The Cleveland Marathon is turning 40, and so am I!

I never thought I would be a runner. My mom loves to tell the story of a parent-teacher conference from elementary school where Coach Moore told her “Jennifer doesn’t run.”

And I didn’t. It was not fun. I did not see the point; I would get where I was going on my own time. I have always been comfortable knowing where I want to go, and finding my own way to get there. Sometimes slower, sometimes a different path, but I always seem to get there.

In 2012, a friend convinced me to run the St. Malachi two-mile race. I was a little nervous, but anyone can run two miles, right? The energy at the starting line was amazing, and a bunch of people gathered to do something healthy, out in the chilly sunshine was energizing; I was hooked.

I trudged along, enjoying the sights of the city. Finally, the finish line was in sight – I picked up the pace, tripped on a cobblestone and fell flat on my face. Ouch.

I think that fall was the best thing that could happen during my first real organized running event. It was the worst thing that I could imagine, and it was not really that bad. Laughing it off with a friend and a cocktail definitely helped too.

Finding an employer with the same values

My employer, Hyland, does a ton of fun things to motivate and encourage healthy behavior. One of those is the Gimme 5! Program, which rewards employees who participate in five running events with a great long-sleeved running shirt. I decided that I had to have it.

So, shortly after my St. Malachi face plant, I registered for the Hy-5, a 5k put on by Hyland benefiting MetroHealth. Running with nearly 1,000 of my coworkers, friends and family members helped make the miles enjoyable.

Over the rest of that year, and the years since, I have continued to run. Sometimes dedicated to a training plan, sometimes more casually. I’ve collected finishers medals, and countless race t-shirts.

But, I’ve collected other, more valuable things as well. I have met some of the best people who I know, and am lucky to call friends through running. I’ve grown existing friendships over a shared love of logging miles on the trail.

I have seen the most beautiful places – places that exist within our beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park – which you don’t get the privilege to see unless you venture off of the paved trails. I’ve experienced neighborhoods in our own beautiful city that I would never truly see from a car window. And while traveling, I’ve taken runs through cities that made me feel like I’ve really been there.

Pushing past the “what ifs”

I still have a difficult time thinking of myself as a runner. When discussing running or a race with anyone, I feel the need to add a disclaimer about how slow I am, to discount my achievements because they may seem inferior to others.

That same line of thinking has kept me from clicking “register” for a full marathon. What if I don’t finish? What if it takes me FOREVER? What if, what if, what if?

As I get older and hopefully wiser, I am getting better and blocking out that voice that yells “What if?” And so, I registered for the Cleveland Marathon. The race is celebrating its 40th year, and so am I. It only makes sense that we celebrate this milestone together.

I am nervous that the weather will be terrible. The sleet, hail, wind and thunder snow during the 2016 Cleveland Marathon was enough to make me very glad that I was running the half! I am anxious that my training will not be thorough enough. I’m worried that I won’t make it to the finish line, and will feel like I’ve failed. But I am more nervous about giving in to the what ifs and not reaching for new goals, new experiences and new achievements.

Hope to see you at the finish line! And don’t forget to stop by Hyland’s booth at the marathon – booth 719!

Jennifer Mangino

Jennifer Mangino

Jennifer Mangino joined Hyland in 2011 as a member of the sales team. She focuses on sales enablement and education for our sales team and partners, with a mission of providing expertise in guiding customers through the buying process. Jennifer earned a Master of Business Administration from Malone University. She resides in Cleveland’s Ohio City and is passionate about exploring the amazing parks of Northeast Ohio and embracing all that the #HylandLife has to offer.

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