Marathon Motivation: Why They Run

Thousands of men and women, each with a unique story of motivation and perseverance, will take part in the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday. Many will cross the downtown Miami finish line for the first time, enduring up to 26.2 miles, as friends, families and admirers cheer on.

Mother of Triplets
Monica Leon, 38, (pictured, top left) is a single mother of four-year old triplets (two boys and a girl). The self-employed accountant says she started running two years ago to prove something to herself –  that she could meet yet another new challenge. As it turned out, running has become “a therapy session for me,” said Leon, who is about to run her second half-marathon (13.1 miles).

“It was more about the challenge in the beginning, and now it has become a hobby,” she said. “I keep running because I feel healthy and it makes me a better person and a better mom.”

Motivated by Health
José Matute, 53, started running seriously seven years ago right after his doctor told him he needed to start exercising to improve his cholesterol levels. He is now a group leader for the TeamFootWorks running club out of South Miami, and he is about to run his sixth marathon. He says he has learned from his running mistakes, suffering injuries early on. “Now, people look to me for guidance. I keep everyone motivated.”

Becky-lowell-147x300Running for a Loved One

Becky Lowell, 34, started training for her first half-marathon five years ago, to get back into shape after her second child. She has three boys, ages 6, 4 and 2. She also drew motivation from her grandmother, who at the time was bed-stricken with Alzheimer’s.

“I wanted to get back into shape, but my running was dedicated to my grandmother,” recalls Mrs. Lowell. “She couldn’t get out of bed, so I felt I was running for her.”

Lowell will run her first full-marathon on Sunday, after completing several half-marathons throughout Florida over the past five years. “Running has become part of my lifestyle,” she says.

Running Clubs: Inspired by Fellow Runners
All three runners say they could not have gotten to this point without the inspiration from fellow marathoners they met through their respective running clubs.

Through support of local run clubs, Baptist Health provides the community with opportunities to get healthier and set fitness goals, along with receiving free medical screenings for blood pressure and Body Mass Index, or BMI.

Both Mrs. Leon and Mr. Matute got started by joining TeamFootWorks, which runs Fitness 101 programs for runners who want train for half- or full-marathons. They are motivated by camaraderie, the desire to meet a new challenge and the goal of getting healthier. Members initially take part in seven weeks of training, starting with short run/walking sessions and building to half- and full-marathons.
jose-matute400-231x300Mr. Matute, who operates Gurri Matute PA, an architectural business with his wife, said he had to learn how to run and train correctly to stay injury-free. As a group leader for Team FootWorks, he teaches what he has learned about proper conditioning and stretching.

A much healthier Matute now has no cholesterol issues. But after his first couple of marathons, he grappled with common runners’ injuries, including IT band syndrome (tightness or inflammation of the hip-to-shin ligament) and plantar fasciitis, also known as jogger’s heel.

“Most of the people who join the running group have never run a half- or full- marathon and they are hungry to learn,” Mr. Matute said. “As group leader, I can’t just wake up on Saturday and say I can’t run today. A lot of people are depending on me. And I enjoy the running. I have learned what do to and how to guide people.”

Mrs. Lowell has worked with Team FDC, which coordinates long-distance training runs on Saturdays from various Miami-Dade locations during the months-long buildup to the big event on Sunday.

“I cannot run without a group,” Mrs. Lowell said. “The encouragement and the support system is unbelievable. It’s organized and it gives you a sense of accomplishment. We’re all working toward the same goal.”

Many of the Miami marathoners on Sunday trained via running clubs.

“By joining the running group, I met a great mix of people of different ages, different professions,” said Ms. Leon. “They are people you don’t picture as an average runner. I never thought I’d look like a runner. These are not people you see in runners’ magazines.  They are your neighbors.”

Last year, Ms. Leon finished her first half-marathon. It was a fulfilling and emotional experience as her family waited for her to finish. She was far from the winner of the event, but her triplets were convinced that she had finished in first place.

“It is an experience of a lifetime. It’s just so emotional,” she said. “I cried when I crossed that finish line. My kids thought I had won. And I said: Yes I did.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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