Six runners, six reasons to run

Ernie Parker talks strategy with coach Tim Clark.

I’ve shared why I signed up for the Fit-tastic running program: to relive the glory days of my running youth and hopefully do sub 8-minute miles in the Halloween weekend Monster Dash 5K. Now here’s why some of my peers in the advanced runner category are in the program.

Susan Jessup

For Susan, it was either run a half marathon or buy a little red sports car.  “I turned 50 last May,” Susan explains, “and decided that I wanted to do something that I had never done before – maybe this was my way of experiencing a mid life crisis.  That something new resulted in my decision to run a half marathon.  I had never run before so this was a big goal for me.”

She started running “a little on my own,” heard about Fit-tastic, signed up and ran the graduation Monster Dash last October in 35 minutes – “not great but a good start.”  She took the winter off, signed up for the spring session of Fit-tastic, ran the Race for the Cure in 32 minutes. Now in her third Fit-tastic session, Susan’s goal is to finally run that half marathon, the OBX in November.

“I get more than I ever imagined out of the program.  I have more energy, I am working towards my goal of running a half marathon and I have met some wonderful people that I would have never met otherwise.  One benefit that I never imagined is that my teenagers, ages 13 and 18, are proud of the fact that their mom runs.

“I don’t know if you have teenagers,” she adds. “If you do, you know how hard it is to find some way that they can be proud of you as a parent.”

Ernie Parker

“I am 66 years old and started my running career last August at the persistence of my daughter, Renee. First night I thought no way could I do this but I still enjoy trying.  This is my third session of Fit-tastic and I keep returning because you meet wonderful people that encourage you while sharing a common goal.  Running is a new adventure for me at my age. It makes me feel good about myself, it gives me much more energy, and I can eat foods that I have avoided for the last several years. Best thing that I have ever done for me!”

And since you can’t very well tell your mom to do something that you wouldn’t do, here’s daughter Renee, who is 41:

Renee Weaver

Renee, in her second Fit-tastic session, has been running for 9 years, but “not seriously until three years ago. The Race for the Cure got me started running — I have run the race every year except two.” She adds: “I started running to lose weight and get fit. I continue to run to challenge myself.”

Kelly Akers

Kelly is 35 and started running in 2008 when she and a friend visiting from Hawaii decided to run the Cooper River Bridge 10K in Charleston, S.C. “We had no expectations going into the race since I had not really run since high school and she was nursing a hip injury from the Marines. We thought we would walk or jog a little so it was no big deal. Well, we jogged all of it and finished in 1 hour 17 minutes. We were thrilled and felt super human that our feet could carry us 6.2 miles.”

Kelly vowed to run a race a month for the rest of the year, which included a half marathon that she did in 2 hours, 8 seconds. (She’s training for the Outer Banks Half Marathon in November with a goal of breaking 2 hours.)

Kelly has been in all three Fit-tastic sessions and says she’ll keep coming back “because I really enjoy meeting people trying to achieve similar goals and keeping healthy.” Healthwise, she’s lost 16 pounds since entering the program, “my body fat is a fabulous 24 percent,” and where she once suffered from hypertension she reports her blood pressure is now normal.

Shannan Brooks

Shannan, who is 30 now, started running in high school. “I was overweight and one day decided to do something about it.  So, I went outside and started jogging, every day trying to jog one more telephone pole, until I ran one mile without stopping.  That was a very accomplished moment for me. I then started running in track and training hard, sometimes morning and afternoon.  I lost alot of weight and became good at the sport.  Since then, I have always enjoyed running.”

But, as most of us come to realize, the demands of day-to-day life can derail the best of intentions. Homeschooling two kids and working part-time put a crimp in Shannan’s running plans. “Fitness always seems to be my last priority.” Fit-tastic has helped change that. “This program has helped me make it a bigger priority and get fit, so that I can enjoy running again.  Running is not fun if it is not done consistently.”

Scarlette Chapel

Forty-year-old Scarlette describes herself as a longtime walker/runner who’s stepped up the running over the last five years. She joined Fit-tastic to improve her running skills and, in the process, hopefully lessen her risk of injury. Her goal is to run a 10K in October (she also has a secret goal, which maybe we can convince her to reveal later). In fact, though, her real goal in joining the program is perhaps the best we’ve heard.

“I LIKE to run,” says Scarlette, “but I wanted to be an athlete who LOVED to run!!”

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