Leah Ginn has always hated running. But her motivation for competing in her first half-marathon was understandable.
“It had been a long time since I had done something for the first time,” says Leah, a 30-year-old Lady Lake resident. “Plus, I like pushing myself outside my comfort zone.”
Leah, who serves as director of operations at MVP Sports Club in The Villages, began training for the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in July 2014. She had a wonderful training partner—her mother, Karen Danesky. Karen provided support by running with Leah at the beach, running with her on the weekend and walking beside her on a treadmill.
“My mom was not a big exerciser, but she was always there to encourage me.”
Karen had even planned to be at the finish line on the day of the marathon. Unfortunately, that never happened. She died of a heart attack in September 2014 at age 54.
“I took two weeks off running because every time I ran I thought about my mom,” Leah says. “I even considered not competing in the race.”
Ultimately, though, Leah did complete the 13.2-mile race on that rainy, cold November day. Her mom’s indomitable spirit helped propel her to the finish line. She finished the race in 2 hours, 42 minutes.
“The last two miles were the hardest. My legs hurt and my hip flexors hurt. I was cold and wet. But I kept thinking about my mom, and there’s no doubt she carried me to the finish line.”
Coping with the loss of a loved one
“Find something that soothes your soul. Last May I began taking guitar lessons and it made me feel excited and energized. It also gave me something to look forward to. I also recommend for people to work on themselves and become healthier. That’s why I eat healthy and exercise. I don’t want my mother’s death to be in vain.”
Leah offers helpful marathon training tips:
1) Conduct research to learn how to properly train. The website Runners World is a great resource.
2) Get plenty of sleep.
3) Stay hydrated.
4) Properly fuel your body.
5) Get fitted for shoes. You need proper equipment just like for baseball or any other sport.
6) Set realistic goals when you begin training. If you rarely run, start with small distances and gradually build up from there.
Leah has set some goals she would like to accomplish before turning 40:
• Ride in a hot-air balloon.
• Ride a bicycle to see various California vineyards.
• Buy a house.
• Earn a master’s degree.
• Scuba dive in open water.
• Ride a gondola in Venice.
• See the Aurora Borealis.
• Visit Las Vegas.
• Visit the Grand Canyon.