Linda Melendez of Keyport, New Jersey may not win any races, she may not be the fastest runner but she is a true winner. Linda you see is legally blind and she does not let that disability slow her down. Linda only started running about a year ago. Linda lost 125 pounds from November 2013 to February 2014. She was committed to not gaining any of her lost weight so she decided to get active. Linda signed up for a Beginner’s Running Class at RunCollege and ws immediately hooked on running as a way to maintain her fitness and her weight.
After the six week class she did her home town Keyport 5K and did the race in 34 minutes. She continued to run and now has her sights set on the Asbury Park Half Marathon on April 16, 2016. She is again training with a group of runners under the tutelage of coaches at RunCollege to include Karen Charles of Wall Township, New Jersey and Tyler King of Howell, New Jersey. She is well on her way already having completed a 10 mile training run. According to Linda, “Since losing all this weight and keeping it off I have become a participant in my life instead of a spectator.” She made a bucket list for 2016 which included running three half marathons in 2016. She has the ultimate goal of running a full 26.2 mile marathon in the near future.
Running is a challenge but she still loves it. Being legally blind and an asthmatic presents obstacles which many of us don’t even think of. Linda when she was younger had bleeding in the eyes which caused her to lose central detailed vision. It’s a form of macular degeneration. Some of the challenges she face is not being able to tell what is directly in front of her. For example curbs, cracks, obstacles and the things we take for granted are major challenges. She does not know when to turn left or right until she almost on top of the turn.. Sometimes she has sheer panic because she is moving faster than what her limited vision she has can process. Her asthmatic condition also presents challenges to get her breathing under control. The first half-mile of every run is often sheer panic until she can get her breathing rhythm.
Linda refuses to be held back by her blindness. She says she “wants to live the life I want and not let my imitated vision decide what life I should live.” Her motivation is to remind herself how she feels at the end of each run. She feels accomplished and empowered. Her inspiration for running is her son. He was her motivation to lose 125 pounds and continues to be her motivation and inspiration in life. Linda started the journey and her new lifestyle after the death of her mom while she was in the deepest darkest place she could ever possibly be. The running has helped her tremendously in overcoming that darkness.
Linda makes time to get outside and run at least three times a week and in bad weather runs on a treadmill at a local health club. She prefers running outdoors. She enjoys company on the run and manages to make her way to local group runs by getting a ride from friends or taking local public transportation. She regularly takes the train to Asbury Park for group runs there.
According to Linda, “I would be going from being morbidly obese to being a marathon runner in all smiles.” Good luck to Linda in running her first half marathon in Asbury Park on April, 16, 2016. Look for her out there. She can be easily spotted generally wearing a bright neon yellow vest.