Chambana Mom to Know: Melissa Byrd

Melissa byrd champaign urbana illinois marathon

Melissa Byrd will race in her first full marathon in Saturday's Illinois Marathon. Photo provided

Melissa Byrd, a Mahomet mom of three, has changed her whole life by running. She achieved a significant weight loss — 135 pounds — and has reached several milestones because of the Illinois Marathon. She ran her first 5K and half marathon there, and will run the full marathon — also her first — this Saturday, April 28. Byrd is married to Brandon, and the family has three daughters: 10-year-old Bridgett, 9-year-old Mackenzie, and 6-year-old Madison. Byrd will run the marathon with two of her “Mahomet moms” running partners, Aly Jackson and Jennifer Zimmerman.

See why we think Melissa Byrd is a Chambana mom to know. 

Q: How long have you been running and why did you get started?

MB: I’ve been running for three years now. It all started six years ago, I weighed 260 pounds, since then I’ve lost 135 pounds. Like a lot of moms I put myself last. I knew I needed to change the way I was taking care of myself. I saw my health and wellness spiraling out of control but most of all I wanted to set a good example for my daughters and to show them that it is very important to take care of yourself. This is a lesson that can’t be avoided for my family, my middle daughter Mackenzie was born with a rare congenital heart defect called “Shone’s Complex”. She has needed seven open heart surgeries to save her life.

Q: Where is your favorite local place to run, and why?

I enjoy running all over Mahomet, also the bike path, and the nature trails at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet. I find running around town and on the trails, and bike path very peaceful and I truly love seeing the wildlife and also taking in the sounds of nature.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about the race on Saturday, and what are your family’s plans for the marathon?

My family plans to cheer me on along the course of the race. They are my number one fans! My wonderful husband Brandon signed up to run the marathon relay, so he could experience this amazing accomplishment of mine with me! He will be running the first 6.50 miles of the race with me and my running partners and will meet me at the last mile of the race to run into the finish line with me!

What I’m looking forward to most about running this marathon on Saturday is making this life goal of mine very memorable and to revel in every moment of it!

Q: Your daughter has had significant health issues. How is she doing and how is her condition tied to your running?

Mackenzie’s heart condition has a huge significance in all my running, not only does running help relieve stress and anxiety but I’m also showing her that its very important live a healthy lifestyle. It is very critical to her health and her future that she take care of herself. Mackenzie had her last open heart surgery November 8, 2011, and has recovered remarkably well!

Q: What advice do you have for other moms who want to get started running?

My advice for moms who want to start running is to have a goal in mind, keep it realistic and build from that. Start out with walking and then ease your way into a walk/run, then soon you’ll find yourself running miles. It’s all a process and it takes time and determination to build yourself up to be able to run a full marathon. Just last year, I ran my first half marathon, and then in 2010 I ran my first 5K — all of those at the Illinois Marathon. It truly is self-rewarding to complete goals that you thought were unreachable!

Q: When you’re not running Marathons, what is your favorite way to spend a Saturday out and about, locally? 

I love to spend my Saturdays with my family and friends whether it would be at my house or going out to dinner with them, shopping with my daughters, going to the park, going on family bike rides, family walks, and in the summer I enjoy swimming with my family in our pool!

Melissa Byrd was nominated to be a mom to know. Nominate a mom or day today — contact us

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  1. Jennifer Lane says:

    I would love to know how you lost 135lbs! That is AMAZING! I stuggle with my weight and am very discouraged. Even though I am heavy I don’t let that stop me from being active. I am doing the IChallenge this weekend at the Illinois Marathon and this will be my third half marathon. However, I still struggle with my weight. I would love any helpful tips you might have! GOOD LUCK this weekend!!!!!!