10k preparation aids in family fitness

The Ingram family (left to right): Erin, Cori, Eric, Carla and Christopher

As preparations gear up for the 14th annual Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, there seems to be news about 10k sign-ups (which recently set a record for single-day registration), training teams, contests and charity promotions at every turn.

But at least one Eastern Henrico family of five needs no reminder of the event's April 13 date, or of the benefits of training and keeping fit.

What's more, no one in the Ingram family needs help drumming up enthusiasm for the 10k, running and other fitness routines.

Least of all, Mom.

At a January kickoff event held at Maggiano's in Short Pump Town Center, Carla Ingram joined Cheryl Oliver of Sportsbackers, her 10k training coach, to discuss her transformation from sedentary and soft around the middle to streamlined and health-savvy.

Ingram, who was the first PTA president of Harvie Elementary School after it opened, recalled that the pounds added up over the years in typical fashion: three pregnancies, TV-watching, and lack of exercise.

"But [once] I had an eight-year-old son," she said with a laugh, "I had to stop blaming him for baby weight."

The Hill
Ingram started running in her neighborhood a number of years ago, but picked up the pace of her workouts after an aunt was treated for leukemia. Her aunt ended up at VCU Massey Cancer Center, the official event charity of the 10k, and Ingram ran to raise money for the Center on her behalf.

Then Oliver, a friend from Hampton University days, got her involved at DNA Fitness in Glen Allen. In addition to taking a "90-day challenge" of clean eating and exercise, Ingram started kickboxing classes. She also began participating in the 10k training team, and is helping Oliver to coach the team based at Richmond Community Hospital.

"Yes, we run 'The Hill!'" said Ingram with mingled pride and disbelief, referring to Church Hill.

The training team experience is especially helpful, said Ingram, because it commits her to those weekly runs with the group.

"On Saturday," she said, "I know I've got to go out there; I can't get out of being with training team. And we don't want Cheryl out there waiting [for us] all day."

Noting that her friend is a trainer for DNA in addition to coaching the 10k training team, Ingram said, "It's really a blessing to have someone who has gone through their own [fitness] journey and doesn't keep it to herself; she shares it. She's to be commended."

Oliver responded that Ingram has been a valuable addition to the training team as well.

"It's cool that Carla is coming back as coach," said Oliver. "Any time that someone is frustrated or getting down, Carla has been in the same place. She can say, 'I've been there.' [We can use] her experience as a springboard, as a success story."

During the week, Ingram supplements her Saturday exercise with personal training sessions, often running from her Clarendon Woods home to the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center (EHRC) to use the track or the adjacent trails.

Ingram said she is grateful for the sidewalks that allow her to run to the recreation center; otherwise, she pointed out, she would have to drive there, or to go to a gym to run on the treadmill. She wishes, however, that the sidewalks were on the west side of Laburnum instead of on the Harvie Elementary School side, so that she could cross at the Harvie Road traffic light instead of at the EHRC entrance.

A frequent companion on Ingram's neighborhood runs is her daughter Erin, who ran track at Moody Middle School and is now a student athlete at Hermitage High School Center for the Humanities.

"I don't make my daughter run with me," emphasized Ingram. "She runs if she wants to. She is a sprinter and much faster than me, but she can run ahead."

Full DVR
One of the biggest satisfactions of being fit, said Ingram, is that she no longer has to tell her children, "Don't be like Mom. Be active and not sedentary." Now, she models good lifestyle habits for them instead.

"As a mom, I want them to be active -- and also do the things they have an affinity for," she said. Her younger daughter, Cori, is graceful and has taken up dance; her son, Christopher, the youngest, is agile and enjoys Tae Kwon Do. And her energetic older daughter is active in cheerleading in addition to running.

After chatting recently with her children about their activities, Ingram was pleased to report that "it turned into a 'what I really want to do next' conversation – which leads me to believe they enjoy being on the move and are having fun staying active.

"Cori started talking about what she's been learning in gym about the importance of staying fit, so they are getting the message at home and at school."

And although Ingram is happy to have dropped 15 pounds as a result of her training regimen, she said the more important effect is what she has gained.

"Energy!" she said exuberantly.

"I am at the point now," Ingram added, "that I have a regimen I can maintain and not gain back [weight], even if I did nothing else. I've had a real lifestyle change.

"My DVR is full now – but I only watch one show a week."

The 14th annual Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k presented by Martin's is accepting online entries for the April 13, 2013, event at http://www.sportsbackers.org. Registration for the Virginia 529 Kids Run is also open. Entry forms are available at all Martin's locations and Richmond-area YMCA branches.
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