SOLE SISTER SPOTLIGHT - 2016
December 2016 - Annmarie Veits
Annmarie grew up in Woburn and currently lives in Tewksbury with her husband Mark and 3 children. She works as a social worker for the Department of Children and Family Services for 20 years. This is a demanding and high-stress job and running has helped her make sure she has some “me” time.
Annmarie started running her freshman year of High School when she was guided by her softball coach to change sports. Her favorite event was 300meter hurdles (which are now 400meter hurdles). She was almost undefeated her senior year, only losing to one other runner from Reading. She then went to Fitchburg state and continued to run. While she was attending Fitchburg she ran the New York City Marathon!
She had to put running on hold for her career and her 3 children but decided to take it back up this past January. She felt she had gained weight and wasn’t happy with herself. She has Celiac disease and this caused her to have chronic stomach issues. She knew she had to make a change and become healthier and take better care of herself. Since January she is down 40lbs and seldom has any stress headaches or stomach issues. Running has got her back on track!
Annmarie is very thankful for the social connections that Sole Sisters has also enabled her to have. She was originally brought to Sole Sisters by Marli. Marli has given her so much inspiration and encouragement along the way and she is very thankful for all her guidance. She trained for her first half marathon with so many of the women in this group and really enjoys running with these women that have the same interests and likes as her.
She feels her biggest running accomplishment is the Baystate half marathon this past fall. Her goal was to run it in under 2 hours and she finished in 1 hour 50 minutes! She felt amazing at the end and was able to run the last couple miles with her daughter and her daughter’s friend.
Annmarie is an amazing runner, mom, wife, and friend! She coaches several teams in Tewksbury and is always very supportive of her children and their classmates. Her 3 children are all competitive athletes and this has inspired her to be a role model for them and to set a good example by living a healthy/clean lifestyle. We are so lucky to have Annmarie as a member of Sole Sisters!
September 2016 - Nicki Lee
Nicki spent most of her childhood in a small town outside Kansas City, Missouri until she came to Boston to go to college at Northeastern University. After she stayed in MA and met her husband, David. They married 6 years ago and live in Wakefield. She is a Physical Therapist and works as Director of Rehab at a skilled nursing facility in Peabody. Jen Kennedy brought Nicki to Sole Sisters. They had previously worked together and when Nicki saw her Facebook posts about her running group she reached out to her to learn more about the group and find out how to join.
Nicki has been running off and on since she was a teenager. Her father was a runner and ran the Boston Marathon multiple times when she was growing up and this motivated her to want to run a marathon some day. 12 years ago she decided to start to run longer distances and signed up for her first half marathon. Since then she has run over 11 half marathons and is currently training for her 4th full marathon. Nicki will be running Chicago for the 3rd time in just a few weeks!
Running helps her keep her life in perspective and keeps her balanced mentally and emotionally. It is an outlet for stress, fear, self-doubt, pain and any other negative emotions she may feel. Nicki strongly believes in the running quote “Running has taught me that I am capable of so much more than I ever imagined”. She strongly advises new runners to believe in themselves and know they can do it!! Running is important for mental health and also gives her great conversation and friendships! This is her chance to really get to know people and also get her run in.
Nicki feels her biggest running accomplishment was joining Sole Sisters! She never felt she was a good enough runner to be part of a running club. She is so happy she joined and has been able to accomplish thing through this club that she never thought she could. Nicki is an amazing runner and runs up hills like no one else! If you haven’t had a chance to run with her follow her to the hilly streets of Reading and you will be amazed at her strength! She is always a motivator and is willing to meet and run at any time and whatever distances you need. She will run an extra mile or more if it’s not on her plan just to keep her friends company and support them during their run. Thank you, Nicki for all you give to our members! We are so lucky to have you as part of this group!
July 2016 - Jessica Stryhalaleck
Jessica grew up in Lynnfield, MA, went to Philips Andover Academy in Andover and is currently lives in Wilmington with her husband Steve and three children Mia (10), Chloe (6) and Stephen (4). She is so thankful to have such a supportive family! She gets out and runs early so that she has the rest of the day to spend with them. She is currently working as a Spanish teacher at Lynnfield Middle School.
Jessica started running in her early teens. At Philips Academy every student was encouraged to participate in a sport or community service and she chose cross country and fall and spring track. She never felt she was particularly fast, but held her own and enjoyed being part of the team. Her motivation to run is to challenge herself but also for her mental health and well-being. As a teenager and young adult she struggled with an eating disorder and running helps her stay at a healthy weight and mindset. She now realizes that appearance does not define who she is. She now prefers to count her miles and not her calories! This fall she will be reuniting with one of her best friends and fellow cross country teammate to run the Chicago Marathon!
In 2013 Jessica was introduced to Sole Sisters and Jill Chisolm through a mutual friend. She started training for the Baystate Marathon with Jill and Melissa Davis. During one of their many training runs Jill and Melissa convinced her that she would someday be able to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Jessica continued to push herself and never gave up. On May 1st at the Providence Marathon she was able to qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon. As we all know Jessica never gave up and kept her eye on the prize. We are so proud of her for achieving this and will be here to support her every step of the way!
Sole Sisters running club has motivated her to achieve so many goals! She sticks by her motto to just believe in yourself, because there is truly nothing to lose and everything to gain! She loves the diversity of the Sole Sisters and the fact that everyone is so supportive and respectful to of one another’s goals. Many times people will ask her for advice on how to get faster. Her advice is that it isn’t always a quick process. It has taken her years and her key has been consistency, putting in the miles day in and day out. She will always try and challenge herself for at least 2 runs a week and also does a long run weekly.
We are so proud of everything that Jessica has accomplished and are so lucky to have her as part of this group! We love how passionate she is about running and especially enjoy her willingness to run a 20-miler last minute! Thank you, Jessica for bringing so much spirit to this group!
June 2016 - Melissa Smith
Melissa grew up in Wilmington and currently lives in Billerica with her husband Tom and 3 kids. She met Tom in High School and they have been sweat hearts ever since! She has a son Alex that is 22 and attends UMASS Lowell and twin girls Hailey and Sarah that are 16. She currently works at L.L. Bean in Burlington and has been there 10 years. Before that she worked as a financial analyst.
Running a 5k was always something she wanted to do and she prepared for this on her own by using a couch to 5k program. She ran her first in April 2012 and has run many since. Like many of us life got busy for her with 3 children and working and she put on quite a bit of weight. In the fall of 2014 she got tired of the way she looked and felt and decided to do something about it. She teamed up with a friend and decided to start her weight loss journey. Every Tuesday they checked in with each other and held each other accountable. She needed to find a plan that worked for her and allowed her to still enjoy meals with her family. My Fitness Pal helped her count calories and keep her weight loss going. She lost 33 lbs and felt great! As she started to feel better she remembered how great running made her feel and decided to start back again in April 2015. She started to look for running clubs to join and was so impressed by the Sole Sisters Facebook page. The positivity she saw daily made up her mind and she joined in September 2015, the same month she turned 50. Her first group run was with the “Sunday Sisters” and she immediately felt welcomed. Hearing about all the achievements of her fellow members made her decide to set some goals! Her first goal was a 10k, and ran this on January 1st, 2016. In March she decided to set another goal and joined the Half Marathon Training program. It was a challenge and a major commitment but she did it!
Melissa loves this club because she believes that it is welcoming to all no matter what your speed, distance, age, weight, job, etc. everyone is made to feel welcome and like they truly belong. With the help of this club she is feeling healthy and strong and it has helped her with her confidence.
While she may be surprised she has achieved so many of her goals, us Sole Sisters are not. She is a strong, dedicated mom; friend and runner who help make our club great! Thank you Melissa for all you do to help motivate other runners in our group and your continued support! We are so lucky to have you as member!
May 2016 - Sarah Hunt
Sarah grew up in Burlington and Woburn MA and most of her family still lives there. She works for Anheuser Busch and most recently accepted a job position in Canton Ohio! She started running track and cross-country in High School and then most recently started running again 4 years ago. She recently joined SS running club and is amazed by all the support and friendships this group has brought her.
Sarah loves running mostly because of the women she runs with. They inspire her to push out of her comfort zone and because of this she ran her first half marathon this past January in Disney! This was a mileage PR for her; she had never run more than 10 miles before this! She is also currently thinking about running her first full marathon in Philly in the fall! Her advice to runners is to just stick with it! Find a running buddy that is at your pace and enjoy every moment of your run. This will make running fun instead of a chore.
Her fellow gym members at Body Infusion brought Sarah to SS. She decided to run the Disney Half and knew this was the group to help her do it! If you are a member at BI you will see Sarah there at all hours of the days from 5am on. She continually works hard and helps support the other women in her class, and always does it with a smile on her face!
Sadly, Sarah will not be able to join in our runs anymore since she will be moving to Ohio, unless she returns home to visit. Her running mates and the rest of the SS running group will miss her! We wish you luck on your new position and hope to be able to see you at a destination run soon!!! Thank you Sarah for all you have done for this group and the women in it!
March 2016 - Diane Zwicker
Diane grew up in Tewksbury and is currently living in Lowell where she has lived for 20 years. She has been married to her husband Kurt for 7 years and has a 5-year-old son Jackson, dog Brody and cat Fluffa! She is an accounting manager at Mack Technologies in Westford.
Diane Just started running in January 2015. She started out on a treadmill and wasn’t even able to run a mile at the time. She also took a treadmill boot camp class to help her ease into running. She initially started running to try something knew, something she couldn’t do. She felt she was always the last one finishing in the dreaded mile run at the end of class and wanted to push herself and push through her initial fear of running. Once she started she realized how addicting it can be and really loved it! Her advice to new runners is to go at you own pace and you will get through it and see improvement. Step by step you will see how much you can improve. Being a part of Sole Sisters has changed her life and she is always amazed by the strong, beautiful and fantastic women in her corner.
In January of this year she ran her first 10k! She walked a bit but she finished! Crossing the finish line at any race she does is what makes the training worth it! After her first 5k she was so proud of herself and what she had accomplished in such a short time she cried! Diane is currently training for her first half marathon. Just thinking of this accomplishment makes her feel emotional. Hard work and determination has got her here, but she also thanks her fellow Sole Sisters for helping her get to this point. The encouragement and cheering she gets from them keeps her going and she enjoys doing the same for them. Diane is an important part of the half marathon program and we need her there as much as she needs us!
Diane initially came to Sole Sisters because of an injury. Jody Brown told her to reach out on the Sole Sisters page for advice. She posted her question and immediately received advice and encouragement from many of the members. Recently Diane had an injury and was sidelined for 2 months. During that time she did other sports such as swimming, TRX and spinning to keep her going. Diane would also continue to post on the page looking for someone to join her for any of those activities or even a walking workout. She is truly committed to fitness and running!
Diane is one of the nicest, genuine people you will ever meet. When she was told she was chosen for SS of the month she immediately though it was a random selection. Diane was chosen because of her hard work, dedication to the group and for her support of many fellow Sole Sisters. Diane we are lucky to have you as part of our group and can’t wait to see you achieve your next goal!
February 2016 - Nancy Lively
Nancy, along with her large Irish catholic family, grew up in Portsmouth, NH. Her parents owned their own construction company and always taught their children to work hard and never give up. She moved to Wilmington in 2008 and married her husband Chris in 2010. She works for Keolis Commuter Services and has been at the commuter rail for 13 years. She worked in the IT department but was recently promoted to work in the Mechanical Department as the Life Cycle and Enterprise Asset Manager. It is a tough and demanding job but as always Nancy is up for the challenge!
Nancy started running in her 20’s to lose weight and loved it so much she signed up for her first race, the Tufts 10k. As she was running it she met a group of women that were talking about training for the Boston Marathon and decided to join them. She had dreamed about running that race since she was a student at Northeastern University and used to watch it with her friends from the top of the Lord and Taylor building. She trained for two years with this group and they founded the Parkway Running Club in West Roxbury. Her training consisted of cross training, track workouts two times a week at MIT and hill repeats on Heartbreak Hill. This is how Nancy knew that “hills are your buddies”, a term you will always hear Nancy saying! This hard, consistent training is what helped Nancy qualify for the Boston Marathon on her first try! To Nancy crossing the finish line in a marathon is an amazing accomplishment but crossing the finish line in Boston was a dream. She has been able to cross that line 13 times! She has also finished 7 other marathons in addition to that. Nancy ran her last marathon in 2015, she knew that it was important to listen to her body and hang up the 26.2 distance for good.
Nancy has been running for 27 years and now loves the gift of giving back. She enjoys sharing her words of wisdom, training programs, do’s and don’ts to first timers and always checks in with people to make sure they are doing what they should and taking care of themselves. Nancy will pack her car up with food and drinks to assist other runners on their long runs and has also run many people in during their races to help them on their last few miles when they need it most. There are many runners out there that feel they couldn’t have done it without her help and guidance. Most recently Nancy traveled to New York City and Philadelphia to cheer on her fellow Sole Sisters. She went to multiple locations along the course to encourage her fellow SS and make sure they were ok. She ran with Beth McGuire at the end of the Philadelphia Marathon and was so proud to hear her say “I can’t believe I ran a marathon”. She herself said that after her first marathon and knew first hand that feeling of accomplishment. This is what makes Nancy happy, to hear other people proud of themselves and amazed at what they can do. She is an amazing person with a big, huge heart and will do anything not only for her friends, but even someone she just met. Nancy calls herself the “grandma” of the SS. We consider her to be way more then that! This group would not be the same without her support and guidance. She always has a hug for us when we need it most and will wipe away our tears of joy or sadness!
Thank you Nancy for being such an amazing part of our group we are all so lucky to have you by our side!
January 2016 – Allison Hapenney
Allison grew up in Tyngsboro and is the middle child of two brothers. Growing up she was very competitive with them and made sure they knew she was a force to be reckoned with. She is currently living in Methuen with her husband and two children Ava and Drew. She works in Tewksbury at an office across from the market Basket distribution center and works with project management/operations. You will often see Allison running around town during her lunch! Give her a beep and a wave if you see her running down East street!
She started running in High School, ran cross-country for all 4 years and then took some time off. In April 2014 she started running again and entered the Falmouth Road Race lottery with her sister in law. She then decided to start training. She put on some old sneakers and downloaded a running app and started back! She started by running and walking and worked her way up to just running. Her advice that she gives to herself and others is to congratulate yourself for every step you take! One step at a time and everyone will be better then the next. Be proud you started! She loves the feeling of running and it gives her the clarity she needed to help her battle anxiety and postpartum depression. It’s the one time she feels she can be who she is, just Allison. She tries not to be hard on her self and focus on the positive. She knows what she can and cant do is out there to enjoy the people and the miles!
Six months into her running journey she ran Bay State Half Marathon. Before that she never thought she would be able to run that far and has run 3 half marathons since!!! She is proud of this accomplishment and her fellow SS are proud of her!! Never did she imagine she would be running hill repeats up Catamount, running half marathons and getting up early to meet people to run.
She stumbled upon SS running group at a trot for special tots committee meeting when she met Marli. Marli mentioned she was part of this group and Allison immediately joined the FB page and was happy to be able to have other women to run with. She knew this would help motivate her to run and is excited about everyone she has met! She has been able to make many friends that are no longer just running friends they are part of her everyday life!
Allison is an amazing, funny, supportive fellow runner and friend! If you need a pick me up, funny story or just someone to vent to she is your girl! Thank you Alison for being part of SS and being who you are!!