An Army Of One

Michael Winstead

In the last year Michael Winstead has used running as the catalyst to transform his life. This year will be his first Thanksgiving Day Race. Hopefully it won't be his last. We asked him what he's looking forward to the most, what keeps him motivated, and what advice he has for those who haven't yet committed to this year's race.

Q1. How did you get into running?
Last September I quit smoking after 25+ years of smoking. A little while after, a couple friends of mine were talking about this race and said I should join them running it next year. So, on January 1st, I decided that I was going to start running so I can join them this year on the Thanksgiving Day Race. The first afternoon I ran I made it ¼ of a mile and thought I was going to collapse. But I kept at it. The next day I made it a little farther, then a little farther the day after that! Here I am about to run another 10K. That's still hard for me to believe.

Q2. How has running impacted your life?
Running has changed everything for me. When I started I just wanted to join some friends and have a good time. I never thought I would fall in love with running. It's something that has transformed my attitude. I look forward to each and every time I get to put on my running shoes, participate in my next race, or accomplish my next goal/milestone.

Q3. Did your experience in the military impact your ability to change your life?
There was a certain sense of accomplishment when I graduated from Basic Training that has stuck with me all these (20+) years later. I was one of the many "least likely to ever go into the military" kind of person. I learned how to believe in myself. When I ever doubt myself, I think back to those days and think, "Yeah, I CAN do it."

Q4. Will this be your first Thanksgiving Day Race?
Yes it is. It certainly won't be my last!

Q5. What are you looking forward to the most about the race?
All of it! I can't wait! It's something I've been waiting for since last year, I'm almost in disbelief that the day is almost here. I look forward to seeing the crowd, hearing the cheers and I most certainly look forward to that finish line!

Q6.  What keeps you so dedicated to running?
I get a lot of motivation from seeing/reading other stories. When I am having a less-than-fantastic run, I think of others and I keep going. Like many others, I never thought I would become a runner or from finding so much enjoyment in it. It didn't take too long either for me to feel and see the overwhelming benefits from running.

Also, race day(s) are all the motivation I need to keep going. There is nothing like running in a race with others who are there for the same reason as you. To have strangers cheer for me too is one of the most uniquely wonderful feelings I have ever experienced.

Q7. What's your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?
Well, this is certainly going to be a tradition from here on out! Eating anything made with pumpkin is certainly a yearly habit…err, I mean tradition.

Q8. What's next on your bucket list?
My next goal is to participate in a half marathon. After that, we'll see about running a full marathon. I tend to make my goals a step at a time. Flying Pig 2014 here I come!

Q9. What's your advice for those who may be considering participating in this year's race, but haven't committed yet?
I never thought I would be doing this. It all started with a sincere desire to participate. Along the way I have figured out that it doesn't matter if you're fast or slow. It doesn't matter if you're graceful. It just matters that want to do this for yourself and to help out the charities that you are helping by registering. So, join me, the "slow guy" and I'll cheer you along until we reach the finish line together.