.

The result has been publication of her two stories in separate 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' books.

Her story 'Another Loop' made it onto the pages of the recently published 'Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You.'

In it, Kaiser, an endurance athlete, describes her journey to the City of Lights in October 2009 as part of a two-week quest to improve her running endurance, by jogging through Paris,

'It was great,' she said, noting that she doesn't speak French and that Paris is not exactly a running mecca.

In addition, her attire alerted Parisians about her country of origin.

'I screamed American because I had these great big (blue) Nikes,' said the 29-year-old

Once there, she found a running path around the Montmartre Cemetery, a route that is slightly more than a mile.

'I didn't run in the cemetery because that's illegal,' she said. 'I knew going around it four times equaled a mile.'

At one point she encountered a young man who sprinted to catch up with her before jogging beside her for a few moments.

She wrote: 'He has a giant goofy grin, which in return produces a silly grin on my face. He says a few words in French. I just point to my earphones to show I am listening to music, so I won't have to reveal that I don't speak French. I am enchanted with this young man. He is running along a perfect stranger just for the fun of it. I decide to make him my running angel.'

The magic of running around the Paris cemetery resulted in her tripling her planned running time that day.

A serious endurance runner for the last three years, Kaiser participated in the half version of the famed Ironman World Championship held in Hawaii.

There she completed the 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.

Last March, she submitted the piece and the Chicken Soup editors loved it.

'I was so excited,' she said. 'I've been reading ('Chicken Soup for the Soul') stories since I was little.'

A Hillsboro High School graduate who grew up in Sherwood, Kaiser graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Oregon. She later went to Atlanta to do graphic design at the Portfolio Center, essentially earning a master's degree in graphic design.

A career in advertising sent her to San Francisco before she eventually ended up in Chicago where she worked on large-scale potato chip, beer and soft drink campaigns as a senior art director. However, the advertising world is a fickle profession and she was laid off in February 2010.

'It was great,' she said of advertising career. 'I worked with some great people.'

By March 1, she was back in Oregon, spending her time catching up with family and friends.

'I'm so happy I'm back now,' she said.

Meanwhile, her layoff became the impetus for her other literary endeavor, which was published under the title of 'Beauty in Breakdown' in 'Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thinking Positive.'

In it, she recalled the scene of being called into her employer's office in Chicago where she found herself initially out of the moment but quickly able to pull herself back into it:

'The tears I have been holding in all day rise to the surface. 'As they look at me with sympathetic sadness, the water pours out. What they don't realize is that these tears do not come from a place of fear or pain. They are tears of relief, of unbounded excitement! It is in this moment that I realize all of my positive thinking and prayers have been answered! It is at this moment that I truly believe miracles do happen!'

Kaiser, who has written since age 5, estimates she's been travel-blogging for the last six to seven years. She's in the process of trying to find a literary agent.

'I've been writing really hardcore for the past two years,' she said.

Kaiser hopes to create an entire book based on her travel adventures. The idea is to use her experience as a competitive runner as a metaphor to examine universal truths.

'Running is a great metaphor for life,' she pointed out.

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