Nearly 20,000 people will hit the pavement this weekend for the annual New York City Half Marathon including one woman who will be running toward the finish line for both a good and personal cause. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
Watching Michelle Lagalla warm up for a run, it's hard to believe that just three years ago she weighed more than 300 pounds.
"There was no self-esteem. I was constantly putting myself down and I had no energy and became very depressed. I just stayed on the couch and my life with my children did not exist. You know, life didn't exist. It was me, the refrigerator and my couch," Lagalla said.
Now some 160 pounds lighter, the 48-year-old mother of three and hairstylist is training for Sunday's New York Road Runners New York City Half Marathon. She started running about a year ago after first dropping dozens of pounds through diet and light exercise, through it all dealing with Graves' Disease, an auto-immune disorder.
"I was able to get out and move. Once I started moving, once in motion you stay in motion," Lagalla recalled.
Along the way the weight loss and running did wonders, as her blood pressure went down and diabetes improved. She even inspired her kids to run, and will coach 9-year-old Elaiana in the Road Runners "Mighty Milers" program at her school.
"She's really getting herself fit. Not only herself but me and my two brothers," said Elaiana Lagalla.
For this weekend's race, Lagalla is running for "Team for Kids" and has raised more than $1,300 for the Road Runners program that encourages health and fitness among young people. And she isn't shy about telling anyone about her love for running.
"There's nothing like it, I mean to describe the feeling, you really can't describe it until you experience it for yourself. It's just an all-time high; it's a natural high, and it's a wonderful high," Lagalla said.
In addition to the New York City Half, Lagalla has several other races coming up, as she trains to achieve another big goal, finishing the New York City Marathon in November.