Last month, I went on a search to train one lucky Austin Fit Magazine reader for the upcoming ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot. My goal was to find a “normal” person, or someone who was either just beginning a training regime or rekindling an old fitness flame. In truth, I wanted to work with someone who wouldn’t necessarily worry about time goals, negative splits, or personal records. I wanted to work with someone who would celebrate a different kind of success: overcoming fears, reaching new fitness levels, going the extra mile for the first time ever, and being exuberant about crossing the finish line regardless of time. The Turkey Trot takes place on Thanksgiving morning, and what better way to express gratitude than by accomplishing something that didn’t seem possible only a few short months before.
I found my winner in 37-year-old Lorraine Townsend. Townsend is a native Austinite who now makes her home in Boston. “Local Austin races like the Turkey Trot are a part of my soul,” she told me during our first phone conversation to talk about her training plan. In fact, she added, even when she lived in France, she would still fly home for the holidays to do this race with her family. Her incredible zest for life and commitment to this goal are only matched by her story that got her to this point.
Eighteen years ago, Lorraine was diagnosed with bone cancer. In her entry email, she wrote, “While I was in the hospital, I was really mad at myself for never having used my legs before. I was a morbidly obese 18-year-old with a cancer that was limiting my mobility and, for the first time, I realized how much I had taken those two legs for granted.” There was a chance that Townsend would never be able to walk properly, let alone run. Imagine her gratitude when she awoke from surgery with the ability to have her life back—that is, until she had to battle cancer again ten years ago. This time, the enemy was cervical cancer, but it was no match for Townsend as she beat the cancer odds again.
Townsend has a history of beating the odds. She was the first person in her family born in the United States. She has traveled the world and she has gone from high school drop-out to a VP of Human Resources through her determination to become educated and succeed at everything she puts her mind to. “I’m definitely a fighter and I won’t give up on this goal to regain my health,” she told me. She’s still morbidly obese, but just had weight loss surgery about one month ago. In addition to starting this walk/run program, Townsend is also an avid Zumba participant.
She started official training this past weekend and is already grateful for the support of her friends, family, and wife, Cyn. She was so excited, she even called her friends and family here in Austin and elsewhere. “They are all so excited,” she wrote, “Sending me messages to make sure I got out there today. It was so cold. All I wanted was to do was curl up in a blanket and watch a movie! I really realize that my motivation is my family and friends. I want to be around for as long as possible to hang out with my peeps!”
Her biggest goal, however, is to gain control of her health and weight before she turns 40. When I asked her about her goals, she wrote, “I want to be able to get up and down off the floor and play with my nephew. I want to look as sexy on the outside as I feel on the inside. I don’t want to drop dead from a fat disease or kill myself with food and sitting all of the time. I WANT TO BE A RUNNER!”
We’ll be following Lorraine’s progress to the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot for the next four weeks!