REGION — “When you’re 54, things don’t pop back as quickly,” said DeEllen Brasher.
Having undergone two weight loss and one knee surgery over the past 25 years, she explained that the older she has gotten, the more difficult it has become for her to get fit after physical challenges.
Staying in shape raised other challenges for Shiella McNulty. Particularly after she had kids, she found herself putting her family’s needs before her own wellbeing, allowing her health to be pushed aside.
“I get involved (in a fitness program) and then I lose track. I’m busy (with) working, kids. Life takes over and you just don’t do it,” she said.
For Judy Miller, exercising regularly wasn’t a problem, but running was. She had attempted two 5K races in recent years, and vividly recalls feeling ill after crossing the finish line.
Six months ago, none of these three women viewed themselves as potential long-distance runners.
But as far as one Tri-City Medical Center program was concerned, they were the perfect candidates to run the Carlsbad Marathon.
Basher, McNulty, and Miller are three of this year’s fourteen participants in the “Lucky 13,” a group of North County residents selected to train under Tri-City’s guidance to overcome some kind of health obstacle and ultimately run the Carlsbad Half Marathon on Jan. 19.
Since July 2013, the team has been meeting for training sessions in the gym twice each week and runs during the weekends. The program is designed to have members support and rely on each other to achieve their fitness goals.
This year’s team also consists of 73-year-old Carlsbad resident Kie Ho who is working to come back from having a stroke less than two years ago. San Marcos’s Jane Sage, who has Fibromyalgia, is also part of the group.
Typically the program selects 13 participants, but this year includes one extra team member who had to drop out of the program last year due to an injury.
Brasher decided to apply for the program so she could develop a fitness routine plus healthy eating habits and stick to them long term.
“My goal has been to try and be accountable to myself. Try to feel the emotions and not eat them,” she said.
“(The participants are) building a foundation through this program,” explained Lucky 13 trainer Melanee Thys. “This is not a quick-fix.”
Brasher said that she is proud of what she has accomplished through Lucky 13, including losing 25 pounds, and feels ready to complete the half marathon. She credits much of her success to working with the other participants.
“Our team is really close and we support each other. It’s been fabulous,” she said. “We’re going to get through this one (marathon) and hopefully sign up for another one.”
McNulty said that in the middle of the program, she was determined to quit.
She explained that after completing her first 11-mile run, “I literally thought I was going to die. It was horrendous.”
But she decided to not let go of the opportunity to put herself first for once thanks to the help of Lucky 13’s trainers. She said that it helped knowing that the trainers could relate to the struggles of learning to run races.
McNulty said that she’s proud of how she has incorporated fitness into her everyday routine. But she added that she can’t wait to get this weekend’s marathon over.
Miller, on the other hand, said she is looking forward to running the marathon with her daughter, who is also in the program.
“I’m excited, and I’m ready to do it,” she said with a smile.