Run the Bluegrass 2012

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Sam Dick trains for Run the Bluegrass

RUN THE BLUEGRASS
Lexington runners embrace a half marathon

WKYT anchor Sam Dick won’t just be running the bluegrass in Lexington’s March 31 half marathon at Keeneland, he’s heading up a Prostate-Cancer Free race team sponsored by UK HealthCare (and he owns Swim Bike Run of Kentucky, a race sponsor). Danny Abshire, the co-founder of Newton Running in Boulder will be a guest speaker, and will run Clinics at the Race Expo the day before. Sam says, “I have been running in Newton for more than a year — including my first half-marathon, a 5K, 10K, and Age-Group Nationals in Triathlon last August.” He adds, “I love to run, and Danny has taught me so much about running injury-free and longer in life to stay healthy. I hope everyone, registered or not for the race, will come out to learn more.”

Sam’s father, noted author and former CBS broadcast journalist, David Dick, died at age 80 after a 17-year battle with prostate cancer. Sam was diagnosed in 2010 with prostate cancer. He announced his diagnosis publicly and has worked to promote awareness and early detection.

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Robert Parks Johnson at the LiveStrong wall at the Y

Lexington theatre vet and “cancer fighter” Robert Parks Johnson ran his first Iron Horse Half last year. On Sunday, October 23, 2011, 18 months after the doctors gave him a 50 percent chance of survival, he finished the Midway half marathon, crediting LiveStrong at the YMCA for a great deal of his success. He will Run the Bluegrass, and then the Pittsburgh Marathon in May.  He says, “LiveStrong at the YMCA is a program for cancer fighters.  When I went to the North Lexington Family YMCA  for my intake interview, they asked me what my history was. I showed them the scar, the missing muscle from my right shoulder, told them about losing all my teeth and 90 pounds during treatment. I told them about the days I couldn’t cross the street without stopping to rest. They asked me what my goal was.”

He told them, “I want to run a half-marathon.” He says, “They didn’t laugh. They went to work.”

He explains, “The program in Lexington started with a single group of eight cancer fighters, three trainers, and a pilot grant from the LIVESTRONG  foundation.” Today, there are more groups, and he is now one of the trainers for the next team of cancer fighters at the Y. (He was photographed for this issue in front of the Y’s LiveStrong wall at the northside Y.)  He has asked his blog readers and Pittsburgh marathon sponsors (via CrowdRise) to support his runs with “a contribution to Living Strong at the Y. Because every cancer patient deserves the chance to become a cancer fighter.”

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Tracy Whipple says, “At the start of 2005, I begged my husband Justin to buy me a new treadmill so that I could ‘get fit’ as part of my New Year’s resolution.  He was really against the idea as he thought it would just be anotherone of my short-lived fads then I would use the treadmill to hang laundry on.  At the time, we had two small children both under the age of 2 and we both worked full-time jobs in the insurance industry, so our lives were pure chaos.  Justin ended up being right.  Three short weeks into my ‘couch potato to 5K’ training plan, I threw in the towel.  Being the penny pincher he gladly admits to being, he printed out his own walk-to-run plan and vowed to not let the large sum of money spent on the treadmill just go to waste.  At this time, he weighed approximately 225 pounds.  Neither one of us exercised whatsoever and we had both developed pretty poor eating habits.  I remember that we were just proud of ourselves for having recently kicked our smoking habit together.”

But, she says, he was “excited about turning over a new leaf.” He ran his first 5k that summer, followed by a 10k, then a half marathon.  He has run seven half marathons in the past seven years (along with countless 5ks and 10ks).  His record in a half marathon  is 1 hour 33 minutes (at the Iron Horse Half Marathon in Midway, in the fall of 2010).  In 2010, he trained for his first

Justin Whipple

triathlon (swimming, biking, and running),  at the Olympic level (1350 meter swim, 40K bike, and 10K run).” Last summer, he completed the  half Ironman race in Louisville, KY in just over six hours.

His proud wife reports, “Today, Justin weighs in at 170 pounds so he has lost a total of 55 pounds. The next race he has on his calendar is the RunTheBluegrass Half Marathon on March 31.  Since this race is a challenging course with some pretty tough hills, he says he would be very happy with a time of 1:35.” Justin will compete in his second “Tri for Sight Triathlon” this summer at the University of Kentucky.  She says “He plans to train hard all summer with hopes of making it ‘onto the podium’ (so 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in his age group).”
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Cyndi Hanes is a Run the Bluegrass veteran. She says, “four years ago at this time, I had just begun to change my life.  If you had told me then that in four

Cyndi Hanes

years, I would be preparing to run my fifth Half Marathon I would have laughed myself silly. I weighed 260+ pounds and had never done anything athletic in my life.  Yet here I am, 145 pounds lighter, ready to do another half marathon.”
In December 2008, her best friend emailed her asking if she knew there was a Lexington half marathon coming up, and suggesting that the two should register. Hanes was dubious. She had lost over 100 pounds but  had only just begun to run, admitting, “in fact I still walked more than I ran at that point.  I had done two 5k races and the thought of 13.1 sounded very scary.  She assured me we could train together and that we had plenty of time to be ready to do 13.1 miles in March. With great trepidation I agreed and we registered and then a wonderful thing happened.  My friend discovered that John’s Run Walk Shop had started a group, John’s Striders, to help people prepare for the race and she signed us up.  It was the best thing that could have happened.  That winter was very cold and it was really hard to get myself up early on Saturday mornings and go do those training runs. My friend and I trotted along together every Saturday morning.  I was slow, in fact I think I was the last one to finish every Saturday, but I kept on doing my run/walk program.  The first time I did 10 miles I got in my car and cried, it was the hardest thing I had ever done and yet there was a real feeling of accomplishment.”
“Race day was cold and rainy and there was a point in the race that I wanted to quit but I kept remembering all the runs I had done to prepare and kept going.  I finished the race, earned my first finishers medal,  and in the time frame I had set for myself.  At the end I was crying, I could not believe I had just done a half marathon, it was the culmination of my the old me and the beginning of the new me.”
After that race, she had no plans for another one. She hated the cold morning runs and told her husband she “did not intend to ever run another step.” She took a few days off, and then missed it. Then she discovered she loved running in warm weather.   Four years later, she has completed four half marathons, two full marathons and numerous 5ks.
She says, “This year, the first half marathon I ran has changed the course. It’s beautiful and unlike that first year when I was scared to death about what had I gotten into this year,” adding, “I am looking forward to what I am sure will be my favorite race.”

This article also appears on page 6 of the March 8 print edition of Ace Weekly.

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