The Rapidian

Running the River Bank: Melissa Janes

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Melissa Janes finishing the River Bank Run 2009.

Melissa Janes finishing the River Bank Run 2009.

People run the May 8, 5/3 River Bank Run for many reasons. Some run it to challenge themselves, others for for the companionship of other people, some people run it to win and others run it for a good cause. The race serves as a fund raiser for a number of Grand Rapids area nonprofits. The race official charity is the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids' Strong Kids Healthy U program, which helps kids from low income participate in Y programming. The race also has ten charitable partners, organizations whose volunteers and members run and walk to raise funds from family and friends for causes they care about.  One of the partner organizations is Gilda's Club Grand Rapids.

Melissa Janes is running the River Bank Run to raise funds for Gilda's Club. She lives in East Grand Rapids and works in marketing/communication.

Which race are you running and why?
I am running the 25k.  I'm running it for Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, and am raising money on behalf of a patient, Michelle.  Michelle is fighting a really hard battle and is going through a lot of pain and hard work. Her life isn’t really her own any longer.  Her young family is affected by her illness and all of them need a place where they can go, be supported and share their experiences.  That is what Gilda’s Club is all about.

Are you a repeat racer, if so, how many have you run?

Last year I ran the 25k.  It was the first time I’d run a race longer than a 5k, and I considered myself a newbie runner.  It was a huge undertaking. 

Describe your training program

We are blessed in Grand Rapids to have Gazelle Sports supporting the running community.  I follow the Gazelle training program, which they developed in conjunction with the River Bank Run organizers.  Basically I run shorter runs on weekdays, followed by a long run on Saturday morning.  I run with a Gazelle group, which provides accountability and support.

What is appealing to you about running?

Quite honestly, it’s easy for me to forget why I run.  I hate it most days.  But the appealing part is this:  the camaraderie and support of the group, growing physically and mentally as a runner, and the challenge of the long miles. I’ve met some super people, and I’ve discovered that every runner has a “story,” a reason they’re out there. A lot of them struggle with mental challenges of running and I learn from each person.  I’ve discovered different techniques for getting over the mental piece, and one is keeping a journal.  I write a note if I have a bad day, and then I look back and realize that I’ve had 10 great days.  However, the long runs remain a huge challenge.  The other appealing piece is realizing that I CAN do this.  Unlike Michelle (the patient), I am CHOOSING this challenge;  the terms are mine.  Knowing I’m running for someone who doesn’t have a choice in her painful journey is appealing.  I feel like I’m helping.

What animal do you run like?
A flat-footed, knock-kneed giraffe.  I'm tall. Probably not too coordinated, either.

Music or not? What kind and why?

Music yes.  The larger the “up” quotient, the better.  Madonna, disco, Counting Crows, Earth Wind and Fire.  I need to have that beat and distraction.  I also love podcasts, especially “This American Life.”  Again, distraction is key.

What is your biggest fear, if any, with running the RBR?
I am terrified of feeling like I want to quit.  I know I won’t, but my fears can sometimes overwhelm me.  The fear is the upcoming battle with myself.

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Good job mom and good job Melissa!!!!