Before running her first half-marathon on October 26, Kathleen Gillespie had a goal in mind – finish in under four hours.

When she crossed the finish line inside Fluor Field, with pride and tears in her eyes, not only had Kathleen beaten her goal, she had crushed it with a time of 3:09.

To see how far Kathleen has come, you have to look back at where she was when she started her journey at the YMCA of Easley, Pickens & Powdersville. Leading up to November 2018, Kathleen had gotten a report from a doctor appointment that led her to become active at the Y.

“Before we had primarily used the Y for the pool. Last November, I got some health numbers back that weren’t good, and I decided I needed to do something different,” Kathleen said.

Kathleen came into the Y with a goal in mind – she wanted to be able to run one mile on the treadmill in under 15 minutes. She had tried programs at home, including running on the treadmill and using fitness videos, but it was always easy to find other things that needed to be done. Kathleen started with The Journey program, using the ActivTrax app to get a different workout each day to shake up her routine.

“I started at zero. Besides the pool, The Journey is the main thing that pulled me in,” Kathleen said. “I came in intimidated, not knowing what weights to use for how many reps, but The Journey and ActivTrax gives you all that and it’s so easy.”

One of the biggest lightbulb moments for Kathleen was that taking care of her own health didn’t have to mean taking away from her family. She takes advantage of the Childwatch program during her workout, but she also knows that focusing on her health allows her to be a more active participant in family life.

“When I had kids, I felt guilty taking time away from my kids. I felt like it was selfish to put myself first,” Kathleen said. “But it really hit me that I needed to do something. I’ve got a 7-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son, so I wanted to take care of myself so I could be the best mom I can.”

She made a connection with Somer Faust, who coached her through The Journey launch, and signed up for weekly personal training sessions with Somer.

“Once I got into the rhythm of it, I realized, ‘I can do this.’ Then I realized I needed to see Somer every week,” Kathleen said. “Having something different once a week for an hour, and learning exercises I can do on my own was really important for me.”

Kathleen’s fitness continued to improve – she participated in and completed the Murph for the first time in the spring - and Somer encouraged her to run her first half-marathon. But the relationship didn’t stop at the walls of the Y. Somer stepped outside the branch, signed up for the race and took every step alongside Kathleen.

“Somer’s confidence in me meant a lot to me. She was motivating me the entire time with positive energy,” Kathleen said. “The fact that somebody is willing to take their Saturday morning and go on a 13-mile jog with you, that’s not something most people are willing to do. I’ve been to Y’s before, but that’s part of what makes this a special Y.”