It is with great honor that we introduce our May Athlete of the Month, Julie Mullins. She is a member of our team and has been the Coastal Race Photographer since our beginning.  Please join us in thanking her for all of the amazing race photos over the last 11 years. But as you would guess, there is so much more to her and you’re going to love getting to know her better. Julie is a Nationally Certified Counselor, licensed in the state of South Carolina and is both the Owner and Clinical Director of Orange Therapy LLC. May is the perfect month to feature her because it is Mental Health Awareness Month and since its inception in 1949, May has been a cornerstone of addressing the challenges faced by millions of Americans living with mental health conditions.  

Julie began running in elementary and high school so that she could attend track meets where her love interest would be attending also as he was from a different school. And although she did enjoy it back then, she didn’t identify as a runner until later in life when she began to run again to regain herself. She openly admits to struggling in both her relationship and with mental health – specifically depression. Running gave her time to think and helped her to realize she could do hard things. That realization led her to go back to school and obtain her Masters degree in Counseling.

Julie’s furthest racing distance so far is a Full Marathon which she ran about 10 years ago. She ran with Grandma Julie written on her bib in celebration of the birth of her first grandchild. She likes running with a group some of the time to be a part of something bigger and engage in connections. It sounds so great – the feet on the asphalt. She also loves running with Johnna (we’ve been running partners for over 12 years now) and discussing the problems of the world or creative brainstorming. She has also renewed her love for trail runs; taking her dogs and hearing herself breathe while connecting and noticing nature – it is peaceful and grounding. She doesn’t often listen to music when running for safety reasons and because her mind is always so busy. But if she needs some extra help/motivation, and something else to focus on other than the struggle bus, she’ll listen to music or a podcast. Julie also learned to drive a motorcycle this past year and when she isn’t working or running she enjoys riding.

When asked about the challenges she’s had to overcome and why it’s important to keep moving, Julie shared openly that there was a time she struggled with dark days of depression with high suicidal ideation. She decided to try and overcome this by first walking, and then running from lamppost to lamppost until she was running. She has struggled off and on with the motivation to care for herself in this way but developing (and by the way still developing) discipline, and knowing she can do it even when she doesn’t “feel like it” has helped her overcome the pauses. 

Back in 2021 she got COVID, and her husband was hospitalized for the same. At the same time she had some family losses and sunk into a pretty deep pit of grief, depression and self loathing. It took a LONG time to regain health and get back out there but you know what… she knew she had done it before and she could do it again. She does it by deciding to live. Deciding to try. Deciding to do.

Julies running mantra is “Yes, I can” and she proves that over and over again. 

The impact that physical activity has on mental health cannot be overstated. Running is good for us! It improves mood, reduces stress, helps give us time to process thoughts and emotions, connects us with others, and leads to other healthy behaviors.

We are so fortunate to have Julie on the team, her love for people and encouraging spirit shine through in all of her amazing race photos. Her words of advice to us all… Do it. It is good for you.