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Photo by Sean Drews Before the starting gun went off at 2013’s Lakefront Marathon, Lesley Stone sauntered up to the starting line alongside 3,099 other athletes who were hoping to tackle the mostly flat 26.2-mile course that stretches from Grafton High School to Veterans Park.  As Stone recalls, a light mist was falling, and the […]


Photo by Sean Drews

Before the starting gun went off at 2013’s Lakefront Marathon, Lesley Stone sauntered up to the starting line alongside 3,099 other athletes who were hoping to tackle the mostly flat 26.2-mile course that stretches from Grafton High School to Veterans Park. 

As Stone recalls, a light mist was falling, and the temperatures were in the mid-50s, ideal conditions for the Skylight Music Theatre artistic administrator. But it wasn’t the weather that gave Stone a sense of confidence that she’d soon be celebrating at the finish line.  
“I was pretty nervous the week before,” Stone admits. “But the actual morning of the race, I felt amazingly calm and focused. I knew that I was mentally and physically ready to do it.” Stone lays that sense of readiness at the feet of her trainer, Andrea Hoeschen of Starting Line Athletics.
Hoeschen, a former trial lawyer, began her personal-training business when her hobby became more satisfying than her high-stress job. After four years of helping former couch surfers lose weight, improve personal bests and even complete rollerblade marathons, Hoeschen boasts that she “will train anyone to finish their first anything.”
Says Stone: “If I would not have had Starting Line Athletics, I would have been a basket case.” 
During the course of prepping for last year’s Lakefront, Stone and Skylight colleague Chris Zello often met at the watercooler to talk about Stone’s marathon methods, which led Zello to believe he could tackle this year’s Oct. 5 race. 
Instead of working with a trainer, Zello ran alongside the Badgerland Striders, a free resource for runners that traces its roots back to the 1950s. In addition to crafting a 16-week regimen, the club, which runs mainly on volunteer energy and donations, partners with Aurora Health Care to ensure you get a fix for that hiccup in your giddy-up. 
“If you need to float a question past somebody, you’ve got support staff there,” Zello says. 
Although there are many resources available for mapping out a solo program, the task can seem daunting when you start to think about water stations or what to do (and where to go) when nature calls. With Badgerland, you don’t need to sweat those details. Plus, as almost everyone will volunteer, the sense of camaraderie you get from running in a pack (along with the promise of a post-race beer or two) can keep you motivated when a long-distance run sounds about as appealing as a root canal. 
If that still doesn’t seem like it will get you out of bed, numerous nonprofits have made a cottage industry of pairing training with fundraising. Two with a vibrant local presence include the Arthritis Foundation’s Joints in Motion training team and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training (TNT). Both efforts have raised a ton of money for worthy causes, but they have the added bonus of gaining you entry to warmer locales such as Disney World to finish marathons or, in the case of TNT, triathlons or endurance cycling events. 
Still, for runners like Zello, it’s tough to go with anyone other than the Badgerland Striders, who have a track record of prepping thousands of Milwaukee runners for the big day. 
When Zello is asked if he will have any pre-race jitters once he wakes up on Oct. 5, he says with confidence: “I know I’ll be ready because I’m sticking with this program.” ■

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Three For The Road

Darby’s Dash Run/Walk  ➞ The South Side St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care is hosting its first-ever 5K fun run and 1-mile family walk. And Fido’s invited, too. Take part in the prerun blessing of the pets, or enter you and your pooch in the costume contest, as St. Ann looks to raise funds for a North Side expansion with this bucolic trek.
Oct. 4, 9 a.m. St. Ann Center. 2801 E. Morgan Ave., 414-977-5026, stanncenter.org/dash. 
Bike-In Movie Series  ➞ Hop on your two-wheeler and buckle in for Tremors, the 1990 sci-fi laugher, and the final installment of the season. In addition to joining fellow cyclists in a few giggles at the expense of Kevin Bacon, this will also be a great chance to see the “Swing Park” after its summer renovation. Oct. 10, dusk. South end of Holton Street Viadcut (aka Marsupial Bridge), mkebke.com.
Walk/Run to Defeat ALS  ➞ Remember when your Facebook feed was awash in ice bucket challenge videos? Although the viral campaign raised millions of dollars, the fight to find a cure isn’t over. Put the water away and get your feet moving to continue the battle against this debilitating disease. Oct. 12, 7:30 a.m. Greenfield Park. 2028 S. 124th St., 262-784-5257, walktodefeatals.org.

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