The joy and reward of loving your work and the people you work with.

I consider myself very fortunate.  For nearly 20 years I’ve been an entrepreneur.  I thoroughly enjoy owning Abel Associates Public Relations (, the first company I founded.  Over the past two decades, I’ve helped my clients get the recognition they deserve for their community service work, the innovative ways they run their businesses and much more.  It’s very rewarding seeing good people and good companies acknowledged for their efforts and ingenuity. I look forward to the next decade of owning this company.

This year, I founded another company, Abel Fitness Training (  This company focuses on corporate wellness through nutrition and fitness education and training.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I view corporate fitness as a component of public relations.  Not a day goes by that I am not grateful to be able to spend my days doing the two things I love most…public relations and helping people and companies get healthy.

Most of the people and companies I work with have been with me for at least 10 years. Some have been with me as long as I’ve been in business.  So, it’s understandable that I don’t just consider these people clients.  I think of them as friends…some of them are like family.  The business and personal relationships we share bring me great joy and fulfillment.

Over the weekend, the American Heart Association hosted the 35th annual Heart Mini Marathon.  The race offers a 5k, 15k and half marathon.  I have been helping to train two executives that I have known and respected for 15 years.  Their goal is to walk their first half marathon in Indianapolis in early May.  The Heart Mini 15k was a training race to help them gauge their progress and work out any gear or fueling issues for their goal race.

These two women are very driven.  When they put their minds to something, they do it…whether it’s for work or for personal reasons.  So, I had no doubt in my mind they would follow the training plan and be successful in achieving their goal.  But there is more to training than just doing the workouts.  Endurance races require other types of preparation including proper nutrition, hydration, training gear, etc.  So part of my job was to make sure they were fully equipped with what they needed to have a successful and enjoyable race experience at the Heart Mini and at their goal race.

Race day approaches.  I send them a checklist of things they need to do in the days prior to the race.  I’ve fine-tuned this list over the last 6 years with my own training experiences, so my clients get the benefit of that.  I know this dynamic duo is race ready and I feel good that they’re going to have a great race experience.

All races are special in their own way.  But a first race at a particular distance is extra special.  This is their first 15k.  I know how they’re feeling…excited, anxious and lots of other things.  This is also their first race that they will get a medal when they finish.  And that is something special because it’s a tangible acknowledgement of their incredible accomplishment.

In my final email to them on Friday, I wish them good luck because I may not see them in the crowd on race day.  They know I’m running the half marathon.  What they don’t know is that I plan to be waiting for them a couple blocks from the finish line.

I finished my race and went to meet my fellow Pain by Numbers running group friends at our tent, which is in the perfect spot to see people approaching the finish line.  I hang out with my friends as we cheer people to the finish…a few we know, most we don’t.  Runners are that way.  We support and take care of our own. 

I know the pace goal my friends have set.  I look at my watch and just as I comment to one of my running friends that my friends should be coming by us soon, I see Debbie and the look of determination in her eyes as she spots the finish line in the distance.  She’s so focused on her goal, she doesn’t realize I’m there cheering until I get right next to her and say, “Let’s go. I’m running you in.”  As we’re heading toward the finisher’s chute, I ask her, “Where’s Ginny?”  She says she’s right behind us and we’ll meet her at the finish. As we run towards the finish, I tell Debbie how proud she should be and how proud I am of her.  She just smiles and keeps saying, “I can’t believe you’re here and you waited for me.”  I told her I wouldn’t have missed seeing her finish her first big race.  As we get close to the timing mats, I say, “It’s all yours now.”  She looks at me and says, “Aren’t you going to finish with me?”  I replied, “This is your race and your photo opportunity.  I’ll see you on the other side of the timing mats. Go!”

As I watched Debbie cross that finish line, I had tears of joy in my eyes.  I knew exactly how she was feeling.  And I was thrilled to be there to share that experience with her.  Moments later, Ginny crossed the finish line and we were there waiting for her.  She had the same look in her eyes…a look of accomplishment and pride.  The photographers at the finish line can’t capture that look. Being there is the only way to truly see it, feel it and experience it.  It’s priceless. After I gave them both one more hug, I said, “Let’s get the medals that you’ve earned!” Once again, seeing the look on their faces as they got their first finishers medals was incredible. 

After they had a few minutes to admire their new hardware, I told them that they should be proud of their accomplishment for several reasons. Seasoned runners and walkers will be the first to say that the Heart Mini course is very tough due to its relentless hills.  First-timers finishing in under their goal time is remarkable. Also, because the Heart Mini course is so much harder than the half marathon course they’re racing in May, I made it clear to them that they should have no doubt about their ability to complete the half marathon, and I knew they would do so successfully.

On Monday, I got an email from Debbie thanking me for being at the finish line. She said, “You have no idea how it felt to see you there waiting and going that last block with me. Having you run that last block with me warmed my heart.”  Ginny also sent me an email, thanking me for the tips, checklists, etc.  She said Sunday was a great day for her, but the best part was when I told her that based upon the race she just finished, she would do well in Indianapolis. 

You’ve heard the saying, do what you love and love what you do.  I am living that every day.  And the fact that I love the people I work with makes it even more amazing.


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