Angela Bekkala: An Introduction

Angela Bekkala (left) and her cadet, Kailey Ingerman, will work together all year. Photo: Angela Bekkala

Seven years ago, I never would have called myself a runner.

I ran but I didn’t run for the right reasons.

I didn’t love it.

It didn’t make me happy.

I didn’t know that you could actually love running.

I signed up for my first half marathon in 2007. Before that, the majority of running I did was casual and more for weight management. I had thought about running a half marathon at some point in my life. I was on the verge of turning 30 and thought it was now or never.

I followed my running plan religiously. It was very basic with nothing but straight up running—no tempo or speed workouts. Just an easy pace and one long run a week.

I ran the race with no problems but still didn’t have a love of running.

I continued to run on and off after the race. In 2008, my husband and I became pregnant. After coming home from a run, I suffered a miscarriage early on in the pregnancy. I knew that running had nothing to do with it but subconsciously, I blamed it. I didn’t want anything to do with running after that. We needed a break.

Fast forward two years later. I was a new mama to twins. I signed up for another half marathon as a way to shed the baby weight. I started to run more, longer. My thoughts toward running began to change. I craved the time alone to think, have quiet and find myself again.

Out on the road, I wasn’t the caretaker, the mama, the diaper changer, the wife or the career woman. I was left with nothing but the real me.

It may have seemed like I was running away but it was more like running toward finding myself again.

And so my love affair with running began. It’s no longer something I dread. I crave a run whether it’s alone with my thoughts or chattering away with running buddies. It has taken me to places mentally and physically that I never knew I could go. I wish I would have found running sooner in my life.

Coaching is something I’m just getting into. My background in exercise science has taught me the biomechanics of movement. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed professionally and personally. I’ve coached myself and made up plans for friends. I will be taking the RRCA Coach Certification exam soon with hopes of expanding my coaching into a side business.

My cadet for 26 Strong is my friend, Kailey. We’ve only known each other about six months. We met in a sort of six-degrees-of-separation type of way. I’m sure Kevin Bacon is involved somehow. She was a reader of my blog, Happy Fit Mama. In the early fall, I wrote a post about finding a running buddy. She mentioned it to her friend, Mariette, who lives in the same town as I. Mariette and I started running together and eventually Kailey and I met. I instantly thought she was a fun, energetic person. Someone that you could talk with forever on a long run. She has run numerous half marathons and other various distance races. Her love of running and commitment to becoming a stronger runner is evident. Even though I don’t have much coaching experience, Kailey is trusting me to get her across the finish line. She’s willing to work hard, hit the track, run the hills and whatever else I ask of her.

I can’t wait to see her cross the finish line of her first marathon!

For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.

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