Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend! I would love to share your stories, accomplishments or anything else you would like to share, please send them to barb.meely@staging.steeplechasers.org.

This week’s member spotlight is on the amazing Jean Marie Heim-Berry.

“My running journey began in 1997, when my sister encouraged me to run The Chocolate Chase. I thought I was getting miles of Hershey Kisses, Chocolate Bars and Reese’s Cups… Little did I know, it would be a candy-less five miles of Hershey, PA hills! I thought I was going to die, but after refueling with half a dozen of Eat-n-Park Cookies (post-race refreshments!) I was hooked (could have been the sugar high….) and ready to tackle my next race!

After a few years of running 5-Ks and 10-Ks, I signed up to run a 10-miler and – two weeks later – my first half marathon.

I remember thinking,

A half marathon is only 3.1 miles longer – how much harder can it possibly be??

I had no idea what I was getting myself into; I was so very thankful to my sister who ran the last few miles with me and gave me words of encouragement. My next goal was to run 2002 Marine Corps Marathon.

While it was mentally and physically challenging, with lots of self-conversations, crossing the finish line and having my parents there, is/was and always will be priceless.

Distance running has never been easy for me, but I love it!

It isn’t about being the fastest or competing against other runners. More often, it’s competing against myself, looking to set personal goals, and being willing to push myself outside my comfort zone. During my 20-plus years of running, I have pretty much run and trained by myself, with family, or a friend. It wasn’t till my husband and I moved to Frederick in 2018 that I decided to join the Steeps.

Being new to the area, I felt it would be a great opportunity to meet local runners and participate in the Spring Half Marathon Training Program.

While I had previously run numerous half marathons, I also wanted to utilize the group experience to push myself both physically and mentally.

Being a Steeplechaser these last two years has been rewarding – on and off the roads! I have met wonderful people, established friendships, became a more knowledge and dedicated runner (I still love my strength training!) and received my certification as a running coach.

Volunteering as assistant coach for the 2019 Fall, the 2020 Spring Half and Marathon Training Programs has, I hope, inspired other runners to push through insecurities and self-imposed limits, and to be proud of being a runner, regardless of age or speed.

Being part of the Steeplechasers community exemplifies how running is a journey best enjoyed with friends.

It allows us to challenge ourselves, connect with nature, all while being surrounded by and blessed with friends.

I am grateful to be a part of my fellow Steeplechasers’ journey. And sometimes, when life gets in your way and all you can manage is to lace up the shoes and go for a gentle run, it is important to know that that is totally okay!”

Jean Marie and her sister at the end of 2005 Marine Corps Marathon.
Jean Marie, left, and her sister — 2005 MCM Finishers!