Some of us are natural athletes. Some of us are not. I fit into the second category. What I do have, is mental toughness, because physically, none of it comes easy to me.

I’ve been married to Dennis for twenty two years. Our family consists of Dennis and I, two boys ages 29 and 21, two girls in college ages 20 and 18.

I started off my athletic journey going back to school for a degree in Dental Hygiene about ten years ago. I was 37 at the time. When I was a child, I played fast-pitch softball. I loved it so much, and it was the one thing I was really good at. This division three school was bringing back its fast pitch softball team, and even though I hadn’t played for 25 years, I thought….why not? I made the team – and played with 18-21 year-olds!

I had learned to live with the chronic pain of Fibromyalgia my entire life. However, I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. As I did my best to keep up with my teammates, I developed plantar fasciitis and decided to seek some help from a local podiatrist. I was given an injection to help with the pain. Unfortunately, it caused another disease in my foot, called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD. RSD causes excruciating nerve pain, swelling, redness and loss of limb function.  One thing you’ll learn about me is that I am stubborn.  I knew this was my last chance to ever play softball at this level, so I pushed on.

The RSD pushed on too.  I was told if I could not win the war with my body, mobility assistance wasn’t going to be far away. Coming back from that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Once I started getting well (about three years ago), I needed to shed the weight I gained while sick.  I stared down a treadmill because all of the elliptical machines were full. I set the goal for myself of being able to run for ten minutes. I didn’t die! Next, it was fifteen minutes, which turned into the unimaginable 5K. It took me three months to get there, and  I lost 42 pounds.

Without any guidance, I started running long distances and made the mistake that the miles would allow me to be less careful with my eating. Before batting an eye, 36 pounds found their way back.
Like many people in my situation, we are afraid to do the things we love if the weight is still there. In reality, there is no perfect timing. You just have to get out and there and do it.
I still have some profound muscle weaknesses due to surgeries performed for the RSD. I will never know the front of the pack. But every finish line I cross brings me to tears. I know that I’ve won a bigger battle within myself that no podium time could ever replace.

I love the message Tri 4 Schools is giving kids. Kids are great. They don’t let self-doubt stop them. They only know joy. I wish something like this existed when I was a kid. Endurance sports challenge us not only physically, but mentally too: believing in yourself because YOU are the one pushing your body to get to the finish line.

I have watched parents do the mud run with their kids who might never participate in a race geared towards adults. I hope they know how awesome they are!

I have now finished countless 5K races, 10K races, several half marathons and two full marathons. This year, I’m hoping to finish at the middle of the pack instead of back as I train to run the Chicago Marathon with Madison Multisport Coach Cindi Bannink.  I’ve done races with My Team Triumph, pushing my differently-abled friends in racing chariots. They don’t seem to mind that I’m not the fastest runner out there. We are just busy having fun!

I am living proof that ANYONE can do this.

So I’m out here celebrating EVERY BODY:) it’s about being brave, moving (any way you can), being okay with where you are and enjoying the journey❤

I hope you will follow ordinary me as I continue to try and do extraordinary stuff.

I also hope that you will support my efforts to raise funds to support Tri 4 Schools as they not only work with kids to become more physically active, getting parents more active and teaching the mental game at their kid-centered programs. If that isn’t enough, they never turn a child away who can’t afford to participate and the money raised goes back to our local schools to help pick up the slack due to budget shortfalls.

Do something that scares you. You’ll be surprised how brave you really are.

kim athlete of the year tri 4 schools