Part I of "Inspired to Run" is the story of Dr. Sumi Kawaratani, who ran her first marathon last year. You can support Sumi and Team ShapeUp by donating any amount to the team HERE!
In 2010, a close friend and fellow Rotary Club member, Carole Donahue, approached me about running in the LA Marathon to raise money for SOSMentor, the nonprofit organization she and her husband co-founded to empower students to eat healthy and get active. The idea of participating in a marathon seemed completely crazy to me – I had never walked more than a mile or two, much less 26.2 miles!
Nevertheless, I agreed to train with her and the LA Roadrunners, presuming I would probably have to drop out at some point. To my own surprise, I stuck with it. At first, we walked 2 or 3 miles, and before you know it, we were doing 12-16 miles! Over time, I gained more and more confidence in my ability to cross the finish line.
Having already mentored students in nutrition and physical activity in SOSMentor’s ShapeUp programs, I became even more motivated to raise money and finish the marathon for all the kids SOSMentor serves. By asking everyone I possibly could to support me and donate to this cause, I raised $700 for SOSMentor!
On the Big Day, March 20, 2011, it began to sprinkle – but with our plastic ponchos, we were prepared to brave the weather. The rain fell harder as we pressed on through the streets of Los Angeles. I had to keep my eyes locked on our pace leader to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I thought of calling it quits time and time again, but I kept reminding myself, “You didn’t do 6 months of training for nothing! I gotta finish this for all those donors who supported me, and for my teammates. I gotta finish this for me!”
It was a true test of my will, not to mention my body! As we neared the finish archway at 26 miles, one of my teammates LJ urged me, “Let’s cross that finish line!” With a groan, I managed a slow trot and finally reached what I had been working toward for all this time.
The experience was so exhilarating that I'm at it again this year, training to run with SOSMentor Team ShapeUp. My main motivation is supporting this worthy organization, which does wonders in educating children about diet and exercise. SOSMentor has successfully trained so many young adults to take charge of their health and fitness. I applaud their great work and look forward to supporting them once again in the 2012 LA Marathon!