Ron Woodrich, lead desktop support analyst at Akron Children’s, remembers the exact moment when he was ready to make a change in his health. It was July 13, 2013, and he had just been denied a seat on the GateKeeper roller coaster at Cedar Point because the safety belt didn’t fit securely.
“It was in that moment that I thought I’ve got to make some changes,” said Ron. “I weighed 350 pounds and realized I needed to lose some weight. I began working with my doctor on ways to monitor my diet and started walking on my treadmill every day.”
It was a big change of pace for Ron. He went from little to no regular activity to walking on his treadmill an hour each day. He watched his food portions, kept a log of his calorie intake and began to see results. A few months in, he began jogging on his treadmill and then, finally, he decided he was ready to take to the pavement.
“I know it sounds odd, but running outside was a really big deal for me,” said Ron. “I wasn’t a runner in school or even as a kid growing up, so the idea of running outside was new for me. Once I went for that first run, I realized how much I had been missing.”
Ron kept running – outside – and weight kept coming off, too. By May 1, 2014, he decided he was ready for a new goal, an organized race, so he signed up for the Akron Children’s Kids Are #1 Run. He liked it and decided to sign up for more 5ks and even a 10k. By 2015, Ron was running 6 days a week, 2-4 miles a day with longer runs on the weekend, and his weight was right where he wanted it to be. But, mid-year, he began to feel burned out and his running pace hit a plateau.
He decided it was time for another change but, this time, it was a change in his workout routine. He kept running, but just 4 days a week, and introduced strength training on his off days. By 2016, he was running new paths, joining co-workers for lunch-time runs and mixing in other activities like rock climbing, snowboarding and mountain biking while working toward his next goal – the half marathon at the FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon & Team Relay.
“I had done so many other organized races leading up to Akron that I thought I knew what to expect,” said Ron. “I’ll never forget standing at the start line. My heart was racing. I had never run in a race with the kind of energy Akron had – the crowds, the cheering, the music – it was unlike anything I had experienced.”
Ron ran his first half marathon with a strong finish in under 2 hours.
One of Ron’s sweetest victories, though, wasn’t crossing a finish line, but rather showing up at the start of the GateKeeper roller coaster.
“I went back to Cedar Point to ride that coaster in 2014, almost exactly one year to the date of when I left it… It was the ride that transformed my life,” said Ron. “Even though I was nearly half the size I was the year before, I was anxious about whether or not I would fit in the seat. I did fit – and I fit in every roller coaster seat I rode that day. It proved to me just how far I had come…I had changed.”
Today, Ron is still racking up the miles, as he gets ready for the half marathon at the FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon & Team Relay this September, and has no plans of slowing down.
“My biggest piece of advice to someone who’s trying to lose weight or to start a running routine is don’t be afraid to take a break. Don’t step away forever, but listen to your body and find the right mix,” said Ron. “Running isn’t a chore for me now…what started off as part of my weight loss program has turned into something I can’t imagine doing without.”
Interested in running, volunteering or cheering on the participants in the 2019 Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series? Visit www.akronmarathon.org.