Thousands of runners lined up at the starting line of the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.
They ranged from professional runners to experienced marathoners and first-timers hoping just to complete the course. Toward the back, 22-year-old Emily Alley nervously awaited the start.
This was the Greenwood resident’s first half-marathon. When she started training, she was unable to go more than a mile without stopping and gasping for breath. Now, she was aiming at finishing 13.6 miles.
“It was amazing. About seven months before, I never thought I’d do anything like that. I had no idea before I started working out that I’d get into running and it would develop into a passion of mine. But it happened,” she said.
The Alley File
Who: Emily Alley
Occupation: Hairstylist at Transformations Salon and Spa
The past year has been one of transformation for Alley. During the past 12 months, she started working out seriously for the first time ever, picked up running and finished her first half-marathon in just more than two hours. Alley will be aiming to finish her second race this spring at the 500 Festival Mini Marathon.
While she has lost 30 pounds since she started, Alley is more excited about the way she feels now.
“I noticed a difference after just a few months. I have more energy and don’t feel as good when I don’t run,” she said.
As a teenager at Greenwood Community High School, Alley was active in athletics. She took fitness classes and ran on some occasions but never had a serious workout regiment.
While attending college, she fell out of the exercise routine entirely. Only after graduating last year did she decide to pick it back up.
Alley and a friend started taking workout classes at the Community Life Center at Mount Pleasant Christian Church. They would sweat during Zumba and do step aerobics to burn calories. Cycling classes proved to be some of the hardest.
As Alley became more active, she became interested in new challenges. One trend that caught her eye were boot camps offered early in the mornings at the center. People would do a seemingly endless loop of push-ups, crunches, sit-ups and wall-sits to build strength and improve endurance.
“What really helped me stick with it was that it was held in a big group environment. You had other people to motivate you and encourage you,” she said. “The more you keep going, the more you get to know the other people going.”
After a few months of boot camp, Alley said she felt she was ready for the next challenge. When a friend suggested running the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November, she was hesitant but interested.
“I thought there was no way I could do this. I thought you had to be running for a couple of years before you could do something like that,” she said.
But Alley committed to run the half-marathon and soon began training. The first step was just to get in running shape again. The first few weeks, she could barely get through one mile, often having to stop and walk just to finish. Then she pushed it to two miles, then three.
She would run on the off-days, when she wasn’t in boot camp. Strength training and other cardiovascular exercises helped build up her overall fitness.
By a few weeks into her training, Alley was running six miles without stopping.
“That was the point where I said, if I can do that, I can do a half-marathon,” she said.
Alley finished the Monumental Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 4 minutes and 23 seconds. With that initial hurdle behind her, she’s ready to try for the Mini Marathon in May.
“Now that I’ve built myself up, I want to keep myself fit. I’ll keep doing the short runs on workdays and longer ones on the weekends. I’m going to keep this up,” she said.