A Tortoise’s Support System- 5 Hares by Alyssa Bolante

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Alyssa Bolante is currently a Residence Life Coordinator at the University of South Florida. She is originally from New Jersey and received her B.S. in Nursing, B.A. in Psychology, and her M.Ed. from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. This year, she is in the process of running at least one 5K a month and has a great support system that keeps her motivated.


The reasoning for the title is simple. I consider myself a Tortoise; I am not fast by any means. I actually call myself a wogger (I jog at a walking pace- seriously I’ve had a couple people walk next to me while I wog). The people in this post I consider Hares because they’re faster than I am. I don’t compare myself to them; it’s just the truth. I’m at a different stage in my journey, but what I do is strive to get better every day. The Hares I’m going to talk about are my support system and they inspire me every day.

If you asked anyone that knew me before this year, they never would’ve thought I would be doing at least one 5K a month, sometimes two. It’s June and I’ve done eight 5Ks since January. It all started with two of my friends from work wanting to do the Glow Run 5K in St. Petersburg, FL. That 5K would change my year. They insisted that I could walk and that it would be no big deal. My one friend even stated she would walk with me; she lied. For the first 0.5 mile I was able to keep up with her, and then she put in her head phones and she was off. For the next 2.6 miles I was alone with my thoughts. That’s when I decided I would begin the Couch to 5K training. I’ve completed the Couch to 5K and I’m actually starting it again, this time picking up the pace, but I couldn’t have done it without these 5 Hares and their support.

The Catalyst Hare

The first Hare I’m going to talk about is my friend from the previous paragraph who left me at the first 5K I ever did. She’s the catalyst that started it all because had she stayed behind and walked at my pace, she never would have challenged me to begin this journey. Even when she just walks, she’s faster than my wog. I blame her for all of this, with love. Every Tortoise needs a Hare that’s going to shove them off the cliff and get them to start moving; she was that person.

The Speed Racer Hare

Then there’s the Speed Racer Hare in my life. He started on a treadmill and since January has shed minutes off his time. He could do laps around me, but has been a great example to me. Even though we don’t train together or do every 5K together, he and I share our experiences and successes. He still continues to run a 5K each month and tells me about his training. This year I may not run a 5K in 22 minutes, but what we do have in common is we always get to the finish line and give it our best every time.

The Running Coach Hare

When I started the Couch to 5K journey I was telling people at work because I knew it would help keep me accountable. During one of those times I was telling the Director of my department over lunch, and right then and there she offered to be my running coach. Once a week we would have lunch and touch base on how my training was going. Having a Running Coach Hare made it official to me. I trained harder and I kept on training because I didn’t want to have to meet her and tell her I didn’t run that week. When we run together on weekends, she lets me do my own thing and never pressures me to push myself harder than I want to. I appreciate that because especially as a novice I still want to be able to move the next day after I wog.

The Teammate Hare

Every weekend, I run outside. I started when my Running Coach Hare told me it would help with my Couch to 5K training. That’s where I tapped my Teammate Hare and invited her to join my Running Coach Hare and me on a run (they ran, I wogged). Since then she’s run with me almost every weekend outside and we’ve done some 5Ks together. I call her the Teammate Hare because she is my teammate; she’s been there during my successes on this journey and has been a great support system. She keeps me running almost every Saturday and I appreciate that. She even bought me tortoise running socks, which she has stated will be my “lucky socks”.

The Best Running Buddy Hare

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My Best Running Buddy Hare has seen me at my worst and my best, outside of the gym and inside the gym. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning we go to the gym at 6:30. It is said that you are 100% more likely to go to the gym when you have a buddy; I believe that to be totally true, especially when you have a best running buddy. She has been the key Hare to my success. If it wasn’t for her I would never have gotten out of bed to go to the gym, and it’s because of the conversations we have before and after that have made it worth it. Going to the gym wasn’t just a means of working out, but building a friendship with someone to whom I could tell anything.

Unfortunately my Best Running Buddy Hare has moved to Baltimore and I have been left to try to get out of bed at 6:30 am on my own. I have not been able to get out of bed at 6:30 am, but I do get to the gym and that’s because of the other Hares in my life. I still text her about my progress and she has promised that she and her husband will continue running and I’m going to hold her to that. Before she left she gave me a French memo board with a picture of us, so I could display my 5K bib numbers and hang other pictures.

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Jessica Antonen (Best Running Buddy Hare) and Alyssa Bolante at the Miles for Moffit 5K, May 11, 2013.

The Lucky Tortoise

I am lucky to be on this journey, especially not having to be on this journey alone. Though I may still have a long way to go, I know that the support system I have keeps me going. It is taking a drove of Hares to train this Tortoise. I am currently in the process of starting the Couch to 5K again and this time picking up the pace, as well as attending group fitness classes at the rec to mix things up. I look forward to my next 5K in June and know that every day is another day to get better. You just have to keep moving.

3 comments to A Tortoise’s Support System- 5 Hares by Alyssa Bolante

  • David Hibbler Jr  says:

    You Rock Bolante!!

  • Jeter Smith  says:

    R-O-C-K you rock you rock! #awesomeness
    congratulations, keep it up!!!

  • Jeff Parker  says:

    Great post! It really resonated with me for a few reasons:

    When I first started running about 2 1/2 years ago, I was definitely a tortoise. Slow as they come. But with progress, I’ve gained a lot of speed and confidence along the way. Now, I’m not fast by any means, but there’s people in my life that might call me one of their hares. So stick with it, and you’ll surprise yourself. I also have a race-every-month streak going that started in St. Pete when I was in grad school at USF (jingle bell run in Dec. 2010), which has included 35ish races including 4 half marathons and my first marathon just a week and a half ago. I’m so thankful I found a love for running, and I’m glad you have too! And yes, Jessica Antonen is pretty awesome 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

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