Calling all first time marathoners – and the winner is…..

I want you: Calling all first time marathoners! : I was so amazed and inspired by all the individuals who contacted me with interest in being part of my book project. Due the amazing response, I have decided to revise the focus of the book a bit.

Though I will still highlight six individuals in great length, I will also include the stories of others, too. After all, my goal in writing the book is to motivate others to get fit and conquer personal challenges. What better way to do this than by featuring runners who inspire other want-to-be runners? If readers relate to someone in the book on a personal level, they are more like to say, “Wow! If she/he can run a marathon, so can I!”

Today, I am excited to share the bios of the six people I’ll highlight in depth. Then tomorrow, I’ll introduce all the others who have offered to help make an invaluable contribution to the book. THANKS TO YOU ALL! Stay tuned, as I plan to feature as many as possible via my blog, while they are training. And a special thanks to the following ladies for helping me promote the book: Beth of Shut Up and Run, Caitlin of Healthy Tipping Point and Operation Beautiful,  Jody of Truth2BeingFit, and Kelly of Healthy Living with Kelly. Your encouragement was invaluable.

Lindsay: Redefining running and climbing to new heights.

My name is Lindsay, and I’m a 22-year old recent college graduate currently working in Hartford, CT as an AmeriCorps volunteer. I plan on serving another year in AmeriCorps in my home state of Colorado where I’ll be doing the bulk of my marathon training in preparation for the Denver Rock N’ Roll Marathon in October. I want to run a marathon as a way of celebrating my newfound pride in my own strength and abilities. Throughout high school and college, I had regarded running as a means of burning x number of calories in x amount of minutes. I tended to view running in a negative light- as a way to “fix” the flaws I perceived in my body or to “punish” myself for eating too many desserts. After graduating from college, I changed my previously unhealthy relationship with my body by treating it with more respect through healthier food choices and focusing on all the things my body could do instead of lamenting its “imperfections.” During this time, running became so much more to me than a way to burn calories. It became a way to relieve stress, boost my self-esteem, and push myself to new heights. I now look at running as a means of feeling happy and strong. I want to run a marathon in order to challenge myself to do something I had previously never dreamt I was capable of. To me, running a marathon is the ultimate way of celebrating this positive relationship with my body and affirming my belief in myself.

Drew: Seeking a Balance by “Walking the Talk.”

As a 42 y.o. single male living in Southern California, I’ve had few problems finding ways to fill the void of not having a family of my own. I cram every hour of my day with what I hope is a healthy balance between my career, my hobbies, and a very active social life. As these areas provide plenty to sap my energy and ‘fill the space’, unfortunately consistent, routine exercise NEVER takes priority. I confess I am a fitness club’s dream member signing up for years of auto-debit dues but only show up for the member’s annual Christmas party. There are many adjectives to describe my personality but I’d say the one that gets me in the most trouble is that I am cheerfully optimistic…about everything…which has landed me here. The exact reason I have decided to run a marathon I’ve yet to discover myself but like most “life-changing” experiences I believe the answer(s) will come from the journey itself! The possible reasons are endless. Knock an item off the “Bucket List”? A desire to promote the “wellness” initiative in my company – essentially “walk the talk”? A “mid-life” crisis” – the answer to my dramatic self-doubt brought on by the passing of my youth?…Or was it simply the result of a momentary lapse in judgment? Whatever the motivation I’m sure all these factors contribute in some way. Just like everyone else on the planet I’ve experienced tremendous challenges over the last two years…the problem is I allowed it to manifest itself in my physical well being. I unraveled to the point it became debilitating.  I had four different diagnoses from four different doctors, but it could all be distilled down to one root cause – stress! My body was ‘malfunctioning’ and I made the decision that if I could scramble my wiring that bad I could just as easily unscramble it. This brought my focus back to exercise and its role in my own well being. I’m looking forward to this challenge to promote a new discipline in my ongoing quest for balance in my life, one that embraces a new commitment to my health and well being!  For several reasons I have selected the “Rock n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon” in New Orleans on Feb 13, 2011, leaving me exactly 6 months to insure a successful result. What matters most to me is that I am here, I am committed, and I will hopefully not only enrich my own life but perhaps someone else’s in sharing my experiences. If nothing else I maintain, just as the inspirational Terry Fox promised when he conceived his legendary “Marathon of Hope”, I will complete this run even if I have to “crawl every last mile”!

Bobbi: Taking care of four, and a whole lot more…

My name is Bobbi Welch. I’m a 39 year old stay at home mom to 4 great kids, ages 11, 9, 5 and 3. Just before my youngest turned 3, I had my annual physical which told me what I already knew — my cholesterol (for which I am on medication) was out of control again, and I needed to get into some kind of shape. Now. So I did what I have dreamed of doing for years – I signed up for the Chicago Marathon to be run on 10/10/10. Now I realize that this seems a bit extreme, but for me, running has always been my exercise of choice – there is no membership fee, no fancy equipment, and no hours of operation. All I need is a pair of shoes and an alarm clock loud enough to get me out of bed at 4:30am (in my crazy life, if it doesn’t get done first, it doesn’t get done, period). Since I am a horrible procrastinator, this seemingly gigantic goal and training plan was just what I needed to make running a habit again. With a lot of work and an extremely supportive husband, I am doing it!

Tricia: 128 down, healthy lifestyle to go, one step a time…

My name is Tricia Minnick, and I am a twenty seven year old mom of one who is about to move to Texas. Two and a half years ago when I delivered my son, I went into the hospital weighing 300 pounds. It should’ve been a wake-up call to get my eating under control, but instead I went into new mommy survival mode and pushed my health to the back burner. It wasn’t until my son’s first birthday that I admitted to myself I was morbidly obese. Throughout my teen and adult years I had tried every fad diet under the sun. I would find short term success, but without fail, the pounds would come back. This time was different. At 278 pounds, it started with a promise to myself. I would eat right and work out for 21 days straight. I was hoping to form a few new healthy habits, but what happened in that short time changed my life. I started out simply walking, I would be gasping after only a block, but I was determined. A mile turned into two and within the first 3 weeks I was walking 4-6 miles every day. Those walks, coupled with a healthy diet, helped me lose 20 pounds in the first 3 weeks. Now, I no longer just wanted to lose weight, I wanted to get healthy and conquer a new goal –running. I always hated running growing up, yet I’ve always envied runners because they always seemed to know something I didn’t. I wanted to find out their secret. Why did they run? And could I? I decided to sign up for a 5K. And by the time I crossed my first finish line I realized that I no longer dreaded the idea of running, instead I was already thinking about new distances. The miles started adding up, and the pounds kept coming up. In 14 months, I had lost 128 pounds and found a passion for running. To me, a marathon has always been the pinnacle of running. I admire those that have completed one, not only for their physical commitment, but also for their mental toughness. I signed up for the Rock N Roll San Antonia Marathon for many reasons. I want to eradicate any doubt in my mind that I’m a “real” runner. I want to reaffirm to myself how strong I am. And I want to show others that you can conquer obesity and reach any goal, even a long distance one.

Maissa: Last one picked but ready to fight…

  My name is Maissa Chouraki. I am 23, and a recent graduate from the University of British Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Classical Archaeology, trying to figure out what exactly comes next. At the beginning of my last year at UBC I decided enough was enough, I had gained about 40lbs since starting university and I had never exactly been fit to begin with. Tipping the scales at 214lbs with 44% body fat, I took control of my life. I hired a trainer and started kicking the weight. In February 2009, after losing about 25lbs, my trainer suggested I start running. I was surprised and thrilled to discover I could run, albeit slowly. As a kid I hated running. I was the one hanging around the back walking the mile during P.E. I was always picked last at soccer and basketball because everyone knew I would walk across the field/court. So this was an absolute turn-around and one I embraced. In the last year I have run one 10k and two half marathons. I am training for my third (Victoria, 10/10/10). But a marathon is my ultimate goal. So why am I choosing to run a marathon? Because I can. Because I have lost over 50lbs, and because the 13 year old me would want me to. Because my mother who battled cancer for eight years showed me what strength means. I run because it makes me feel euphoric, but I will complete 26.2, in Eugene on May 1st 2011, in honor of her strength.

Anne: Proving age (and asthma) have no limits .

My name is Anne Lacasse and I’m a 51 year old woman who became addicted to running about one year ago. My biggest fans are my husband of 29 years, who is also a runner, and my three adult children (ages 21, 25 and 27). At the age of 44, I developed severe asthma and ended up on prednisone, a corticosteroid with awful side-effects, for years. I had been told that one way to improve asthma was to do cardio, so I first started with walking. Things went from bad to worse and I made a promise to myself that by the age of 50, I would have taken charge of my health. I changed my eating habits, I reduced my work schedule and I started running. I figured that this would be the best way to improve my cardio. I had never been a runner, but I had always admired runners and loved the idea of being a runner. Plus, I had always secretly wished that I could one day say I’d run a marathon. However, I was doubtful that I could do it.  At that time, I could barely get through a full minute of running non-stop! I am now off prednisone and, despite occasional minor setbacks, my lungs are doing great! Plus, I am registered to run my first marathon in Niagara Falls on October 24, 2010 and I am super excited! I can’t wait to follow each and every one of you!

Melinda Hinson