MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Robin Henderson, 58
There are lots of people in this world who have a list of things they would like to accomplish during their lives, but some never attempt to mark off even one.
Then there are people like Robin Henderson.
She’s a 58-year-old mother of three young adults in Palm Beach Gardens, a wife of 30 years and a senior vice president and senior relationship manager in commercial banking with Bank of America.
And, as of this past October, she also is an accomplished marathon runner.
Henderson didn’t spend her younger years as a runner. In fact, she had barely run three miles before challenging herself to 26 miles in the Bank of America Chicago marathon two months ago. Before her marathon training, she had exercised a couple of times a week in a local gym and listened to the stories of her co-workers who had accepted the marathon challenge sponsored by their company in Chicago every year.
This time around, she accepted the challenge herself.
Running a marathon had always been on her bucket list and she figured that this year was a better time than any to try it because her youngest child had left for college so Henderson was an empty nester.
“I thought it would be a wonderful distraction by committing to this,” she said.
So she gathered her co-workers for support and they taught her the ins and outs of training for a marathon. She read a book called “The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer,” which included a 16-week running program that Henderson referred to as her bible.
She began her training in early June, and she started out walking fast at first, four times a week. That eventually turned into running and soon she found herself finishing long runs.
“I’ll never forget my first six-mile run,” she said. “I felt like I had accomplished such a major feat that day.”
She stuck to the nutrition guidelines outlined in the book and ate plenty of pizza and pasta to fuel up for her long runs on the weekends.
Hurricane Matthew struck just days before her scheduled flight to Chicago and she was worried she was going to be stuck in South Florida and that her training had been for nothing. But she ended up catching a plane out of Orlando and she arrived in the Windy City a couple of days before the race, where she was greeted by her two daughters who had traveled to Chicago to cheer their mom on.
There were five people from Henderson’s Bank of America branch who competed.
“My employer and manager were fully supportive of all of us in training, and I’m very blessed to work with such a great organization,” she said. “It’s the best place I’ve ever been.”
And if it weren’t for her co-workers, she may not have run the race at all.
On that sunny, cool day, when Henderson heard the bell marking the beginning of the race, she said it was such an exhilarating experience, one that’s kind of hard to describe. Strangers were cheering her on and she met so many positive people along the way who had kept the same pace as Henderson.
“I felt like I was smiling the entire time,” Henderson said. “I took it all in.”
She finished the marathon in six hours and 57 seconds. It’s a time that she was hesitant to share, but it’s one that impresses more people than she may imagine because Henderson accomplished something that many people talk about, but are too scared to try.
When she made it to mile 24, she said she became emotional. Just stunned that, at 58 years old, her body was healthy and strong and had made it that far.
Crossing the finish line was an experience, she said, that she will have for the rest of her life.
So what’s next on her bucket list?
She wants to travel internationally and tour places like Ireland, Thailand and Austria. But she’s decided to add one more item to her list.
And that is to run yet again.
Henderson plans to take part in the Zion Half Marathon in Virgin, Utah. And this time, she said, her daughters will be joining her.
She’s inspired them, as she has many others, that accomplishing long runs is something anyone can do if they pour their heart and soul into it, just as Henderson did.