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MY STORY – Amber Maddox

Amber Maddox“In April of 2012, I gave birth to my second daughter. Eleven days after she was born, I decided to change my life. I had always been overweight, and I was tired. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally tired. I was just plain unhappy and I wanted to do something about it.

Over the course of 13 and a half months, I managed to lose 136 lbs and discovered a love for running along the way.

In the beginning of May, I ran my first 5k, and at the end of May, I ran my second.

Running has given me my life back. I am proud to call myself a runner and I am truly happy when I run. I can push myself beyond what I think is possible. The feeling of freedom and amazing sense of accomplishment that comes from running is indescribable.

I debated on whether to take the next step and run my first half marathon. I have decided I am going to do it, and the Mankato Marathon is going to be the half that I run.

Words cannot describe how terrified and excited I am all at once. I believe this half marathon will be one of the most amazing things I will have accomplished. I definitely look forward to running with all the amazing people in October.”

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My Story - Steve Larson

Steve Larson“This is my first marathon, and prior to running I was an avid weight lifter. My idea of cardio was a three mile walk on the treadmill at the end of my lifting or sometimes I would lean on a stair master. My friend Doug Wiehe was an avid runner and multiple Grandmas’ participant and would give me a hard time about not running. I would return the jabs about his constant running. This went on for a year or two. Doug ran the River Hills Mall down here in Mankato and would call me a “mall walker.”

At my son’s 5th birthday party my brother and I were discussing the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon and how we should do it. I started my training the next week at the YMCA. Doug was amazed to see that I was running. I explained the idea my brother and I had and after time he was telling me he would have me running marathons.

Fast forward to last summer, the end of August. I was sitting home watching a Twins Game and my wife comes to me in tears after being out with some women from our church. Through her tears she tells me that Doug Wiehe was killed in a motorcycle accident earlier that evening. As I type this I remember the night very clearly. After a couple hours of shock, grief and tears we were talking and I tell her I should run Grandmas next year. The next day she takes some sloppy Joes/ barbeques to Doug’s widow Tanya. While she is there my wife tells Tanya what I said.

The day after that at Doug’s visitation Tanya introduces me to her and Doug’ families as the guy running Grandma’s with her next year. As much as I tried to find a way out I couldn’t. I tried to tell my wife that there was no lodging when I tried to register and she found one of the last two camping spots at Indian Head Campgrounds. So I registered and am in. I have been following the Novice training program and coming along well. This has been a great experience. I have met a lot of people through this down here in Mankato that have been runners and were surprised to see me out that far on the trail. Doug had said he would have me running a marathon, I wished it wasn’t under these circumstances but I know he will be running with me and Tanya.

I wrote this in my Facebook notes 6 years ago, I have since run Grandma’s every year and have become known as the guy with all the bracelets and the Grandma’s Tat on his calf with RIP Doug on it. This will be my 7th marathon and every year as I enter Duluth from Two Harbors at mile 19 I begin to cry thinking how this has changed my life and how my life has changed since I began this venture.”

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Her Story - Lindsay Henkels

Lindsay HenkelsMarathon runner Lindsay Henkels, of Mankato, will participate in the Mankato Half Marathon October 20 in her pursuit of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials.

The qualifying window for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials opened Aug 1, 2013 and it ends 30 days before the designated Olympic Trials race in 2016.

The half marathon qualifying time for the Olympic Marathon Trials is one hour and 15 minutes, which is the Women’s “B” standard.

It is Henkels third year running the Mankato Half Marathon. Last year Henkels placed second for women at the Mankato Half Marathon with a time of one hour and 19 minutes. In 2011 she finished third with a time of one hour and 23 minutes. This year she hopes to take first place.

“Mankato is my hometown and the Mankato Marathon offers support on the course from family and friends. It’s a good race with good competition,” Henkels said.

Henkels has achieved her best personal run times for the half marathon each year in the Mankato Half Marathon.

“So much more than just logging miles goes into training for a marathon,” Henkels said.

Three days a week Henkels runs twice a day and completes a minimum of 100 miles per week. She eats a nutritious diet, lifts weights, exercises her core, and focuses on getting enough sleep. She also takes mental “toughness” training from Cindra Kamphoff, Ph.D.

Running in cross country at Mankato West High School and at the University of Minnesota inspired Henkels to complete her first marathon in 2002 after graduating college. She admits she did not train much for this race. Since then she has completed five full marathons.

Inspiration for completing five marathons and many half marathons comes from Henkels husband, Toby.

“I would say my husband really inspires me to be the best runner I can be,” Henkels said.

Of all her accomplishments in competitive marathon running, Henkels said she is most proud of how she is able to keep improving and pushing herself, even with a full time job and two children.

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My Story - Rebecca Williams

Rebecca J. WilliamsRebecca Willismas“Preparing and training for this marathon was an all-consuming endeavor, not just for me, but for my family as well–particularly for my husband. As the race date approached I knew I wasn’t as in shape as I was hoping to be. I determined in my heart that I would finish, no matter what, because I worked too long and hard to get to this point, and I needed to see it through.

The race started, and I was feeling really good. It was awesome running the first three miles in the pack along with those doing the half marathon. Then at mile three we split off. The half marathon runners turned right, and I turned left. I was alone on the course, and there was no one behind me. At mile six I encountered one of the cheer teams who cranked up their tunes and busted their moves and celebrated as I ran by them. It was awesome!

At about mile 8 I caught up to an elderly gentleman also running the marathon. His body was bent, and I guessed he was around 80, I eventually passed him.

I made my way to a flat part of the course. The flatness was welcome after the hills; however, someone decided to turn up the wind machine and I was beaten and battered.

I knew there was a long downhill part coming up, and I was planning on picking up my pace. This would be miles 17-18. Here, the older guy caught up with me and passed me. I later found out the older guy was actually 87-years old, and this was his 325th marathon!!

Around mile 20 I hit the infamous wall. The wall is real. Everything hurt. I thought I was going to collapse. I didn’t want to drink. Six more miles. Would I make it?

My husband decided to join me on the course for the final six miles, and he was welcome company. I won’t talk about the annoying golf cart on my heels who was assigned to follow the final runner. Okay, I did, but that’s all I’m going to say about that.

We were approaching the end, and I couldn’t believe what I saw–another hill. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” The volunteer said, “This is your last hill.” I replied, “Promise?”

I saw the scaffolding of what once was the finish line (the FINISH banner was already taken down and put away), but I was filled with new strength and energy and ran again. Everyone working on tearing the finish area down stopped what they were doing and cheered me on.

In the days following, I was stunned to learn that my story was shared with hundreds of people through Facebook…all inspired by my effort. I wondered if I was in the shape I was hoping to be in, would I have had this kind of impact? I realize that people were inspired because I struggled through and didn’t give up.”

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Her Story - Juana Rattz

Racing for a Cause

By Kelli Lageson
9.28.13 – Albert Lea Tribune

Juana RaatzALBERT LEA – Juana Raatz knew she wanted to run another marathon. She also knew she wanted to find a way to benefit a fundraiser at her church. That’s how she found herself running in the upcoming Mankato Marathon to raise funds for Operation Christmas Child.

Raatz goes to Crossroads Church, and church members get together each November to fill shoeboxes with toiletries, goodies and other products that are sent to needy people in countries all around the world through Samaritan’s Purse. Raatz said she gets her seven children involved in the effort, too, and it teaches them a good lesson during the holiday season.

“It’s so good for our kids not to just think of stuff they want,” Raatz said.

The marathon she’s running is the Mankato Marathon on Oct. 20. That’s right before her church buys the supplies they use to pack the shoeboxes.

She has been training for the 26.2-mile race by running early in the mornings either alone or with her running buddy. Raatz said she is grateful for her quiet running time, and she often uses that time to pray. She also has a mantra she repeats during long runs.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Raatz said.

Three years ago, Raatz decided it was time she finally ran a marathon after talking and thinking about it for years. Since then she has run a full marathon, three half marathons and a few 5k races.

“I really enjoy running,” Raatz said.

It helps calm her in the mornings before she begins her busy day of homeschooling her children, which she has been doing for 5 1/2 years.

“It’s challenging and you have to be disciplined,” Raatz said. “But it’s a great opportunity.”

Raatz has been married to her husband, Nathan, for 11 1/2 years. Nathan works at Interstate Packaging. Both Raatz and her husband were born and raised in Albert Lea. They have seven children: Dominick, 20, Delaney, 15, Natania, 9, Natalie, 8, Noah, 6, Nehemiah, 4, and Natessa, 7 months.

Together the family enjoys traveling, camping and riding bicycles. She and other parents who homeschool have group activities like bowling and visiting museums and events, too.

“We like to say we’re not raising kids, we’re raising adults,” Raatz said with a smile.

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