I run because it helps me to navigate life’s detours.
As the parent of a child with special needs, I never know when I’ll be able to get to the gym, yoga, crossfit or any of the other physical activities many people take part in.
But at almost a moment’s notice, I can lace up my running shoes, do a quick stretch and take off down the road.
My father was a track and a cross country coach when I was growing up, but I didn’t take up the sport at the time. It’s always been in the back of my mind though.
It was at the beginning of 2013 when I finally decided I needed to do something to get healthier.
Many people have told me I didn’t look like I was in bad shape when this all began, but I had noticed the numbers on the scale creeping higher, and I was borderline for high blood pressure. Plus, my mother had passed away and that happened after quadruple-bypass surgery.
Something clicked, and I decided to give up the crap I had been eating and fill my diet with more white meat and plenty of vegetables.
That worked for several months, but it became harder and harder to get the scale to continue to put smiles on my face. That’s when it became time to add exercise.
I work with Jim Payne at WESH-TV, and I knew he had a 5K run coming up to benefit the Kids’ House Wayne Densch Children’s Advocacy Center. I now had a goal to run in that race. I had about 10 weeks to get my body in shape for it.
Luckily, my good friend, Don Hettenbach, was also trying to run, so we could endure the pain of getting in shape together. How hard could it be? It’s just 3 miles, right?
I found an online resource that really helped me at RunKeeper.com. I set myself up on a training program, stretched and was out the door.
I got to about the entrance of my subdivision and thought I would die. Instead of giving up, I walked the rest of the time. The next time I ran, I went a little farther and continued to increase my distance until I ran the whole time. I had run a 5K and still had a few weeks before the race.
When race day rolled around, I felt ready. A neighbor of mine was also running, so we had the support of several people, including Paige, and J.P. at the starting line.
During the race, I even noticed Jim Payne come up beside me and tell me I had great form. I thought it was cool that we would be running together for a bit, but then he took off, and I was amazed at his speed. This year, I’ll be ready to do much better, and hopefully, keep up with him.
I finished in just over 36 minutes, which isn’t a great time, but it was a beginning and proved that I was capable of it. I have gone on to run several other races, including the Winter Park Road Race, a 10K, in April.
I’ve also spent time cycling, and recently completed a 20-mile ride.
All in all, my healthier eating habits and exercise have allowed me to lose 40 pounds.
So what’s the moral of the story? Don’t feel like just because you have a child with special needs that you can’t take care of yourself. You’re of vital importance to your child, so find a way to do all you can to stay healthy for them.
It’s not just something for your physical well-being, it will reduce stress and give you time to process your thoughts and emotions.
Take care of yourself. It really will make you feel better all around.