Turning 53 was very important to me, as that is the age my mother was when she died.  I never worried about dying at 53, I was looking forward to celebrating the gift of life that I was privileged to have and I wanted to honor her in some special way.  I know I was gifted with better health and more time in physical form to make a difference in any and every way I found possible.

At 53, I recognized that I had pushed myself in every aspect of my life – through my academic years, being the best mother I could and giving everything I had to my career and the improvement of healthcare in our community.  I had never, however, pushed myself physically.  I was always health/wellness/prevention conscious but I had never thought to push myself to physical limit I thought unattainable.  If anybody had told me I could run a marathon, I would have believed them insane.  I loved the thought of running but never imagined I could become a runner.

My first race in the fall of 2012 was the Breath Deep CNY/Lungevity run – it was not only a fantastic cause (Lung Cancer), it was a smaller 5K race and great experience for a first timer.  I received 2nd place for my age group and that trophy was all I needed to kick start a beautiful running practice.  During that first race, a wonderful gentleman behind me whispered, “Hope you don’t mind me saying – try not to strike so hard and be quieter on your feet if you can.”  It was great run but I had trouble walking a few hours after and was still sore the next day!  As with any new passion, I turned to Google.  A YouTube video about Chi Running popped up in my search.  The interview with Danny Dreyer gave me chills and choked me up a bit and that was it for me – his passion and philosophy of running coupled with the running form not only made perfect sense from a scientific/biomechanics standpoint, the testimonials of what it had done in the life of so many runners was profound. 

I signed up for a 4 day course with Danny and fell in love with Chi Running –to such an extent that I became an instructor at the end of 2014.  There was no one in our community to assist and coach me after that class with Danny.  There are only 5 Chi Running/Chi Walking instructors in New York State, in addition to me – four in NYC/Long Island and my friend Mike Meagher in Elmira who traversed the instructor journey at the same time I did. Without Chi Running, I could have never completed my other 5K, 15K, half-marathons and my first marathon in Corning last year (Wineglass).  During the marathon, my 13.1 and 21.5 mile splits were 2:04:23 and 3:32:35, respectively.

When I knew there was no way for me to qualify for Boston (this time!), I slowed down and relaxed to finish in 4:29:17.  What was most remarkable was my recovery – at 55 years old and only running 2 years, I was a bit sore after the race but fine the next day! My family was amazed.  That’s the Chi Running way, I say!

I’m keeping running the Boston Marathon on my bucket list.  To accomplish this goal, I have to run much faster or get older – as the qualifying times become more generous with age.  Truth be told, I’m counting on the latter!


I was resuming running after hip surgery and decided to try chi running to reduce injury and increase my time.  I took Maryann's class 4 months before my first half marathon post surgery.  Not only did we have fun, but I learned a running technique that has changed my whole future of running.  I ran my half marathon injury free and cut 23 minutes off my best time!  Thanks Maryann and thanks Chi running!

Cherie Sgarlata