'I am so amazed at what I can do'
Bonnie Kay 43, Largo GOAL: My goal, through the FAB 50 running group, is to keep my running pace at 18 minutes or less per mile and to cross the finish line. My personal goal is to incorporate exercise into my busy lifestyle. WHY I DID IT: In November 2011, my daughters' dance studio decided to put on a fundraising run to help the girls pay for a trip overseas. The responsibility for coordinating the event fell into my husband's hands unexpectedly. Neither one of us is a runner, but we didn't want to see work that already was done put to waste. And we didn't want to disappoint the fundraising board or the dancers. After a couple of weeks of planning and with the help of some good friends, the run went on as planned.Several of our close friends, family and other locals registered for the run, including several FAB 50 runners (three of whom are very good friends of mine). I was in awe of their strong finishes. My FAB 50 friends tried to get me to join their group, but at the time I wasn't interested. Running looked hard, and it didn't look like much fun The following week I learned that my FAB 50 friends completed the Women's Half Marathon in St. Petersburg. Again, I was inspired, and I was starting to get curious. These were women just like me: career-oriented wives and moms trying to live an active lifestyle. Leading up to the New Year, I was going through a major funk. I needed some direction, a new goal, something for myself. I talked to a couple of good friends from the FAB 50 and made a phone call to Pamela Paul, the running coach and coordinator of the group. My husband was very supportive and encouraging. I finally decided to join. HOW I DID IT: I arrived for training on Jan. 14, 2012. The 13-week training program would prepare us for the Iron Girl Half Marathon on April 22. On Saturdays we met for a long run that consisted of run-walk intervals. We did another two days of training on our own. I also did so some cross training (which is optional) on the elliptical. Along the way, we encouraged one another and celebrated our successes. Pamela, our coach, is a physical therapist and psychotherapist. Her weekly schedules and walk/run approach is very doable. She provides a safe, noncompetitive environment and provides mental strategies that help us stay the course so we can accomplish our goals. HURDLES: It was very discouraging that I wasn't seeing weight loss right away. But I did notice changes in my body. I was able to get back into some clothes I haven't been able to wear for a long time. I made sure to keep well hydrated throughout the week, something I didn't do before. And I loved seeing the number of calories I burned from running on my RunKeeper app. That helped me pay close attention to my calorie intake. When the first training was over, I had lost about 5 pounds. I work long hours at school, attend after-school training, shuttle girls from school to dance, and I am active on the fundraising board at the girls' dance studio. So getting my two runs in during the week was difficult. I managed with the help of the group, as some ran early in the mornings and some ran in the evenings. All the ladies were very understanding of my work and my kids' busy schedules. And I was very committed to the training, so I was going to make it work. GOING THE DISTANCE: I have completed two trainings and two half marathons with the FAB 50. I have also completed two 5Ks and a 15K. I have lost a total of 9 pounds (that's a lot for me as I am only 5-foot-1). I sleep and eat better. I find that running also is a great way to relieve stress and alleviates my mood swings. After completing two half marathons and receiving some bling, I have gained self-confidence, too! BEST ADVICE: I highly recommend joining a running group. I would have never done this on my own. The group helped me to reconnect with old friends and make new friends. I went from being uncomfortable with running to having a relationship with running. I find when I can't get a run in or when I am not training, I actually miss it. The completion of the training and the experience of crossing the finish line brings about change in your life. I am so amazed at what I can do physically and mentally.
I Made It is a regular feature highlighting individual health success stories and does not reflect the opinions of 4you, which encourages you to work with a physician or trained professional. To share your story, visit TBO.com, search Lost It; or email email@example.com; or mail to 4you, The Tampa Tribune, 200 S. Parker St., Tampa FL 33606.