I think she told me I had a nice race and that she had kept me in her sights and paced off me. We struck up a conversation and she told me that she had just set a P.R. of 25:35, but even more impressive, she’d taken the pre-race pump challenge and bench pressed her way into 2nd place among 15 women who did the weight lifting portion of the race!
Melissa is the principal at Union City Middle/High School, where she works out with her “coach,” the school’s physical education teacher, Michael Krause, and other coworkers and colleagues in the early morning hours on most weekday mornings.
I thought some of you might find Melissa’s story inspiring, so I did a little Q&A with her:
Family: Husband, Anthony Tomcho; children, Megan Preston age: 23, Molly Preston, age 21, and Hayden Tomcho age 7
Profession: Principal at Union City Middle/High School
You mentioned that you were once overweight. What motivated you to get fit? It stemmed from health issues in my family and, also, after we adopted Hayden, I quickly realized I needed to be able to keep up with him!
How did you lose 60 lbs? Losing weight (and keeping it off) is a daily battle. It was a long process. I did not follow a particular diet or exercise routine, but rather just quality, quantity, and exercise. I watch what and how much I eat. I also try to engage in some physical activity at least five days a week. I just started running a little over a year ago.
Have you changed your diet, too? (How so?) I watch what and how much I eat. If I want something in particular I don’t deny myself, I just limit the amount. I know I will only set myself up for failure, if I try to deprive myself.
Did you ever think you’d be a runner, let alone a competitive one? I never imagined I would be a runner! Coach Krause has tried for years to get me to run and I would never try until last year. At this time, I do not consider myself a competitive runner, but I enjoy the competitive nature of the races. I sign up for a race every few months, just as a goal to maintain my exercise routine.
What appeals to you about running? The sense of power and accomplishment I feel during and after I run.
How often and how far do you run weekly? I usually run five days a week. It depends if I have a race on the weekends. Lately, I have only been averaging 18-20 miles per week. This winter has been really tough!
Do you have any specific running goals for 2014? Not really. Last year, I did the Liberty 10K on July 4th, so I may do another 10K. When I hear about a race that sounds interesting to me, I sign up.
Your bench press was impressive! How often/how long do you weight train? Coach Krause developed a weight lifting routine for me to use. I trained for the Gannon Pump-Kin-Run, so I lifted Monday through Friday. Currently, I complete a circuit routine using the different stations. Coach Krause creates different programs for me to follow.
Does it help with your running? Weight training definitely helps with my running and weight maintenance. I think having a strong core.
How did/does Mike Krause, phys ed. teacher at U.C.H.S. help/inspire you to get fit? Coach Krause is a constant, positive force or perhaps he’s just a pain. (LOL)
How long have you known Mike? I have known Coach Krause for about 25 years, since I did my student teaching at Union City Middle/High School. I taught in the Social Studies Department.
Why do you think he takes his time (and goes to “work” at 5:30 a.m.) to help others? I believe Coach Krause wants everyone to benefit from living a healthier lifestyle. His firm personal philosophy is that a healthy body is a healthy mind. He knows the advantages and wants others to have that opportunity.
What keeps you going (besides Mike)? How do you drag yourself to a workout on a cold day, etc? I know how much better I feel after exercising. I have more energy throughout the day. It is a great stress reliever, my overall health has improved, and I can keep up with my 7-year-old until bedtime!
What advice do you have for other people who are just starting to exercise/run? Be a little selfish. You have to take time for yourself before you can do for others and set short term goals and reward yourself.