Throughout high school and college, Kahler Middle School Special Education teacher Meg Alessia’s love for running grew.
She ran the 400 on the 4×400 relay.
She ran the 10,000 on the track.
She did cross country.
All this lead up to one of the her bigger challenges: the Olympics.
“I started running in high school because my best friend ran cross country. I liked running in high school but I did not love running [in general]. I had moderate success so I figured I might try and run in college. I went to Manchester College [and] I started to love running. I was hooked. I have completed 4 marathons. My last one was 25 years ago, [and] I was trying to get an Olympic Qualifying time. They lowered the time that year from 2:50 to 2:45. I ran a 2:46,” Alessia said.
Even though she was one minute short, Alessia still maintained a positive attitude after the outcome. That was one of the more memorable marathons in Alessia’s running career.
“At first, I was sad that I did not meet the Olympic marathon qualifying time; to be so close and not make it is still something I think about and wonder, “Did I slow down somewhere? What if I had started out faster?” [But] I had made such a huge time drop that I was happy with my performance; I had run a 13 minute PR,” Alessia said.
This moment will live on with Alessia for years to come. Afterwards, she found a passion for coaching. Alessia went on to get her master’s degree in Exercise Science and went back to Manchester to coach men’s and women’s cross country and track.
Aside from running and coaching, she also started a few programs to help promote running to a younger audience. She credits her children for inspiration for these programs.
“I [started] a “Girls Have the Power” program in my community to inspire and education middle school girls about things like peer pressure, self-esteem, nutrition, eating disorders, bullying, etc….as well as the benefits of walking and running. At the end of the program, we ran a 5K. Hundreds of girls went through the program. I eventually started “Boys Have the Power” and “Kids Have the Power” to empower others to believe in themselves and see personal growth,” Alessia said.
Running has always played a huge part in Alessia’s life, and as a coach, she uses her experience in the Olympic Qualifying marathon as an example.
That was my last marathon, but things happen for a reason and I had put in all the right training and had a great race, so I can’t be upset about that. That is why I always, as a coach, tell my athletes to give it everything you have. Walk away knowing you gave it your all so you have no regrets. I like to encourage others to run and be healthy in some way. There are so many benefits to running and other cardiovascular exercises. All it takes is to just get started,” Alessia said.