Some people enjoy solitary runs, while others like to run with the pack.
Count Suegene Wagner, assistant controller in accounting research at Akron Children’s Hospital, among those in the latter group. Since becoming involved with a running club 5 years ago, she has run 16 half marathons and one full marathon. Plus, she’s developed new friendships and healthier routines.
“I was an occasional runner up until 2009,” she said. “I had surgery that year and wanted to start exercising regularly. Several of my colleagues in accounting are runners, and they recommended I give it a try.”
Suegene used a tried-and-true training method developed by running enthusiast Jeff Galloway to get started. The following year, she participated in the Akron Half Marathon, walking the entire 13.1-mile route.
The Half Marathon course takes an estimated 3.5 hours to complete. Runners – as well as walkers – need to have a continuous pace of 16 minutes per mile to complete the route in that allotted time.
“Completing that half marathon was really empowering for me,” Suegene said. “One of my friends suggested I try running it the following year, but I was insecure and didn’t know how to accomplish that.”
She decided to join Northeast Ohio FIT, a running club designed for anyone who wants to train for and complete a marathon or half marathon. Although the organization charges a membership fee, the group helped Suegene overcome mental and physical barriers to running.
“I used to think waking up early on a Saturday morning and driving to Brecksville to meet other NEO Fit members for a 7 or 8 a.m. run seemed like such a chore,” she said. “Now, it’s such a pleasure. It’s helped make my running program stick and I’ve developed relationships and friendships with people I’ve met through the group.”
The seminars, nutrition guidance, idea swaps and resources Suegene found there have been invaluable, too. For instance, last year she decided she wanted to run the full 26.2-mile marathon, instead of just the half.
“They taught me that there are right ways and wrong ways to train,” she said. “I’ve learned that because I’m over 50, I need to train differently for longer-distance running than someone who is 30. My body needs more recovery time.” She also cross-trains, taking yoga classes to stay strong and limber.
Suegene and a group of NEO Fit friends drew inspiration from each other to run the 2015 Akron Marathon. They used the Galloway method of running for 3 minutes and walking for 1 minute to complete the race.
“I was toward the end and never felt any pressure to finish,” she said. “There was still a crowd of people at the end (of the race) supporting and cheering for us.”
That experience and the support she’s received through running prompted her to set another goal: Participating in the New York City Marathon in November.
“There’s a lottery to get in and my name was chosen,” Suegene said. “I’ll be there running the full marathon this year, but I plan to run the Akron Half Marathon in September, too.”
The insecurity she felt about running is now long gone.
“I’ve learned that there is a place in running for every age, body shape and fitness level,” she said. “Many runners are older and less active. Not everyone is an ultramarathoner. With a little effort and faith in yourself, this is something that most people can do.”
For more information on the 2016 Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series, visit www.akronmarathon.org.
This story is part of a series called Mile in My Shoes that features Akron Children’s Hospital employees who are participating in the Akron Marathon Race Series.