Runner of the month: Jamie Baldwin
From: Sioux Falls, born and raised
Family: Wife, Gina; daughter Lauren, 10, son Noah, 5, goldendoodle Soda
Works: In purchasing at Sanford Health
On winter: “I go way slower so I don’t fall on my butt, and it’s so much darker, and all the extra layers you have to wear, it weighs me down.”
On trail running: “Good Earth is the best thing that’s happened in this area for running, and they keep expanding. I can’t wait to see what they do.”
Jamie Baldwin is an ultramarathoner.
But he didn’t start out that way.
The 39-year-old father of two was inspired by his mom, who began going to the gym and walking for a half hour on a treadmill to get ready for her daughter’s wedding.
“I was like, ‘oh, that’s kind of cool,’” Baldwin says. His daughter Lauren was a toddler at the time. “I was just sitting there and thought, ‘holy cow, I let myself go.’ I was pushing 200 pounds. I felt like crap.”
He and his wife, Gina, had a treadmill, but it was functioning as a clothes rack in the basement. He took the clothes off it, put the television in front of it, and stepped on the platform. He began running and got up to about 3 miles at a time, and was doing that a few times a week. He lost about 40 pounds and was feeling good enough that he considered starting a running streak.
But the same night he began thinking about that, his mom called.
This time it was because his father had a heart attack. He had been a smoker up until a few weeks earlier and was a recovering alcoholic, with five years of sobriety.
“Then three days later he passed away from another one,” Baldwin says. “And ever since then, I just kind of dedicated myself to a healthier lifestyle.”
Between his father’s history and other family history of heart disease, Baldwin knew he had to stick to his changes.
The first time he ran outside, he realized how different it was. “I went a quarter mile and was like, ‘wow, this is hard.’”
He started like many of us do – with the Avera and Lennox road races, running them for a few years, and then did a small local half-marathon. Then he signed up for the Sioux Falls Half-Marathon, and then did the marathon itself a few years ago. Soon enough, he heard about ultras and did the Lean Horse 50K, twice. This year, he hopes to do a 50-miler.
With a slow build-up, Baldwin hasn’t had too many injuries over the years. An ankle stress fracture at first, and then just normal aches and pains since then. Still, there’s no telling how getting ready for a 50-miler will be.
“If I can get through January without any issues, then I’m going to sign up and hopefully survive,” Baldwin says.
Part of the love of running has been searching for his limits.
“I really enjoyed the trail runs and trying to push myself,” Baldwin says. “I’m still not very good at it. But after you’re done, that sense of accomplishment feels really good.”
It’s true – it does. And that feeling, along with the changes you see in your own life, are part of what keep a lot of us going. But as any runner knows, it doesn’t always start out easy.
“At first, I hated it,” Baldwin says. “It was just horrible.”
That feeling goes away, eventually.
“Once I kind of got comfortable with it, and I could zone out, it would relax me. … Once I’m done, I feel a thousand times better. Especially if I get my morning run in, I just feel ready to start the day and in such a good mood, too.”
The good feeling you get from a run can last all day, but the feeling you get from the running community can last a lifetime.
He meets fairly regularly with Andie Bennett to run in the morning.
“She’s motivated me to get out the door. If I didn’t have someone to be there waiting, I would just hit snooze and forget it.”
He tries to hit a few group runs, including the Good Earth trail runs on Thursdays with the Sioux Falls Area Running Club. (Note: Postponed until spring for ice!)
But it’s hard with young kids to find time. When he does, he sees a benefit. “When you run with someone and you’re talking the whole time, it makes the day go faster,” Baldwin says.
In his few years running and meeting others with the same passion, Baldwin’s view of the region has changed.
“The running community for Sioux Falls is just fantastic,” Baldwin says. “I’ve just been impressed with the different events the put on, and work together. I think that’s really neat how they all work as one, and just all the different people you meet.
“Before I looked into running around here, I had no idea there were all these people who did this. And then you start meeting people and hear what they’ve done, and it’s just really inspiring.”
And that’s why we all keep going out there, meeting each other, spending solo mornings watching the sun come up and then taking that good feeling with us all day.
Jacqueline Palfy is a longtime runner, reader and writer, marathoner, mom and board member of the nonprofit Sioux Falls Area Running Club. Her contributions to the 605 Running Co. blog will appear each Tuesday. You can follow her on Twitter @runnerJPK or reach her at email@example.com. Story ideas are encouraged.
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