Never Say Never: A Half Marathon Adventure at 61 Years

Last spring, RVC employee Julie Clark began an ambitious quest to run a half marathon. Working with RVC personal trainers Debra Grabill, Tara Ebejer, and Kelley Dole, Julie found her path to success. Photo above from left to right: Tara Ebejer, Julie Clark, Kelley Dole, and Debra Grabill

“For thirty-eight years my desk job involved sitting for eight to ten hours every day. In March 2016, I made a career change and began working at RVC, which turned my life around.

A month later Jenn Parker (RVC FitKids Director) asked me if I might be interested in running with her in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon in Brooklyn, New York, an event to support ALS research.

I wasn’t sure that I was up to the challenge. I had participated in several events supporting cancer research including the Susan G. Komen three-day 60-mile walk, the Avon 40-mile walk in Boston, and the Dirty Girl Mud-Run in Killington, Vermont. But, the idea of running a half-marathon that was only six months away was hard to imagine, even though it was on my bucket list!

After attending an informational meeting about forming an RVC team to run in the Brooklyn half marathon, I was committed to raising $2,800 and to running 13.1 miles! As one of ten members of the RVC team, I had all the support that I needed.

I decided to train twice weekly with personal trainer, Debra Grabill who helped me to focus on strength training cardio, and to develop core strength and flexibility through Pilates.

In addition, the whole team trained twice each week with RVC personal trainers Tara Ebejer and Kelley Dole. Tara’s sessions focused on stretching, strength and cardio training. Kelley had us working on cardio and stretching and included aqua workouts as well. Each of us was also responsible for running three days each week, starting at one and a half miles and increasing every-other day.

Our goal was to run 11.5 miles by the end of September. I learned how far I could push myself! I also learned what it takes to fuel the body to meet the demands of training. In six months, I saw a significant transformation in my body and mind.

With only two weeks to go before the event, I developed a strain in my right lower leg and foot. Determined to participate, I was delighted when Fitness Director, Chris Poljacik brought me to his Movement Specialists team for a consultation. Mike St. Laurence and Erin McCabe followed-up and provided their expertise. Armed with arch support and stretches, I continued to train four days per week. As we hoped, by the time of the half marathon, I was ready!

In just six months with guidance from the RVC trainers, I went from sitting at a desk job for 38 years to running a half marathon! I was excited, scared, and determined to cross the finish line and check-off another bucket list adventure. I turned 61 on October 1 and ran my first half marathon on October 8.

Thank you to my family, friends, the RVC Brooklyn Half-Marathon team, and those who supported my fundraising efforts. A huge thank you to the RVC trainer team: Debra Grabill, Tara Ebejer, Kelley Dole, Chris Poljacik and his team for all the help, patience, and support.

Never say never! You are never too old to do something that you thought was just a dream.”

Julie Clark

From Julie’s training team

“Julie’s success was fueled by her determination to meet her goal, coupled with her commitment to new exercise and nutrition habits. This is just the beginning. She has set exciting new goals. Watch her go!” Deb Grabill

“I had a lot of fun training Julie for the half marathon. Julie pushed herself every week and was very eager to learn all the different aspects of preparing for the race. Julie always maintained a positive attitude and a smile through the entire process. I’m very proud of her accomplishments!” Tara Ebejer

“Julie’s success can be attributed to her work ethic, drive, willingness to learn, and commit with more than just an ‘I can do this,’ attitude. Julie’s drive is all about, ‘I will!’” Kelley Dole

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