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The running group that formed at Creative Fitness for Women in Londonderry is ready for the start of last month's 5K for Future Farmers of America at J & F Farms in Derry. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

First 5K race a group endeavor

LONDONDERRY - Windham resident Kathy Vetri firmly believes there is strength in numbers.

Vetri, who ran her first 5K race in Derry this spring after participating in an intensive, eight-week group training program, said she'd always considered running as a great form of exercise but didn't necessarily consider herself a runner.

"Everyone says if you want to finish a race, working with a group is the way to go," Vetri said.

While Vetri said she'd once run a 5-kilometer road race during her younger days, becoming a runner once again is easier said than done.

"It's about learning to trust the process," Vetri said. "I'm certainly not in to win; I'm here to have fun and be fit."

Working closely with personal trainer Jennifer Aube of Creative Fitness for Women, the women in the group each had different reasons for participating in the program, which culminated with the May 18 running of the "5K for FFA" cross-country race, an event to benefit the New Hampshire chapter of Future Farmers of America at J & F Farms in Derry.

Located in the Crossroads Plaza, Creative Fitness opened last spring and launched the running program this year.

"The main goal was for everyone to finish," Aube said of the race that capped the program. "Most of these women are pretty new to running, and a few of them were first-timers.

Before the FFA event, Londonderry resident Laura Trickette recalled doing a race during her days as a college athlete, when she ran a 5K without really giving it much thought or preparation.

"Things are a bit different now," she laughed.

New runner Laurie Roper, interviewed during a training session at Creative Fitness, agreed.

"I don't run well at all, but I'd always wanted to try," the Derry resident said, adjusting a digital pedometer strapped to her upper arm. "These past few weeks, I've really surprised myself."

Another local runner, who identified herself only as Brenda, was a bit more blunt.

"I hate coming here, and I hate running," she laughed. "But I feel so good afterwards. I want to learn to love it."

"Just give it time," Aube advised her.

Meeting at the gym every Tuesday and Thursday night, and getting together for an occasional Saturday group run, the women bonded over their fitness and weight-loss goals, and discussed experiences purchasing running shoes and choosing songs to put on their iPods.

Walking and running along local roads in rain and shine, stretching and warming up in the gym, the women formed friendships and shared in new, healthy habits.

"For a lot of people, it would be tough to do this all on their own," Aube said.

Another Women's 5K training program began at the end of May. Aube expects more to follow.



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