Before I introduce you to our newest client of the year, I need to mention that it was hard (really hard) to choose one person to single out. Why, you ask? Because unlike previous years (and we’ve been in business for over 10 years now), we currently have more clients making big time changes in themselves and their health than ever before.
However, there was one individual who seemingly got knocked down time and again over the course of the year but managed to keep getting up every time and accomplished a goal so big, most never even consider giving it a go.
With that said, our 2017 PPT Client of the Year is Michelle Carlin. Michelle currently resides in Lake in the Hills, IL and is a mother to three young children ages 10, 8, and 4. Not only that, she also works full-time for United Healthcare as a Sr. Project Manager. To say that her plate is already full would be quite an understatement.
Michelle and I started working together in March of 2016. About a year prior, she started running on her own and ran the Disney Half Marathon in January of 2016. It was such a good experience, she came to me with the goal of wanting to run the Chicago Marathon that October. For those of you not familiar with the sport of distance running, doubling your race distance of 13.1 to 26.2 in a little less that 9 months is a fairly tall order with no certain guarantees. A lot can go wrong when attempting that type of increase in such a short amount of time. Cutting to the chase, yes, we dodged some bullets, but Michelle did get to the starting line heathy and finished her first marathon.
Now this brings us back to this exact time last year when Michelle dropped her next goal on me, and I’ll never forget it. “Scott, I want to do a 50-miler this October. Do you think I can do it?” Well, as Michelle would tell you, I guess my facial expression said it all! Now just to be clear, there’s a big difference between thinking someone can accomplish a certain goal and the reality or probability that it will actually happen.
So yes, I thought Michelle could do it because I knew mentally she had the will, discipline, and desire to do it, but as a coach, you never know if your athlete’s body is on the same page. Remember that going from a half to a full marathon was a tall order. Going from 26.2 to 50 miles in nine months while working full-time and raising your kids is an epic feat! I remember that day telling Michelle that I did think she could do it, while at the same time mentioning that it would probably require a pretty smooth ride to get it done. Translation – no major injuries and no big chunks of missed training time because we needed ALL of it.
Well, apparently Michelle wanted to make things interesting. Keep in mind, we had this discussion at the tail end of December of 2016, and on January 17, 2017, two days after completing the Maui Half Marathon, she found herself in the hospital and the consensus was her gallbladder needed to come out – immediately! So much for that smooth ride.
So Michelle’s gallbladder came out and all told there was no running taking place from January 18 – March 5. Definitely not what either of us needed – her more so than I! Now I wish I could say that it got easier from there through October, and maybe it did slightly, but not by much. Here are the remaining bumps in the road on the way to 50:
- March through May: traveled for work and basically lived in hotel rooms with only a few stops at home here and there.
- April: fell going down a hill in a 5 mile trail race and fractured her shoulder.
- June: lost her 94 year old grandfather.
- July: went back to the scene of the crime of the aforementioned 5-mile trail race and this time rolled her ankle 3/4 of the way into a 10-mile run.
- August: The family dog of 13 years passed away.
- Labor Day: found herself in the ER with chest pains after a 50k in the 90+ degree heat in Milwaukee.
- In the week leading up to (including the night before) race day, she came down with both a sinus and ear infection while her husband was out all week for work, leaving her at home alone to care for the kids, which resulted in her only getting 9 hours of sleep…for the entire week!
I’m going to be completely honest here. There were several points along Michelle’s journey where I thought it was game over. After all, I was just being objective and of course I never let on I was feeling this way, but it didn’t look good. And it was not for a lack of trying or wanting to succeed on her part, but things just kept happening ,which kept moving the goalposts further and further back.
Most people facing a similar situation would have given up. I see it often in my line of work. But Michelle absolutely refused to give up. Every time life dealt her a blow and knocked her down, she got back up. Over and over, and over again. Keep in mind this was just a goal. And you know as well as I do that people give up on much lesser goals all the time. It’s not like her livelihood or health was at stake. It’s not like she had some big payday waiting for her at the end of this road. She just wanted this really, really badly because she knew if she could accomplish this, then she could accomplish anything.
So she continued to keep getting up simply because she refused to lose and on October 7, 2017, Michelle completed her first 50-miler. Sick and having only slept for a grand total of 9 hours the week prior to the race, Michelle accomplished what she set out to do 9 months earlier even when she had more than enough reasons to just “put if off” until next year.
I also need to mention that on race day in Sterling, IL, the runners were greeted with a cold, hard, driving rain that lasted 3/4 of the 12-hour plus race. A fitting end to a journey that was a battle from start to finish.
So what’s in store for Michelle in 2018? Her goals include a couple of trail races in the mountains with some fairly fierce elevation gains and a 100k (62-mile) trail race this August. She has also made it a point to spend this next year dialing in her nutrition. Eating well just to eat well can be a challenge. Now imagine having to fuel before, during, and after routine 20-30 mile training runs! While this all sounds pretty demanding, for the first time since working with Michelle, I’m not worried because I know she’ll find a way to get it done.
Congratulations, Michelle, you absolutely crushed 2017!