Training For Races Transformed Her Life And Health … One Step At A Time

Pamela Allison Before and After

At 275 pounds, a flight of stairs was a mountain, a walk from the parking lot was a struggle, and physical activity was exhausting for 43-year-old Pamela Allison. After decades of yo-yo diets, Allison knew a major change was needed. Eight years ago, she started with lap band surgery –- the tool she needed to take and keep off 50 pounds. But at 225 pounds, she plateaued and stayed there for five years.

Cutting more food wasn’t working for her, so she started exercising. She chose activities that she found fun, such as ice skating and barre, which helped her lose another 25 pounds. Running was the furthest thing from her mind. Then she happened to be in Walt Disney World during marathon weekend 2015. Allison met people “who seemed like her” and who were so excited about their accomplishments and so encouraging of one another. Inspired, she decided right then that she wanted to be a part of it and vowed to return one year later for the half marathon with her brother-in-law.

Allison started training in April 2015 and ran several local races – including the Thunder Road Marathon 5K, which is now known as the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon 5K, last November – to keep her motivated and help her achieve her distance training goals.

This past January, Allison completed the Walt Disney Half Marathon and immediately signed up for the Disneyland Half Marathon. She got the running bug and now has four half marathons in the books. In the past year, she has run 13 races, dropped another 25 pounds – 100 pounds total – and found renewed energy.

“I love that I’m no longer winded when I do things and I have more stamina,” said Allison, a married mom of seven kids and the College Chair of the School of Hospitality at Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte.

In her spare time, Allison is also an ambassador for the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon taking place on Saturday, Nov. 12 in Uptown Charlotte. She will be running the race as part of a five-member relay team made up of people all ages and running abilities. Their relay platform is “Anybody can do it!” Her 16-year-old daughter will kick off the relay and Allison will serve as anchor for the last 6.25 miles of the race. The other three runners include Allison’s friend who is an experienced marathoner, Allison’s coworker who just started running and her coworker’s husband who is getting back into running.

“It’s important having people on the team who mean a lot to me and that we are working on this race together,” says Allison who runs 4-5 days a week and stays active with fun activities such as kayaking at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. “I’m excited about doing a relay because we have to keep up the pace individually and as a team.”

The Novant Health Charlotte Marathon relay is part of Allison’s training as she gears up to run her first full marathon – the Walt Disney World Marathon – this January. Not only is Disney World significant in terms of where she got inspired to run, but it’s also where she met her husband, Sean, 23 years ago when they both worked there.

As Allison moves forward with her running goals and races, she reminds herself to “Just keep moving. Remember, one step at a time.”

Mind Over Miles Virtual Race (Sept. 1-15)

As a Novant Health Charlotte Marathon ambassador, Pamela Allison will be hosting the Mind Over Miles Virtual Race to inspire other runners to reach their goals. Designed for “runners” of all ages, sizes and ability levels, participants will run on their own and post their results. While there is no fee to participate in the virtual race – spans from Thursday, Sept. 1 – Thursday, Sept. 15 – there is a $10 optional registration fee to commemorate your accomplishment with a medal. Participants will have access to the Facebook group “Mind Over Miles Virtual Race” for encouragement and accountability. Adds Allison, “We’re here to cheer participants on and help them reach their personal goal.” For more information or to sign up BEFORE Sept. 1, visit




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