MARCO ISLAND — The hardest part of an exercise regimen, it's said, is getting started. The next hardest thing is staying motivated, especially if there is no one but you involved.
Meeting new people can also be hard when you move to a new town. So Maria Lamb's idea for a women's walking/running group addresses a host of needs all at once.
Maria Lamb is a member of the Newcomers' Club. In the club each member of the Sunshine Sisters subgroup was charged with creating a vehicle for members to socialize and interact, drawing on their own talents and backgrounds. For her, the choice was easy.
"Fitness is at the top of my interests. I said to myself, 'I want to make an impact.' I wanted to share my passion," said Lamb. The petite Lamb is a veteran of numerous marathon runs, including the New York Marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, the Sacramento Marathon, and the Women's Only Marathon in Central Park. In addition, she has run shorter events, including the Naples Daily News Half Marathon, and the Marco Island Hill Run Five Mile.
So Lamb sent out an email invitation to all the women in the club, to get into shape and compete in the upcoming Jolley Be Good 5K run in November.
"We have a long time before the race – plenty of time to prepare," said Lamb, her accent still hinting at her origin in the Philippines. The rest of the nine women who gathered outside Porky's on Bald Eagle Drive were not uniformly so sure they would be ready, but were willing to put their legs in Lamb's hands. More have committed to the program, but could not be there Thursday, or have not yet returned from northern summer homes.
Lamb mapped out a strategy to get the women ready for run, coming up on Nov. 17. The initial session on Thursday took them over the actual course of that event, although presumably at a slower pace than they hope to attain after weeks of training.
From Porky's, the group turned left onto Collier Blvd., crossed the bridge all the way to the bottom on the mainland side, before turning around and retracing their steps. The women took time at the top of the bridge to stop and smell the roses, or at least drink in the view along with the contents of their water bottles.
Some, including Donna Wadsworth, came prepared with waist-mounted water bottles, complete with flexible hosing and a mouthpiece to allow drinking on the fly. Starting off at a brisk walk, the day offered Lamb the chance to assess each woman's level of fitness, and determine how fast she can push the pace.
Future practice sessions, all scheduled for Thursdays at 5 p.m., will include the hills of the Caxambas estates area, and walking on the beach. Next Thursday, said Lamb, the group will meet at South Beach.
The women conversed and joked before setting out, pointing up that for many, the talking is as big a deal as the walking.
"I'm doing this just for some fitness benefits, and the camaraderie with the girls," said Roberta Schwartz. "I won't even be here to run the 5K."
"I do absolutely no exercise. This is my attempt to get in shape," said Patti Porter, walking up the new Jolley Bridge span.
"She's the hip girl – I'm the knee girl," said Denise Rose, striding next to Patti. "I love to walk. I bike the island every day."
Although the group had met at Porky's, the idea was not to "pig out," said Lamb.
"This is a workout. I want to separate training from socializing," she said. "If they want to, they can have some beverages after the run."