Runners: Sheri Masters

The Runners profile, featuring a Triad community athlete, is posted on Fridays and is available to premium subscribers at Today, meet Winston-Salem resident and breast cancer survivor Sheri Masters.

Runners: Sheri Masters
Winston-Salem's Sheri Masters, above during the $5 5K in April: 'For me, it's just trying to keep healthy and challenge myself because I'm not an athlete. Moving forward, I can do.'

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Click on the video above to see Sheri Masters discuss why she runs, her breast cancer diagnosis and how she wasn't going to let that stop her.

The Warmup






Mother, Debbie Smiley; father, Dave Masters; brothers, Dave and Dan Masters, sister, Kelly Moore

"I'm one of four kids, and everybody runs or has run at some point. I'm the last one to actually start running. ... My mom has run four marathons, which she started doing in her 50s or 60s. Her proud moment is that she ran the original marathon in Greece."

Day job

Internal communications, Volvo and Mack Trucks

Why I run

"I've never been really an athlete. And I just kind of thought (in 2013) – I was in my mid to late 40s – I should probably be in better shape. I had actually started hiking in 2011. A friend of mine wrote something on Facebook about doing couch to 5k. That sounds like my speed, and so I started doing it.

"And my mom was great encouragement. I said, 'Mom, I'm going to run 20 minutes, and I'm not going to stop.' She was giving me advice on it.

Sheri Masters at the PTI Run on the Runway in Greensboro in March 2018.

"Ran my first 5K in 2014. And have been running ever since. I got a cancer diagnosis in 2015, ran all the way through cancer and that treatment. For me, it's just trying to keep healthy and challenge myself because I'm not an athlete (laughs). Moving forward, I can do."

'I'm not going to let it beat me'

"The first 5K that I ran was raising money for breast cancer research. Exactly a year later is when I got my diagnosis with breast cancer. I was diagnosed in 2015, in March. Had treatment at Wake Forest: Wonderful experience, they're amazing there. Was in treatment from May 5 through Jan. 5. I had surgery, I had chemo, I had radiation – the whole suite of services from the cancer center – and have been cancer-free for just over six years.

Sheri Masters learned at Christmas in 2015 that her stepfather, Danny Smiley, had run the half marathon in the same event, the Mistletoe Run in Winston-Salem earlier that month, in which she'd run the 5K while undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer. 

"I keep thinking my body knew there was something going on, I really do, because they think that my cancer probably started a couple years before they detected it. My body was like, 'I need to be in shape.' And so by the time that I started treatment, I was in really good shape. I was doing yoga, I took a standup paddleboarding class, I ran. I ran the Salem Lake race during chemo, and then I ran the Mistletoe during radiation. ... I was living in Thomasville at the time, and I won an award at the Y. They said, 'You're so inspiring. You're coming here with your little head covering and running.' To me, it was almost like a declaration that I'm not going to let it beat me. ...

"It's not how well I do it, it's that I do it. That it's something that I do for myself, for my body. It's a challenge, for sure, which I need. We all need to be challenged. But it's something that was a gift I gave to myself."

The Middle Miles


Sheri Masters during a run in Gothenburg, Sweden.

"I still want to do 10 miles; I haven't done 10 miles. I ran with two gentlemen, one from France and one from Brazil, who were really, really good runners, marathon runners and wonderful, and they were so good to me because I'm very slow. They really kept with me, and we ran all over Gothenburg and I ran almost 10 miles. I was really proud of that.

"I just ran, in March, St. Leo, my first 10K, so I'm very proud of that.

"The first time I did Salem Lake, my whole family did it together, and we all said, 'OK, next year we're coming back, and we're all going to beat our times.' That was our goal. And the next year, I went back and my family didn't run, but I did. And I said, 'OK, I'm going to beat my time.' And I'm running, and I'm doing it and I'm beating my time, and I'm so proud. And about mile 5, a bee flew into my eye. Stung me right there. 'I'm not stopping!' And so I finished the race and then went to the tent, and they fixed it. I was so scared because I was supposed to have surgery the next week for my reconstruction, and I was so scared that the bee sting would make them postpone it but they didn't. So I was happy about that, too. But I finished the race even with a bee sting in my eye."

My weekly mileage

"If I'm doing it the way I want to, about nine. Right now, I'm about four or five. I have plantar fasciitis, so I've got this really cool boot, that's been kind of holding me back a bit, but nine miles a week is happy. More than that is even better. I was running a lot more than that before the cancer, and it kind of slowed me down and I haven't quite bounced back from that."

A challenging workout

"I use the Nike running up, and they have some speed work. It's good and I really need to do it, but it's not fun. They're like, 'Go faster! Go faster!' I'm like, 'I'm running; you should be happy with that.'"

A workout I like

"I love running with the group that I run with Twin City Track Club on Saturday mornings. They are just the best people, and they make me better."

Here's who inspires me the most

"Probably my mom. She ran for years, then she started marathons later in life. And that she accomplished so much. And that she was so encouraging to me."

A favorite race

"There are two. The Mistletoe, because it's just fun, it's family, and it's a great experience. And I love Salem Lake. I love that race; I like running there. It's challenging. And you're running with really gifted runners. I think that makes everybody better."

Last race

$5 5K, Winston-Salem, Tuesday

Next race

$5 5K, Winston-Salem, June 14

"My goal is to run at least one race every month. I signed up for Beat the Heat (July 16). I'm setting time goals and trying to better myself."

The Cooldown

The Twin City Track Club and family

"It's been an amazing journey. I would never have, in a million years, dreamed that I would be in this position. But I'm getting to know some really, really talented runners. They're just really inspiring. But the kindness of the people in this group, the generosity, people are volunteering. One of the members is a former student of mine, and it's just fun watching her enjoy this sport and enjoy it with her family.

"Maybe that's it: It feels like a family. And it's a really just wonderful, warm group of people."

Words to the wise

"Just don't give up on yourself. It's easy to think, 'Oh, I can't do this. I'm just going to give up.' But just keep at it. Gather people around you who can encourage you. And remember that it's something you're doing for you."