Miami Marathon Profiles 2018 (Part 2): Why They Run

Participants training for the Fitbit Miami Marathon and Half Marathon on January 28 share their motivations for running. Here is the second installment of our two-part series. Baptist Health is a sponsor and the official medical provider for the event.

Joyce Silveira, 54: “Doctors told me I had to start moving.”

When Joyce Silveira (pictured at left with her husband, Marcelo) was rushed to Baptist Hospital in 2009, physicians said her extremely high blood pressure was caused by inactivity, stress and obesity.

“Doctors told me I had to start moving, start doing something, if I wanted to live a long life,” Ms. Silveira said. “My kids and husband, who had already been running, pushed me along and registered me for the Footworks fitness programs.”

As she walked and stretched with like-minded people, her stamina and strength increased. Gradually, Ms. Silveira’s weight and blood pressure fell. Today, some 50 pounds lighter than the day of her emergency room visit, she says she feels incredible.

“I was afraid in the beginning, but once I started exercising, there was no stopping,” she said. Ms. Silveira has run the full Miami Marathon three times and the half marathon several times. She said her goal is not to have the fastest speed. In fact, she prefers a combination of walking and running to full-out running the entire course. “It seems to be healthy for my body. I want to run injury-free.”

With her husband, Marcelo (profiled below), and sons Kevin and Thiago by her side, she has completed numerous runs, including the famed marathons in New York City and Chicago.

“We have a lot of adventures,” she said. “One of the most memorable was the Santiago 500 miles in 30 days trip. It had been a goal of ours for a long time and it was amazing.” Also known as “The Way,” the trip has become a popular spiritual and health journey in recent years. The Silveiras began last May in St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France. The course climbs the Pyrenees and spans most of northern Spain. They walked some portions of the trail and ran others. The 500-mile trek ended in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

“It’s important to have a goal to focus on when you have your down moments and when life gets in the way,” Ms. Silveira said. “We work long hours and it can be hard to find time to train. When you have a goal, it helps.”

For Ms. Silveira, one of the best benefits of living a lifestyle that includes running is seeing her family’s eating habits change for the better. Another is the supportive group of family and friends that now surround her. “Running has brought our family even closer together and brought us into a community of some of the most compassionate and friendly people I’ve ever met.”

Marcelo Silveira, 51: “It has been an incredible journey.”

Busy parents and owners of a pizzeria, Marcelo and Joyce Silveira (pictured at left with their two sons, Kevin and Thiago) watched their weight creep higher with each garlic roll and pie they created ― and consumed. “It’s not easy to stay in shape when you own a restaurant, but it’s no excuse. When I finally took a good look at myself in the mirror, I hardly recognized who I’d become,” Mr. Silveira said.

After getting back into running, Mr. Silveira dropped 100 pounds. Now, he not only runs full marathons, but has participated in ultra-running events, including the Javelina Jundred 100-Mile Endurance Run through the Arizona desert in 2017.

When he and his wife, Joyce (profiled above), run the Fitbit Miami Marathon and Half Marathon this month, it will be a return to his running roots. “The Miami Marathon is where it all began. My younger son had come to me in 2009 when he was graduating from high school and said he wanted to run a half marathon with me. We started preparing and ran together in the first year of the Miami event,” he said. “And I’ve run the full marathon every year since 2011.”

Mr. Silveira recalled his first Teamworks training session with his son, Thiago. “It was awesome, but I couldn’t breathe.” The two began with a slow-paced group that met twice during the week and once on weekends, slowly building their stamina and speed. “We called our group Happy Hour because we ran two minutes and walked one, like a two-for-one happy hour special,” he said.

A knee injury forced Mr. Silveira to the sidelines at one point. But when he put on a little weight, he was determined to return. Today, running is a family affair with Mom and Dad often joined by sons Kevin, 26, and Thiago, 25. Recently, Kevin’s girlfriend completed her first half-marathon with the family.

“It has been an incredible journey,” Mr. Silveira said. “I was always involved with my sons as they grew up. I coached my younger son’s soccer team since he was four, but running became something we could do together as they got older. We’ve learned so much about our bodies and how to eat healthy. And we’ve made really great friends along the way. It has become very special.”


Giuliana Wells, 42: “When they talk about runner’s high, it’s true.”

When Giuliana Wells laced up her sneakers at age 36, a marathon was the furthest thing from her mind. She was neither an athlete nor a runner and worked as an executive assistant at Baptist Outpatient Services, where she spent most of her day at a desk. But a desire to get into better shape and try something new spurred her into joining a running group, and within two months of training with the Footworks team, she found herself signing up for a 5K. “I didn’t really think I was ready. But I surprised myself. I did it,” Ms. Wells said.

In the six years since that run, Ms. Wells has completed five full marathons and countless 5Ks and 10Ks. The Fitbit Miami Marathon and Half Marathon this month will be her 15th half marathon. Among her most impressive races was the Dopey Challenge, a 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon on consecutive days during the Walt Disney World Marathon in 2015. She’s also participated in Ragnar runs in San Francisco and Miami, where teams of up to 12 people run nearly 200 miles in 24-36 hours. And a memorable run was a spur-of-the-moment 10K in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day.

“I was very intimidated at that first training class,” she said. “But when I got there, I saw there were people of every age and every fitness level. They completely welcomed me into their group. It put me at ease.”

Today, Ms. Wells runs six days a week, putting in 40 to 60 miles weekly. Running has become a family activity. Since joining her, Jorge, her husband, has lost 60 pounds and recently completed his second full marathon. She said Jorge jokes that he doesn’t really run with his wife. “He always tells people he starts with his wife but spends the rest of the time trying to catch up to me.” Her teenage son, Shawn, also joins them occasionally.

She and Jorge even planned their wedding around her running schedule. “I went to work in the morning, we got married at the courthouse during lunch, I went back to work, and then ran with my Footworks group in the evening. That night I passed out on the couch,” she said, laughing.

Although she’s dealt with some injuries, Ms. Wells says she has learned proper stretching techniques and sees a sports massage specialist.

“When they talk about runner’s high, it’s true,” Ms. Wells said. “There are times partway through a race when I’ll think this is my last one. But when I finish, I am already saying, ‘When can I sign up for the next one?’ ”

Also, check out the first part of our Miami Marathon Profiles 2018.

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