HIBBING — In high school, Alex Montcalm stayed in shape by attending Karate classes.
The former Hibbing High School graduate never even attempted to run, but now two years out of high school, Montcalm is turning over a new leaf.
Montcalm signed up for the Couch to 5K program this spring and summer, and now, she’s ready for the Kids Kare 5K, which gets under way Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m., near the Hibbing Memorial Building parking lot on 23rd Street.
Not bad for someone who had never been a runner before.
Joining the class started innocently enough.
“Someone I go to Karate with and a cousin of mine both do the program, so they were like, ‘You’re doing it.’” Montcalm said. “Here I am. My running ability wasn’t very good. I could barely make it the minute-and-a-half that we started with.
“I had never done any running prior to that. I did Karate all through high school.”
When the first day of class approached, Montcalm had some thoughts running through her head.
“It was going to be interesting because I had never been a runner,” Montcalm said. “I was hoping that doing this, I would keep up with it, but that first week was rough. It was difficult not being a runner at all.
“It wasn’t painful, but it was hard, really hard. Looking back on it, it’s amazing that I’m still sticking it out, and what I’m doing now.”
Dan Pullar and Julie Vincent, who are both involved with the program, start the runners out slow.
They run for a minute, then walk for 90 seconds. They do six or seven intervals of that during the session.
“I was feeling tired and very warm, but I wanted to better myself,” Montcalm said. “I didn’t want to let my family down by not doing it anymore. It got easier throughout. The more intervals we did, the more running we did, the less walking we did.
“It got easier. Now, we’re at 33 minutes preparing for the weekend. If you would have asked me two months ago if I would have been able to run 30 minutes, I would have told you, ‘No.’”
Montcalm also likes the health benefits running provides.
“This makes me feel a lot better about myself, physically and mentally,” she said. “Health-wise, you feel better. It’s a good feeling.”
Montcalm will put all of that hard work to the test running her first 5K.
“I’m a little bit nervous, but I think it’ll be OK,” Montcalm said. “I have a good group of people behind me. I know quite a few people here that are doing it with me, so that makes it easier.
“I have my running partner (Lindsay Kozumplik), who is my cousin. I’m hoping I can finish without walking at all. That’s my goal, not to walk at all. Right now, it’s still a little rough, but I can do it.”