Running for Health
I was born in Sri Lanka and moved to NY in 1980 for my college degree. My husband, Amal and I moved to Bridgewater in 1987. I started my running career in 1998, after a six week long vacation during which I had put on a few pounds, and was determined to lose them. I had never exercised in my life and did not know even where to start. So I decided to join Amal whenever he went jogging, and quickly realized I could not even run a mile. It took a whole year to be able to run a 5K. I ran my first 5K in the Fall of 1999 and it was a disaster. I was running with a friend who had some health issues during the run, and he had to be taken to the hospital. I was glad I was there for him, but I ended up getting back to the finish line in a police car. After this episode, I kept on running and signed up for the Runner’s World Half Marathon in Allentown PA, in 2000 and ran it in 2:08. This gave me lots of confidence that I could do better.
In Fall 2001, I was brave enough to sign up for my first marathon in Disney World. Both Amal and I signed up, but Amal got the flu and couldn’t run. I went with our two kids without even knowing if I could complete the marathon. I finished in 4:37. I was overjoyed when I saw our kids at the finish line! This gave me all the confidence in the world and in the same year, I registered for NJ and NY marathons. I got injured during the NJ marathon but still completed it in 5:05. At first, I did not get in to the NYC Marathon, and then was invited to participate by someone from the New York Road Runners Club and I accepted!
By the end of 2002, I had already run in 3 states and I thought maybe if I try, I can run in all 50 states. I started my 50 states in 2002 and completed them in June 2014 at the Kona Marathon in Hawaii. So far, I have run 67 marathons and 4 ultras. The longest I have run is 50 miles. I have been lucky enough to qualify for Boston, and ran it three times. I have also run marathons in London and Berlin. The Berlin Marathon was my fastest (3:55), and I hope to run in Australia and Africa next year.
Cross training is definitely what is helping me achieve my goals. Now that I am in my mid-fifties, cross training becomes essential. A few years ago I started to slow down because of injuries, and then I joined the JCC. I love the J because it has helped me tremendously in achieving my goals. More than anything else, the JCC has the best instructors and is the friendliest place in town! I am there almost every day! I take Zumba, Body Pump, Pilates and Body Combat. I can see the difference in my body. My running times have improved because of the JCC, and I am hoping to improve my marathon times once I restart my training.
My advice to anyone who wants to start exercising is that it is never too late and you do not have to be an athlete. If I can do it you can. Just be dedicated and stay focused. Have confidence in yourself.