Runner Testimonials

Barbie, 49 years old

None of us were runners…most of us NEVER ran more than a minute and for me that was usually running late to the bus stop or through Target to pick up milk at the back of the store and suckin’ wind as I stood in the checkout line at the front of the store.

Needless to say, I wasn’t a runner either…I still say that I am not a runner…I simply run!

I started with Irene in 2011 and she mentioned running many times to me as we did our morning workouts together…after muttering swear words under my breath…I laughed at the idea that she thought I could run a half marathon (I didn’t even know how many miles that was). She kept up her requests and I kept up my muttering til one day I gave in to her nonsense and thus far I have run 5 halfs and the Chicago marathon with a plan on running another half marathon in 12 weeks for a personal goal and one next week just for fun! As much as the personal goal races have been great, my most satisfying races were when I helped new runners (like yourselves) run their first race, and they all finished within their time goal!! It was amazing….Additionally, I ran several ladies in at the last full marathon which also gave me the pride and accomplishment of knowing that my steps alongside them pushed them to their ultimate goals!

PLEASE remember…I NEVER ran before…I joined a walk to run group and it took us 4 weeks to run a full mile…I was 40 pounds heavier too when I started running… so no excuses there either! The walk to run group would walk a quarter mile then run a quarter mile for a total of 2 miles…then the next week we would walk a half mile then run a half mile for 3 miles and then 3/ 4 mile run/walk etc…you get the picture…so it was a slow and steady increase until I could run a mile on my own…after those 4 weeks, I still chuckled that how in the heck am I going to run 12.1 MORE miles!! I trained long and hard with Irene and a few others that changed my life. Their expertise, experience and friendship was powerful. It got me through each and every run. The cold beer at the end of a few runs was helpful too…LOL…Your running companions will become your friends for life…trust me! Ask any of the girls that run Saturday mornings..they will tell you…what happens on the trail..stays on the trail…its a sorority of sisterhood that is beyond comprehension to any man! The tight bond of woman helping woman is there! But even with all that…the saga continued….it wasn’t getting much easier I thought ,but little did I know that physically I was improving and now I had to work on my mind. I kept telling myself that I am running for a charity…put things into perspective…I CAN run and many of the people and the families that are battling cancer have a much tougher road ahead than my 13.1 miles…so…it clicked….I simply run because I can! I run because I hear Irene still in my head in every race reminding me how hard I trained and how strong I am. I run because my family and friends are watching and are so proud of me. I run because I know how great the feeling is when its over! I run because I want to prove to myself that I can. I run because I am a role model to someone else watching me. I run because my daughter and husband deserve a healthy, happy mother/wife. I run because God has given me the strength and courage each day to do so. I run because I hope to inspire someone else to follow me! Will that person be you?

I’ll be waiting at the start line for you……….


Linda – 48 years old

For all those who maybe sitting on the fence about the half/full marathon, let me tell you my story.

I started boot camp in April of 2013. I absolutely loved it but wanted to do something on my off days and not knowing what to do. Then one day about a week later I was paired up with Sandy and told her my concern she asked if I ever thought about running. I said I have never run before she that’s ok we will help you, then told Irene I wanted to run and that was the start.

I remember my first time out I could not even run a mile without feeling like I wanted to die. I think my first mile took me 15 min. I remember feeling like I could not do this and very defeated. However with the encouragement of Irene and Sandy I finally ran that first mile and felt great, it still took me 13 min to finish but I did it. Then during one of our runs Irene told me about TCAMF and the half/full marathon and asked if I wanted to do the half. She said they would train me and be with me the whole way. I said sure, she paired me up with Stephanie William who was my support through the whole experience.

So that September, 6 months after I started boot camp and never running a day in my life, I ran my first half marathon at an average 12:21 min/mile and crossed the finish line with Stephanie,  Irene and my other boot camp babes by my side.  It was one of the greatest moments of my life and a feeling I will never forget.

I can’t wait for round two and hope that I could “pay it forward” the experience and love I felt.  If I can do it so can you!


Kris, 46 years old – First Half Marathon

When I first joined boot camp there was absolutely no way I was going to run any distance ever.  I was not a runner because running was hard for me and I didn’t like it.  In order to be a runner I thought you had to like it.   Then I started to run on the treadmill during my 8 week bootcamp Biggest Loser challenge. I ended up injuring my achilles a little while after and couldn’t run for a while. I realized that I missed running and if I missed running then maybe I actually liked running and therefore maybe I actually was a runner.

Regardless – through Irene’s encouragement I decided to go outside my comfort zone and sign up for the half.  I will tell you that having TCAMF and the support of all the runners–pace runners, newbie and veteran runners and even those that trained with me but didn’t run– gave me confidence to reach that goal. And a personal goal for me, Kris Keller, was something that I hadn’t had in such a long time.  I’m sure many of you were/are like me — focused on making sure our kids and husbands are well taken care of that we are the last ones to get our own attention.  But the run became something much more powerful for me.  As the journey took shape it really wasn’t about me anymore.   It was about me getting outside my comfort zone and doing something for someone else who can’t run but would trade places with me in a heartbeat to not have to deal with cancer.  So now i had a goal with so much purpose!!

The entire training and run journey gave me so much inspiration and such a different perspective on my life as I go forward today. Running that half marathon with beautiful ladies to support me and someone I chose to run for and in honor of —at the end is an undescribable feeling when you cross that finish line.

You got this ladies!!  You can do it! All you have to do is say YES!  Irene and those that commit to pace lead have the hard stuff covered for you.   Do something for yourself this year!  And you’ll see what I mean about it becoming an awesome journey!


Dori, 44 years old – First Marathon

I never considered myself a runner, but after running 26.2 miles last September; I guess I need to change my way of thinking. My experience started off the same as the other babes, I began boot camp with Irene in October 2012.  In December, I was chatting with a dear friend who is an avid runner and she talked me into doing a “fun” 5k together. We lived in the same neighborhood and I thought it would be fun to run together a couple of times a week, but just trying to do those 3.5 miles was not easy. We did the 5k and it was a good feeling to cross over the finish line. I liked that feeling.

Around this time, Irene started talking about how she trains people for the half or full marathon in the late spring/summer. I remember telling her that “I’m not a runner”, but I’d think about it. I continued on with boot camp and ran with my friend on occasion. I started to develop some knee pain. I went to an orthopedic doctor and they ordered an MRI. In the back of my mind I thought “I’d really like to try to do a half” and I started to talk to Irene about it. Irene was explaining that there was an option to sign up for the “flex” which means on race day you can decide to run either a half or full marathon, she said “You never know once you start training, you might want to do more”. In my mind, I was thinking I would humor her, but there was no way I would do a full, especially with my knee issue.

After a MRI, I was told I needed surgery and there would be no more running or boot camp anymore. I remember driving home and thinking I’m 42, not 80! How am I supposed to stop doing what I started to enjoy so much? I decided to get a second opinion and that doctor told me no surgery but definitely I should have some injections in my knee. I still didn’t like that option and that’s when I found an awesome sports medicine doctor that Irene and many others highly recommended. He too, has a way of making you feel that you can accomplish and do anything you put your mind to – he helped me rehab and strengthen my knee so I could get out there and run.

I began training for the half marathon. About 2 ½ months before the race, Irene approached another friend (who had also signed up for the flex option) and myself. Irene had complete confidence that we could do a full instead of the half. I did not have quite the same confidence. But, here’s the awesome thing about Irene, she will never set you up to fail. The training, along with the knowledge and confidence, I received from Irene is irreplaceable. I can’t say that I had the best experience during that 26-mile journey on that Sunday morning. The first 14 miles were great, unfortunately for me, I began cramping at mile 15 and it was a painful and long 11 more. BUT, I pushed through and that is because of the incredible training and encouragement I received from Irene and her pace leaders. At mile 20, Irene met me and ran me to the finish line. What an accomplishment, one I will never forget!

Going from someone who was not a runner, but now a marathon finisher is an incredible feeling. Knowing that I ran this race and so many others are just trying to make it through another day of cancer – makes you really stop and appreciate so many things. I ran in honor of my mom that day (who lost her life to lung cancer), even though she physically wasn’t there to see me cross that finish line, knowing she was watching over me – helping me mentally get to that finish line was very moving for me and a memory I will cherish always. I owe so much to Irene and the running babes and no matter what – they will always be there for you!! Irene will get you to the finish line (literally) and help you achieve many goals that you never knew you could achieve. I am signing up for this year’s marathon training, because I have a new goal to achieve, to finish stronger and faster! I love the group runs and spending many hours together with these girls on the trail and I wouldn’t give that up for anything!  Now, is your time to join us and find a person you never knew you were on the trails as well!!  I hope to see you there!