Every runner has a story, which pushes and drives them to do what they do. It's fascinating learning about others, and in return it also inspires and motivates.
This week I'd like to introduce Michele. I asked Michele several questions, to tell part of her story and introduce you to her.
I enjoy longer distances mainly because I'm just not a fast person! I think I could run all day sometimes. I love my long runs and though I do get tired, I'd much rather run long and slow than short and fast. I have run three 1/2 marathons and I would love to run a marathon eventually, but I need some additional time time train before I'm ready for that.
How long have you been running? Or at what age did you start running?
I started running when I was 30, but after a few months I found out I was pregnant (a little unexpected blessing!) and with two kids and full and part time job every day, I just couldn't keep up with it. I had already signed up for my first 5k and ran that when I was 8 weeks pregnant. I barely made it to the finish line, but it was my first race ever and I was happy to have done it. I had my son in December of 2011 and tried to run a little here and there to get back into it. Finally I saw an ad for Team in Training and decided it was just what I needed to get myself motivated. My friend's daughter was fighting her 2 relapse of Leukemia and I wanted to help raise money in her honor. I completed my first 1/2 marathon in September of 2012 and never looked back! I was 31 then and 32 now.
What made you want to become a runner? What is it that keeps you at it?
(See previous question) My friend's daughter was fighting hard and I knew there wasn't much I could do to help her personally, but I wanted to find a way to feel like I was supporting her. I ran that 1/2 marathon to honor her. A few months later, cancer took that beautiful girl from us. She had lived more in her 9 years than I had my whole life. When she was diagnosed with leukemia, she decided that she wasn't going to allow it to keep her from enjoying life. She never took another moment of life for granted. Knowing that she had spent her last 3 years doing what she could to live without any regrets made me stop to think about what I was doing with my own life. I wondered why I had taken my last 31 years for granted. What if tomorrow I left this world? Would I have been happy with how I lived? From then on, I decided that I was going to live with no regrets. I took charge of my life, started losing the weight I had gained from years of being lazy, and I looked for ways to challenge myself.
So far I have done 3 1/2 marathons and 3 sprint triathlons.
Tell us what made you want to become a triathlete?
I was a swimmer in school and I also rode my bike on several 100+ (slow) rides as a teen with a 4-H group. Since I could now run, I thought why not try to put them all together. I was so into losing weight that I wanted to train 7 days a week, but 7 days of running was just too much. To be able to cross train with swimming and biking kept me exercising at the intensity I wanted.
What is your favorite of the 3, running, swimming, biking?
I can't say that I really have a favorite. I thought it would be swimming because I'm obviously better at it, but I am not really a fan of swimming in water that is not clear. I used to dislike the bike portion simply because I wasn’t very fast- I'm still not. However, I have started to like just going out on my bike and exploring. The bike portion of the race is the one I most fear. The run is hard, but I always love the run in a race because it means I'm almost done! I like running during training because it burns the most calories. I guess I enjoy all three for different reasons.
What has been your favorite race and distance you have run? Tell us why?
So far I think I like the 1/2 marathon the best, but I wonder if that will change when I run farther? I honestly would like to do a half ironman and a full ironman someday and I have less anxiety about those distances than I do the shorter triathlons because they are more about endurance than racing (at least for me since my goal would be to finish, not to win!) It's similar to the idea that I don't like 5Ks because I'm just not a fast runner.
I guess if I could pick, I would love to do the ironman in Kona because it's the championships and I would love to try to challenge myself on the course that the BEST triathletes compete on.
Do you run for fun? Or run to compete? Both?
I run to compete with myself and no one else! That, to me, is fun.
Have you ever won a race or placed in your age group?
I have never place in a run, but in my very first indoor mini-triathlon I ended up placing 2nd in my AG! I was surprised! It wasn't based on time, but rather a points system. Everyone did all 3 sports for 20 minutes and then you earned points based on your distance. In the way the points were figured, swimming really helped me. In most triathlons, the swimming rarely determines the winners because it's the shortest portion by far.
Have you experienced any trials/injuries/health issues that you have had to overcome? Tell us about them.
Just recently my doctor thought I had a stress fracture. I cried in his office, which was really embarrassing because I train with his wife! After bone scans and x-rays were clear, we found out I had a neuroma that was easily treated with cortisone shots. For the few weeks it took to get to that point, I was really depressed because I thought all my work would be for nothing!
If you run races. Tell us what crossing the finish line feels like to you.
I love feeling the rush of accomplishment.
Do you have a specific distance and PR that you are proud of? Tell us about it.
My 3rd 1/2 marathon time was a PR by almost 30 minutes. I was so confused while I was running when I passed the 2:30 and 2:15 pace groups. I kept thinking to myself that they must have messed up. I was running by feel and did not have my watch. I really kept thinking that something was wrong with the timers along the route. I felt great and just kept passing people. It was such a surprise that my husband and kids missed my finish because I never thought that I would finish that soon and told them to get there later. I had NEVER ran that pace while training 1 mile, let alone doing it for 13 miles!
I don't know that I would wear a specific costume, but I did run the Santa hustle where they ask that you wear the Santa shirt they give you as well as the beard and hat. It was neat to see so many Santa's running!
Do you have a funny running story to share? or funny experience while running?
I don't think I really have a funny running story, but I will share that when I first bought my bike and clipless pedals the guy at the store told me it wasn't "If I would fall while being clipped in, but when!" I just laughed and through to myself that I would not let that happen to me….. YEP, it happened. The first time I was standing still and just tipped right over, forgetting that I was clipped in. Thankfully no one was there to see it, as it felt like a slow motion fall and I'm sure I looked like an idiot!
Do you hope to be a lifelong runner?
I hope to run for as long as I can. My goal is to be able to do triathlons well into my 60's because by then there will be fewer in my AG and I might actually place!!!
What states have you run races in? Tell us the state and the race distance (5k, marathon, ultra, Tri ect..)
My first 5K was in Florida and then every other run or race has been in Ohio!
Have you run races in any other countries?
No, but maybe some day!
What is your favorite kind of running, solo running or running with a friend or group?
I enjoy a shorter solo run or any length solo ride or swim. If I have to do a long run, I would much rather have friends to keep my occupied while we tick away the miles! We try to meet every Sunday for those.
Do you listen to music while you run? Give us the top 2 running songs on your playlist.
I do listen to music when I can. You can't have music in Triathlons, so I also try to practice without it when I can. I love: "I love It" by Icona Pop. I have lot of drumline cadences as well.
I do swim and bike a lot! I also try to use resistance bands to lose the arm flab. For so long I was focused on weight loss that I didn't do any strength training…then I saw my arms in pictures from a triathlon and made it a new goal!
What other hobbies/sports do you do besides running?
I love reading. I also enjoy spending time with my kids. At work I run an after school program and I get pretty involved with that as well. I love those kids as my own.
What type of things motivate you and push you towards success?
I love seeing changes in myself. I would have to say that doing things I never thought was possible has really motivated me to see how far I can go. Two years ago I didn't even know people like me could run a mile, now I'm thinking about an Ironman!
Do you have any tips of suggestions for someone who is thinking of starting up running?
It is not easy at first. It's not easy some days now. Don't give up just because you have to walk 99% of the mile. You will eventually see improvement and you will be so proud of yourself when you do.
What is your must have running accessory?
My Enell sports bra and body glide!
What is the best thing you have learned from being a runner?
That everyone can do it! I cringe when I hear someone say that they can't run because they have bad knees. I would say that 95% of people who say that really don't- they just think they do because it hurts to start running! Yes, there are some people who can't run because they truly have knee problems, but for everyone else, their problem is that they NEED to run!!
Favorite pre and post run food?
Sad to say, but I crave diet Pepsi right after my run. I just read somewhere that it has been proven that caffeine helps the recovery process and I'm sticking to that!
Tell us something unique about you.
I'm notorious for horrible race pictures!
What types of things do you blog about? What can readers expect if they start following your blog?
I blog about life- whatever happens gets blogged about. My blog is my therapy (aside from exercise) and I'm not too worried about sticking to one topic like running because it's more for me than for my readers. I know that turns some people away, but I don't think I could write enough on one specific topic because my life has so many aspects to it. I do blog a lot about my training, the changes I see in my life because of it, my goals, and my races. However, I also blog about my kids and their medical issues, my hubby and his strange quirks, and about other things I see online.
Take a Minute and Go Check out Michele's Blog
Thanks Michele for letting me spotlight you! I have no doubt I see an Ironman in your future:) I wish you the best of luck in all your training and I look forward to following you in your journey! Oh, and let me tell ya, your race pics are great, there is nothing horrible about them!