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UTEP Employees Race to the Finish Line

Last Updated on June 01, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Originally published June 01, 2018

By Laura L. Acosta

UTEP Communications

Working in UTEP’s Office of Auditing and Consulting Services and studying for a graduate degree in accounting didn’t leave Cecilia Estrada much time to exercise.

Group shot of UTEP employees who participated in the Wellness Program's running groups.
UTEP employees ran into fitness during the 2018 spring semester with the Wellness Program's Couch Potato to 5K, 5K to 10K and Half Marathon running groups. Photo: Laura Trejo / UTEP Communications

But when she got an email from UTEP’s Wellness Program about a new running group for beginners, she decided to give it a try. The group met at 6 a.m. on Wednesdays on the UTEP campus, which was perfect for Estrada, who preferred to work out in the early morning than late at night.

“I work full time and go to school and sometimes I feel overwhelmed,” Estrada said. “I was sitting down for 12 hours, so this was a good opportunity to do something for me.”

Estrada was among 25 UTEP employees who hit the road during the spring 2018 semester with the Wellness Program’s three new employee running groups: Couch Potato to 5K, 5K to 10K and Half Marathon

From Feb. 19 - May 7, groups met with coaches once a week to run through the UTEP campus. They also got advice and support to help them stay on track.

Estrada’s morning Couch Potato group met at the UTEP Library before sunrise and ran two-and-a-half miles down Wiggins Way to University Avenue and over Cardiac Hill to Sun Bowl Drive.

“I used to see people running around Sun Bowl and now it’s us!” Estrada said.

Wellness Program Manager Daniela Lerma said the running groups were an opportunity for employees to exercise while getting to know each other. 

“Now you have a group, so get together and run,” Lerma told participants at a May 11 celebration to wrap up the 12-week program. “This was the whole purpose of having a UTEP running group because you feel comfortable running with each other. Your teammates helped you keep up the same pace or you were inspired by them to keep going, so remember to reach out to each other.”

Norberto Gallardo, an accountant II in the UTEP Office of Special Events, thanked his coach, Kinesiology Lecturer Sean Miller, for helping him to increase his running stamina and get into shape.

“(Miller’s) a little extreme,” Gallardo said with a laugh. He was part of Miller’s 5K to 10K group. ”But before this, I was only able to run 15 minutes, and now I run 30 minutes straight and I don’t feel tired at all. I also lost weight, which is a bonus.”

The Wellness Program plans to start the running groups again in the 2019 spring semester. In the meantime, Union Services Director Ofelia Dominguez, who also coached one of the 5K to 10K groups, encouraged participants to keep running.

“Don’t stop,” Dominguez said. ”Because it’s hard to start again. Your mind is going to take over and you’re going to convince yourself not to do it. Do at least two runs a week, but don’t stop.”

Katherine Escandon, Miner Gold Card manager, followed Dominguez’ advice. She ran her first 5K race on May 18 and placed second in her age category.

“The coaches were really motivating and encouraging,” said Escandon, who trained with the Couch Potato to 5K group. “I started running because the opportunity presented itself. I thought this (running group) would be perfect. It’s a group of us at the same beginner level and we can all proceed at the same pace and it worked out that way. I don’t think I ever had a day I didn’t want to do it.”

For more information about UTEP’s Wellness Program, click here.