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Jennifer Friedman turned her determination to get active into an annual running event that raises money for children's charities.Everyone is busy. So how do some people find the time to commit to an exercise routine while others simply can’t find a way to squeeze in 30 minutes, three times a week?

 

Jennifer Friedman – local gynecologist, mother of three and founding director of the Armadillo Dash Half Marathon & 5K – agreed to share her personal journey of how running helped her turn around an inactive lifestyle, where she found the motivation to keep going, and the reasons she keeps on running today.

At age 33, Friedman realized that something in her life needed to change. With three kids and a demanding profession, she knew she was not getting adequate exercise and not living a healthy lifestyle. Knowing she needed to set a healthy example for her children, she decided to start small by going out to run.

 

Jennifer Friedman turned her determination to get active into an annual running event that raises money for children’s charities.Everyone is busy. So how do some people find the time to commit to an exercise routine while others simply can’t find a way to squeeze in 30 minutes, three times a week?

 

Jennifer Friedman – local gynecologist, mother of three and founding director of the Armadillo Dash Half Marathon & 5K – agreed to share her personal journey of how running helped her turn around an inactive lifestyle, where she found the motivation to keep going, and the reasons she keeps on running today.

At age 33, Friedman realized that something in her life needed to change. With three kids and a demanding profession, she knew she was not getting adequate exercise and not living a healthy lifestyle. Knowing she needed to set a healthy example for her children, she decided to start small by going out to run.

In the beginning, Friedman would put dinner on the table for her family and then go for a quick run while they ate. Two years later, her family moved to Texas and since she was now in the habit of running, she set a goal for herself and her good friend, Debra Ellis, to run a half marathon together. They bought a book on the basics of running, and together they pushed one another to follow through on commitment. After completing her first half marathon, Friedman realized that for her, half marathons were the perfect distance to train for so she signed up to prepare for another. Eventually, running became such a habit and integral part of her lifestyle that she set a goal that she still keeps to this day: to run one half marathon per year.

“I am not the 41-year-old trying to win,” says Friedman. “I just want to be healthy and have fun.”

Staying motivated often boils down to removing obstacles. No one is going to stay motivated to exercise if their knees hurt because they are wearing the wrong shoe for their foot and Friedman emphasizes the importance of getting a good running shoe or a comfortable pair of shoes that works for you that also reduce injury.

Second, she stresses that she believes it is worth every penny spent to buy motivation. She noted that there are two main ways to be motivated: buying it through a personal trainer or finding another individual/group to run or exercise with and to set goals with. Friedman started out as a beginner and points out that she needed help to get motivated, as do most of us. She also knows that she has to change up her exercise regime in order to keep herself motivated, and has tried everything from zumba to hiking outdoors with her husband.

As her motivation heightened and running became an essential part of her life, J Friedman decided to take the quest for a “healthy lifestyle” even further. She had noticed that Bryan/College Station did not have major local running events for families as she had been driving to Austin and Houston to run half marathons. Since she believed in being a good role model for her children with healthy habits, she decided that the idea could be taken farther and decided to motivate the community by putting together a charity run called the Armadillo Dash. The goal of this 5k and half marathon is to support children in the Brazos Valley, and since it is a completely volunteer-run race, all proceeds go directly to children’s charities in the area including Scotty’s House, Still Creek Boys and Girls Ranch, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Brazos Valley and the Brazos Valley Food Bank’s Backpack Program.

The first Armadillo Dash race took off in 2007.  Friedman and a board of three other women formed a nonprofit to create the race. With overwhelming support from local businesses such as The Matthew’s Group, the city of College Station, and the police department, they were overwhelmed when more than 1,100 runners showed up for the first race.

Now in its sixth year, the Armadillo Dash is sponsored by more than 40 local businesses and more than $133,000 has been donated to local children’s charities in the past five years. Eight women now volunteer to be on the board of directors to making this annual run happen, and 1,898 runners did the Dash in 2011.

If you are feeling trapped in a busy lifestyle that leaves you feeling as if you have no time or energy for exercise, Friedman wants you to know that almost everyone starts out that same way. For her, what started out as a small effort to add exercise to her routine turned into a healthy hobby and ultimately into a 5k and half marathon that now benefits thousands of people, both runners and children who are served through the funds raised from the Armadillo Dash.

Extraordinary? Friedman says not at all: she is a normal person with a normal life who took a small goal that became a passion and made something extraordinary because of willpower and the support of those around her. Nothing should be more encouraging than that, because if she can do it, Friedman says you definitely can, too.  – by Megan Jarvie

Do the Dash … as a Volunteer or as a Runner

The Armadillo Dash board of directors.The community of Bryan/College Station has supported the Armadillo Dash with volunteer time and generous donations. Anyone can get involved, whether through actually running the race or by volunteering to work at a themed water station. The Armadillo Dash sponsors a contest where teams sign up to work a water station, pick their theme and decorate their water stands accordingly. They are encouraged to dress up in costumes, and there is a competition voted on by the runners to see which water stand is the most spirited. The first place water stop team wins $500, second place wins $400, and third place wins $300.

This year’s Armadillo Dash Half Marathon and 5K is March 4 and will take off from Veteran’s Park in College Station. Entry fees vary depending when and what race you register for. The half marathon begins at 7 a.m. in Veteran’s Park, and there will be official timing available via ChronoTrack Systems.

For the 5k run, cash prizes are awarded to the first place overall male and female finishers and trophies are given to the first place male and female finishers in age divisions of 10-year increments starting with age 9 and under. For the half marathon, cash prizes are awarded to the first, second, and third place overall male and female runners, and then trophy prizes are awarded to the first place male and female finisher in 5-year age divisions starting with 19 and up.

 For registration and more information, visit armadillodash.com.