Runner Enjoys Daily Run and the Joy That Comes from Being Outdoors

August 15, 2017 by Kavita Sherman, writer

Holly ran the Big Sur International Marathon in 2016.

Some habits begin one step at a time. That’s how Holly Pupino, senior corporate communications specialist at Akron Children’s Hospital, became an avid runner.

She began running in 2004 with her middle child, who was trying out for her school’s cross country team. Now, nearly 14 years later, Holly can’t imagine a life that doesn’t include a daily run.

“I remember it wasn’t pleasant at first,” she said. “I went to the track with my daughter, Nicole, and had to start slowly. It took a while to build endurance. I would never have guessed then that I would be running a full marathon within 4 years. At the time, the idea of running 26.2 miles seemed incredibly daunting.”

Two of Holly’s children participated in track and cross country at Copley High School, and Nick went onto Ohio State University. It’s little wonder then that Holly prefers distance running, too. Over the last 10 years, she has raced in 2 full marathons, including Columbus and New York, and a 21-mile course along the Pacific coast as part of the Big Sur International Marathon.

Additionally, she’s participated in numerous half marathons, including the Cap City Half Marathon in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, enjoying the fact that her parents stood along the route to cheer for her.

Holly with her parents, Jeanne and John Johnson, at the Nationwide Columbus Half Marathon.

Many runners talk about the motivation and information they share with each other. For some, running leads to friendships, while others learn from and become enriched by other runners. Holly first discovered this as a cross country team mom, cheering on the runners at meets, hosting spaghetti dinners for team members and organizing an annual pre-season cross country camp. The more she was around the young runners and coaches, especially Matt Young and Jim Chaney, the more she learned.

Most days, Holly runs 4 to 5 miles after work along a crushed limestone trail in Sand Run Metro Park. On weekend mornings, she mixes it up by training on segments of the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail or going off-road trail running with her daughter.

With daughter, Nicole, at the finish of the Shape Women’s Half Marathon in Central Park in April 2017

“I need that hour when I get to be outside. I run in all kinds of weather–rain, snow, heat, the polar vortex from a few winters back,” she said. “All year long, I look forward to running in the autumn with the beautiful colors and crisp air.”

Two things are indispensable to Holly’s running routine: organization and her iPod Nano.

“I have my routine,” she said. “I pack my things the night before, change at work and drive to the park so I can run right after work. And I wouldn’t want to run without listening to podcasts, NPR, or music. An hour goes by very quickly when you’re listening to something interesting. When I trained for the New York Marathon in 2014, listening to the ‘Serial’ podcast made 3- and 4-hour training runs fly by.”

Holly with NYPD officers at the finish of the 2014 New York City Marathon.

Besides helping her to control her weight, running makes Holly feel healthy and strong.

“I’m so appreciative that I can run, even if I am not fast at all.” she said. “From what I have learned, running and other high-impact activities are good for bone health. I noticed a big difference in bone and muscle stress since mostly getting off concrete and cement. My main goal is to still be running when I’m 70 or 80.”

That should leave time for more memories to be made.

“A certain song or place can trigger a great running memory,” Holly said. “The New York Marathon was special – running through the 5 boroughs, seeing all the diversity of our country in the various neighborhoods and all the amazing views of the city from bridges. Every time I hear David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity,’ it takes me back to hearing that song while I was running across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn, seeing the Statue of Liberty in the distance and having a huge gust of wind practically lift me into outer space.”

The Pupino Family — Sam, Holly, Alyssa, Nicole and Nick — had a relay team during the first Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series marque event in 2016.

Down to earth – and closer to home – running the Akron Marathon has become more meaningful since Akron Children’s Hospital became the marathon series title beneficiary.

“Last year was so much fun running the streets of Akron – seeing many of the patient families I have come to know and giving them high fives at their ‘hero’ stations. As I runner, I actually got more excited about seeing the next ‘hero’ than the next mile marker,” she said. “That September Saturday always been a joyful day in Akron and now it’s even more of celebration.”

Holly with co-workers, Kelly Daw (center) and Andrea Rogers, at the start of the Akron Marathon in 2015.

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