THE BACK STORY:
At the end of last summer my friends and I went to a nearby track to run intervals for an hour. We would get there at 6 am to run as quickly and efficiently as we could. The first time we went I was surprised to see an older woman running around the track. What was even more surprising was that she was there every time we went. I admired her dedication and drive but never talked to her.
It’s been a year and I am on the track again and she’s still there! I’ve thought of her when I’ve exercised. In her consistency, she’s discovered the key to longevity, her fountain of youth. She is a dynamo, a source of energy and inspiration for me. The daily effort we give makes up a whole life of worthy work. She is the perfect example. Last week, I decided I wanted to know her story.
I was running by myself and as I finished one of my speed laps, I ran up beside her. She was quite surprised to have me run along with her and we were both puffing from our efforts. I introduced myself and told her how amazing I thought she was and asked her if she’d be interested in allowing me to take some pictures of her and ask her a couple questions. “So long as it’s not too personal,” she said. I jumped at the chance and said I’d be there the next morning before she finished her run.
The following morning I arrived mid-run, took some pictures, and got ready to take notes. As she finished her run and wiped her brow, we walked a mile on the track together. Her name is Dixie, she’s a grandma, she’s a runner, and she’s been running the track every day for 35 years.
Dixie’s story is the first of a new theme for Carrot Bowl. I want to capture normal people who don’t even know they’re inspirational. I think every person inspires other people in ways they don’t understand or even want to recognize. That inspiration is empowering for others and themselves. I believe in the good of every person and I believe that this and stories to follow can change our outlook, our dedication, and our perception of the people around us.
Carrot Bowl is going to have a community of Dyanmos and Dixie is the beginning. With that, here’s my first Dynamo, my first power-house, I introduce Dynamo: Dixie.
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Can you tell me your story?
In October 1979 my sister and my sister-in-law and I decided to go walking. We went up to JB Thomas track and we decided to run a little ways and then walk, then run, then walk until we could work up. So we gradually worked up till we got to three miles, we could run three miles. In the meantime my sister, she gave up and then my sister-in-law gave up, and then it was just me! So then I worked up to five miles and this was ‘79. I went five miles for years and years and years until this last January/February my feet were hurting so bad that I started doing four miles and that seems to be better for my feet for some reason.
Have you always run on the track?
First is was JB Thomas, then we came over to the rubberized track because someone told us to try this one. I don’t have any knee problems or nothing, just the bottom of my feet.
How old are you?
I was born in 1940, so I’m 74.
What was the original thing that motivated you to run the track every day?
I can’t remember what it was but it must have been important.
Have you always loved running?
You know, I never ran before.
Was anyone else in your family a runner?
I had brothers that played sports, but nobody was running track.
How long have you been running?
How do you adjust with the weather, do you run regardless?
Yah, I’ve been out here in ice. Not very many people, just me and the ice. When it was snowing my husband would bring me out here and he would walk away and say, “Dixie, can you tell me why we’re here?” As I would pass him I would tell him, “keep walking.” (Laughs) Then his knees gave out and he quit.
He passed away this March 18th, this year. Yah, it’s been sad, you know, but life goes on. It was a shock. He hadn’t complained of anything. We were married for 55 years.
Was your husband a big cheerleader for you to come?
Yah, yah I think so. I think so, cause he never complained about me going joggin’ or nothin’.
One time I fell down and I bruised my head and my lip was bleeding and I came home and he said what were you doing. I said, “I was joggin’!” (Laughs) Ah, Lord, he used to tease me all the time for falling down. I’ve fallen down several times.
One time I was running on the road and I came around a corner and I felt my shoe trip on something and there I was down flat on my face. I walked around the corner to our condo and then I said well, I better take a shower and go to the doctor because my lip was really cut. So I had my husband and my brother take me into the hospital and they took some stitches, but they kept looking at my husband and my brother cause, you know, probably they had beat me up! I don’t know. But they were looking kinda weird at them. “Are you sure you fell down?” Yah, but man I was a mess. My eyes were black and so I went back to work after I got home from vacation and they looked at me and I had two black eyes and they said, “you must have had a good time.” This was probably at least 20 years ago. Yah, it was funny. (Laughs)
What is the latest you’ve gone to bed and still gotten up to run?
Oh, probably 1 am. I was up at 5:30 and I ran. I always wake up at the same time.
Do you have a favorite memory of sharing running or your exercise passion with someone else?
Well my memory when my sister and I and my sister in law were running, she would have to stop and have a cigarette. I always remember that. That is weird. Cause she was a smoker at the time, she’s not now, but she was then. I thought well, that’s weird, why are you defeating the purpose here. That always stuck in my mind.
Do your friends and family know you do this?
Yah, oh yah. They do.
Have you inspired any of them?
Oh yes, yes. My neices, they do. A couple of them jog. Now my son doesn’t run, but he works out and does yoga and stuff.
So you feel like you had a personal influence?
Yah, I think so.
What is your running ritual?
Breakfast after. I don’t eat anything before I leave. I have to go across the road and get my paper, I live on a highway. So that’s interesting in the morning. So that’s why I like to get my paper before I come because the traffic’s so bad. It’s my activity before I run.
I come about three miles to the track to run, I have to drive here.
What does breakfast afterwards look like for you?
Oh, generally fruit. I eat a lot of fruit. In the winter time I seem to eat a lot of apples. Right now peaches and prunes and all that are in, so I do that. Sometimes I have scrambled eggs or egg whites, either one.
What does running do for you?
Oh, it gives me energy if you want to know the truth. And if I don’t run my legs feel restless. If I’m injured and I can’t run, I’m restless. You want to get out and get the endorphins going, you know. And you know I’ve never been depressed or anything and I think it’s because of my running. Some people have to take pills and all that and I don’t need to take pills or anything. So I feel pretty good.
Do your sister and sister in law wish they were still running with you when they see you now?
I think so. I think so. My sister can’t now because of her health.
What is one of your goals right now?
We were remodeling our condo when my husband passed away, so for the last four months we’ve been going back and forth getting that done. It’s almost done now. Next month we’ll finish it. August is vacation time. We’ve got a few things to do. We need to do the fireplace. We’re not quite sure what to do, keep it as a fireplace or put an insert in. So that’s what we’re thinking. That’s my goal, to get that thing done. It’s almost there. That’s probably what kept me going after my husband passed away. We were clear down to the plumbing and had taken out the sheetrock and that was the state it was in in March. That kept us going. Especially in a time of grief, you know. That helps.
Was your husband one to brag to other people about your running?
You know I think he did because people seemed to know I did and I didn’t tell them that. So I think he must have talked about it to people.
What advice would you share with someone who is just beginning their habit of exercise?
I would tell them one step at a time. Just keep going. You know a little bit at a time is okay as long as you’re improving on that little bit. You can’t do it all at once. You can’t run 5 miles in a day when you’ve never ran before. You got to take one step at a time.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I think being kind to people. Yah, I think we need more kindness in the world. I try to be kind to others and not cause any stress. Even the grandkids, treat them how to be nice to people.
What does happiness look like to you?
Well, I’ve never been a sad person. I think happiness is humor and people. People and laughter is happiness. In our family we laugh a lot. We make fun of each other and laugh a lot and no one takes anything seriously. It’s good.