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From BeWell to running well
Jackie Charonis currently works as the Associate Director of Facilities and Hospitality for Stanford Graduate School of Business. In her twelve years at Stanford, Jackie has held a range of management positions, most recently overseeing the administration of the new Science & Engineering Quad. Jackie provided BeWell with the following story of how she became a runner, and how Stanford, the BeWell program and her peers on campus gave her the inspiration, guidance and preparation she needed to rise to her challenge.
I have always wanted to be an athlete. When I was younger, I would look with admiration at the girls who ran track, but I never had the courage to try or role models to follow. (I come from a true “couch-potato” family.) Working at Stanford over the past twelve years, I would often see people out running and wonder how that might feel, but I just didn’t have the knowledge or inspiration to try.
But then the Be Well program was started. I would see the inspirational signs posted along the street as I drove into campus each day. I would get the flyers, the postcards, and HIP class announcements. And I had gained weight. Now facing 40, I felt something had to be done. And if my employer was actually encouraging this, why not try it? I threw myself into the Be Well program — completing my SHALA, signing up for HIP classes, meeting with the personal trainers, and taking workshops. I had found the inspiration and information I needed to start.
Three years later and twenty pounds lighter, I ran my first marathon on May 1, 2011. I owe so much to the Stanford BeWell program for my fitness success. The race was absolutely wonderful. I followed all of the advice given to me by my mentors and it truly paid off. They say it is rare for a first-time marathoner to achieve a negative split, and I did! I finished at 5:06, which I am quite proud of given that Big Sur is known to be one of the most difficult courses in the country. The BeWell team members’ words of encouragement came in handy and I was uplifted during the race remembering them. At one point, I saw an email come through during the race from a BeWell staffer which lifted me even further. What a thrill!!
They say that the end of a marathon is quite difficult and that it can help to dedicate the last miles to people who have inspired you. I dedicated mile 23 to my parents and miles 25 and 26 to my husband and children. But I dedicated mile 24 to Professor Etchemendy and the Stanford BeWell staff! I placed Stanford so high on my list because I honestly believe I may never have become a runner if it wasn’t for the university and our provost’s personal commitment to fitness and support for us as people. I can run at lunch on this beautiful campus and never feel that I may be looked down upon for not working through my lunch break! The BeWell program and Stanford’s culture of achievement and flexibility has given me the confidence and courage to dream of things I never thought possible, and to realize there is joy in simply trying.
Thank you for letting me share my journey. I’d also like to give credit to my Stanford running partners: Tricia Richter (Administrative Systems) gave me all the early advice I needed, and Raul Felipa (Bioengineering) has been my constant running companion.
UPDATE: Jackie has run in 3 marathons since this story was written and will be running her 4th marathon in May, 2013.
Edited by Lane McKenna