When Lindsay Riley, patient services representative in allergy and immunology, took up running in 2011, she wanted to experience the excitement of an organized race. But as her life got busier, running became less about the competition and more of an outlet that gave her focus, determination and time for herself.
When Lindsay did compete, she ran 5k races.
“After I ran my first 5k, I wondered if I could run longer distances,” she said.
Lindsay put the thought on hold for 3 years. After her second child was born in December 2015, however, Lindsay registered for the Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series. She planned to run her first half marathon in the September 2016 First Energy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon & Team Relay, and figured that by registering, it would jumpstart her running program again.
Training for a half marathon requires months of preparation to build endurance and avoid injuries. Because Lindsay hadn’t run for awhile after giving birth, it was like starting her running routine all over again.
Things didn’t go as Lindsay planned, however.
“Our baby had some health issues, and training became hard,” she said. “We took Penny to doctor appointments constantly, and she was in and out of the hospital all the time. By the time July arrived, I had barely trained for the race.”
Soon afterwards, her 7-month-old baby girl was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a rare genetic disorder. With this news, Lindsay didn’t think she could run the race.
“I told my daughter, ‘Things are hard for you, but you can’t give up.’ Then I realized that’s exactly what I was doing,” she said. “I had to run and finish the half marathon. I couldn’t give up. I told myself I needed to do this to be a good role model to Penny and my older son.”
With 6 weeks left to train, Lindsay ran almost every day to prepare.
“Even on the morning of the marathon, I was skeptical,” she said. “I didn’t know if I could actually finish 13.1 miles, but I did. I felt so relieved. And so proud. And so tired.”
The 2017 First Energy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon & Team Relay was a different story for Lindsay, who again ran a half marathon.
“I wouldn’t say I had a handle on everything, because with a child with special needs, I never feel like I really have everything under control,” she said. “But we weren’t in and out of the hospital, and her therapy had started. Plus, I went from full to part-time work, and was training for the race.”
Lindsay plans to run her third half marathon in this year’s event on Sept. 29. Her fitness routine includes waking at 5:30 a.m. before her children are up so she can either run 3-6 miles several days or strength train 2 mornings. On weekends, Lindsay goes on long training runs.
By working hard to gain control over her family’s situation, Lindsay said she feels like it’s made her a better mother and person.
“If you let yourself, you can drown in appointments, phone calls and taking care of things,” she said. “It’s important to remember you’re your own person. We (moms) might feel guilty for going out for a run, but we’re allowed to enjoy something. Our kids need us, and they need us to be happy and to see us reaching for our goals.”