“Running a marathon was on my bucket list, so I thought I might as well continue training, since I was already halfway there in my mileage,” she said.“People aren’t joking when they tell you it is all in your mind. You train and train, and really it is all about mental preparedness and sheer determination.”Aside from Olympians, professional athletes and world-class nonprofessional competitors, most marathoners do not expect to cross the finish line first; the goal could be setting a personal record, placing in their gender or age group, or something as simple as just completing the race.
At the end of the proverbial road, a transformation happens. Some are proud of their accomplishment and happily choose to move on to a different challenge, while others get hooked and begin the search for their next race.
The Reserve at Belmere resident Sherri D’Argenio completes her first marathon in February 2011.
That was the case for Wintermere Pointe resident Kay Ownby, 54, who has completed 61 marathons and is just two states shy of running a marathon in all 50 states; she is missing only South Dakota and Hawaii.
“I started running in my 20s, when I was in the military,” Ownby said. “I mostly did 5K races.”Though she did complete a 15K race, which is equivalent to 9.3 miles, her interest remained with shorter distances.“I always thought you had to be skinny and fast to run a marathon,” she said. It was not until she read an article in Runner’s World magazine about a woman who ran a marathon, despite being 100 pounds overweight, that Ownby realized the challenge was within her reach. She registered for the 1999 Walt Disney World Marathon, which ignited a passion that would continue for the next 12 years.“I had no idea how to train, so I did a lot of research online and read books,” she said.At first she ran solo but soon discovered the benefits of joining a running group that followed a detailed training schedule.“According to the plan, we were suppose to do a 26-mile-long run,” saidOwnby, who lived in Texas at the time. “My running partner and I thought if we had to run that far, we might as well get a medal for it. So, we entered the Dallas White Rock Marathon, and four weeks later went to Florida to run Disney.” Ownby was hooked. She joined an Internet group of runners from across the U.S. who keep each other motivated; share tips about training, nutrition and weight loss; and meet at marathons around the country.“It gave me people to talk to about running, because if you aren’t a runner, it is hard for people to relate,” Ownby said.One friend she made has completed the 50-state challenge, in addition to running a marathon on every continent.“I didn’t consciously set out to do a marathon in every state, but by the time I had completed around 30, I thought, Why not, I might as well go for it,” she said.There has only been one marathon she could not complete.“I had a migraine headache the day before the Marine Corps Marathon [in Washington, D.C.], so I had to stop at the halfway point.”
Wintermere Pointe resident Kay Ownby, 54, is just two states shy of running a marathon in all 50 U.S. states.
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