Coaching Gets Personal
by: Tay Scheibe
For Coach Stackhouse, competing in the 26.2 Donna Marathon wasn’t just about crossing the finish line but about running in honor of one of her clients and dear friends, Margaret Anne Balsamo. The fact that Stackhouse brought home the title as overall Female Finisher was just the sweet pink icing on the very pink victory cake.
Talking to Margaret and Julie, I would have never guessed their friendship was only 3 years old. You could sense the bond was more than just a coach and a client, but a true support system. A connection so rare between trainer and trainee, I was curious to how it all began…
“As I moved into my forties I gained weight and slowed down. By September of 2012 I was determined to change things. At the recommendation of a friend, I contacted Coach Stackhouse,” claims Balsamo, “getting myself in shape and improving my running form could only help my handling on the course. We made an appointment for Wednesday, September 12th.” During a routine monthly self breast exam, Margaret found a lump in her right breast and contacted her doctor to schedule a mammogram and ultrasound. Unfortunately, it would be on September 12th. “On the very day that we were scheduled to meet in person for the first training session, she cancelled,” recalls Stackhouse, “I said I would keep her in my thoughts and prayers.” Little did Margaret know that after the scans she would be having a biopsy due to a strong possibility that the mass found was breast cancer.
“On September 14, 2012 I heard the words no one wants to hear: you have cancer,” says Balsamo. “The next few months were a whirlwind – I finished 16 rounds of chemotherapy on March 28, 2013 and had reconstructive surgery in June of 2013.”
Exactly six weeks after surgery, Margaret would meet Julie for the first time. “Almost a year later she reached out to me to share the great news that she was cancer-free!” says Stackhouse. They talked a lot about goals, nutrition, any limitations from surgery, and Margaret’s main goal: agility. “I had gained additional weight due to my lack of activity during chemo and recovery. Our first few workouts, I was walking a 20 minute mile – I’m being generous,” jokes Balsamo, “so our first goal was The Donna 5k.”
On February 22, 2014 Margaret would walk across the finish line hand in hand with her Mom and close to 50 friends and coworkers cheering on Team Margaret Anne!
“We’ve been training together now for over three years and every year I’m on her team for the Donna 5k,” Stackhouse says. Since Margaret first met with Julie, she’s lost over 40 lbs and continues to work towards her initial goals. Her 20 minute mile is now closer to 12 and she completed three 5k races in 2014 plus six 5ks in 2015. “2016 you ask?” Balsamo laughs, “three down and many more to come! Including the rest of the Sunny Runner Series.”
“Next year in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Donna, she will be competing in her first 10k and I couldn’t be more excited for her!” exclaims Coach Stackhouse. Overall, competing in the 26.2 Donna Marathon was more than just earning a medal and gaining a PR. For Stackhouse, this was a personal tribute to her client and now close friend, Margaret! “I thought of her every step of the way, especially the final few miles, as we continue to celebrate milestones both literally and figuratively in her continued recovery and her fight against breast cancer as a survivor!” From the beginning of training to the ending of cancer, the relationship between Margaret and Coach Stackhouse is truly inspiring.
Coach Stackhouse is more than just a trainer, she is here to help you obtain your running goals whether you’re looking to go from a couch to 5k or simply increase your speed. For more information on how you can turn your health dreams into reality, check out our coaching services.