the country to run competitively, including
Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Colorado.
As far as creating the “perfect” running
conditions for optimal performance, she said
music can help as a motivator, and admits she
once sang the alphabet repeatedly during one
“People thought I was crazy, but if it works, I’m
going to use it,” she laughed.
Always looking for a good competition, Sally
has joined Zoomers, a local running club, which
requires her to travel to different states. She
recently hired a professional running coach to
help her reach the next goal because she felt that
her performance had peaked. When she gets a
blister or two, Sally said you just have to ignore it.
It all goes in accordance with her mantra, which
is, “Pain is temporary, results are forever.”
Her favorite climate to run in is hot weather,
so Florida provides the perfect temperatures for
her routine. She doesn’t like running on the
beach and prefers a solid terrain, but if you run
in Florida at some point you will come across
Marathons are her least favorite
distance. She prefers to run
either shorter runs, or go for 100
miles or more.
“It sounds strange, but I just find
it hard to set a pace for those
distances,” she admitted.
She has participated in duathlons,
where the events consist of a
running leg, followed by a cycling
leg and finishing with another running
sequence. Other times she takes part in the
races as a pace runner, where the competitors
who are looking to finish at a certain time keep
an eye on her during the run and set a goal of
trying to keep her pace.
More runs are in store for Sally in the new year.
She is signed up for a Michigan event in 2018 and
she will be training even harder to reach her
major goal – to qualify for the United States
Women’s Team for Spartathlon. It is an historic,
246-kilometer long-distance race that takes place
every September in Greece. The teams run the
153-mile distance from Athens to Sparta.
There are several different ways to qualify for
the team. Competitors can submit their results
from timed events or from long distance runs.
“I don’t think I’ll be good enough to qualify for
a guaranteed spot, but I hope that I’ll make it to the
lottery,” Sally said. “They only choose so many women
and men, but it varies every year depending on how
many countries participate. If I don’t make it next
year, I’ll just re-focus and try again.”
Between working and running, there
isn’t much spare time for a social life.
“I run about 85 miles each week
and my friends are all runners … it
becomes your life,” she said.
Sometimes she uses the run time to
catch up on phone calls with her mom
and close friends.
Sally can be seen running the island
of Boca Grande, enjoying the scenery
and the wildlife. She also does regular runs with fellow
athletes in Englewood on Thursday
evenings. The group meets at Englewood Beach.
Everyone is welcome and all skill levels are encouraged.
“It's amazing what you can accomplish when you
actually start believing in yourself,” Sally said.
“The power of positive thinking and hard work can
be very inspirational. I always ask myself, ‘How bad
do I want this?’ When my body wants to stop, I just
keep pushing because I know I am capable of more.”
To learn more, follow Sally Libonati on