A few years ago, one Connecticut woman made the life-changing decision to start running.
Now, two years later and nearly 80 pounds lighter, she's taking on the Hartford Half Marathon.
"Call it a mid-life crisis, but I said let's do it,” said Michelle Russi, who is running the half marathon this weekend.
In the 1980s, Russi was a college athlete and a proud member of the University of Connecticut’s track-and-field team.
"But I specialized in the field events...I was a hammer thrower. Distance running, I had no desire to do that whatsoever,” Russi said.
But years later, she started doing something she never thought she’d do…lacing up her sneakers and running.
She joined a program through Fleet Feet Sports, and the pounds started falling off.
From there, she trained for a 5K, which was her first in years.
"I ran it, enjoyed it and wasn't quite sure how to keep going,” Russi said.
She had the idea to run a half marathon, but in order to run 13.1 miles, she knew she needed help, so she hired a coach.
She began working with her coach in January, joined the McKirdy Trained program in May, and conquered her first half marathon in June.
"Sometimes it's just making that first step, that first step in write down that goal...and seek out help,” Russi said.
Now, nearly 80 pounds lighter, Russi will be running the Hartford Half Marathon on Saturday.
Not only does she physically feel better, she said “there's also that mental aspect of just feeling more confident in your body and feeling like I can make it through the day without feeling tired."
James McKirdy, head coach and owner of McKirdy trained, said he couldn’t be more proud of Michelle.
For anyone who wants to turn their life around and start running, James said to start small.
"You don't have to worry about how far or long you're going to go, it's just five minutes. And then you walk for a few minutes, and then its 10, its 20 and then you're running for an hour,” McKirdy said.
The Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon kicks off this Saturday at 8 a.m.
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