Michele didn’t run a mile until she was 24, and thought that accomplishment was the most amazing thing in the world. In fact, running just that one mile was at one point a life goal of hers. “I was never athletic growing up, I was overweight when I graduated college and after a few years of living with that, I knew I needed to make a change. After that first mile, I started losing weight, changing my life habits and lost about 80 pounds, but I still wasn’t what people would consider ‘a runner’,” she reflected.
Years later, she would complete five half-marathons and find her passion for running. “You never know what you’re capable of until you actually try it,” Michele explained. “My theory on life is that your body is capable of accomplishing amazing things, but it’s all about your mindset. Everyone is capable of doing what they dream of, but it is really about whether you can mentally accomplish it.”
That theory will be put to the test this November as Michele is preparing to run the TCS New York City Marathon as part of United Way of Long Island’s Team Mission United. In April, she was training for an ultra-trail run, 50 miles, in New Paltz when she fell and broke her ankle. This is the latest in a string of injuries Michele has faced, including a skiing accident four years ago that forces her to run with a knee brace. Her ankle has prevented her from training for the big race, but she isn’t giving up because she knows the cause she is running for deserves all of her strength.
“I have such an appreciation for those who serve,” said Michele. “I want to raise awareness and funds to provide services for those who served for us. They did something for me, and our country, that they didn’t have to do. They had the courage to do something I never could, so anything I can do to give back to them I’m more than willing to do.”
Michele is a member of the Long Island Insurance Community, and has been involved with United Way of Long Island for many years. Last year, the group sponsored three runners on Team Mission United, and she is excited to take her involvement to the next level as part of the team herself.
“It truly amazes me what you can accomplish when you just try,” concluded Michele. “I always made excuses for not exercising and living the lifestyle I was used to, but so many amazing women in my life have inspired me to do something I never thought I would be able to, I want to inspire other people to do something they never thought they could do. This marathon is my way of telling others to take that first step toward the thing that you desperately want but might be too afraid to try.”