Meet Amanda Wendell! Amanda is a child care licensing consultant with the state of Michigan. Prior to that, she has had a number of careers in human services/counseling. She was born in Muskegon, raised in Ludington, and lived in California and Lansing as an adult. Amanda has lived back in Whitehall since 2006, when she got her first "big girl job" at Whitehall District Schools. She has a fourteen-year-old son, a sixteen-year-old stepson, and a thirteen-year-old stepdaughter, so she and Ethan are quite busy!! They also rescued a dog from Pound Buddies in 2020 and don't know how they lived life without her.
As a part of our Runner Spotlight, we also asked Amanda to answer a few fun questions:
1. How long have you been running?
I tried out running in 2006 when, as an elementary school counselor, I got roped into coaching Girls on the Run. I hated running prior to that, but GOTR helped me see the fun side of it. I ran on and off for the next few years, during which time I had a baby. I got back into running consistently in the late summer of 2014, when I got talked into running a leg of the Grand Rapids Marathon relay that fall. That's when I started running with Run Muskegon. That GR relay escalated quickly into signing up for the Gazelle Girl half and the Riverbank 25K for 2015 (while drinking beers at Pigeon Hill, of course). It's all been downhill from there!
2. Do you race? If so, what is your most memorable race experience?
I do race. I've done a road marathon, a trail marathon, a 25K, a 23.1K, lots of halfs, two 15Ks, tons of 10Ks, a 6K, tons of 5Ks, one trail Ragnar, and Michigan road Ragnar every year they've had it. My most memorable experience wasn't technically a race. I was training for Bayshore in the spring of 2020, my first full marathon. When Covid hit two months before the race, the race was canceled. I decided I didn't want to stop training and would just run my own marathon, so that's what my training partner and I did. We set a course from the White Lake Channel to Beachwood Park, my husband and my vehicle were our mobile aid station, and Run Muskegon members were our social distance cheering section. They met us at the start with "swag bags", leapfrogged us the entire way with homemade signs and chalk written on the road, and supported us all the way through 26.2. Michael and Alana even had a beer, water, and pretzel station set up outside Pigeon Hill. The crew had two finish lines set up so we could each break the tape and had post race fuel and hydration for us, my son made us each a finisher medal (we both got 1st place in our age group), and my dad had finisher plaques made for us. I now refer to that race as "Better than Bayshore." THIS is Run Muskegon and a memory I will never forget.
3. Ever run in a costume? If so, what?
No. I get so irritable when I race that a costume would be torture! The most I've done is tall St. Patrick's Day socks, but I think I could handle a tutu
4. Only running shoes for me are…
My absolute favorites are Topo Phantom. My feet really enjoy the wider toe box. But I find that they change and discontinue shoes often. Right now I'm running in Topo Fly-Lyte 4 and Saucony Ride.
5. What is your worst running-related injury?
I have an autoimmune disease that affects my joints, so I almost always have some sort of nagging pain bordering on injury. Knock on wood, I've never actually been injured, but after my trail marathon I had terrible pain in one knee. An MRI showed that I have inflammation in, around, and under my kneecap. I spent most of a year reducing my pace and mileage, and seem to have it mostly under control now.
6. Hot or cold weather runner?
I'd really prefer to run in 30-50 degrees year-round, please. ;-) However, we live in Michigan... Anyone who knows me knows that I sweat. A LOT. Also, my body doesn't handle heat well (ask the Muellers for the story on that one). So, I prefer to run in the cold, as long as I have a good pair of mittens.
7. What is your motivation for running?
When I was diagnosed with my autoimmune disease 12 years ago, I went from training for my first 10K to not being able to bend down to tie my shoes, or having the dexterity in my fingers to tie my shoes. I went from being relatively active to basically immobile in a matter of a few months. I obviously gained a lot of weight (between inactivity, depression, and medication), which contributed to my pain. After a couple of years of this, I got talked into getting back into a run-walk program with a good friend of mine (the same one who got me to Run Muskegon) and I found that, the more I moved, the better I felt. I dropped 20 pounds, went off all but the most essential medications, and felt like a new person. Running very much saved my life. I can't imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't found it, and that is my motivation to keep going when things get hard.
8. If I didn't run I...
Don't know what my life would look like. I can't even imagine it. Plus, I wouldn't have any of the friends I've made through running, and I don't want to imagine that either!
9. I can't run without…
Something to listen to. I like music or podcasts when I run alone (Ten Junk Miles is my favorite podcast). My favorite is running with people who like to talk. Anything to keep my mind active and drown out the sound of my breathing!
10. What's the farthest you have run at one time?