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Local runner Chrissy Cole prepares for first marathon
Modesto Marathon
Chrissy Cole went through a vigorous running schedule, and must make time during the early hours of the morning to train for the upcoming Modesto Marathon. - photo by Photo Contributed

Over a thousand contestants, from as far as Hong Kong to as local as Turlock, have signed up to strut their stuff this weekend at the annual Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon. The event consists of a 5K run, and a half and full marathon. One applicant in particular is looking to fulfill her dreams of finishing her first full marathon.

If anyone asked Chrissy Cole back in 2008 if she would ever participate in such an event, she would heartily have said, “no.”

“I never thought I would do this in my lifetime. I never was a runner. I was not that girl that would go out on runs,” said Cole. “It is funny to think that I am attempting to do this marathon now. But if I can do it, anyone can.”

Though Cole never had any interest in running before, she grew to love exercising, and eventually signed up for ABC Fitness Company’s boot camp, a kick-starter that introduced her to new friends and a new hobby. It was through this program that she started running intensely. Since then, Cole has trained for several 5K or 10K races before participating in half marathons for the Giants Race in San Francisco and Big Sur.

Cole ran in the Modesto Marathon last year, but this will be her first full marathon, a whopping 26.2 miles.

“I always wanted to do one by the time I was 50,” said Cole, who is 47 years old. “It was always a goal of mine that I had. I wanted to do something that I thought I could never do. My coach Emilie Rotan, she said ‘Have you ever thought of doing the full marathon?’ Well, I started laughing. And then I became bothered at myself for laughing. Why shouldn’t I be able to do it?”

In November 2012, Cole made the decision to register in a full marathon, and believed that there was no turning back. She began to work under a tight schedule, running at 6 a.m. in temperatures reaching as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  

She began her training running 3 miles a day. On the Saturday of her first week of training, she was already running up to 6 miles. For 18 weeks, Cole committed to a special diet, a new daily routine, and a schedule change that even interfered with her vacation time.

“I’m pretty stubborn. When I say I’m going to do something, I mean it, no matter what. In the middle of my training, I took a mini vacation to Oregon to see a friend. I had to do a 12 mile run during that time. My friend rode her bike while I ran 12 miles,” said Cole.

Cole said she loves the companionship in running, and believes that it is one of the key factors that have helped her succeed. She occasionally runs with two other women at Modesto's Dry Creek Trail or at Knight’s Ferry, and has constant support for her newfound activity. All three of the women’s husbands are active crowd members, and often hand the women water or Gatorade every two to three miles.

“There have been a lot of hours that have gone into this,” said Cole. “I have a lot of support from my husband. When I first told him I was thinking about training, I said I wouldn’t do it unless he was 100 percent sure, and he said go for it. If you plan on running, get a supportive group. When some of us are down, some of us are not. So you need the encouragement.”

Despite the fact that Cole is excited and anxious to get the race over, she believes that this will be her first and only marathon…for now.

“I hate to say that this will be the last, but it will be the last for a while. I need to sleep, probably clean my house and do work in the yard, but I will definitely be staying on a half marathon schedule. I plan to do what I can to stay healthy.”

But for now, I feel like I can do anything and I feel very accomplished. I’ve been training and I feel prepared.”