This column ran in the Oct. 8th edition of the Daily Gleaner.
The interest in running started from being a fan for Fredericton’s Michelle Ingram, who vividly recalls heading to watch her husband Ryan race in a half marathon in the city one spring.
Like many who are exposed to the emotion and camaraderie at the finish line for the first time, Michelle was blown away by the spirit at the line, enough to take up the sport herself, eventually entering her first 10 km event about a year later.
Now, just four years after that, running represents a major staple in her weekly routine.
“I went down to the race to cheer him on and couldn’t get over the level of energy and the amount of people running,” she said. “The runners, the spectators and the volunteers, everyone was there for each other. Fredericton has a huge running community and I knew I needed to be part of it.“
Michelle was born and raised in Fredericton, and after going away for two years of travel/tourism school, she worked as a travel agent in the city for about seven years before switching to the civil service, where she has worked with the Province of New Brunswick for approximately eight years.
Her and Ryan have two daughters, 8 and 5, and they are an active family.
“I started running because I wanted an activity my husband and I could do together and I wanted to set a new goal for myself, which was to run 10k in a race,” she explained. “I am very proud that both my husband and I love to run, knowing that we are being great role models for our kids.“
Since she got going, she’s enjoyed strong progression in her racing and this past spring, completed her first marathon, clocking a 4:06.42 time in the Fredericton Marathon. She’s taken part in the Fredericton Fall Classic, posting a solid finish several weeks ago in an event that’s become a part of her annual fall agenda. She has also participated in other races around the province and given the positive vibes she got from her longest race, she’s thinking about another marathon in 2017 – only if she can fit it in without disrupting their family’s hectic lifestyle too much.
This time last year, a marathon wasn’t in the picture but several members of her running group – the Sole Mates – suggested they tackle a 42.2 km route to click off one of those elusive bucket list goals.
Michelle was intrigued and eventually signed up. After a winter of training, the six partners split their dream runs, with two racing in Fredericton, two in Sugarloaf Maine and another two in Ottawa.
“It wasn’t hard to convince me to join them,” she said of her race in Fredericton. “It was my most memorable run without a doubt. It was amazing to have my family and friends there to support me and cheer me on along the way and I will never forget seeing my husband and kids just before I crossed the finish line…I still get choked up thinking about it.”
She credits the social and helpful nature of the Sole Mates, a group that trains together 3-4 times per week, providing motivation, inspiration and assistance with getting out on training runs, whether they be up the Hanwell Road or around Queen’s Square.
She also says a half marathon clinic operated by Mary Astle paid early and continued dividends, which have translated into seven half marathons and her treasured full marathon experience.
“I truly believe that she is the reason I got hooked to running so quickly,” Michelle said. “If you know Mary, you know that she makes magic happen. She has taught me a lot about running and gave me the confidence I needed to achieve my goals. She taught me that the power of intention really works and to believe you can do it.”
And of course, she says Ryan’s influence in her running is immeasurable, dating back to her first finish line experience. He encouraged her to get into the sport and his performances and training companionship have assisted her running development.
“He also has a lot of races under his belt and completed his first marathon last year,” Michelle said. “He inspires me to run as well and he is very fast.“
Michelle says she likes to travel, bake, cook and is always looking for that next household project to complete but she feels passionate about fitness and nutrition, healthy living in general.
If she is not at work or with her family, it is a good bet she it the gym or involved in some sort of cardio activity.
“The best part of running for me is being part of a running group and being there for each other,” she said. “Every single person in my running group inspires me and that keeps me motivated to run and do my best even though sometimes you feel like skipping a run because of weather or maybe just dreading the hill workout we had planned. I have met some really great friends.”
Kevin Barrett’s column appears every other Saturday. If you have a suggestion for a feature story, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit barrettkevin.wordpress.com