Upon completing the first marathon of his life, it would have been understandable if 62-year-old Destin resident Galyn Moen immediately began to reflect on his long battle to the finish line. After all, 17 years ago Moen received injuries in a car accident that left his knee shattered and forced doctors to wonder if he’d ever walk again. In the face of that adversity, with the help of friends and family, Galyn not only walked again, but he became extremely active, leading improbably to the Space Coast Marathon in Coco Beach on Nov. 25.
But Moen didn’t think of that.
Instead, he stayed around the finish line and waited for his wife, the source of much of his inspiration, to finish her first mara-thon. When Wendy Moen crossed the finish line just over 50 minutes later, the couple had completed an incredible journey that few would have thought possible.
And they had done so together.
“What got me started was my wife,” said Galyn. “My knee was basically broken in half in 1995, and doctors really didn’t know if I’d be able to walk again. And they certainly didn’t know how active I’d be able to be. But I picked up cycling, and eventually I was riding up to 70 miles a week. During that time, Wendy was on a health kick of her own and she began running. So about 15 months ago, I asked a family friend that happens to be a doctor if he thought I could handle running with her. He told me he thought I could, and we’ve been running ever since.”
Neither Wendy, a Destin realtor who also leads several active running groups in the area, nor Galyn ever set out with the intention of running a marathon. But after using running regimens to get healthy which led to the completions of 5K runs and then 10K runs, the couple decided to test their limits.
“We were running regularly together with several groups,” said Wendy. “On Sunday, we’d run with this group, then on Monday, we’d run with another. That was our week. We got to a point where I just thought about it and said to myself ‘Wow, I think I can do this.’”
Once active in the Emerald Coast running community, the Moens quickly found like-minded couples throughout the area who also enjoyed running to stay fit. But it wasn’t until they met former Olympian Jeff Galloway that their marathon goals began to come into focus.
Galloway, a world-class runner and author of more than 100 books on running, employs a run-walk-run training method that fit perfectly into the Moens’ plans.
“When we first started running, I did so to become fit, to get out there and be social,” said Galyn, “and then we met Jeff. He just blew us away. He’s just such an encouraging person, he helped us realize that running doesn’t have to be murder. It can be fun and rewarding.”
In 2011, Wendy was already participating in half-marathons, completing the 13.1-mile course at the 2011 Space Coast event. Once the couple crossed paths with Galloway in January, the transition from half-marathon to full marathon was under way.
“I knew I wanted to do it and I even started the program with a marathon in mind,” said Wendy, “but in the back of my mind, I don’t know if I really believed I would follow through with it. We met Jeff in January and he convinced me that I could do it.”
What followed was a 30-week program that incrementally helped the Moens get ready for the 26.2-mile grind. The couple took aim at completing the Disney Marathon in January of 2013, but a few months ago realized they were ahead of schedule. That’s when the Space Coast became a possibility, and the two set their sights on running their first marathon, he at age 62, she at 57, in late November.
‘A great day’
Generally, Wendy Moen admits to a case of nerves surrounding a long-distance race.
“I usually panic a week ahead of time,” said Wendy with a smile. “I was really unsure about the marathon in the week leading up to it, so I put it in God’s hands.”
Then, on the day of the race, a still-nervous Wendy received the extra push she needed.
“I was warming up and getting ready, and then I made eye contact with a race volunteer,” said Wendy. “She looked at me and said ‘You’re going to have a great day.’ I thought about it for a second and I knew she was right.”
Two weeks after completing their first marathon, the Moens have no intention of stopping. They are still headed to Orlando for the Disney Marathon in January, and they still actively participate in running groups. The two currently lead a Destin group that runs on the Galloway run/walk/run program, a group that currently consists of eight members. The Galloway runners led by Galyn and Wendy can be found at meetup.com/destin and it’s listed under running/walking group.
For Galyn, who completed the entire training for the marathon in 15 months with a bum knee, the Space Coast race was the cul-mination of a long, arduous road that included setbacks and rewards. It also included Wendy, who was with him every step of the way on a trip that has helped the couple lose a total of 170 pounds.
“I wouldn’t have done it without her,” said Galyn. “It’s just been amazing.”