Mike Alfree’s Success Story

Before I started running in 2011, I never worked out. I would join a gym and go only once or twice then quit. I couldn’t find an exercise that I enjoyed. I was 50 pounds heavier than I am today and I knew I needed to do something about it. I heard friends and others talk about running the NYC marathon. I thought, if Al Roker can finish it in 7 hours, I knew
I could do it. I set the marathon as my goal and would do it even if it took years. So, I decided to give running a try. At first, I couldn’t jog for 2 minutes without needing to walk. It took several months to work up to a 5k. I did my first 5k in May of 2011 and never looked back. I enjoy running because you don’t need much; you just have to find a pair of good running shoes and a road or trail and you’re good to go. Running events are great. I have hundreds and thousands of people running with me but I only need to compete with myself and try to do better than I did last time.

I eventually worked my way up to doing a couple of half marathons but always wanted to do that full marathon. I knew the marathon was going to be a challenge beyond that of even double the half. Early in 2013, my wife and I decided to join the HAC. We were about to have our first child and we were drawn to how family friendly the HAC is. I learned about the 5k club during orientation and wanted to join right away to help with my marathon training. Running with other people always keeps me motivated. I’m the kind of person who will talk myself out of going to the gym when I don’t have a specific goal, especially short term ones. Having scheduled times two days a week after work keeps me focused. Plus two great coaches, Jen and Kelly, pushing you helps tremendously. I met a bunch of other runners, all with different amounts of running experience. It’s always fun to try to keep up with the others faster than you. Not only do we run, Jen and Kelly brought in various guest speakers and guest trainers (please more agility training next year with Matt!) The whole running club experience helps keep running fun and fresh for a sport/exercise that when done alone can feel tedious. To have a better chance of not embarrassing myself in the marathon, I wanted personal training as well. Having the chance to work with Jen one-on-one and at the 5k club has been a big help. Jen has taught me that being a better runner isn’t just about running and your lower body strength. You need to strengthen your core and upper body as well (yes Jen, I’m still doing my pushups and planks). When you are deep into a long run and naturally start to slouch, that’s when you feel the core and upper body strength training really making a difference. It keeps you upright and able to finish strong!

Since joining the 5k club, I have achieved personal records in 5k and 10k and successfully completed my first marathon in Rehoboth on December 7, 2013. The 5k club proved to be the biggest help of all during the marathon, literally. Around mile 16, things started to get hard. Maintaining my early pace was clearly not going to be an option but I knew I had more in me. By mile 22, I had hit the wall, as they say. Just as I started to think to myself, “How am I going finish this? There’s no way I can run anymore.” I happened to look over and see Beth Peoples, another 5k club member. She wasn’t running in the marathon. She had just come to cheer. Beth got on the trail and started running with me which kept me going the rest of the way. Big thanks to Beth for getting me through a really tough last 4 miles. I’m looking forward to another year of training with Jen, Kelly, Beth and the rest of the 5k club!

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