As many of you know, I grew up swimming. From the age of 6 on, I swam at my local YMCA 3 days a week with swim meets taking up every Saturday until I hit high school. Then in high school, things picked up. I had daily swims and then “two a days” swimming and lifting weights (51/2 hours a day). It was hard work but it paid off in more ways than just winning races. Our girls’ swim team was undefeated for the four years I swam there! It taught me a great work ethic and the never give up attitude that still stays with me to this day.
It was easy to stay in swimming even when things got intense because it was a family affair during my years at the Y and then all my girl friends were on my same team in high school.
Then, after graduation, things changed. I no longer had a support system to continue swimming with friends, as none of us wanted to even see a pool! I also didn't have a coach to push me. I didn't have weekend events planned around swim meets. Instead, I was discovered and moved to NYC right out of high school to live on my own in the “Big City” and start in the modeling world.
Not only did the modeling world want me thin, (so I didn't and couldn't eat much) but it wasn't easy to find a pool to work out in and I didn't want the muscles. I had starved the muscles off when I was discovered during my senior year of high school.
Now I had a problem, I had grown up with a swim family to support me so I felt alone in New York City and I was used to working out regularly. Back in the 1970’s, there weren't as many gyms and frankly, I didn't know what to do with myself with no coach yelling at me and telling me my workout routine. I realized that I had a body that was used to hard exercise to stay fit and happy.
It took me awhile to find a new exercise to love (because pools and the smell of chlorine didn’t hold as much appeal). I finally found a way to stay in shape and be able to do it almost anywhere in the world; running! I started to run when I was 21 years old and after being an athlete for all of those years, couldn't run for more than a couple of minutes without getting a stitch in my side. What a wimp! I would walk and run until I had gone 3 miles or 30 minutes when I first started and then one day, I found that I didn't have to stop; I ran the whole 3 miles without feeling horrible and actually felt good! From then on, I added miles and started to run races. I had always been competitive and running races was a good fit for me!
I never dreamed of running a marathon but a friend flew into town back in January of 1985 to run the Jacksonville Marathon. I went with him to the expo to get his race packet for the race and got the marathon “bug”. He asked me to run part of the race with him to keep him company and I ended up running the whole thing and crossed the finish line with him in a 4:35 or so! That was it, I was hooked!
Right after that, Fred Lebow hired me to be was the spokesperson for the New York City Marathon. I ran my first of 5 New York Marathons in 1986, 6 months after giving birth to my first son.
Now, over 30 years later, I still find that I love to run. It makes me feel good about myself. I am blessed that all my joints and bones are still healthy and that I can get out and run wherever I am in the world. I hope you have found a sport that you still love to do!