Just Keep Running…..

In 2009, my life changed as I became a “Runner”. I lost my job in February 2009, was overweight, on cholesterol medication and needed to start taking care of myself. In high school, I hated running. I dreaded having to run the mile in gym and no way would have ever guessed I would be that person who runs dare I say, “for fun”. I got inspired watching a friend finish the Oshkosh Half Marathon and thought to myself that I wanted to do that someday. 

With that little inspiration, I began my journey of running.  It started slow with a walk-run approach which then moved into a run-walk approach. I got brave and signed up for my first Half Marathon September 2009.  Ignorant Melody was scared, and I thought to myself that I wouldn’t be able to run the entire 13.1 miles so I shouldn’t register for the run. I ended up registering for the Fox Cities Competitive Walk Half Marathon. This was one of the hardest events to do as you get to a point you want to run which if you do run, you are disqualified.

After finishing my first Half Marathon as a competitive walk, I knew I needed to give it a go again and run a “real” one. I was hooked and this is where it all began. I signed up for another, and another, and another. I then decided I liked running and trained to do a Full Marathon. In 2011, I signed up for the Madison Marathon. Once again, I got antsy and secretly signed up for a trial Full Marathon in March.  I not only completed one Full Marathon but did two of them two months apart.  As Forest Gump would say, “I just kept running”.

Goals kept getting bigger and bigger. In 2013, I finished running the Iron Girl Half Marathon a day before the Boston Marathon bombs went off. I remember watching the Boston Marathon on a tv at an ice cream shop with my boys and could not believe my eyes. This once again got me thinking, “is there a way to run the Boston Marathon without getting a qualifying time?”. I was an average pace runner at this point and not fast enough to qualify. I ended up writing an email to the Michael Lisnow Respite Center in Hopkinton asking if they would have a place for me to run on their charity team. The Board of Directors read my letter where I talked about my son with Autism and how I appreciate the services they provide families with disabilities as well as my running journey. It wasn’t time for them to choose a team yet and on the spot they said “Yes” lets put Melody on the team. I ended up raising $5,500 for the Respite Center and paid for all of my expenses to go run the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 which was the day Boston got their city back! It was the most amazing experience of my life and gives me chills every time I think about it. I ran a personal record marathon which at the time was my 8th Full Marathon. Six days later I ran another Full Marathon. Next goal, I wanted to run a 50 Mile Ultra Marathon and sure enough I did it on September 13, 2014.

Fast forward to today…On December 4, 2021, I ran my 100th Half Marathon in Negril, Jamaica thirteen days before my 40th Birthday. In total I have ran 12 Full Marathons, a 50 Mile Ultra Marathon, 100 Half Marathons and tons of other distance races. I love all of the people I have met on this journey and the wonderful support system of friends and running groups I have run into. One of the best ones is that I found a wonderful socks company, My Soxy Feet. These socks are amazing, and I became an ambassador for them in 2014! I wear them every time whether I’m running or teaching a fitness class at my local YMCA. I wore My Soxy Feet during my 50 Mile Ultra Marathon with no blisters and no issues. I can’t speak enough about these fun, comfy, great socks!

I praise each and every person that gets up on their feet and works on themselves. This is why I teach Group Fitness classes, am an official pacer at many Half Marathons and am dabbling into one on one training for those running their first Half Marathon. One of my favorite quotes I want to leave you with comes from Dean Karnaze, “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must. Just never give up”. 

January 11, 2022 — Samantha Barrante


Lynette Johnson said:

I love your story! Thanks for sharing it!

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