Jose Lugo, database and gift services manager at Miss Porter’s School, was one of eleven people selected for the 2023 Inspiration Team of the Hartford Marathon Foundation (HMF). These honored individuals will run the Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon on Saturday, October 14, 2023. According to HMF President Josh Miller, “Each year, the Inspiration Team provides us the opportunity to highlight a sampling of some of the most incredible people that have overcome obstacles, risen to challenges or found ways to give back and honor those around them.”
We recently connected with Jose who discovered a love of running later in life. We learned about his motivation and passion for running, how the sport has helped him overcome obstacles, and how he dedicates this race to honor a friend who had cancer.
When did you start running – and what inspired it?
I started running shortly after I started working at Porter’s in 2009. I was a long-distance walker before coming to Farmington. After work, I would walk around our gorgeous campus. Towards November, it was too dark to walk around campus so I used the indoor track to finish my routine. Walking the indoor track was unexciting so I started running and soon learned how many laps made up a mile. I then challenged myself to see how long it would take me to run a mile. I began adding more mileage, shared my story to Facebook, and a friend challenged me to participate in a road race. Hesitant at first, I decided to take him up on his offer.
When did you realize you had a passion for running?
It was the annual April Fools 4-mile road race in Salisbury, Massachusetts when I realized I had a passion for running. The most I had ever run was a mile and I was nervous. Seeing all these fit athletes did nothing to calm my nerves. But once the gun went off, I decided the best approach was to listen to my body and pace myself and just finish. I was middle to the last of the pack to finish but I didn’t care. Having complete strangers cheering me on was uplifting and gave me the energy to finish. Crossing the finish line was a great feeling of accomplishment and at a pace of 10:41 per mile, not too shabby. I remember in high school, I was barely able to run a mile. I had to make several stops just to catch my breath and yet there I was in Salisbury running four miles. What I learned at my first road race was that everyone who crosses the finish line has a story of hard work and determination. I found the running community to be judgment free.
What obstacles, if any, you have encountered that running has helped you overcome?
I was an overweight, nearly obese youth growing up with scoliosis, which made me insecure about my body. Running helped me a great deal in losing 60 to 80 pounds. It has given me a physique and a confidence that I thought was impossible to attain. Before running, I wore baggy clothing hoping not to draw attention to my body’s imperfections. Running helped me shed my insecurities. Wearing form-fitting clothing, sleeveless running shirts and tank tops was a giant step for me, and running made it possible for me to do so.
What does it mean to you to be selected to the 2023 Inspiration Team for the Hartford Marathon Foundation?
I talked about my weight loss and overcoming my body dysmorphia issues in my nomination. I am humbled to be selected because it means the Hartford Marathon Foundation felt not only was my story worth sharing but that it needed to be shared. I might be giving hope to someone who is battling similar issues. A friend of mine who sadly passed away a couple of years ago, encouraged me to share my weight loss and running journey. She believed that I had an interesting story to tell. I submitted my name as a nominee in her memory.
Do you have a personal goal you’d like to hit for the upcoming race?
I’ll be running my 35th half marathon this October as a member of The Inspiration Team. I ran my first half marathon in Hartford, and I could not think of a better place to celebrate my milestone than to run where I did my first half marathon which is also where I was born and raised. I’ve run in New York, Chicago, Florida and Puerto Rico, but there’s definitely no place like home. At this point in my running career, I don’t feel I have anything to prove. I’ve run 34 half marathons, three full marathons and countless 10Ks and 5Ks. As a member of The Inspiration Team, my goal is to give people experiencing major obstacles and adversities in their lives hope.
Miss Porter’s educates young women to become informed, bold, resourceful & ethical global citizens. We expect our graduates to shape a changing world.