My Name is Laura Sage (Azzoto) and on behalf of the entire Azzoto Family, even though Thanksgiving has past we want to give thanks to you (The store, the staff, the coaches and the community). Here is why….
As I looked at my mother the other day, as she was holding my new niece and her first Grandchild, all I could do was smile and feel a sense of relief. It was the first time I had seen my mother produce a glow of happiness in over 3 years. I started to think about everything that has happened to our family in the past 3 and ½ years and how finally, we are starting to feel like a happy growing family again. Everything I thought of revolved around Fleet Feet.
On May 1st 2008 our lives would be forever changed. Our father passed away on his way home from a Syracuse Chiefs game. He had gone into Cardiac Arrest and wasn’t able to be saved. He was only 58 years young. This has been anything but easy to deal with and at first unbearable, but like anything it takes time to heal. My brothers and I had lost our father at way to young of an age and my mother had lost her husband, at that point of 36 years but together for 45 if that puts it into perspective. As much as we all may or may not have had our heads on our shoulders he was the glue that held our family together. He was a son, a brother, a husband, a father, an uncle, a friend, an accountant and an incredible sports fan, to name a few things.
So as the spring moved into summer, my brothers and I found ourselves in a downward spiral, we all drank probably too much and most certainly ate way too much. If any sign of relief was showing by the fall it all ended quicker then it started. Our, what you could say healthy grandfather (our dads father) got sick suddenly and passed away, less than 6 months after his son.
Thanksgiving passed, Christmas passed and then it was NYE. This is a New Years Eve I will never forget. It was just my brothers, my mother and I and as the clock struck midnight the only thing all of us could do was cry and boy did we cry. I am not sure if it was the sadness of everything that we had experienced in 2008 or what the door for 2009 had to offer us that brought those tears but whatever it was it was much needed.
After the weight we all put on and the numb feeling that didn’t seem to leave our bodies, my brother Brian or as most of you over there at Fleet Feet know him, Slider, stopped in the store to buy some new shoes in March of 2009. It was that chance stop in that would change it all. It was there he was told about the Begin to Run Program. Slider quickly told my brother Nick and I about it and begged for us to do it with him. Our dad wasn’t what you would call overweight and he never drank or smoked but he also didn’t have the best eating habits and had a gym membership he may have used once. Brian being overweight needed this change and he needed his family there with him.
So, in April of 2009 the Azzoto’s began one of the best new journeys of their lives. Not only did we do the Begin to run program in the spring and complete our first 5k race we built friendships that have changed our lives and will last forever.
This is what has happened to our lives since Fleet Feet Entered it. I will start with Brian (Slider) first, He has to date lost 110 pounds and looks amazing, he brought his first 5k of 42 minutes down to 29 minutes; he just completed his first half marathon in October clocking in at 2:30!! And he has been, since 2010 a coach for the NB No boundaries program inspiring and changing people’s lives. Then there is me, Laura, I have coached and participated in the NB, ADV 5k, the half and now the full programs. My 5k time has gotten faster, I have completed 3 half marathons and am about to travel to Disney with my running family to run my first Marathon. I have recently gotten married and my husband participates also. Now onto Nick, he has too coached and participated in all of the programs from beginner to full marathon. With plenty 5k’s under his belt and 2 halves, he just completed his first marathon, the Empire State, in less than 4 hours! Nick also just had his first child, a baby girl named Meghan, with his girlfriend Patti, who he met thanks to your programs. Then last but not least, our mother, who her kids begged her to join the NB program did and has now completed 2, 5k’s with the love and support from everyone in the programs.
The point being of this very long letter is that you, Fleet Feet, have in a way saved our lives! If it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t have developed these forever friendships, we wouldn’t be living the healthy lifestyles we are, and we wouldn’t have baby Meghan who has once again like you brought life and love back into our family and for that the Azzoto family is forever grateful to you all!
Slider, Nick, Laura and Judy
Fleet Feet Sports Sacramento - Sarah Farnsworth
I had never run a mile in my life before I started the Shamrock'n training program. I signed up for the run/walk group not knowing what to expect. I just listened to the coaches about proper form, fueling, etc. and did slow run/walk intervals. By week 5 or so I was running without walking breaks. I asked Sally if she thought I could switch to the running group and she was super encouraging. When I joined her group, she looked out for me and encouraged me every step of the way. During a longer Sunday run I got so excited about what I was doing that I yelled to her "I'm going to run a marathon before I'm 30!" I had just turned 27. I didn't actually think a marathon was possible (the exercise endorphins must have made me loopy when I said it) but Sally cheered me on and said that I could and should go for it.
I ran Shamrock'n and enjoyed every minute of it. I had no idea running 13.1 miles could feel so good! I was slow, but I was hooked.
I trained for and ran a few races on my own after that and built up my speed and confidence. I thought back to the day I'd told Sally I might run a marathon before 30, and I started seriously considering it. Just the thought of it gave me chills. Me, running a marathon? That's just insane. As a kid, I'd always try to get out of P.E.. I'd never play team sports. I can't swim. I couldn't even ride a bike until I was like 10. I can't catch or throw. If a ball comes near me, I duck. I could never even cross the monkey bars at school. I'm not strong or fast or flexible or coordinated. I wouldn't run unless someone was chasing me, and even then I'd probably surrender instead of run away. I'm a lawyer, a nerd, not an athlete. I had started taking aerobics classes at the gym a few years ago and I hike so I was at least somewhat fit, but I never would have thought I'd take up running at all, let alone train for a marathon. That was the most un-Sarah, unreachable goal I could imagine. But then I remembered how much fun my first half marathon was, and how encouraging Sally was. I emailed you to ask you a few questions about the program, and you called me to talk about it in detail and helped convince me I could do it.
I was so excited to start CIM training, and I sincerely enjoyed every single group run. The coaches were fantastic. They were so encouraging, warm, inspiring, and genuine. They'd share stories of their own personal struggles and success. They learned all our names. They brought treats. They shared invaluable tips. They cheered us on in the rain, the heat, the long runs, the assessment races, all the time. I felt like they were just as invested in this as we were.
The race itself didn't go quite as well, but I finished! The hills were a challenge, and something went wrong with my fueling/hydration plan. I finished about a half hour slower than I expected to, but I still finished happy and healthy. Having the coaches out on the course made a huge difference. When I saw Russ and Tina near the halfway point, I cried. Russ ran with me up a hill and talked me through it. I saw Ryan around mile 19 and he got me out of a terrible mental funk. Seeing the coaches again at mile 25 was awesome. I could tell they were genuinely happy to see that I was going to finish. It would have been much harder to finish had the coaches not cheered me on throughout the race.
Seconds after I crossed the finish line, I knew I was going to run CIM again. The whole process definitely came with blood, sweat, and tears, but I can't wait to do it again. I never would have thought I could run a marathon. I still can't believe I did it, and I still tear up when I think about it. Although my own determination and my wonderfully supportive family and friends were all factors in my success, I can't stress enough how much Fleet Feet did for me. You turned this stubbornly non-athletic woman into a marathon runner!
I am now obsessed with running. I've got a race planned for every month for the rest of the year. I will be signing up for the CIM group next year, and plan on getting all my running gear at Fleet Feet. I'm happy to support a business that genuinely cares about its customers and makes experienced and beginning runners alike feel comfortable and encouraged.
Please pass a sincere thank you to all the Fleet Feet coaches and staff. Each and every one of them helped me reach a life-changing goal that I never thought would be possible.
Robin Tropf - Fleet Feet Sports Sacramento
I loved the Fleet Feet Sports walking program at work and I received what I sought to gain from the program:
The best part was the sense of accomplishment after completing the program. The program has launched me to become healthier and jump-started me into getting more physical activity into my day/week. I will be striving to do more because I know I can do it, and hopefully this is just the beginning…
Shannon Murphy, a newly minted "Shamrocker!" And 11 pounds lighter
You have created such a fantastic and life-changing training program at Fleet Feet. I was a 5K-10K runner over 10 years ago and as the years, family life and work stress piled on, so did the pounds and the " I do for everyone else but me" attitude. I finally decided that my 30's were going to be what I thought my 20's were supposed to be. In May 2010, my husband and I decided to make some big changes. In 2 months, we bought a small ranch, I started No Boundaries and put my horse back in training (she was on a 2 yr lay up for an injury).
So, No Boundaries and Urban Cow 5K transitioned the next week into Next Steps and the Run to feed the Hungry 10K. 18 weeks with you folks and I finally started to see some remodeling of my, uh Real Estate, as it were. The pounds were not shedding off but at least there was some toning and rearrangement. Three days after Thanksgiving, as Murphy's Law would have it, I tripped over my shepherd and broke my foot.
Charlie Brown's famous "Urggghh!" came to mind as I got increasingly more depressed and I ate my way through December with my laid up foot and aching armpits- we were not meant to walk on crutches! The idea of a half marathon seemed a lost cause.
Out of my Irish penchant for self torture- I signed up for Shamrock'n training- just 2 weeks out of my lovely "boot". Through painful peroneal ankle tendonitis, a bad head cold and holding my frustation and tears at bay, you and your coaching staff provided me with the tools, wisdom and encouragement that I needed to "smile through the mile" as Coach Craig says and to "slow it down and finish strong at the right pace" as Coach Mark says.
Even when I switched from a run walker to the walk group, Coach Josh kept a watchful eye on his straggling former pupil with the same enthusiasm as he did for the gazelles at the front of the pack.
Most of all though, I thank you for being not only the Coach that I needed to stay in training shape but for being the Mom-type that kept me emotionally and mentally in the game. Your perceptive and kindred spirit and uncanny ability to pick "the needful one" out of the pack makes the difference between a string of workouts and a true transition toward a better, more fully balanced lifestyle.
In a few weeks I will start Next Steps again to improve on my middle distance pacing.
Rick Lam - Fleet Feet Sports Sacramento
The No Boundaries program is an excellent start for anyone who wants to stay healthy. I have been running for almost a year before joining this program. It seems so simple to just put on your shoes and run until your body tells you to stop. However, without knowing the basic workings of the body, my legs were in pain and my running did not improve very much. After enrolling in the No Boundaries programs and training for a couple of weeks, I learned the proper form, routine and nutrition. Now I can run nearly 5 miles during a workout and feel perfectly fine. The biggest benefit for me is that the pain in my legs has dramatically reduced just by making small adjustments. The next step in my workout is to challenge myself to a half marathon by training to run faster and farther.
Terri Gilbert : Fleet Feet Sports Syracuse : Week 10 – November 12, 2011.
Wow, 10 weeks have gone by in the blink of an eye. 10 weeks ago, our group could not run for more than 3 minutes at a time. Now we can run 30+ minutes at a time. 10 weeks ago, we were a bunch of strangers trying to figure out how to become runners. Now we are friends and have many potential running buddies amongst ourselves. I’m sure I will be seeing some of them in future charity races around the Syracuse area streets. We have all come so far in what really is a short amount of time.
This past Saturday was our last official group run. Next weekend is the goal race, The Jingle Bell Run. This week we learned about “tapering” from the program director, Patti. We learned we need to let our bodies repair from the time trial 2 Saturdays ago and to give our bodies time to be fully ready and geared up to go for the Jingle Bell Run. She is right. We are all so excited that we are now runners, we don’t want to over burden our bodies and not be able to complete the goal race. After 10 weeks of hard work I want to be able to finish what I started.
Fred Lebow, NYC Marathon co-founder said it perfectly, "In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that."
I started this program 10 weeks ago with the hopes of finally being able to call myself a runner. In the process, I’ve learned so much about myself and what I can accomplish when I really put my mind to it. The support of such wonderful running partners and of course my coach, Jessica was utterly amazing. If anyone has the desire to call themselves a runner, if you’ve driven around your neighborhood wishing to be like the runners you see on the roads, if you want to be able to run, and run, and run around with your kids, this is the program you need to join. After 10 weeks, you will definitely be able to call yourself “a runner”; just like I now can.