Running for all the Right Reasons

We here at Gazelle Sports believe that running can change a person’s life, altering it  so drastically that you’d never believe there was a “before,” only an “after.” And that “after” is something so very amazing. Allison Land, one of our training program coordinators, is an amazing “after.”

Her “before” story really starts on the shores of Lake Superior. While attending Northern Michigan University, Allison experienced what many of us experience when we go off to college, and often experience during the rest of our life: weight gain.

“I gained the freshman fifteen, and then some,” Allison said. “At college and after I graduated, I was largely inactive. In August of 2012, I was the heaviest I’d ever been and I didn’t like it. I didn’t feel
good and I didn’t feel like me, at least not the me I wanted to be. I felt lazy.”

So, Allison turned to a solution that was relatively inexpensive and would end up changing her life. She started running.

Allison had never been a runner. She was mildly traumatized by the torture of the mile run in those physical fitness tests during middle and high school gym class, and basically had avoided running ever since. However, eventually a Couch to 5k program got her running along beautiful Lake Superior.

She would plod through those first runs, wishing with every fiber of her being to quit, but somehow making it through. The runs got longer and Allison got stronger. She started to see changes in herself, both mentally and physically.

“I felt better,” Allison said. “I felt more like myself. And then I signed up for my first 5k, a trail run called The Firecracker in Ishpeming.”

Allison is not the first person, and certainly won’t be the last, to underestimate the difference between road running and trail running.

“There were hills, rocks, roots, twists, turns, stinging branches and myriad other things I’d never encountered before,” Allison said.

“It would have been easy to quit. It would have been easy to just stop. I remember a man in the final stretch wondering aloud if the stupid race was ever going to be over as he walked, slumped forward, toward the finish line. Instead of dropping to my knees right there, crying and yelling, ‘No! This race will never end!’ I laughed. I laughed and slowly shuffled past the man towards the finish line. I crossed that stupid finish line and learned that ‘quit’ was a word that should not be included in my vocabulary.”

Allison has continued to run the past four years, increasing from the 5k to the 10k distance, then from 10ks to half and full marathons. That freshman fifteen, and then some, are long gone. She’s since moved to Holland and now facilitates Gazelle Sports’ training programs there.

“I’ve accomplished some crazy things in the four years I’ve been running, but only because I learned from that first race how to keep moving, even when the will isn’t always there to do so,” Allison said. “Running has given me so much – confidence, health, friends, a job – and I wanted to give something back to the sport.”

Allison chose to run her tenth marathon, the 2016 Chicago Marathon, in support of the Gazelle Sports Foundation.

“It was my way of giving back,” Allison said. “I decided to raise money for this amazing cause because the mission aligns with what I so strongly believe in. Running, in many ways, saved my life. It certainly changed it for the better, and if I can help make that happen for others, that is everything.”

Allison finished her tenth marathon in two years on October 9 with a PR of 3:59:00 and raised $210 for the Gazelle Sports Foundation. In her role at Gazelle Sports, she’s also helped more than 175 other runners cross the finish line.

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