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Image courtesy Amber Wadey

Amber is brand new to ARC. She ran a little bit in her mid-20’s but was struggling to get through 2 miles when she signed up for the Marathon Relay with a bunch of friends in 2014. They were raising money for LIVESTRONG and one of the fundraising incentives that year was an entry into the Austin Half Marathon. Running a half marathon was NOT on her bucket list, but she figured she’d give it a try. She read every running book she could get her hands on and created a training plan. When she crossed that finish line in 2015, she figured if she could do it once, she could do it again (and again). So far, as of this writing, she has completed the 3M Half, the Alamo 13.1 and the Austin Half Marathon (twice).

Soon after finishing this year’s Austin Half, Amber saw the wrap-up infographic for the ARC Distance Challenge on Facebook. She typically would not have considered joining a group or registering for a series of races, but looking at the average age and pace, she realized immediate that the Distance Challenge was for her. She was the first person to sign up the day registration opened for the 2016/2017 Austin Runners Club Distance Challenge.

Amber is 39 years old, has 2 young kids and works for the LIVESTRONG Foundation here in Austin. She’s been married for 19 years and her husband is a 14 year cancer survivor. She and her husband moved to Austin just over 10 years ago. They love it here, although she admits she would rather be eating ice cream than running once the temperature gets into the 90’s and 100’s.

Amber’s training includes running 2-3 times/week during racing season, then she takes a break over the summer. One of the most enjoyable parts of running for her is having time all her own, away from her sometimes hectic life. Most of her runs are on the beautiful Butler Trail around Lady Bird Lake, and she also likes to run on the trails around the Hill Country Galleria. She does yoga, attends the occasional Pilates class, and just committed to riding the 20-mile route for this year’s LIVESTRONG Challenge bike ride, so she’ll be doing some cross-training this summer. Her advice is to “just get out there and run, have fun, enjoy the world around you, listen to your body and take rest days seriously.”

Amber’s favorite race distance is the half marathon. She loves the half because “you have to train and prepare mentally and physically, and when you cross that finish line you know you’ve accomplished something.” In her first half, she set a goal of 2:15 and crossed the line in 2:13. For her second her goal was 2:05 and she matched that exactly. She said: “If nothing else, I’m good at setting attainable goals.” Her race wish list includes the Zion Half, the Fort Lauderdale A1A Half and the Disney Star Wars Half.

We asked if she has advice for novice runners: “If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse. I have 2 small children and a full-time job and have every excuse in the world not to train. The day I decided it was important, I told my husband and my boss that I was doing it and they immediately gave me the support I needed to hit the trail before work, during lunch and on weekends. Sharing my goals and asking for help was huge for me.”

Amber and her family are a welcome addition to the Austin Runners Club. We’ll be watching how she does in the upcoming ARC Distance Challenge!

–David Mitchell