From couch to running 10 years and counting


By Henry Howard


I began my running journey in the spring of 2011. My motivation was to cross an item off my bucket list: run a marathon. After doing some 5Ks and a couple of half marathons, I achieved the goal when I crossed the finish line of the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis in November 2012.


That was the first of 35 races longer than a half marathon distance, so far.


There must have been something in the water or electrolytes that year. A recent exchange on Twitter revealed that a lot of fellow runners also started that same year. And they are all continuing to run today.


While their motivations are different, they share a common love for the running community. I asked three of my running friends and members of #Team2011 to offer highlights of their past decade of running. Here are the stories from Camille Marschall, Melinda Howard (no relation but here's an earlier story I wrote about her inspiring journey) and Chris Walsh:


Camille Marschall: A 5-year run steak continues


Question: Take me back to 2011. What motivated you to start running?


Answer: I have always been active doing various activities. I never liked running though. One day I saw a woman running in my neighborhood and I was impressed with her physique. Next thing I knew I started walk/running and eventually running all the time. It's my favorite activity now.


Question: What is your proudest achievement in your decade of running?

Answer: My proudest achievement is my run streak. I know it sounds stupid to some people or just flat out crazy. But I love running every day. It makes me feel good, healthy, and I have fun running. I started on July 6, 2016. I was only going to streak for the week through my birthday and ended up not stopping. I didn't even really think about rest days or keeping the streak going. It had just become a habit. As of today Nov. 26, 2021, I have run 1,970 days in a row.


Question: What inspires you to continue running today?

Answer: My inspiration come from the outdoors. I love being outside and free range. Being outside and enjoying nature brightens my soul and makes me feel alive.


Question: What advice do you have for those thinking about starting to run?

Answer: My only advice is to enjoy the run. Pace/mileage doesn't matter. Get out there and enjoy all the aspects of the run. Wind through your hair, feet pounding the ground, running out of breath, the views, the animals, noises, etc. Also don't be discouraged if you need to walk. It happens to the best of us runners.


Melinda Howard: 170 pounds down, infinite inspirations up


Question: Take me back to 2011. What motivated you to start running?


Answer: I was incredibly unhealthy and heavy back then, a whopping 170 pounds heavier than I am currently. A medical scare caused me to re-evaluate my lifestyle. MFH (My Favorite Husband) helped me through a couch-to-5K (C25K) and to learn healthier food choices. I don’t believe in “dieting” so it was cooking smarter, portion control, that kind of thing. I immediately fell in love with running so the motivation to keep moving and challenging myself in that area was high. Guess I never looked back!


Question: What is your proudest achievement in your decade of running?

Answer: A decade of running! How wild is that!?! You know, MFH and I have chatted about this a few times. I’ve asked him, “Those first faltering steps while struggling through C25K, did you ever imagine running would take us to Germany and the UK for marathons OR across the country for ultras?” Being matched with Aiden through the IRun4 program has definitely been a highlight of my running! I know it’s changed my running from being all about me to being about him and being the best possible runner for him. He deserves the absolute best! The day Aiden and I (because he’s always with me in spirit when I race) earned our 100-mile buckle was huge and I was sooo happy to be able to mail it to him!


Question: What inspires you to continue running today?

Answer: I joke and say I run to fight gravity and old age? Turning 60 is no joke when it comes to long distance stuff. The miles are a bit more challenging and slower but we’re still running! Inspirations these days are to stay healthy and keep moving! I love being one of the older women on the trails! It’s the most fun thing ever. Of course I’m always going to run for Aiden because he’s my running buddy and I wouldn’t dream of not running for him. I’m also (finally!) a grandma now. I want my grandson to be proud of his grandma and I want to be able to keep up with him. He’s going to be walking any day and once that happens he’s going to be a busy guy! Grandma is going to need energy to keep up with him! Last inspiration is for MFH. I’d love to be the wife he isn’t embarrassed to introduce to others because I haven’t taken care of myself. He tells me I’m a sexy old lady. I think that’s a compliment?


Question: What advice do you have for those thinking about starting to run?

Answer: Celebrate you! Every bit of progress is huge and you need to learn to happy dance about all the new/amazing things your body can do! A few weeks back you couldn’t do what you can now and that’s huge!!! Don’t worry yourself about what other runners are doing, you celebrate what you can do. Every one of us is different so what we can do is going to be different, too. Challenge yourself to try new things! Maybe a new distance, a new race … the running world is a wonderful place and the running community is the best ever! If you laced up your shoes and tried a walk, maybe even tried to run a few steps in the middle, I congratulate you. You’re brave and you’re doing amazing!!!


Chris Walsh: From an OCR to 100-mile finisher


Question: Take me back to 2011. What motivated you to start running?


Answer: A co-worker organized a company team for an OCR (obstacle course race) and I thought, “I haven't run in 29 years, why not.” As for my motivation to stick with it even though I hurt for a week, the easy answer is that I was doing it for my health but the truth is I wanted to beat this guy so bad because he rubbed his running achievements in everyone's face.


Question: What is your proudest achievement in your decade of running?

Answer: Finishing Javalina Jundred in 2019.


Question: What inspires you to continue running today?

Answer: What inspires me to keep at it is because I can. I know that there will come a time that I can't so I don't want to waste the gift. Also the amazing running communities on social media.


Question: What advice do you have for those thinking about starting to run?

Answer: If you are thinking about starting, just start. Get out there every day and put the work in. It will suck at the beginning so just have fun. And don't compare yourself to others. The only competition is to be better than yesterday's you. Also get good shoes and socks.


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