Thursday, May 3, 2012

Featured Runner Friday: Meet Ila!

Every runner has a story. At Sexy Mother Runner, we believe that sharing those stories is a great way to share the gift of running while helping to motivate others.

This week our Featured Runner is a woman who was told what she could not do only to turn around and show everyone that she could, indeed, do it. She didn't stop there. I think that you will be as equally impressed with Ila as I am. Her story is one of courage, strength, and determination. 

Meet Ila:

My name is Ila and I am from Eureka, IL. I am going to be 54 years old in just a few months. I have 4 children, my youngest, Derek, is autistic, and I am going to be a Grandma this summer. Derek is going to be 21 years old this summer but is at the development of a 6-7 year old. Derek can never be left alone which means that he is always with either me or my husband. I work part-time at Eureka High School and Curves in Eureka, which leaves little time for me and the things I want to do.

So, with little time for myself, you are probably wondering, how did she start running. In October of 2009 while at Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, North Carolina (this camp is very special to Derek) they were talking of their upcoming 5k Run to Victory in December. On the drive home from camp I decided I needed to do this run. Knowing that I would not be ready for the 2009 run, I decided to do the one in 2010.

While driving, I announced to my husband and other son, Jeff, that I was going to do the run in 2010. They both looked at me like I was crazy and said there was no way I would be able to do it. Not only had I never ran before but there is nothing but hills in Randleman, NC. And of course they said there was my age.

That made me even more determined. So, while driving home I thought out my plan. I already had a treadmill - so, finding time to run - well, early morning while everyone was still sleeping would work. I needed to get to a book store and buy John Bingham's books (He was one of the sponsors for Run to Victory) and follow his training program. I was ready to run.

The first morning I got up at 5am and went downstairs to face my new best friend- The Treadmill. I started by walking 5 minutes and running 1 minute. I continued that for the first week, running and walking every day.  I did it every morning. No excuses. As I continued, I increased my running and decreased my walking. You know what they say, after 21 days you from a habit. Well, I was addicted.

Still, no one in my family believed I would continue. I needed to prove them wrong but I also found out I really enjoyed running and my time to do what made me feel good.

I decided I needed to practice before December 13, 2012 for my Run to Victory so I signed up for my first 5k, Race for the Cure.

I tackled that first big hill on that cold, windy, Saturday morning in May and thought to myself- What am I doing? But I kept going and crossing that finish line I knew I was a runner. I signed up for a few more 5k's before December and felt I was ready to tackle the hills of North Carolina.

As a family we raised over $2000.00 for the camp. We were set. The morning we were to leave, somehow I slipped on black ice in our driveway and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. I had been knocked unconscious and was bleeding from my head. After x-rays and scans, I was told not to run that weekend. But I had been training all year for this run. I promised my family that if we still went, I wouldn't run, only walk.

So, on our way we went watching my face and right eye turning all kinds of pretty colors. On Sunday morning, of the Run to Victory, it was raining, cold, and windy. Not ideal running weather. But that was okay. I was only going to walk. As we arrived at the camp I was heartbroken. The first person I see is John Bingham (The Penguin). I had the chance to tell him my story and how upset I was. He looked me in the eye and told me my body would tell me what I could do that morning. That when the gun went off, just follow my heart and my body's lead.

Ila with John Bingham, this is where I pause to say how awed I am that she had this experience with John Bingham. Seriously, awed.

If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.
- John Bingham

Well, the gun went off and I just started running. It felt great. I ran the whole 5k without walking (first time) and John Bingham was at the finish line, cheering me on. That day I knew I was a runner. The tears and excitement on crossing that finish line... that is the 'runner's high' that everyone talks about. Yes, Me, Ila, a mother of 4 who was told would never be able to finish, did it.

Since that day, I have done 11 5ks, 1 10k,  and am looking forward to completing a half marathon at Disney. For now, it's Steamboat and Joining the Washington to Peoria runners for St. Jude. I'm also going to do a 5k obstacle called Run For Your Lives event in Indiana. My son, Jeff is the event coordinator for them. He once told me I would never run, now he says "Go for it, Mom."

Ila (left) with her son, Derek, and her daughter.

Ila (black eye and all) with her husband (left), her son, Derek (center),  and her son, Jeff, at the 2010 Run to Victory.

Would you like to share your story and be part of Sexy Mother Runner's Featured Runner Friday? 
Send us an email and let us know!

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  1. AWESOME! <3 it thanks for such a wonderful story Ila!

  2. Ila, I am crying! Your story touched my heart. Thank you for sharing it with us. ~Danyelle

  3. What a great example of pure determination! Thanks for sharing your story with us. You're very inspiring.

  4. Wonderful story! I hope to see you in Indy for thr zombie race :)

  5. Wow! What a Mom!!! You are such an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your story!! Loved it! All my respect for you!

  6. I stopped reading this half way, purchased John Bingham's book for my nook, then finished this post! SO LOVE YOUR STORY Ila!