If you have ever met Michele, you would no doubt say that she is dedicated. Dedicated mom, dedicated runner and a dedicated friend. She came to me a few years ago with a passion to get back into running. She started on a 5k and never looked back. She has the determination of a bullet. Here is her story.

How I RE:Found RunningHapalua Half 2015

I had my first baby when I turned 40. I was able to stay fairly active walking around the neighborhood with my baby in our new cool stroller but after the second child was born two and a half years later, things got tough. Number two didn’t sleep through the night for 21 months.  I couldn’t get to the gym. I couldn’t even muster enough energy to jump on the elliptical at home or get outside to walk in my now double stroller. I relied on caffeine & chocolate to survive those days.

Somewhere in those years of toddler/baby bliss I had forgotten to take care of myself. Like so many moms I gave almost all my time, energy and body to my kids. At age 46, I realized as time was whizzing by that turning 50 was around the corner. How did I want to meet 50? I imagined myself healthy, vibrant and ready to take on another 10 years of parenting and more. I imagined my body being strong and in better shape than ever. When my second child turned four, I weighed the same as I did at the end of my second pregnancy and I knew I couldn’t blame it on the baby anymore.  I joined a boot camp kick starting my road to fitness and it was through my boot camp owner/trainer Sara Dean Sutherland that I first heard the name, Beth Baker. Sara was training for a half marathon with Beth and it was through her that I found my way to Beth’s website. I was curious. In boot camp sometimes we would run a few laps to warm up. I just wanted to run more. My legs felt good under me. I didn’t want to stop.

The truth is I used to run as a kid. For about 2 years I ran with my family. We lived in Hawaii and my parents were part of the running boom that swept America in the 1970s. Besides a few 10ks and maybe one half marathon, my parents, my brother and I trained for 3 months for the Honolulu Marathon in 1978. I was 13. Even though I don’t remember wanting to run much after that it must have stayed in my blood. There must have been some muscle memory. honolulu marathon 1978

Fast forward to August 2013, I had not run in over 30 years. Beth was offering training for the Women of Wonder 5K Race. What have I got to lose? I was afraid and excited at the same time. My husband said I had no business running because I had had back surgery 3 times for herniated discs. It is true that my doctor called me a ticking time bomb and he offered to fuse my lumbar spine. I was 36 at the time and said, No thank-you! But this was all pre-kids and Hey, I thought, I survived pregnancy and the birth of my babies.

I decided to sign up for training and then I decided to show up. Feeling painfully self conscious and out of breath, I wondered how I was going to be able to make it all the way around Greenlake which is about 5k. I really hoped someone would pick me up off the ground and call 911 when I collapsed from the heart palpitations I was having. At the end of that first run, all the runners made a tunnel of arms to welcome each runner back. I really loved the camaraderie and support I felt that day. There was no judgment and no time clock. I followed the schedule she gave us, not perfectly but as the days led up to the race, going out for a run was not such an intimidating thought as it had been. I didn’t want to be seen, huffing and puffing down the street. I put on my earphones and it was just me and my tunes. The time in my head cleared my mind and everyday seemed brighter after a run. My kids didn’t stress me out or maybe they did but I was too happy to notice.

The race was only a few days away when the realization came that I was going to be able to do this thing which Beth had always said was possible. I was running around Greenlake and imagined myself on race day and I knew I was going to make it. Tears were flowing down my face. I WAS making it. I had already made it! It wasn’t really about the race. It was the journey I had made from not being a runner to being able to run 3 whole miles! It was the journey from being afraid to get out there in front of people, a lot of people, to knowing that it would OK and that no one had the right to judge me.

Taking on this life challenge was purely for myself. It wasn’t for my children but it was about ME giving back to me. I learned to believe in me, in my own strength, how far my lungs and legs could carry me, how my own drive could take me even further. I learned that the ideas that frightened me the most were the ones that also made me the most excited. They were the ones that challenged me and grew me the most.

The Women of Wonder 5K Race in September 2013 was my first race in over 30 years. After that day I became completely obsessed with running. When I wasn’t running, I was reading articles about running. When I wasn’t reading about running I was thinking about it and dreaming about all my running goals.

Then I did a crazy thing and signed up for the Seawheeze Half Marathon the following August. It felt crazy because I had not even run a 10k at that point. How could I do it? I knew with Beth Baker and her wonderful community of runners that I would find a way. That dream would be mine. Even when I doubted myself along the way, she never did. With my plan in hand, I ran as much as I could and Beth introduced me to all these amazing runners and running locales around Seattle that I never could have found on my own.

The Half Marathon Training class ended just before the Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon 2014 so I ran that. See Jane Run Half followed naturally in July. Seawheeze in August made three. How crazy I thought it would be to try to run a half marathon a month for year with a few 5ks sprinkled in there. After 13 months and 13 half marathons, I was done with my Year of Halfs. I did what I had set out to do. It was hard but I learned so much. I jumped on another dream, running Ragnar NWP in 2015 which took me out of my comfort zone in ways I didn’t expect. I can’t wait for next year.

My re-found love of running has taught me so many things about myself as a person in the last two plus years. I have logged almost thirty races in that time. I have met 50 now and I am excited to celebrate this new decade (and new age group) with my goal of running a full marathon in 2016.

I am thankful for all the runners I have met through Beth and Running Evolution. They are a constant inspiration to me. I am so grateful for support of this amazing running community. I look forward to more happy days on the road and I hope that they will be with you! “