Saturday Spotlight- Michele Kelly Vitale

Everyone has a story, a beginning, and maybe people who inspired them along the journey.

I originally started writing by telling my story and I thought why was more important …Why do I run?
Running means so much to a lot of people and just as many reasons why we run. For me, I was looking for something and not really sure what that was until I found it, and I found it by starting to run.

It was my way in, my pass, and my ticket in if you will – community, friendship, inspiration, a belonging to something bigger then oneself. When I am questioned why I run by others, the first thing I think about is how wonderful runners are, everyone is so nice and friendly and it is infectious. The friendships that are formed, the people you meet, the places and things you see, the inspiration others have on you and the effect on people’s lives by doing a race for a cause that you believe in. We are just a great bunch of happy people, and I can’t get enough of it.

After that for me it’s the challenge, to be able to challenge yourself, your will power, your strength in body, mind and soul. It is a driving force to want to do better and feel better and that became more and more apparent the more involved I became in running especially with the support from the family of runners. I may not be out there as much with running groups or races as I would like to be but the impact of it all it still great. The support runners give to each other is amazingly wonderful. Even during a race runners are willing to give support to those around them with just a simple comment of encouragement, “come on you got this”. Where else can you find this?

My running experience was next to not much at all, I took a jogging class in college, yup that is correct. At the end of the class we had to predict our time for mile run around the track. I think I came in close to my time. After that I ran a bit here and there in college. My motto was “get me going and I will keep you going”, that went for going to the beach as well, tell me you wanted to go and I will be at your door 6am, lets go…

My Grandmother bought me my first pair of running sneakers, pink Saucony’s and yes I did use them that summer I stayed with her in 1989. After college I hadn’t done any running again, not until 2009.
Why did I get into running the next time? Skiing actually…I just wanted to improve my cardio for skiing and since I couldn’t handle the treadmill, outside I went. If I ran a half mile in the beginning that was a lot, but as we all do I kept increasing little by little because it seemed to be the thing to do and I liked the challenge. Before long I was at a mile and half, then two, and then somewhere Lou, our beloved Lou LaFleur entered the picture. He was coming to me for massage therapy and of course we got to talking about running, I was interested in talking to him about running and he was just as enthused if not more about telling me about it and before I knew it I was in my first 5k, 2009 Turkey trot in Bayport. Who knew there was such a thing as a running race….and that I would be in one…. nope not me! What a thrill that was! I never played any sports or did anything athletic, okay so I did learn to lift free weights in the gym, but I looked at it as something that would help my career as a massage therapist not that I was being athletic.

So, another summer of racing 5k’s but I still had trouble running past the 3 miles, it felt so hard just to do that. Then I met up with Joann DiLeonardo and found out from talking with her that her usual run was 5 miles…well not knowing her running background I thought, if she can do that I should be able to…sure, why not. Then with her help we worked my distance up to an 8 mile run…that is crazy, so went thru my mind, but it was just in time for training preparation for the Blue Point Brewery 10 miler. 2012 my first 10 mile race and I had a blast!! I didn’t go for time, just the fun of getting it done and done well too, 1:27:00.

One race at a time I am becoming more comfortable with my new surroundings and meeting new people, and seeing what lies ahead for the next challenge and improving on my running skills. So lets see what happens next with good sound advise, good training, mindful practice and I hope to achieve good things in my journey.

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