Thousands of runners will take part in this weekend’s Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Detroit Marathon and Half Marathon, and Heather Quinlan of Sterling Heights and Catherine Goddard of Royal Oak are two of those athletes. Both are participants of the online video series What Drives You to Run created by the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers, sponsor of the half marathon event.

The video series highlights Heather, 32, and Catherie, 59, as well as three others who have been training for this Sunday’s event. They all share their personal running journeys. The other runners include Greg Gibbs, 44, from Rochester Hills; Jessica Paciorek, 24, from Ferndale, and Shawn Marie Panter, 34, from Lake Fenton.

Each participant’s story is inspirational—their motivation includes dealing with grief and giving to charity, as well as maintaining significant weight loss and continuing on a path of good health.

“There is always a motivational force when a major goal is accomplished. MDCD wants to be a catalyst for thousands of Detroiters who may need a nudge in goal setting,” says Paul Stanford, president of MDCD local marketing association. “The video series is based on the concept that every person has something that drives them. It gives others inspiration to literally take that first step.”

We caught up with Catherine and Heather this week as they looked to the event they’ve been training for these past few months.

Heather Quinlan
Heather Quinlan

Heather Quinlan

What’s it been like to be involved in this project? Why did you decide to take part?

Being a part of the What Drives You To Run project through Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers has been a blessing because it’s given me the opportunity to learn more about and share my passions for running and better health. I’ve learned so much about myself and my journey during this project. And the people I’ve been able to reach and impact in some way? Priceless.

I decided to take part because I thought “why not me?” I had no expectations and nothing to lose. I’d already been sharing my journey for over two years via my health Facebook page and was doing a little bit of vlogging on YouTube, so it seemed like a no-brainer to apply and give it a whirl. When I received an email saying they’d like to feature me, I was elated! I am a believer that everything happens for a reason. So I knew that this project was my chance to make an impact in some way.

What are your hopes for this weekend’s race?

My hopes for this weekend’s race, I feel like, have already been met. Although I am looking to set a PR by 20-30 minutes, that’s the small stuff compared to how I already feel. I feel so incredibly different from the woman who started her journey at 380 pounds. I feel like I’m reborn. My hope for this race is to run strong, embrace every step I take, and enjoy the ride. I’ll never get those 13.1 miles back—I want to make the most of them.

What keeps you running?

Change! Running has changed my life in so many ways. I love the idea of showing people that you can do things that would never be expected of you. I think that’s so empowering. I used to fear doing the unknown and let my weight dictate what I thought I could/couldn’t do. I no longer allow that sort of thought to rule me. Running is my opportunity to embrace my strengths and my flaws. It’s my chance to transform my body and my mind. I get some of my greatest ideas and do some of my best thinking while I’m running. It’s a new best friend that I know will stick around for a lifetime.

Any tips you’d offer to newer runners, or runners who are looking to sign on for their first race?

I’m sure I could think of a list of tips that I’ve found effective for my own running journey. But I think the most important tips I can think of is to remind those that are just starting or even thinking about starting, it takes bravery and strength to start. It might feel impossible, it might feel like you don’t belong, it might feel like you don’t measure up to other runners, but keep fighting. You might look at those running long distances and with remarkable paces and think “Wow, they’re strong and determined,” but so are you. The only thing that can determine your strength, determination, and will is YOU. Nobody said it would be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

Catherine Goddard
Catherine Goddard

Catherine Goddard

Catherine Goddard had signed up for the half marathon—this weekend’s race will mark her third 13.1-mile race this year—and learning she was among those chosen to participate in the What Drives You to Run video series motivated her to stay strong in her training.

“That day I learned I was picked I’d had a terrible run. I thought, ‘This sucks,’” recalls Catherine, who began running in 2010. She ran her first race, a 5K Turkey Trot that same year. “Then I got this email. And I thought, ‘Thank you. This will give me motivation.’ I just really needed that extra motivation on that day.”

After feeling so thrilled with her finish at the Turkey Trot, she joined a couch-to-5K program in Royal Oak. She met other runners and worked with a trainer. She also started running three, four, five miles at a time.

“I just took to it. I could see myself getting better,” she says.

She signed on for more 5Ks, then decided to go for a 10K, which she says was “way different.”

“That was hard. That’s a distance,” she says.

And yet, she also found she was hooked on the idea of going longer—and improving upon her times so that she could continue to earn age-group wins. “I did not know I was competitive!” she says. “I was shocked at how I really wanted to win. It cracked me up. It’s a new side of me.”

After completing several 10Ks, Catherine thought she’d try the half marathon distance. She’s quick to say she has no plans of going longer than 13.1, however: “I work full time, the training for the half is more than plenty for me.”

She ran a couple of half marathons, and this year decided on three, including the Bayshore Half Marathon and a memorial run for her son Zack, who passed away in 2006. The Detroit Half Marathon will be her third this year.

Heading into this weekend’s race, she acknowledges she’s a little nervous—but nothing compared to what she once felt in the days leading up to a race.

“I am excited—I don’t get as nervous. Usually Saturday is when I get a little more nervous. But now I know I can do it. That fear is taken away after conquering it,” she says. “Now I want to see if I can get a better half.”

“I always start out too fast. My goal is to start out at real manageable pace and slowly increase. It’s really exciting for me to do three of them this year.”

And after crossing the finish line? Celebrating with a “wonderful meal”–and a little snooze. “I love taking a long nap after a long run. It’s the most relaxing thing.”

Beyond this weekend’s race, running will remain a constant in Catherine’s life, no doubt. She talks of meeting wonderful people through her training and racing: “It’s the best sport because people are so awesome.”

Who else is running this weekend’s Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Detroit Marathon and Half Marathon? Good luck, everyone — let us know how it goes, either in the comment section below or over at our Facebook page »


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2 Responses to ““What Drives You to Run”: Video Series Captures Stories of Detroit Half Marathon Participants”

  1. alicia y

    I have been a runner for awhile but this is the first time I participated in the Detroit Free Press 1/2 marathon. I thought is was a great race & expo. The expo had good deals on running shoes and some cool Run the D gear. The race course itself was awesome. Crossing the bridge into Canada (I had no idea how steep it was!) and coming out of the tunnel to a huge cheering section were my favorite parts. Definitely doing this race again next year!

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