On the Road with Women Can Run clinic


By SUZY OAKLEY
White River Roadrunners President-elect


I'm a sucker for a good motivational quote ...

    "The voice in your head that says you can't do this is a liar."

    "Gonna run 'til I don't jiggle."

    "Unless you puke, faint or die, KEEP GOING!"

    "The difference between TRY and TRIUMPH is just a little UMPH."

    "Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try."

... and every one of them stirs my heart just a little (some more than others).

As I look back on Batesville's 2014 Women Run Arkansas run/walk clinic, these quotes bring many faces to mind. So many ladies putting themselves out there every week in the hopes of getting healthier, making a new friend or two, or twelve ... accomplishing something.

Every time I showed up for a workout, whether I felt like showing up or not – whether I had eaten right that day, hydrated properly, slept well the night before, arrived grumpy or cheerful – I was inspired.

I was one of the Beginning Runner A leaders, but some of the chicks in my group ... well, let's just say I look at them as Future Clinic Leaders. They're the type Bruce would call The Energizer Bunny. They just kept going ... and going ... and going, even when their "leader" couldn't keep up. (I've had my recruiter's eye on you, ladies!)

It's not that any of us are elite athletes, or even aspire to be (except in our wildest imaginings). The ladies who join the women's run/walk clinic are plain ol' regular women. Soccer moms, teachers, students, housewives, attorneys, hairdressers, Zumba devotees, nurses, bankers, jokesters, bookworms. Loud, meek, fast, slow, young, old. Just regular people.

And each one inspires me, because she shows up. Because she made the decision to accomplish this one thing: Get moving. And she did it.

And she kept doing it.

I could spend the rest of this space naming names, but I surely would leave out someone and I would regret it. Because every single woman should have her name listed in neon lights, as a woman (or girl) who got up and did something important for herself, her family, her community.

So forgive me for naming this one name. She has inspired me to tears this year. I have to say it:

Cheryl Hissong.

I met Cheryl on registration night, when we gathered in a conference room in late February to answer questions and sign folks up for the 10-week clinic.

Cheryl told us she was going to do the clinic despite some health issues. Talking with her, looking at her (she had to sit down before we finished talking), I wondered how she would do it, how committed she would truly be.

Because a person can tell you she's going to do something, but until you actually see her do it – if you don't know her work ethic, her level of determination and commitment – you never know. I had just met her. And I had seen plenty of people start and not finish.

I needn't have doubted this lady.

Cheryl finished.

And she finished big.

This video, taken May 10 at the clinic's graduation 5k in Conway, chokes me up a little bit every time I watch it. It took her an hour an 20 minutes to finish, but finish she did, surrounding by dozens of clinic ladies (not just from Batesville, but from several clinics) chanting her name: Cheryl, Cheryl, Cheryl.

Cheryl embodies the quote, "Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try."

It's true: It all starts with a decision.

And apparently Cheryl had her mind made up that first night. The night she had to sit in a chair while she talked to us.

Little did we know.

Yes, she had to miss nights of the clinic because of transportation issues. And one night, toward the beginning of the 10 weeks, we were worried she wouldn't be able to finish her workout with the Walker group, or even to make it home safely in her car. And she had a mild stroke three weeks before the 5k. But did she let it stop her? Click on that video again and see for yourself.

Maybe this quote is a better way to sum it up: "Unless you puke, faint or die, KEEP GOING!"

She kept going. Her heart was in it, even when other parts of her body were protesting. Her heart was strong.

Cheryl's heart is still in it. After the 5k in Conway, she asked me about my recent experience training to be a wellness coach. She wants to help others struggling with hard stuff, to share her experiences and maybe make someone else's journey a little easier – to let folks know they're not alone – and she's thinking of ways she might do that.

Cheryl doesn't listen to any voices in her head that might be trying to tell her she can't do it. She embodies determination.

And Cheryl is one of dozens of clinic ladies I've met over the years who have kept me showing up, even when I'm fighting against my own lying voices. Those ladies have taught me that we're all there to remind each other of this:

    "The difference between TRY and TRIUMPH is just a little UMPH."

Sometimes all I need is a little UMPH.