Laura Mimura is not unique because of the fact she quit smoking cigarettes. She's different because she went on to become a marathon runner, triathlete and fitness trainer in the process.
Like many smokers, Mimura took her first puff when she was in her teens. "It was a desperate attempt to look cool and fit in," she admits. Her 20s led to social smoking and finishing off half a pack while hanging out with friends. Later it was the stress of attending law school.
She had run the Revco 10K, never giving it a thought. "I could run it and then grab a cigarette and a beer right afterwards," she says.
But at age 36 she decided to run a marathon. Now was the time to quit smoking for good. "I quit cold turkey and still believe it's the only way to quit, and it was hard."
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and deaths in the United States and greatly increases the risk of coronary disease. By quitting, Mimura significantly reduced her risk of heart disease and stroke.
It took Mimura a year to admit to herself that she was no longer a smoker. "There were times over that year when I still wanted to smoke."
She also experienced transference. No longer addicted to cigarettes, she became addicted to coffee. "I gave up cigarettes and picked up caffeine," she says, acknowledging her purchase of a high-end espresso maker. "I never even drank coffee before."
She admits to being extremely goal-oriented and credits her drive to run the marathon as the catalyst for her quitting ? that and her self-proclaimed midlife crisis. "I decided that I wanted to learn to scuba dive and also that I wanted to do a triathlon." She achieved her goal, doing both.
Since then she's finished a dozen more triathlons and run six more marathons, most recently, encouraging a co-worker to join her at Big Sur in California, where she ran the marathon while her co-worker walked. ("She lost 30 pounds in the process," Mimura says.)
In addition to her position as vice president of public affairs at KeyBank, she has been teaching fitness classes (including spinning) at The Club at Key Tower since 1996. She has trained groups for triathlons, encouraging as many as nine co-workers to join her.
Her high school friends, some of whom she has encouraged to quit smoking as well, think of her as an athlete, a moniker that she shrugs off until the reality sinks in that it fits. But, more than that, she has become a cheerleader for fitness. "I pretty much bully people into getting involved," she says.