Meet Running Partners: Melissa Poffenberger and Juliette Olejnik

Juliette and Melissa

Occupations: (J) Development Director at Watson Children’s Shelter  ( M) Title Examiner at Title Services, Inc.

Personality: (J) I grew up thinking I was an introvert, but as an adult I think I have evolved into an extrovert. (M) I think I am more of an introvert, wishing to be more of an extrovert.

How long have you been running partners?  (J) We became running partners during last year’s Missoula Marathon training class. We’ve been running together ever since. Through rain, snow, wind, darkness, and below zero temps, we have been each other’s motivation.  (M) I met Juliette in the RWM training group last year.  She flew by me on one of the first long runs (her farthest ever mind you) and I tried to keep up with her the whole way back to RE.
What made you pair up? (J) During our first 10 mile run with the 2013 Missoula Marathon Training class, I chose to run alone because I was nervous. It was the longest distance I had ever run! A gal with my exact pace ran about 20 feet in front of me the entire time. As I passed her on a downhill, I said a few friendly words and the rest is history. It is awesome when you find someone who runs at your exact pace. This year we are both training for our first ever full marathon as members of Team Watson. We are raising funds and awareness for Watson Children’s Shelter, an emergency shelter for young children in our community who have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a family crisis.

(M) After that, we started running together every week. She was signed up to run the full marathon and she almost had me talked into it as well…until she got hurt.  🙁  Fortunately, she was able to get back into running and we have been getting together for a run almost every week since then.   This year, we are running for Team Watson to raise money and awareness for Watson Children’s Shelter, as we attempt again to train for a FULL marathon!  Fingers crossed.

What do you want out of running?  (J) Running to me is a lifetime commitment to a healthier and happier me. A nice side effect is all the friends I have made through running! (M)  I do have personal goals for running, but for me, I love the calmness of running.  There is such a sense of accomplishment in being able to get out and go that far on your feet.  And running with a friend means lots of great conversation and mental support!

Who are your heroes?  (J) So many people inspire me. My husband, coworkers, friends, and family are all my heroes. (M) I don’t know that I have one specific hero.  I find many people inspiring in different ways.  I just try to surround myself with those people.  🙂

What one word or sentence sums you up as partners in running? (J) Dynamite! (M) Serendipitous
I am so glad to be a part of this amazing community of runners. I love this town! Thank you!

by Terry Stekly

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