Success Story By Ilene Schnall


I read with such admiration about folks who are able to go on these amazing diets, overcome all kinds of adversity, improve their health and turn their lives around with running. I am not one of those people.

Before F.I.T. I do not recall ever running more than 2 miles in my life (and I was 47 at the time). I intensely disliked running. But, I was always athletic — swimming, biking, organized sports — I was up for anything that didn’t involve lots of running. Then one day a friend in California challenged me to train for a 70.3 triathlon, a race consisting of swimming 1.2 miles, biking 56 miles and finishing with a run of 13.1 miles. I accepted the challenge. I was fine training on my own for the swimming and biking components, but the running had me petrified. I was truly deer-in-headlights scared of running.

My friend Celeste encouraged me to join F.I.T. to help me face and overcome thus fear. I didn’t know how to run. I didn’t know anything about hydration, clothes, pacing, running etiquette. The only running sneaks I owned were an old pair of black Keds. With great trepidation, I went to F.I.T. sign up day last April. Another friend, Brett, was there and helped me through the walk/run on registration day.

At the beginning, Brett, I and other neighbors would run the training schedule during the week and with Debbie’s group each Saturday. I still disliked running. Each run pretty much consisted of me saying how much I hated running. I didn’t just say it once, I said it lots. Slowly, as I built up endurance, I began to hate running less. I still didn’t like running, I just hated it less.

Six months later, the 70.3 triathlon in Austin came and went. It was fun and I completed the race within the time I set for myself. The running portion actually went quite well. Still, I didn’t considered myself a runner. I was a triathlete, not a runner.

Then I ran the Fort Lauderdale A1A half marathon, a running race, nothing else. What a blast! I had such an amazing time. I didn’t realize over the year what friends I had made at F.I.T. It was so cool to see everyone during the run. Terry and Debbie cheering us on were a welcome sight! The support from F.I.T. was awesome.

Tonight, during a training run, I found myself lost in the vibrating sensation of my feet hitting the ground, the pulse of the music driving me on and the feel of the sweat pooling on my skin. I wasn’t thinking about how I wished the run were over, what was going on at work, or what family obligations I had — I truly wasn’t thinking; I was running.

Yes, that’s me. I am a runner. And I love running.

Thank you F.I.T. for making it so. See you all at the next sign up!

–Ilene Schnall